Quad is celebrating the start of its 83rd year by adding a one-box hi-fi system to the Artera Series. The British audio brand introduces the Artera Solus. Here you have a CD transport, DAC, preamplifier and power amplifier in a single compact chassis. Additionally, you get extensive connectivity options including Bluetooth wireless streaming.
The first thing that strikes me about the Artera Solus is its beautiful simplicity. However, beauty is definitely more than skin deep here.
Quad Artera Solus
At the heart of the Artera Solus sits an ES9018 Sabre32 Reference. This is the eminent 32-bit, eight-channel hybrid multi-bit Delta-Sigma DAC chipset. Naturally, this has been expertly implemented by Quad’s renowned electronics engineers.
Quad Artera Solus design
All Artera Series components share the same compact 32x32cm footprint, with a crisp, clean aesthetic that both evokes Quad’s past and looks forward to the future.
The housing provides a rigid structure that exudes quality and resists interference from external vibrations. There’s a textured aluminium front panel, thick glass top and CNC-routed heat sinks on either side.
I do dig the sleek looks and the intuitive touch-sensitive controls built into their circular OLED displays.
The DAC can handle PCM data up to 32-bit/384kHz as well as DSD64/128/256. This ensures the Artera Solus is fully equipped to make the most of today’s hi-res music formats, as well as future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.
Four digital filter options enable you to tailor the sound from both CDs and external digital sources. This is handy not only to suit your personal taste but also the nature of the source material.
The Artera Solus’s preamp and power amp sections mix minimalist design with high-quality components. Furthermore, they acheive short, direct signal paths that preserve sonic purity.
Volume is digitally controlled in the analogue domain. Output from here is sent directly to the dual-mono Class AB power amp section. This delivers 2x75W into eight ohms, with a maximum current delivery of 15 Amps into difficult loads.
To minimise distortion, the power supplies for the left and right channels are isolated from each other. They’re also isolated 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. So, now you know.
Basically, the CFB stage offers superior linearity and ensures excellent thermal stability. The use of 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. This has the bonus of being voltage independent.
Current limiting is under microprocessor control and programmed to allow the amplifier to supply high currents (+- 15A) into complex loads. Using this method enables it to surpass amplifiers that are bigger and more powerful on paper.
A 300VA toroidal transformer supplies the two mono amplifiers using separate secondary windings. Finally, followed by a 2x15000uF reservoir capacity per channel (60000uF in total).
All that said, you can perhaps tell that much effort has gone into the physical layout of the Artera Solus’s circuitry. The overall focus has been to keep interference to a minimum.
The result is a performance on par with much more expensive multi-component hi-fi systems. You can expect the Solus to be detailed, natural, expansive and dynamic. This keeps it in line with Quad’s continuing quest to deliver “the closest approach to the original sound”.
There are five digital inputs – two coaxial, two optical and one USB Type B. There’s also a USB Type A socket for software updates. Additionally, there’s a pair of RCA phono 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.
Further options come by way of optical and coaxial digital outputs, a 12V trigger output and a front-mounted jack coupled to a dedicated headphone amp circuit.
Finally, rounding everything off, are a pair of high-quality speaker binding posts.
More to come
If you want even more, you greedy little so-and-so, well just you hang on in there.
Later this year, a second version of the Artera Solus will join the Bluetooth-equipped model. This premium version will add comprehensive app-controlled Wi-Fi network streaming facilities. As you can imagine, this will deliver even greater choice of music consumption to you.
If Bluetooth is sufficient and you don’t require full network streaming, you won’t have to pay for a redundant facility. However, the option will be available just in case you want it.
What’s more, if you do purchase the standard Bluetooth model, you’ll be able to upgrade to the fully loaded network streaming version, once it’s available this autumn.
Price and availability
The new Artera Solus is available from February 2018. It will come in a choice of black or silver front panels and an RRP of £1,499.95.
The Bluetooth-equipped model will be joined this autumn by a premium version with app-controlled Wi-Fi network streaming smarts.