: Edgar Kramer 
Financial Interests: Click here 
Source: AMR CD-77.1 CD player, MacBook with BitPerfect player and AIFF files 
Preamplifier: Supratek DHT Reference with Bendix rectifier tube; NuForce P9, NuForce P20, DEQX PreMate 
Amplifier: NuForce Reference 18 monoblocks; Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblocks 
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia 
Cables digital: Cerious Technologies; Harmonic Technology Magic; NuForce digital cables; ZenSati Seraphim; analog interconnects: Bocchino Audio Morning Glory; Cable Research Laboratory (CRL) Gold with Bocchino XLR and RCA; Cerious Technologies; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; ETI Quiessence Reference; Exakte IC; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; MIT Giant Killer MPC; NuForce IC-700; PSC Audio Monolith AG; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon; ZenSati Seraphim RCA & XLR; speaker cables: Cerious Technologies; ETI Quiessence Reference; Exakte speaker cable; MIT Giant Killer GK-1 loudspeaker cables; NuForce SC-700; ZenSati Seraphim; power cords: Cerious Technologies AC; Eichmann eXpress AC power cables; Exakte AC; Harmonic Technology Fantasy; PSC Gold Power MKII; Shunyata Research Diamondback 
Stands: SGR Signature racks 
Sundry accessories: Blue Horizon Spike Shoes; Burson Audio Buffer, Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3 and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints E-Loops; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions; Shakti On Lines; Densen & IsoTek CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment 
Room size: 6.4m wide by 7.1m long with high ceiling and narrow cavity behind speakers. Room has been professionally measured and found to be extraordinarily flat and neutral 
Review component retail: $6'990 for MC, $4'990/ea. for M100

This review was originally written for the Australian Audio Esoterica magazine. Due to a scheduling conflict, it was then orphaned. With its author part of our team, it now publishes here. As such, it is shorter than our usual reviews and with stock photos only. – Ed.

As we move forward and further along the windingly idiosyncratic path of digital audio playback, the so-called hub concept—where different sources, be they digital or analogue, coagulate into a single control component—takes on an ever more important role. Of course a true hub must include provisions for what’s fast becoming a legacy digital format, CD playback. After all, a large percentage of audio enthusiasts still have vast collections of silver discs. Fully recognizing this trend, San Francisco’s Resolution Audio set about engineering a product that could serve those purposes whilst providing preamplification duties in a single box with switching, volume control and digital-to-analogue conversion. The Cantata Music Centre is the fruit of these endeavours and Resolution Audio’s perfect match to the brand-new M100 monaural amplifiers. Here for review was the whole kit and caboodle.

Resolving issues. The Cantata Music Centre and M100 amplifiers come packed in bespoke wooden crates—a box per item—whose insides are lined with thick all-enveloping foam. So protective is the packaging that the clumsiest of couriers couldn’t damage these components. Well, not unless they deliberately set out to with a forklift. Any damage upon receipt should be seriously questioned. The Music Centre and M100 monos share the same chassis. And what a chassis it is! These are uniquely styled components far removed from the bland black box of folded sheet metal. The upper half is sculpted from a solid piece of aluminium which doubles as a heat sink and given a textured random-patterned chiseled look whilst the bottom section houses the buttonry and socketry. The Music Centre’s dot-matrix ‘multi-purpose display’ is aesthetically just as pleasing. It consists of a perforated grid which allows large back-lit numerical and text information to project through the perforations in an attractive white colour with adjustable brightness. This proved very elegant indeed and clearly visible from quite a few meters away.

The Cantata MC features a host of inputs, namely an Ethernet port for network integration (UPnP), asynchronous USB, Toslink, AES/EBU and S/PDIF coaxial (all 192kHz/24-bit max). Outputs are on RCA and XLR. ‘Cantata Link’ small RJ-style i/o sockets allow communication between the Music Centre and other Resolution Audio components. An IEC power inlet with fuse holder next to the on/off switch rounds out the back panel layout. Up front we find a CD slot directly below the funky display whilst a row of small black buttons operate standby, input selection, volume up/down, stop/eject, play/pause and track back/forward. A full-function remote control is included. So the Cantata MC is indeed a comprehensive disc player/DAC/preamp in one. Key specifications are an output impedance of 100Ω, with variable output voltage of 5.5Vrms maximum balanced and 2.5Vrms single-ended. Analogue attenuation spans from -30dB to max in 0.5dB steps and in 1dB steps from -31dB to -70dB. The M100 monos share the same design and chassis minus the display so the front only gets an on/off switch below the company’s logo. The rear features an IEC, RCA and XLR inputs and two sets of flush banana sockets (the only hook-up option with a third socket for ground) with plastic polarity-colour surrounds. Oddly, there’s no Cantata Link option.