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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 6
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margules audio

ADE-24 analog/digital enhancer

as reviewed by Francisco Duran

 

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FRANCISCO DURAN'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
ProAc Response 2 with Osiris 24" stands or Spendor SP 2/3.

ELECTRONICS
Monarchy SM-70 (ran as monoblocks), Antique Sound Labs MG-SPM25DT monoblocks, Canary CA-301Mk-II amplifier, and Reference Line Preeminence lA passive  and Canary CA-601Mk-II preamplifiers.

SOURCE
NAD T531 and Antique Electronic Supply CD-1 (temporary) CD players, and a Taddeo Digital Antidote Two.

CABLES
Either JPS Superconductor+ and FX interconnects and a double run of JPS Ultraconductor speaker cables, or Analysis Plus interconnects and Oval 12 speaker cables, and Monarchy and various DIY AC cords.

ACCESSORIES
Balanced Power Technologies BPT 4SE, Brick Wall Series Mode Surge Suppressor, Audio Prisim Quiet Lines and Noise Sniffer, Vibrapods, Black Diamond Racing Boards and cones, Final Labs Daruma-3II Isolation Bearings, various ferrite rings, Target rack, Yamaha KX-380 cassette deck, custom made wooden cable lifters by Mr. Clark senior, and all the NOS tubes I can afford!

 

Margules Audio made a great impression on me at CES 2003. The Margules room featured electronics and speakers that looked solidly built and had an abundance of innovative features. They were also giving forth some high-quality sound. The company, which has been doing business in Mexico City since the 1920s, has two audio branches. Margules is their high end line, while Magenta offers entry-level gear. The subject of this review, the ADE-24 Analog/Digital Enhancer, comes from the Magenta group. It is a harmonic restructuring processor and audio signal buffer. Margules claims enhanced detail, greater air and acoustic space between instruments, and reduced edginess. The device works in the analog domain, and can be installed between any digital source and a preamplifier. At CES, Mr. Margules and crew rigged it so that, with a flick of the remote, it could be taken in and out of the circuit. The ADE-24 clearly showed its mettle, and I asked for a review sample.

Eager to hear what the ADE-24 could do in my system, I installed it immediately after returning from Las Vegas. It spent time between either my NAD T531 DVD player or Nohr CD-1 CD player and my Canary preamp. I also compared it to the Taddeo Digital Antidote and Source Components Harmonic Recovery System Model 2. I have never been able to listen to a CD player hooked straight into my system, as it always sounds dimensionally challenged. This is especially noticeable in the midrange, where the music never seems to possess enough body. Microdynamics always sound slightly squashed. Whether the remedies are digital, like my long-gone Aragon or EAD DACs, or analog, like my current favorite, the Taddeo Digital Antidote, a "black box" has always helped diminish the undesirable sonic traits of my CD players. Could the ADE-24 meet the challenge?

The improvements made by the ADE-24 were immediate and obvious. First of all, the ADE-24 removed a slight but noticeably bright sheen from both of my CD spinners. With the ADE-24 installed, the top end was definitely smoother. While the treble region blended better with the musical spectrum, the ADE-24 didn't roll things off, and all the minute details were still audible. After switching the ADE-24 in and out several times, I realized that this unit was living up to Margules’ claims.

Another obvious improvement of the ADE-24 was a wider and deeper soundstage. This is what gave it away when I heard it at CES. There was now more elbow room between instruments. Although recording dependent, there was an across-the-board expansion in the space the music was occupying. An added benefit to this was that instruments and voices seemed to take on more natural size. It was as if the natural dynamics of the music were expanded. There was more bloom and less dynamic pinch, but it didn't sound artificial or bloated, and the music didn't sound smeared.

The ADE-24 also improved bass. Not only did the music sound more full-bodied, but bass extension was powerful and taut. There was a tightly focused articulation to bass instruments and drums. For instance, on the "Time Waits For No One" track from the Ambrosia Anthology CD, the song starts out with a very deep bass transient. The ADE-24 brought out this effect with more impact and authority than my CD players could do, either by themselves or with any of my other black boxes.

After listening to this unit for a few weeks, I felt that some comparisons were in order. When I replaced the ADE-24 with my Taddeo Digital Antidote, the music sounded very clean and dimensional, especially in the midrange, but to my surprise the Taddeo sounded thinner and brighter. There was a slight glare to the mids and lower treble. Musical lines were not as cleanly separated as they were through the ADE-24, and there was a slight congestion in complex passages. To add insult to injury, the bass was not as full or defined nor as deep as with the ADE-24. The Audio Harmony was no better. Both it and the Taddeo were slightly cleaner and clearer, but in both cases this was at the expense of added brightness.

Returning to the ADE-24, a full-bodied dimension returned to the music, along with more natural timbres. Nevertheless, the ADE-24 added a slight veiling. Also, two audio friends that borrowed the unit did not experience the same level of spaciousness. Both use the same brand of interconnects, which are different than my JPS. Contact Margules about compatibility issues. To be fair, the ADE-24 is quite a bit less expensive than the other two devices.

I was surprised at what this little, inexpensive black box from Mexico could do. The improvements it brought to digital sound were obvious, and made for a more enjoyable musical experience. If someone asked me to recommend a cost-effective way to improve digital sound, I would not hesitate to recommend the Magenta ADE-24. Francisco Duran

 

 

 

Retail: $190

Margules Audio
web address: http://www.margules.com.mx/

 

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