About the Absolute Stream
Rather than a tweaked computer, the Absolute Stream is an audiophile machine from the bottom up. Ideon focus on an optimised CPU that only does music decoding tasks – they have eliminated all superfluous processing and peripheral circuits. There are no noise generating switch mode supplies anywhere in the box – often local voltage regulation for CPUs is done by mini switch mode circuits, but Ideon have developed their own high current, low ESR analogue supplies feeding the CPU to release staggering improvements in performance. And of course, as in all Ideon products, the clock generating processes are treated with the same painstaking attention to detail. Ultra low noise regulation and high-precision oscillators produce a femto clock architecture that is truly state of the art.
The Absolute Stream will play from your hard drive or NAS, it will function as a Roon Bridge, and play all of your favourite web services such as Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify. It can also be fitted with an optional 1 – 4TB drive for internal music storage. TheAbsolute Stream functions with any of the popular players such as Roon, JRiver, etc. In general the Absolute Stream will connect directly with anything supporting UPNP.
SUPPORTED FORMATS (INPUT DEPENDENT):44.1kHz to 384kHz PCM up to 32 bits, any DSD (up to 8xDSD)
SYSTEM: SSD128GB for OS system
INTERNAL STORAGE: *Optional 1- 4TB for Music Libraries
DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT2 X USB with proprietary Re-Clocking (one with 5v rail, one without)
EXTERNAL CONNECTIVITY: 2 X USB 3.0 for external HD Music Libraries
POWER SUPPLY: 3 X ultra-low noise full Linear power supplies (for all different voltage needs). No Switching power supply at any point of the device
DIMENSIONS: (W x H x D)490 x 350 x 110 mm ( (19.2 x 13.7 x 4.3 in)
WEIGHT: 22 kg (~ 49 lbs)
Cutting out all non-essential elements of this streamer design is a deliberate sound quality decision by Ideon. Externally you'll notice there is no display, and the only controls are a mains rocker switch on the back and a standby button on the front with one LED showing when the unit is in standby. The lack of display and controls means internally, all the extra circuits and processors required for such duties are eliminated. Likewise many other sub-systems that would be present in a conventional PC based streamer are not there – it's not waiting for other tasks to be requested, it's not servicing all sorts of other input and output terminals and it's not running lots of other background functions. All it's doing is reacting to your chosen control system such as Roon on a tablet say, pulling music files in, and rendering them into the required stream for output. That's about it.
Matching & Setup
There is more to matching and setup of a high-end streamer than might first be apparent – the considerations fall into three areas. First, there is the digital architecture that is feeding the streamer. The quality of router, NAS drive, cabling and so-in in all those areas need careful consideration if performance is not to be wasted. In particular, watch out for poor quality switch mode supplies on digital peripherals that can flood the whole system with noise.
Second, there's the physical setup of the streamer itself. This Absolute Stream has great casework which can only be enhanced further with good quality isolating supports. And don't forget that a high quality mains lead can bring significant gains too.
Finally there is the downstream system to consider. As an investment, the Absolute Stream is significant – it's performance is significant too. So the capability of the rest of the system needs to be at an appropriate level to deliver that performance. Dynamic headroom, bandwith, control, transparency and so-on need to be properly established throughout the rest of the system, and the room setup also needs to be good , in order to benefit from the true performance available from the Absolute Stream.