Artera Solus Play
Wireless Streaming Integrated Amplifier / DAC / Preamplifier / CD Player
The QUAD Artera Solus Play is the latest addition to the best-selling QUAD Artera series. It also heralds the arrival of wireless audio streaming and multi-room technology to the established QUAD Artera portfolio. Based on the recently upgraded and richly specified Artera Solus, the QUAD Artera Solus Play incorporates the acclaimed DTS Play-Fi® platform for high resolution wireless audio streaming. With DTS Play-Fi® Technology, music can be streamed over your wireless network in high-resolution format and can be easily expanded to an ultimate multi-room system if required. You can stream from any source on your wireless network, including smart-phones, tablets or PCs as well as a NAS Drive.
The Artera Solus Play’s Wi-Fi networking is powered by DTS Play-Fi: an app-controlled platform enabling high-quality, whole-home wireless audio, capable of streaming hi-res music up to 24-bit/192kHz and supported by a greater range of established audio brands than any other wireless platform.
The free Play-Fi app (available for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire devices, Windows PCs and Apple and Android smartwatches) is an intuitive gateway to a wealth of music services, including Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz, HDtracks, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM. It is also your trusty music butler, able to serve up a streaming library stored on any DLNA-compatible NAS drive or media server on the same home network.
Favorite playlists and radio stations can be assigned as shortcut ‘presets’ within the app, while Works With Alexa support enables voice-controlled playback when the Artera Solus Play is paired with any Amazon Alexa-equipped device.
WIRELESS STREAMING TECHNOLOGY
Play-Fi supports a wide variety of file formats, including MP3, MP4A, AAC, FLAC, WAV and AIFF. In standard mode, which is optimised for multi-room bandwidth, audio is streamed at up to 16-bit/48kHz – akin to CD-quality. By engaging Play-Fi’s Critical Listening Mode, hi-res audio up to 24-bit/192kHz may be streamed to the Artera Solus Play over Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable, without transcoding or down-sampling.
There are other ways to stream music to the Artera Solus Play wirelessly, other than via the Play-Fi app. Spotify users can connect directly from the Spotify app thanks to Spotify Connect, and you can stream from smartphones and tablets without connecting to the local Wi-Fi network thanks to aptX Bluetooth.
Despite its attractive simplicity, the Artera Solus Play sports cutting-edge sophistication beneath the skin. At its heart nestles the ES9018 Sabre32 Reference, the eminent 32-bit, eight-channel hybrid multi-bit Delta-Sigma DAC chip, expertly implemented by Quad’s renowned electronics engineers. External sources benefit from this DAC’s exceptional quality via a range of digital inputs, handling PCM data up to 32-bit/384kHz as well as DSD64/128/256. This ensures the Artera Solus Play is equipped to make the most of today’s hi-res music formats, as well as future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.
For CD replay, a slot-loading mechanism buffers data from the disc before feeding it to the asynchronous DAC section. Four digital filter options enable users to tailor the sound from both CDs and external digital sources, to suit personal taste and the nature of the source material.
Amp it up
The Artera Solus Play’s preamp and power amp stages incorporate balanced circuitry, short and direct signal paths and high-quality components to preserve sonic purity. Volume is adjusted in the analogue domain under microprocessor control, outputting directly to the dual-mono Class AB power amp stage which delivers 2x75W into eight ohms. To minimise distortion, the power supplies for the left and right channels are isolated from each other as well as from the rest of the system.
The discrete power amp circuits’ output stage uses a CFB (Complementary Feedback) topology in combination with conventional emitter follower circuitry. The CFB stage offers superior linearity and ensures excellent thermal stability, as the idle current is kept independent of the temperature of the output transistors. Using an emitter follower in combination with the CFB stage is an efficient way of increasing the current ability of the amplifier without compromising the advantages of the CFB circuit.
Having the emitter follower deliver additional current only when needed allows for a simpler current-limiting arrangement, which can be voltage-independent. Current limiting is under microprocessor control and programmed to allow the amplifier to supply high currents (+/- 15A) into complex loads, surpassing amplifiers that are bigger and more powerful on paper. A 300VA toroidal transformer supplies the two mono amplifiers using separate secondary windings, followed by 2x15000uF reservoir capacity per channel (60000uF in total).
Much effort has gone into the physical layout of the Artera Solus Play’s circuitry, with independent low-noise power supplies feeding all critical stages to keep interference to a minimum. The result is a performance on par with much more expensive multi-component hi-fi systems – detailed, natural, expansive and dynamic – in line with Quad’s continuing quest to deliver “the closest approach to the original sound”.
Cable connectivity options are plentiful. Six digital inputs – two coaxial, two optical, USB
Type B and Ethernet – cater for external digital sources (there’s also a USB Type A socket for software updates) while a pair of RCA inputs handle analogue sources. Analogue outputs are supplied in both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR varieties, with the four-channel volume control preserving the balanced signal path from the DAC to the XLR output. A pair of high-quality speaker binding posts, optical and coaxial digital outputs, a 12V trigger output and a front-mounte