High End Munich 2019: CanEver DAC-Headphone Amp

I have not yet experienced the music-playback capabilities of CanEver’s ZeroUno D/A processor. But Art Dudley has. And he praised it at some length in the April 2017 Stereophile: “By the end of its stay in my home, it had pushed virtually all of my Happy buttons — not by doing everything I could ask of it, but by having a point of view that aligned with my own.”

CanEver’s ZeroUno original DAC caught my attention because it is from a small Italian company (I like small European companies) with a sharp-brained, designer-engineer named Mario Canever, who, I thought, might have an aesthetic-engineering viewpoint not too dissimilar from my own.

Unfortunately, the booth Mario Canever shared with his German distributor Rainer Israel (Friends of Audio) was a static display. After listening at length to Mario describing his implementation of the ESS Sabre32 ES9018S DAC chip, and why he chose the CV181 tube for its output/buffer, and why transformers are central to his engineering practice, I had to ask, “Why a static display?” I explained how, “talk is talk,” and the best way to get audiophile’s attention is with sound. “People hear it. They like it. They chatter amongst themselves; and, the buzz is on!”

I was saying this partly because I really wanted to plug some HiFiMan Susvara headphones into CanEver’s new €4,500 ZeroUno DAC-HPA digital preamplifier and headphone amplifier and discover for myself what the CanEver house sound is really like.

The ZeroUno uses the same Sabre processor as their tubed DAC, but with no tubes. In addition to USB, the CanEver “DAC-HPA” includes inputs for AES EBU, S/PDIF, and optical.

Next time I see Rainer and Mario I hope they are doing a live demonstration, so I can report on the similarities of our audio-aesthetics.