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Metronome AQWO
Foto © Metronome Technologie

Metronome AQWO – The DAC and SACD/CD Hybrid

As a proven expert in the field of digital solutions, there is one thing that Metronome Technologie cannot do without: a CD player, perhaps even an SACD player. Such a solution at the highest level is available with the Metronome AQWO.

AQWO, at first glance an unusual name for a consumer electronics solution, reveals a lot about the developers’ intentions, as it refers to the ancient Greek word “akouo”, which means “to listen” or “to hear well”. This is exactly what the Metronome AQWO, the latest SACD and CD player with integrated DAC from Metronome Technologie and its Metronome AQWO range, is designed to do.

Metronome Technologie thus serves a clientele that, even with the increasing importance of streaming, by no means wants to do without proven data carriers.

Are CDs and SACDs obsolete with streaming?

At least from Metronome Technologie’s point of view, this question can be answered with a clear no in view of the French company’s current product range.

And in fact, it turns out that especially audiophile music lovers and particularly ambitious hi-fi enthusiasts by no means want to do without optical data carriers.

On the one hand, this is due to the fact that these customers own hundreds, if not thousands of audio CDs, and of course still want to use them. Likewise, these customers continue to rely on CDs and Super Audio CDs when it comes to acquiring new music, because sometimes they are interested in very special editions with special mixes and special mastering. With streaming, as we all know, you are at the mercy of the respective provider and have to make do with what they offer.

So it’s quite contemporary for a provider in the high-end hi-fi segment to offer the finest CD and SACD players. Especially since Metronome Technologie made a very clever move with the Metronome AQWO.

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Metronome AQWO – SACD Player and DAC

The AQWO does not rely solely on the playback of optical data carriers, be it Audio CD or Super Audio CD. Instead, the unit is opened up for other sources, namely via a D/A converter that is available for a wide variety of digital players.

It is obvious to choose such a concept, after all, for accurate signal processing of optical data carriers, you have to rely on a fine D/A converter anyway, so a few additional interfaces hardly matter, but are enormously decisive for flexibility.

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Designed as a top loader

It is striking that the Metronome AQWO is a so-called top loader. On the top of the unit there is a cover under which the drive is located. Especially ambitious hi-fi enthusiasts appreciate this kind of construction, as it allows for an optimal fixation of the data carrier with the help of a suitable puck, which in this case is made of Delrin plastic.

Delrin is a plastic from Dupont, which is ultimately polyoxymethylene, also known as POM. This material is characterised by its special properties, such as high damping, especially in the field of consumer electronics, so that it is often used in record players, especially as turntables.

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Custom optimised drive

Metronome Technologie states that the drive unit used in the Metronome AQWO has been designed according to their own specifications for the motor and the servo for control. It goes without saying that the turntable has its own solid chassis and is optimally damped in this class.

Absolutely solid construction

The entire construction of the Metronome AQWO can be described as – well, massive. With dimensions of 425 x 130 x 415 mm, this solution weighs in at an impressive 15 kg. This is not only due to the extremely sturdy aluminium housing and the aforementioned drive, but also to the powerful power supply, which is based on a toroidal transformer with Schaffner filters and ten independent power supplies for the individual sections.

32 Bit 384 kHz and DSD512 Signal Processing

32-bit 384 kHz D/A converters in dual mono design are responsible for signal processing, signals in DSD are processed including DSD512.

As described, this signal processing is not only available for the integrated drive, but also for any external digital sources.

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Variety of connections

And when it comes to connections for digital sources, the Metronome AQWO proves to be extremely versatile and open to all conceivable options.

The data sheet starts with two optical and two coaxial S/PDIF interfaces, as well as an AES/EBU interface. As if that were not enough, there is also a USB port, whereby this is designed as USB Type B and thus allows the direct connection of a PC or Mac. Of course, this is an asynchronous data transfer, which can reach up to 32 bits and 384 kHz.

Interestingly, the Metronome AQWO also provides digital outputs, and not just a few at that. In addition to an optical and a coaxial S/PDIF interface, there is an AES/EBU interface as well as an HDMI port, although this ultimately conceals a proprietary I2S.

Analogue output section with the option of more…

For analogue signals, there is initially an unbalanced output in the form of a pair of RCA sockets, next to which there is a pair of XLR connectors for balanced signals. The Metronome AQWO comes with a classic transistor output stage from the factory, but there’s more to it than that for the real finesse.

Metronome Technologie offers an optional tube output stage for the Metronome AQWO. This can, but does not have to, be selected as a factory option; it can also be upgraded at any time, as the French specialist expressly emphasises.

Huge Display

At first glance, one feature of the Metronome AQWO will catch your eye that you would not expect to find on a CD or SACD player. We’re talking about a display that is positively lush, and we haven’t spared in the wrong place.

The display of the Metronome AQWO is so generous that it is easy to read even from a distance of several metres. It is indeed a 6 1/2 inch display with an aspect ratio of 21/9, something we would like to see more often on devices, and yes, definitely also on a CD or SACD player.

By the way, since this is a touchscreen display, it is also extremely comfortable to use.

The Metronome AQWO is available from specialist dealers in either black or silver. The recommended retail price is € 15,990.

Getting to the point

Fortunately, they still exist, the true “heavyweights” in the field of CD and SACD players. This is to be understood as an ambiguous play on words, because what Metronome Technologie offers in the case of the Metronome AQWO in terms of mass for optimal smoothness and thus an accurate reading of optical media is unfortunately not very often found on the market anymore, all the more audiophile hi-fi enthusiasts appreciate such solutions. The fact that this player is so flexible thanks to the integrated DAC, which is open to a wide range of sources, should secure it a place in many a hi-fi rack. After all, it skilfully combines classic optical media with the possibilities of streaming.

Manufacturer:Metronome Technologie
Distribution Austria:Audio Exclusive GmbH
Distribution Germany:H.E.A.R. GmbH
Distribution Switzerland:Portier Hi-Fi
Price:€ 15.990,-

About Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.com, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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