Reviews

Review: Métronome AQWO 2 DAC: A Journey through Sonic Excellence

Review: Métronome AQWO 2 All-in-one player with streamer, DAC, CD player - Dive into the immersive world of high-fidelity audio with the Métronome AQWO 2, an all-in-one player that sets new standards.

Introduction: A Musical Adventure Begins

In the realm of high-end audio, the name Métronome AQWO 2 is whispered with reverence. Unveiling its grandeur evokes a sense of ceremony, like unearthing a treasure chest hidden in the sands of time. Boasting a unique blend of digital expertise and craftsmanship, this French player transcends the ordinary, offering a sonic experience and a journey into the depths of musical bliss.

Every aspect of the Métronome AQWO 2 is a testament to precision and elegance. From its handcrafted construction to the meticulously designed gold front panel, this device is a masterpiece of artistry and engineering. With its top-loading drive compartment and a smooth, buttery mechanism, the AQWO 2 delights the senses, inviting the user into a world where every detail is crafted with care.

Established in 1987, Métronome Audio is a digital specialist that has left an indelible mark on the hi-fi landscape. Boasting a reputation for unparalleled craftsmanship and sonic excellence, this French company has consistently pushed the boundaries of audio innovation. With the AQWO 2 universal player, Métronome continues its legacy of precision, blending cutting-edge technology with handcrafted elegance to create an audio experience like no other.

Technical Specification

OriginDesigned and manufactured in France
TypeCD/SACD player and network
Unit dimensions (H x W x D)130 x 425 x 415 mm
Unit weight15 kg
Formats SupportedCD, SACD, FLAC, WAV, MP3, ALAC, AAC, AIFF, DSF, DFF
Converter32 bits / 384 kHz in dual mono, 1 converter per channel
Wireless connectivityWifi
Supply3/4 toroidal transformers with Schaffner filters, 10 independent regulation lines
Control applicationsApplications UPnP disponibles sur iOS, Android, Windows (BubbleUPnP, mconnect, Plug Player, etc.), Roon
Online music servicesQobuz, Tidal, as well as all the services offered by compatible applications
Web radioYes
Ports1 x Ethernet, 1 x USB (for storage)
Digital inputs1 x USB, 2 x coaxial, 2 x optique, 2 x AES/EBU
Analog outputs1 x stereo RCA, 1 x stereo XLR
Digital outputs1 x proprietary HDMI I2S, 1 x coaxial, 1 x optical, 1 x AES/EBU
Display  21/9 the diagonal 16.5 cm

The Unboxing Experience: A Masterpiece of Craftsmanship

The unboxing experience of the Métronome AQWO 2 is more than just the opening of a box; it’s an unveiling of an intricate symphony of design and artistry. Each component, from the gold-plated front panel to the meticulously engineered drive compartment, is a testament to the company’s commitment to craftsmanship. The AQWO 2 is not just a hi-fi device; it’s a work of art, painstakingly handcrafted to ensure that every detail is flawless.

The gold-plated front panel, adorned with the Métronome logo, immediately commands attention. It’s more than just a design choice; it’s a statement of elegance and luxury. The craftsmanship is evident from the moment you look at it, and the attention to detail is apparent in every curve and line.

You’re greeted with a smooth mechanism as you open the top-loading drive compartment. The drive compartment is a marvel of engineering, with a Delrin CD puck that clicks securely into place, ensuring that your CDs are held firmly. The mechanism is so solid that it’s a pleasure to use, and it’s clear that every aspect of its design has been carefully considered.

Even the packaging of the AQWO 2 is a work of art. The box is sturdy and well-designed, with foam inserts that protect the device during shipping. Inside, you’ll find the AQWO 2 in a custom foam insert, ensuring it arrives pristine.

Overall, the unboxing experience of the Métronome AQWO 2 is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s clear that every aspect of its design has been carefully considered, and the result is a device that’s not just a hi-fi player but a work of art.

The Drive Compartment: A Unique Blend of Artistry and Innovation

The drive compartment of the Métronome AQWO 2 is a striking showcase of artistry and innovation. This top-loading mechanism presents a fascinating blend of the traditional and the modern, creating a nostalgic and cutting-edge experience.

The design of the drive compartment itself is a triumph of engineering. The smooth buttery mechanism slides open effortlessly, revealing the meticulously crafted interior. The Delrin CD puck, which holds the CDs in place, clicks securely into position with a magnetic snap, ensuring that your CDs are always held firmly and securely. The Delrin puck is made of a thermoplastic material that’s both durable and lightweight, making it an ideal choice for this application.

But what truly sets the drive compartment apart is its top-loading design. This classic approach to CD players is a refreshing change from the ubiquitous tray-loading design, and it adds a touch of nostalgia to the experience of using the AQWO 2. It’s a design that’s as practical as it is elegant, allowing for easy access to the CD while also adding a sense of ceremony to loading a disc.

Overall, the Métronome AQWO 2 drive compartment is a stunning blend of form and function. It’s a design that’s both innovative and timeless, creating an experience that’s as enjoyable to use as it is to look at.

The Converter Section: A Digital Symphony of the Highest Order

The Converter Section of the Métronome AQWO 2 is the epicenter of its digital symphony, promising a world-class performance poised to captivate even the most discerning of audiophiles. This isn’t just a CD/SACD player; it’s an orchestra of digital excellence, harmonizing various formats and resolutions to provide a transcendent listening experience.

One of the defining features of the Converter Section is its ability to process PCM files with up to 32-bit/384 kHz and DSD files with up to DSD 512. This level of processing power ensures that every digital nuance, from the subtlest of harmonics to the most delicate of transients, is rendered with astonishing clarity and fidelity. Moreover, the AQWO 2’s use of the ES9039PRO DAC chip from the ESS Saber Pro series solidifies its commitment to sonic precision, resulting in an expansive and immersive soundstage.

But it’s not just about the numbers – the AQWO 2 also offers a range of customization options that allow users to fine-tune their listening experience. From adjustable PCM filters that influence transient response and decay behavior to analog output level settings that cater to personal preferences, the AQWO 2 puts the power in the hands of the listener. And let’s not forget about the optional Class A tube output stage, which imbues the sound with a warm, inviting glow that’s synonymous with the best in high-end audio.

The AQWO 2’s Converter Section isn’t just a technical marvel; it’s a testament to Métronome’s dedication to elevating the art of listening. Whether you’re a purist who demands the utmost accuracy or a music lover who revels in the warmth and richness of tubes, the AQWO 2’s Converter Section promises a digital symphony to leave a lasting impression.

The World at Your Fingertips: Connectivity and Setup of the Métronome AQWO 2

The Métronome AQWO 2 is more than just a standalone CD player or DAC; it’s a comprehensive universal source that excels in connection versatility, with an array of options to ensure seamless integration into any audio system.

The rear panel of the AQWO 2 reveals a suite of digital connectivity options that allow it to serve as the hub of a sophisticated audio setup. AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Toslink, and USB-B inputs ensure compatibility with a wide range of audio sources, from dedicated music servers to laptops and other digital devices. Whether using a high-quality digital transport or a traditional CD player, the AQWO 2 can handle the task with aplomb.

The AQWO 2 also boasts a wealth of analog outputs, including RCA and XLR options. These outputs can be adjusted to three different voltage levels (1.4, 2.5, or 3 volts), allowing seamless integration into systems with varying input sensitivities. This flexibility ensures that the AQWO 2 can be used in various audio systems, from budget-friendly setups to high-end audiophile rigs.

Setting up the AQWO 2 is straightforward, thanks to its intuitive menu system and responsive touchscreen display. Every aspect of the AQWO 2 can be tailored to suit your preferences, from selecting PCM filters to adjusting output levels. With the included remote control, you can change from the comfort of your listening chair without interrupting your listening experience.

Overall, the connectivity and setup of the Métronome AQWO 2 are designed to be as user-friendly as possible while still offering the flexibility and customization options that audiophiles demand. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced enthusiast, the AQWO 2 promises a hassle-free setup process that allows you to focus on what matters most: the music.

The Analog Output Stage: A Touch of Class and Customization

The Analog Output Stage of the Métronome AQWO 2 is a standout feature that exemplifies the device’s dedication to both refined sound quality and listener preference customization. This stage plays a pivotal role in the overall sound signature, and its inclusion in the AQWO 2 is not just a matter of adding tubes for the sake of it but rather an intentional design choice aimed at enhancing the listener’s musical experience.

The use of tubes in audio amplification is rooted in a rich history of audio engineering, revered for its ability to impart a natural, organic warmth to the sound. Tubes have long been associated with a particular type of sound signature characterized by smoothness, rich harmonics, and a sense of natural spaciousness. The AQWO 2’s tube output stage, equipped with two JAN 6922 tubes, harnesses these virtues, adding a touch of class and character to the sonic presentation.

What’s particularly noteworthy about the AQWO 2’s implementation of the tube stage is the level of control it offers to the listener. The device features a range of adjustable settings that allow users to fine-tune the tube’s influence on the sound. This includes adjusting the analog output voltage (the device has RCA and XLR outputs) in three stages: 1.4, 2.5, or 3 volts. Such granularity in control ensures that the AQWO 2 can be tailored to any system’s specific requirements, whether in an intimate listening room or a professional studio environment.

Moreover, the AQWO 2’s tube stage can be easily activated or deactivated via the main menu, accessed through its large, responsive touchscreen display. This user-friendly interface, coupled with the convenience of the included remote control, makes it easy for listeners to experiment with different settings and find the perfect balance between the tube’s sonic enhancements and the purity of the digital signal.

In summary, the Analog Output Stage of the Métronome AQWO 2 is more than just a touch of class – it’s a thoughtful, customizable feature that allows listeners to fine-tune their sound to their heart’s content, ensuring a rich, engaging listening experience that is distinctly their own.

Streaming Capabilities: A 21st Century Hi-Fi Experience

The Métronome AQWO 2 is far more than a mere CD/SACD player or DAC – it represents a forward-thinking approach to modern audio playback. It is equipped with traditional digital inputs and outputs and a robust streaming module, seamlessly integrating it into contemporary music ecosystems. With this addition, the AQWO 2 transforms from a standalone player to a versatile, all-encompassing universal source.

The streaming capabilities of the AQWO 2 are both comprehensive and intuitive. The device offers Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity options, ensuring compatibility with various network setups. Setting up the device on a wireless network is a breeze, thanks to the included Wi-Fi antenna and straightforward network configuration options accessible through the device’s intuitive touchscreen interface.

Once connected to your home network, the AQWO 2 becomes a gateway to a world of streaming possibilities. It is compatible with a range of streaming services, including TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, and Spotify, offering access to an extensive library of high-quality, lossless music. Additionally, the device is equipped with internet radio capabilities, allowing users to explore a vast array of radio stations from around the globe.

Métronome’s choice of streaming partner, mconnect, further enhances the device’s streaming experience. The mconnect control app, available for both Apple and Android devices, provides an intuitive interface for browsing and playing music and accessing additional settings and features. The app seamlessly integrates with the AQWO 2, allowing for easy playback and volume control from a smartphone or tablet.

Beyond its streaming capabilities, the AQWO 2 also boasts compatibility with the Roon music management and playback software and the audiophile-favorite Audirvana software for PC and Mac. This integration ensures that the AQWO 2 can be easily incorporated into a wide range of audio systems, offering flexibility and convenience to users.

Overall, the streaming capabilities of the Métronome AQWO 2 are a testament to the device’s adaptability and forward-thinking design. Whether you’re a dedicated audiophile or a casual listener, the AQWO 2’s streaming functionality opens up a world of possibilities, providing access to high-quality music from various sources and services.

Experience the Visual Masterpiece: The Métronome AQWO 2’s 7-inch High-Resolution Touchscreen Display

The Métronome AQWO 2 has a stunning 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen display that serves as the control hub for all its features. It’s the centerpiece that enhances the user experience with its intuitive interface, making navigation through the device’s functionalities smooth and effortless.

With a high-resolution display, every detail is rendered crisply and clearly. The touch sensitivity is impeccable, offering a responsive experience with each tap or swipe. This allows users to easily interact with the AQWO 2’s various settings and functionalities.

One of the most noteworthy features of the display is its ability to customize the background color. Users can select from a range of colors that suit their preferences or the overall aesthetic of their listening environment. This level of customization adds a personal touch to the AQWO 2’s interface, making it feel tailor-made for each user.

Additionally, the size of the display is ideal for easy readability without being overly large or cumbersome. Its bright and vivid display ensures that users can see the information on the screen clearly, even in different lighting conditions.

Overall, the 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen display on the Métronome AQWO 2 is a visual masterpiece and a functional and user-friendly interface that enhances the overall user experience. Its attention to detail, responsiveness, and customization options make it a standout feature of the AQWO 2, setting it apart as a true high-end audio player.

Seamless Integration and Intuitive Control: Usability of the Métronome AQWO 2

The Métronome AQWO 2, with its intuitive design and user-friendly features, the device that seeks to empower users with control and flexibility. From its straightforward setup process to its comprehensive playback options, the AQWO 2 is designed to be a joy to use.

Setting up the AQWO 2 is a breeze, thanks to its intuitive interface and responsive touchscreen display. The device walks users through the initial setup process, ensuring that even those new to high-end audio systems can get up and running quickly. Including Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity options ensures that users can choose the network setup that best suits their needs, whether they’re looking for maximum flexibility or a wired connection for improved stability.

Once set up, the AQWO 2 offers a range of playback options to suit every preference. From traditional CD/SACD playback to streaming via popular services like TIDAL, Deezer, and Spotify, the AQWO 2 can handle it. The device’s mconnect control app, available for both Apple and Android devices, provides a seamless interface for browsing and playing music and accessing additional settings and features. Including internet radio capabilities further expands the AQWO 2’s playback options, allowing users to explore various radio stations worldwide.

In addition to its wide range of playback options, the AQWO 2 also offers various customization options to fine-tune the sound to your preferences. The device’s DAC menu allows users to adjust PCM filters, set the analog output level, and activate or deactivate the optional Class A tube output stage, offering a level of control rarely found in high-end audio systems. The remote control, which allows users to make adjustments from their listening chair, further enhances the AQWO 2’s usability and convenience.

Overall, the Métronome AQWO 2 is a device that’s designed to be as user-friendly as possible without compromising on performance or features. Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a newcomer to high-end audio, the AQWO 2’s intuitive design and comprehensive feature set ensure that you’ll have an enjoyable and rewarding listening experience.

Power Supply: The Foundation of Sonic Excellence

The power supply of the Métronome AQWO 2 serves as the foundation upon which its sonic excellence is built. This crucial component ensures that every aspect of the device’s operation is optimized for the best possible performance, from signal integrity to dynamic range. The AQWO 2 features three toroidal core transformers, each with a Schaffner filter and an independent control loop. These transformers work in concert to provide the clean, stable power essential for high-fidelity audio playback.

In addition to its robust power supply, the AQWO 2 is equipped with EMI and RFI shielding, ensuring that it remains impervious to external interference that could degrade the audio signal. This shielding, combined with the device’s solid construction and ten-millimeter-thick aluminum front panel, ensures that the AQWO 2 is as sturdy and durable as it is elegant and refined.

The AQWO 2’s commitment to sonic excellence is further demonstrated by its choice of DAC chip. The device features the eight-channel ES9039PRO DAC chip from ESS Technology, widely regarded as one of the best in the industry. This chip provides the AQWO 2 with the ability to decode PCM files with up to 32-bit/384 kHz resolution and DSD files with up to DSD 512 resolution, ensuring that it can easily handle the most demanding audio formats.

Overall, the power supply of the Métronome AQWO 2 is a critical component that ensures the device’s performance meets the highest standards of audio quality. This attention to detail and commitment to excellence sets the AQWO 2 apart as a true audio masterpiece, capable of delivering a listening experience that is as engaging and immersive as it is refined and sophisticated.

Listening Experience: The Moment of Truth

The listening experience with the Métronome AQWO 2 is a moment of truth, a captivating journey that showcases the device’s unparalleled sonic capabilities. As one navigates through the intricate and expansive audio landscape, it becomes evident that the AQWO 2 is not just another player but a virtuoso in high-fidelity audio.

Starting with the initial CD playback, the AQWO 2 demonstrates its prowess in handling analog sources. Every detail, from the strings’ delicate touch to the brass section’s subtle resonance, is articulated with remarkable precision and clarity. The AQWO 2’s resolution and tonal accuracy paint a vivid, lifelike picture that envelops the listener in a multi-dimensional soundscape.

As the journey continues, the AQWO 2’s DAC capabilities emerge, elevating the experience with digital sources. From PCM to DSD, the AQWO 2 delivers a breathtaking performance that captures the essence of the music. The DAC’s ability to decode even the most intricate nuances of the audio signal ensures that nothing is lost in translation, resulting in a listening experience that is both captivating and immersive.

With streaming, the AQWO 2 effortlessly bridges the gap between the analog and digital worlds, offering a seamless playback experience that rivals physical media. Its ability to stream high-resolution music from services like TIDAL and Qobuz ensures that listeners can enjoy their favorite tracks with the utmost fidelity. At the same time, its integration with Roon and Audirvana further enhances the user experience.

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the AQWO 2’s listening experience is its ability to evoke emotion. Whether it’s the gentle melancholy of a solo piano piece or the raw power of a symphony orchestra, the AQWO 2 captures the essence of the music and delivers it with an emotional depth that is truly extraordinary. This ability to connect with the listener on a deeper level sets the AQWO 2 apart as a proper audio masterpiece.

In summary, the listening experience with the Métronome AQWO 2 is a moment of truth, a testament to the device’s unrivaled sonic capabilities. Its ability to reproduce music with exceptional accuracy and emotion ensures that every note, every chord, and every beat is delivered with the utmost fidelity and passion. This commitment to excellence makes the AQWO 2 a remarkable device that will continue to captivate and inspire listeners for years to come.

Pushing the Boundaries: Technical Excellence and Unique Features of the Métronome AQWO 2

The Métronome AQWO 2 stands out in the realm of audio equipment, not merely as a player, DAC, or streamer, but as an all-encompassing sonic mastermind. Its technical excellence is apparent in its unique features, each carefully crafted to ensure an unparalleled listening experience.

Firstly, the AQWO 2’s drive compartment is a testament to the device’s engineering prowess. Its drive, based on designs by renowned manufacturers like Marantz and Denon, boasts proprietary enhancements by the team at Métronome, promising an unrivaled reading precision that extracts every detail from CDs. Including a Delrin CD puck and a luxurious gold aluminum cover completes the experience, providing a tactile joy akin to a finely-tuned mechanical marvel.

The heart of the AQWO 2 lies in its converter section, adorned with the ESS Saber Pro series’ ES9039PRO chip. This component is meticulously fine-tuned and updated, offering an improved performance over its predecessor. The presence of eight PCM filters allows for unparalleled customization, giving the listener the power to tailor the sound to their liking. Moreover, the AQWO 2 natively decodes DSD files without needing DoP transformation or downsampling, promising pristine sound reproduction.

The AQWO 2’s connectivity and setup process are equally impressive. With a wealth of digital and analog inputs and outputs, the device can effortlessly integrate into any audio setup. Setting it up is a breeze, thanks to its user-friendly interface and the flexibility of its network connectivity options. Its compatibility with various streaming services and control apps also ensures a seamless listening experience.

The AQWO 2’s power supply is the cornerstone of its sonic excellence. With three toroidal core transformers and ten independent control loops, it provides a clean and stable power supply that forms the foundation of the device’s exceptional sound quality. Including EMI and RFI shielding further enhances this, ensuring that the AQWO 2 remains impervious to external interference.

Lastly, the AQWO 2’s listening experience is a testament to its technical excellence. Whether playing back CDs, streaming high-resolution audio, or decoding digital files, the AQWO 2 delivers an unparalleled emotional depth. It combines technical precision with a keen attention to detail, resulting in a listening experience that is both captivating and immersive.

In summary, the Métronome AQWO 2 is a masterpiece of technical excellence, boasting a wealth of unique features that promise an unparalleled listening experience. From its meticulous drive compartment to its powerful converter section, from its seamless connectivity to its immersive sound quality, the AQWO 2 is a device that genuinely stands out in audio equipment.

Conclusion: A New Standard in High-End Audio

In conclusion, the Métronome AQWO 2 is a groundbreaking addition to high-fidelity audio equipment. From its exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail to its cutting-edge technical specifications and user-friendly interface, the AQWO 2 is a true work of art. It offers a seamless listening experience that is as captivating as it is immersive, ensuring that every note, every chord, and every beat is delivered with the utmost fidelity and emotion.

Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or a casual listener, the AQWO 2 is a device that is sure to impress. Its unique blend of technical excellence, versatility, and user-friendliness makes it a standout choice for those who demand the best in audio quality. The AQWO 2 sets a new standard for what is possible in the world of audio playback, and its remarkable performance ensures that it will continue to be a benchmark for years to come.

Reasons to Buy the Métronome AQWO 2

  1. Audio Excellence: The AQWO 2 offers unparalleled audio reproduction thanks to its meticulously engineered components and class-leading DAC. It excels in delivering lifelike, natural sound with exceptional clarity and detail.
  2. Versatility: As a universal player, DAC, and streamer in one, the AQWO 2 caters to a wide range of audio needs. It’s a great all-in-one solution that can replace multiple components in your setup.
  3. Premium Build Quality: Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the AQWO 2 boasts a solid, luxury build with a buttery-smooth top-loader mechanism and a seven-inch touchscreen interface.
  4. Streaming Capabilities: With Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, the AQWO 2 can seamlessly integrate into modern audio ecosystems, offering access to a wide range of streaming services and internet radio stations.
  5. User-Friendly Interface: The AQWO 2’s intuitive touchscreen and remote control make navigating through settings and playback options easy, ensuring a seamless user experience.
  6. Customization Options: With features like eight PCM filters, analog output adjustments, and a Class A tube output stage, the AQWO 2 allows fine-tuning to match your audio preferences.

Reasons Not to Buy the Métronome AQWO 2

  1. High Price: The AQWO 2 has a premium price tag, making it less accessible for budget-conscious buyers.
  2. Advanced Features: If you don’t require all the features of the AQWO 2, you might find a simpler, more affordable solution that suits your needs.
  3. Size and Weight: The AQWO 2 is a hefty device, weighing in at 17 kilos, which might not be ideal for those with limited space or mobility.
  4. Limited Availability: Métronome is a niche brand, and its products may not be as widely available as those from larger, more established brands.
  5. Sonic Preference: If you prefer a specific sonic profile, such as a warmer or more analytical sound, you might find other devices that better suit your preferences.

Ultimately, whether you should buy the Métronome AQWO 2 depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. The AQWO 2 might be the perfect investment for your audio setup if you prioritize audio quality, versatility, and premium build.