British audio brand Quad is launching a new version of its Artera Solus hi-fi system, bringing network streaming into the fold.
The Artera Solus Play (£1699) follows on from original which launched in 2018. It packs in every conceivable function you could want from a hi-fi system with Bluetooth, CD playback, full DAC and preamp facilities packed into a single housing. New with the Solus Play is the inclusion of Wi-Fi and an Ethernet socket, bringing Hi-res audio streaming and the potential for a multi-room set-up.
Physical connections include six digital inputs (two coaxial, two optical, USB Type B and Ethernet); and analogue outputs include a single-ended RCA and balanced XLR. You also get a pair of speaker binding posts, optical and coaxial digital outputs, a 12V trigger output and a port on the front that’s connected to a dedicated headphone amp.
DTS Play-Fi enters the mix, and the app (iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows PC) brings access to Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer, Qobuz and more. Owners of a DLNA-compatible NAS drive/media server can fire their music across the network via Play-Fi. For those who prefer direct play from Spotify (Connect), that’s also possible with aptX Bluetooth.
There are two different modes that listeners can use. Standard mode is optimised for multi-room and can stream audio up to CD-quality, while Play-Fi’s Critical Listening Mode bumps that up to 24-bit/192kHz over Wi-Fi or Ethernet without transcoding or down-sampling the original file.
If voice control is of interest, the Artera Solus ‘works with Alexa’, which means you’ll need another Alexa-toting device to access it.
Tucked inside its chassis is a ES9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC capable of processing PCM audio up to 32-bit/384kHz as well as DSD64/128/256. The physical layout of the Play’s circuitry ensures interference is kept to a minimum in Quad’s attempt to deliver “the closest approach to the original sound”. The CD player uses a slot-loading mechanism, which buffers data from the disc before sending it to the asynchronous DAC section. There’s the option of four digital filters that allows the user to tweak the sound from CD and digital sources to suit their tastes.
You also get a remote for operating the unit, as well as touch-sensitive controls built into the Artera Solus Play’s circular OLED displays. It’s available from July in a choice of black and silver front panels for £1699. The original Artera Solus (£1499) will continue to be sold.