Antelope Zodiac Gold 24/384 DAC

Another interesting professional/consumer crossover product introduced at the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention last week was a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) from Antelope Audio. The Zodiac Gold can handle digital audio at resolutions up to 24 bits and sample rates up to 384kHz, a far higher rate than any commercially available content currently uses.

The Zodiac Gold comes with a separate, 3-stage, linear power supply dubbed Voltikus, a small remote, and a step-relay attenuator on the front panel, all for $4500. If you don't need 24/384 conversion, you could opt for the Zodiac+ (24-bit/192kHz, $2500) or Zodiac (24-bit/96kHz, $1500), neither of which come with an outboard power supply, remote, or step-relay attenuator; the Voltikus power supply can be added to either model for an extra $700.

Other features offered by the Zodiac+ and Gold include an AES/EBU digital-audio input (all three have S/PDIF inputs), de-jittered digital output, and a word-clock input to accommodate an external clock. That last one is important in a system with multiple digital devices that must be accurately synchronized, but all Zodiac models also include a temperature-controlled, highly accurate internal clock.

Because there's currently no commercially available content at 24/384, I wondered if the Zodiac Gold can upsample lower resolutions. It can't—according to the rep I spoke with at the show, it does such a good job at the data's native rate that upsampling was deemed unnecessary. However, as digital-audio resolutions continue to increase, the Zodiac Gold is ready for the day when 24/384 files reach the commercial market. Now that's what I call future proof!