Prism Sound Callia DAC/Pre/Headphone amp

prism sound callia launchPrism Sound has made its name through making digital-to-analogue (DAC) converters for recording studios. Now they’re bringing their expertise to your home. GadgetyNews was at British Grove Studios to see them present the Callia.

Mark Knopfler was kind enough to allow a handful of Hi-Fi traders and journalists to enter his own personal studio in order to meet the new release from Prism Sound.

The Callia is a DAC, pre-amplifier and headphone amp in a compact box. It has been specifically designed to be used in “no compromise, high-quality home audio systems”. Bargain basement, this is not.

The device can handle digital signals up to 32 bit (USB only), 384kHz. Its DSD credentials are without equal. Let’s face it, as Prism Sound’s ADA-8XR is the DSD conversion tool of choice in many of the world’s top SACD mastering studios, the Callia should be the perfect choice for DSD reproduction at home. DSD64 and DSD128 Direct Stream Digital audio is bread and butter to this DAC.

prism sound callia box rearConnectivity options are USB (UAC2 over USB 2 or later), Coaxial RCA Phono (supporting S/PDIF and AES3-id or AES3 with suitable adaptor) and S/PDIF Optical. Output is through balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA phono.

prism sound callia dac headphone ampVolume is adjusted using the lovely blue LED ringed dial. Using the DIP pins at the rear of the unit you can disable this and use your main amp’s volume control. This means that the Callia can either be used as part of a compact digital rig (computer, Callia, active speakers) or in a full digital/analogue set up.

The Callia automatically detects the source and bit rate of the signal coming in and displays it on the front panel. You can select the source yourself too, using the button near the headphone port.

On the subject of headphones, users get the benefit of a built-in headphone amp and dedicated volume control potentiometer.

The DAC circuits are identical to the ones used in the company’s professional Lyra, Titan and Atlas recording interfaces. This adds up to your music being “reproduced exactly as it sounded in the studio or recording location”. So says Prism Sound.

It certainly did sound impressive played in the reception area through a pair of actice ATC speakers (I think they were SCM40s). In Studio 2, it was incredible.

Graham Boswell, sales and marketing director, says,

For 30 years we have been at the forefront of A/D and D/A converter technology. Our products are found all over the world, with so much of our favourite music and movie scores having been recorded, mixed or mastered using Prism Sound professional converters… We wanted to bring this level of quality and transparency into the home to enable the modern music lover and audiophile to benefit from hearing their recordings in exactly the same way as the original artiste, engineer or producer.”

Price and availability

The RRP for the Prism Sound Callia is £1500 + VAT, which will take it to around the £1800 mark.

I am very pleased to say that I managed to sneak out with one of the demo units so expect a review very soon!

Callia specs at a glance
  Plug, play and enjoy your music in all popular formats
  • No-compromise, full Prism Sound audio quality
  • Play in Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS and Android
  • Class compliant UAC2/USB for best compatibility
  • ASIO drivers for Windows
  • Windows WDM drivers (Vista and later)
  • Play from disc transport/player device via S/P-DIF
  • Optical and co-axial S/P-DIF inputs
  • Playback sampling rates from 44.1kHz to 384kHz
  • DSD64/128 via DOP (S/P-DIF DSD64 only)
  • Automated source selection, with manual override
  • Balanced +14dBu XLR and 2V RCA phono outputs
  • Low-Z headphone output (adjustable sensitivity)
  • Front-panel digital master volume control
  • State-of-the-art clocking with hybrid 2-stage DPLL
  • Fully-floating balanced architecture for low noise