Yes, I have had my Romulus since August 2012 and am very happy with it. A lengthy break-in is mandatory, as mine didn't start sounding great until after the 50-hour mark. Great imaging, texture, natural reproduction of instruments are the first things you will notice. Then, it will hit you that it sounds very much like really good analog. This CDP simply sounds good, making me want to listen to it. Interesting that little is published about this CDP, but I think the reviews are coming in near future. I needed a one-box digital rig, and the Romulus was a perfect fit for my tastes and my system. Toggling back and forth between my vinyl rig and the Romulus yields only minor differences to me in my room and with my system.
Thanks! for sharing. This player is on my short-list to demo.
Just tried to make sense of Stereophile review of this product. It mentions CD's but then finishes the sentence about HD downloads. I had no sense of how it worked as a CDP. I use Aesthetix for my phono stage, so I would have been intrigued as to how it was as a CD player. The best CD audio to me are the players that are reading the disks, and using a buffer memory to feed an asynchronous dac.
this player is good enough to have its own, dedicated, article and not be coupled w/ other disc spinners.
I own a Romulus cdp & agree with Rtilden's comments. The Aesthetix has a very natural, unforced sound. There is a touch of warmth and sweetness. Imagining is very good and there is a texture and body which is quite analogue-like. I'm using Jorma Prime cables which contribute to the musicality i'm hearing. I'd also like to add that the build quality and attention to detail are excellent. Extensive use of faraday cages, immaculate layout...it's pretty obvious great pride is taken in building these products. Rtilden summed it up well "This CDP simply sounds good, making me want to listen to it"
Best digital I have yet to hear. I love this CD player. So musical and utterly engaging. I climbed the ladder to the best computer based digital rig I could assemble and like this player better. Ya, simple, old school CD spinning and this player.
Anyone hear the Signature version? Grannyring....better than the Lampi?
Lula, I loved the Lampi. I wanted to go to a one box, old school CD player. I enjoy the music equally through the Romulus.......perhaps more:-)
Lula, I plan on doing some of the Signature mods myself. The Vishay resistors and cap upgrades. I will use Jupiter copper caps however for coupling, not Dynamicaps. I will use the Dynnmicaps for output like the Signature as they are large 4uf and 8 of them are needed!
I'm stunned by your post, but respect your candor. You've been a very
vocal and stanch supporter of computer digital systems. This is quite a
change of direction ( I know that ultimately you trust your ears).This
borders on shocking given the many pro- computer comments from you.
Never thought you would return to CD spinning (which I happened to enjoy
immensely). All my component choices are guided by the ability to
preserve and honor
emotional engagement and communication to the soul of music, if keeps
things real.Welcome back.
The only reason I even tried another CD player was because I am not a computer guy, but forced myself to learn all the in and outs. It came with a lot of frustration and effort. Yes, I learned and I am proud of my efforts.
In the end I grew weary of all the downloads, ripping of cd's, sporadic computer issues etc....that I longed to just put a cd in a drawer and play music. I am a simple guy and want to get away from computer hassles when out of work.
I like handling CDs and the simplicity of my hobby is now back. I once thought looking for a cd was a hassle, well not compared to having to interact and wrestle with a computer. I really cringed when it was time to download new music from the net or when the computer would act up.
In terms of sound my computer digital set up was the best sound I had experienced in a front end. I was ready to trade sound quality for the ease of CDs as I longed to go old school and ditch the computer. What I was not prepared for, or even believed, was a cd spinner could actually sound as good.
My experience with CD players and dac/transport combos in the past suggested my computer rig was far superior. Well, the Romulus changed that reality. Fact is I like the Romulus more. I am saying I like the sound better. My music is just more satisfying and pleasurable now. That is the simple bottom line.
I did not want to post all of this on the Lampi thread as I greatly respect the Lampi and the folks who own then. No need to rain on that party!
Its funny Grannyring all you had to do was to buy a good reasonable transport like the PS Audio hook it up to the Lampi and I think you would have changed your mind.
Jwm, well that is a guess at best. It may or may not have sounded as good as what I have now or had. Speculation.
I wanted a one box simple solution. No need for a second power cord, digital cable and second box. A one box CD player was my goal.
I think the Romulus is special as I have had more high end players, dacs and transports than I care to recap here. As for the PS audio/Lampi combo, well I have paired the Lampi with high quality transports and preferred my computer and now the Romulus. Would the PS/Lampi combo be more special than the Romulus....who knows.
I thoroughly understand your rationale. At the end of the day simplicity and superb music reproduction are the top priorities for me . I'm glad it all worked out for you.My lack of interest in computer audio is exactly for the reasons you've listed.Jwm's PS Audio transport and Lampizator is excellent but I know you wanted a single box solution.
Grannyring, I understand exactly where you're coming from and couldn't agree more.
This is crazy!, I was just thinking about this player yesterday, even went to the site, came on to audiogon, a supprise indeed that the Romulas thread was alive and well, I just ordered a vincent cd-s7 player that uses the 12aux7 and 12au7 tubes that can run direct to amp, I owned this player before, this vincent bettered the sound of a $6,350.00 player I had, I am going to use the vincent for temporary use to get my rig going,and untill I can afford the Romulas player, The Romulas is tops on my list, I suspect that Aesthetix may come out with a better player over the next year or two?, I want a Romulas with the analog volume control that does 4 volts out for balanced cables to run direct to my amp, cheers
Hi, well it seems Jack has come out with a very Brand new model signature Romulas player!, go ahead, read about this player, True DSD digital, No rubber feet, New after market Isolation footers that substantialy lower the noise floor, etc.. Basically, A whole new player, Thou I just Bought a new cd player, The player is ultimatly going to be used on a second system that I will be Building around the Tara Labs model- The one interconnects and speaker cables, I believe this new Romulas signature will go on my main system, you guys excuse my ignorance here, question, does true DSD allow for super audio play back?, or does it only mean a much better digital signal that is not PCM?
I also forgot to add that the older Romulas and Pandora units are available at the factory for the signature up-grade!, that is cool, also, The new Romulas signature just won the absolute sound editors choice product of the year for 2014, mmmm, must be very good, cheers.
His name is Jim White not Jack. His DSD circuit is a separate circuit than the PCM which is really the best way to do it. Other dacs upsample the PCM signal to DSD.
I am not that sold on DSD yet, but I did upgrade my Romulus to the
Signature level on my own on the analog board. I put in the same parts
they do to upgrade it to the Signature level. The DSD ability is all my unit is
lacking compared to the Signature.
I am not going to use the USB input so DSD is not something I really cared
The unit sounds amazing. I have not shared this as yet, but I do prefer it
over my tricked out computer based rig with the Lampizator and Empirical
Audio stuff. I did not think this would be the case, but as it turned out I
prefer the sound of the Romulus. More musical and refined. Less up front
or forced sounding is the best way for me to describe the differences.
Larger stage and much improved bass.
I just want to listen to the music more than the sound with the Romulus.
I still need to tube roll to see what is possible, but I love the unit.
Should I ever decide to play music from a computer again, I will look to
upgrade to the DSD board. Right now I want to run from computers:-)
This recent article from Absolute Sound does a pretty good job
summarizing where DSD is at. Not sure it is the magic bullet just yet?
So where do things currently stand for DSD file playback?
First, although the situation is improving, there still arent a lot of music files
in the DSD format available for purchase, and most of the ones available
are classical. That makes sense; most existing DSD files were recorded to
serve as masters for SACDs, and most SACDs were classical. But thats
about to change now that Sony Music, Universal, and Warner are opening
their vaults; with HDtracks and Acoustic Sounds offering DSD downloads, I
expect a much wider variety of music to be marketed, which should
increase interest in downloading DSD albums. Several of my audio buddies
have expressed increased interested in DSD now that more non-classical
material is available.
Second, although lots of hardware is available that will play DSD files,
were still on the leading edge of development, and as several of my recent
struggles to use DACs and servers with DSD capability have shown me, its
still not a plug-and-play operation. A good dealer who can help you set up
your equipment is worth his weight in gold.
Third, by far the most common format for DSD recordings is the DFF file.
DSF files may hold more metadata, but DFF files are probably a safer way
to go if you have an option when purchasing.
Fourth, many DSD files available for purchase are priced at a premium
level. I hope/expect their prices will go down at least to the level of high-
resolution PCM downloads, but who knows? SACD prices never went
down to the level of CDs; if they had, the medium might have succeeded.
Fifth, DSD is not a magic bullet. It does not guarantee that a recording will
sound good. Many factors in the recording environment affect the sound
quality: microphones, the acoustics of the recording venue, the performers
ability, cables, and doubtless other things all contribute to the quality of a
recording. To my ears, a really good DSD recording can sound quite
special, but not all DSD recordings are really good.
Sixth, downloading music files may require customers to perform some
computer operations to create folders on their servers music-storage
drives, extract files from a compressed zip file, and transfer them to the
new folders. While those are not difficult tasks, they may be beyond some
customers abilities. Several advanced audiophile friends told me they
wouldnt be able to perform the operations necessary to handle
downloaded files. This isnt just a DSD problem; it exists for all computer-
For now, as with any new development, if youre willing to pay premium
prices and go to a little (or maybe not so little) trouble to set up your
hardware, DSD music files provide some of the best sound available. This
should be no surprise; it always costs more to be on the leading edge of
sorry jwm, I did see the correct name on the site, I must have got Jim confussed with jack, @ grannyring, I enjoyed your post, I to, just want to listen to the music instead of the sound of a componet, your post was very helpfull, Thankyou.
Grannyring wrote "I just want to listen to the music more than the sound with the Romulus". That essentially says it all. The litmus test for me has been this, do components cause you to get lost in the music or do they have you analyzing the sound.IMO the best audio components draw your attention to the emotional and communicative power of music. The more hifi like components lead towards a focus on a check list of sound parameters. Well anyway, that's been my experience .
I'm a disc spinner as well and have no desire to go with a computer based system, my tube player is so musical and engaging...
Grannyring, is your unit, aside form DSD, now "identical" to the Signature version? Aesthetix is selling the latter for 10K....that's 3k more than the standard version. When you say the bass is improved, do you mean deeper and tighter? Can you elaborate a little further on the sonic differences between the 2 versions? Any reason Duelund caps weren't chosen? I'm also looking to simplify with a one box solution.....not interested in computer audio.
Grannyring, I guess Lula wants to know if the Signature version is just as musical as the standard as sometimes when a component has very tight bass it may also have a little bit leaner overall balance.
Lula, when I say the bass is improved I mean compared to my Lampizator
4/4 with computer front end. All my sound quality statements were vs. the
Lampi/computer combo, not the Signature Romulus.
The Signature Romulus has a different digital board and the differences
are all centered around the DSD ability. My unit was upgraded by myself to
match or better what the Signature upgrade does to the analog board. I
installed Vishay resistors and 8 of the 4 uf Dynamicap outputs caps just like
Instead of using Dynamicaps in the coupling position as done on the
Signature mod I decided to use the new Jupiter copper foil caps which are
better and also more expensive. The upgrade replaces four .22uf Rel Caps.
All I can speak to is how this upgrade differs in performance vs. the stock
- increase resolution and air
- more extended highs
- improved imaging
- more micro detail emerge
The parts are still breaking in and I will report back in a while. The stock
unit is heaven and there is no need to change anything out, the above
improvements simply made the unit a little less dark sounding.....not day
and night. Once the parts and soldering are fully burned in I will report
Hope this helps
Is it because it is too expensive for the average audiophile who does not have 7k to 8k laying around on his desk at home.
Grannyring notes that the "Signature Version: is a cool $10,000. I am sure there are a few or more members who have taken the plunge for either standard version or Signature. I could, but won't because of either the potential of buyer's remorse, or doing a two to three weeks hitch in sunny Spain, Italy, and Greece
Thanks, Grannyring.....very enlightening!
I purchased mine used and with the upgrades spent $4200 as an FYI. Far less than the cost of a dac, computer, USB to spdif converter, extra power cords, digital cable.........
They show up used once in a while....
Grannyring, the Signature upgrade also includes HRS Nimbus Couplers. Did you install these?
It doesn't matter how you purchased your Romulus DAC, the point is that you got it and are happy with it. I don't know why some people are concerned with how other adults choose to spend their money. Vacation travel, audio components, jewelry, boat or custom tailored clothing etc. We all have our personal preferences. We all certainly have different disposable income spending budgets. So what's out of reach for one is easily obtainable for another, that's simple reality. What brings the most joy and satisfaction is what should be pursued and is an individual matter. You could spend 500.00 on a DAC and be pleased, or spend 50K and be frustrated and unhappy. The converse is also true.
Putting on a Sistrum stand. Charles. ..... Right again!
The Star Sound Sistrum platforms have been very worthwhile and exceptionally cost effective in my system. I'm not surprised that you like them. The Apprentice versions are really an asset.
Grannyring, Hi, Does the signature Romulas auto up-sample red-book cds to 24/192 format?, I do not believe the older stock version Romulas could do the conversion, cheers.
The DSP section utilizes the Motorola DSP 56362 for our specially designed oversampling filters, which adapt according to the incoming sample rate. Over 1.5 megabytes of static memory buffering is selectively used to completely isolate incoming data from USB and SPDIF from outgoing data to the DAC.
To Grannyring. I had a interesting discussion last night with an AG member selling a Cambridge 840C. I mentioned to him I had no interest in computer audio and the features on the 840C or the newer 851C. He honestly declared that if I had no interest in computer audio, then just stick with my Rega Apollo player because there would be only a marginal improvement in sound quality, and reduction of digital glare with 840C. This type of testimonial about a Rega player should have stopped me dead in my quest for better sound; I know full well the sonic capabilities of the Rega, however, I can't agree with him, and the corollary to my disagreement is I am not comfortable with spending $4000-5000 to make a 15-20% jump in sound quality, IF SOMETHING LIKE THAT CAN BE MEASURED IN PERCENTAGES.
I e-mailed him about the 840C on sale after commenting on this thread about the Romulus. I later realized that his point was probably accurate for the Sony XA5400 ES player highly praised in several magazines. The major improvement in sound quality I am looking may be only had by way of the Romulus, or lest expensive players like Rega Isis ($5600), the Ayre CX7emp2 ($3500), or the ARC CD-5(approx. $5,000). The cited players can be purchased used on AG for less than what you scored the Romulus with upgrades, $4200
This leads me to a point about the Aethetix company and pricing. I have read in TAS that this is virtually a 3-4 man operation working out of a reconverted large garage. One has to think that this mode of production, besides the claim of incorporating mil spec or NASA spec parts, accounts for the $7000 to $10,000 price tags of their CD players. Point to point soldering by one or two technicians must account for high labor costs.
However, there must be a less expensive way to build an equally outstanding CD player for $3000-$4000, that would be almost hafted in priced as a "USED" item on AG.
I never auditioned a player above the $2500 range, and so can't declare upon hearing the Romulus, or even less exalted players "....OMG!!! that is a great freakin CD player". (BTW, the Ayre CX-7emp2 usually sells used for $1600-1800.) Obviously Granny, you may have heard these top dogs I noted, and said fuck it, I will set my sights on the Romulus whether standard or upgraded.
As I see it, companies like Aethetix produce great products at high prices because their rationale is that worn out excuse ".... our products are virtually hand made, using only the best parts, and also directly demonstrate the designer's engineering genius"
Wonderful sentiments, but backward in terms of today's cost efficient production technology. I think great (not just very good) CD players can be produced at lower costs, and therefore offered at a lower retail price.
Sometimes, I think audio enthusiasts and audiophiles romantizise small production operations as a guarantee of outstanding build quality, and of course, outstanding sound that stands far above even less expensive components manufactured on production line. In my opinion, I think this is an unsustainiable myth that functions as a cover for gouging audio customers who want only the best.
Sunny you said a lot above and here are my thoughts.
First I have owned/listened the Apollo, Ayre top of the line player, Cary 306,
Marantz 7s1, one of the top Esoteric models, and several other top end
players. Some I owned, some I sold for audio friends and had them in my
rig for awhile etc....
The Romulus is the best I have owned in terms of drawing me into the
music and not offending with glare.
Now Aesthetix may be small, but that plays a smaller role than you think in
my opinion. If by small you mean people, then I agree. They sell a good
amount of gear however and may have large outside companies making
their boards etc..... You are really paying for the engineering and design.
They are skilled designers, Jim White, and know how to make musical
That is what you and I pay for. I don't know if they populate all the circuit
boards or if they come from an outside supplier in or outside of the USA. I
just don't know and don't really care. The parts quality and build quality is
The power supply in the Romulus is something to behold and one of the
reasons it sounds the way it does. I love the design and the designer
knows what he is doing for sure. Ya, we pay for Jim and his knowledge and
The building of the unit is just one part, one expense really.
I am not a long time "fan" of the company or anything like that, but know
enough about gear to know this unit is special and well designed.
Is it worth $7,000 to $10,000? Ha! That's really not the question. Fact is it
must be priced this way or it would never be available to audiophiles. We
audiophiles make up a small total population and basic economics demand
a high price must be paid to sustain an esoteric business endeavor like the
Yes great players can be made for less, but they cannot be sold for much
less as the company will not stay in business. The selling price is based on
demand......which is very small. Lowering the price will not bring about
enough new business to offset the loss in margin. No, total net margin
dollars will shrink.
So yes the Romulus is worth it because the business math is the truth
barometer here. Now it is worth it to you or I or Joe next door, well that is a
question only the individual can answer. There is no universal answer for
I have owned the Rega Isis for over two years and before I bought it I was able to compare in my system ARC, Esoteric, & EMMS Labs players similarly priced. I felt the Rega sounded smoother and more analog like, no digital glare. If the rest of your system is up to it this price range of CDP's can be appreciated.
very good point Bobheinatz.
@ Grannyring, Do you mind me asking what sales site you found your Romulas player you bought?, I have never seen one on audiogon before, unless one slipped thru the cracks, cheers.
AudiogoN. I have seen three for sale over the past two months as an FYI.
What about Ayon CD-07 CD player( their most basic player)??
How would you rate its performance on its own,..... and then compared to the Romulus Standard, and the Rega Isis??
To BobH: the Rega Isis is $5700 at retail, and used ones sell for between $4000-$4700. Not exactly a bargain, and they don't come up that often.
The Isis is 9K retail....the Isis Valve version is 10K.
Thankyou grannyring, I have never thought to look at FYI for a cd-player, why would a Romulas be listed there?
FYI = for your information.
The used units were found here on Agon.
Has anyone listened to Romulus/Pandora Signature Ed playing DSD? What are your impression?
May be I missed it, I have not read any feedback on the DSD playback on net. My local dealer doesn't has the signature ed yet. Is it not commercially available?
LOL!, I am sorry, I do not know computer terminolgy, Thankyou Grannyring.
The Signatures should start shipping this month.