Rhenen, Netherlands | 2021 – The symbiosis between the technical advantages of the digital, and the musicality of the analogue domain exploring new territories of hi-fidelity.
The Pink Faun 2.16 ULTRA is the newest addition to our portfolio of digital playback systems supporting locally stored music files and will streaming content from high quality sources such as Qobuz and Tidal. The 2.16 ULTRA digital playback system is the acumination of years of experience with digital and analogue combined with Pink Faun’s groundbreaking OCXO clock technology. Pink Faun has teamed up with the best companies in the world to bring you a musical experience not seen before in the landscape we call hi-fidelity. The flexible and modular architecture system guarantees a long-term investment that will easily adapt and grow with any changes in the evolution of your musical system.
Based upon the great success and the award-winning 2.16 and 2.16x music servers, the decision was made to investigate the possibilities to take digital even further which resulted in more than 15 months of redesigning every aspect of 2.16 ULTRA playback. This ultimately led to the uncompromising 2.16 ULTRA music server. The sole aim during the development process of the 2.16 ULTRA was to create a digital/music source with the most realistic and emotional musical experience based on our philosophy:
no sound, just music
The internal- and external chassis is an integral part of the design of the 2.16 ULTRA. The CNC machined chassis incorporates shielded compartments, heat management solutions and vibration control. Using a dedicated internal and external chassis for the 2.16 ULTRA allows us to mount all parts of the power supply, passive cooling system and hardware in optimal locations without changing the outside design. Our high-performance chassis allows us to make radical choices for ultimate changes. It is literally the backbone of the Pink Faun 2.16 ULTRA.
A unique part of the chassis design is the honeycomb motherboard platter. This platter is extremely stiff and this design handles various vibrations will eliminate resonance frequencies without over damping them in order to preserve and maintain energy. During the development processes of the 2.16 ULTRA we experienced vibration on the motherboard that had a significant negative impact on the sonic performance. Instead of damping the vibration we made the decision to eliminate all possible vibrations by making a special platter inside the 2.16 ULTRA. We than mounted the critical components on the new platter to eliminate all possible vibration. Another important new design to the 2.16 Ultra is that the internal chassis has a dedicated shielding compartment for the Pink Faun ULTRA OCXO clock. The clock and clock output circuitry are fully shielded and decoupled from the 2.16 ULTRA internal chassis.
The power supply is designed following Pink Fauns unique star-power and star-grounding principle called “Star-Light”. Painstakingly refined the Star-Light design was taken to a new level of performance with the new 2.16 ULTRA. Over 30 years of combined experience of power supply design and development accumulated into a fully linear passive cooled ULN-FT (ultra-low noise, fast transient) ATX power supply. Using smaller, separated and regulated supplies, current loops are now minimal and foremost local which also will reduce the spread of EMC inside the 2.16 ULTRA. Extreme care has been taken by adding these power supplies altogether in one-star ground. In addition, the ongoing voltage is sourced from star outputs in the power supply resulting in minimal interference and minimal HF noise and harmonics.
Inside the 2.16 ULTRA one has to deal with low voltages and high current peaks. To keep the power supply stable, ripple free and low noise the 2.16 ULTRA uses three custom wound transformers. Fast Schottky diodes, a large capacitor bank of over 800.000uF of low ESR capacitors and nanocrystalline chokes are combined resulting in a very stable but clean, battery like power input for the low-noise regulator circuitries. In addition, we also use a 5.000.000uF supercapacitor supply which provides the Pink Faun ULTRA OCXO clock module excellent performance levels.
One of the most crucial parts in the 2.16 ULTRA is our proprietary ULTRA OCXO clock. The ULTRA OCXO has an extremely low phase-noise specification (close to -135dB @ 10 Hz offset for our 25MHz clock) resulting in extremely low jitter. Although the data transmission in digital systems are always perfect one still has to deal with jitter. Technically jitter is the delay between a signal transmitted and received. This delay has a negative impact for real-time applications in the 2.16 ULTRA. The standard solution to compensate for jitter is a buffer that stores data before it is processed, like a few seconds of an audio file. This will smooth out the playback of the file. While buffering is an effective bypass to compensate jitter it unfortunately has a negative effect on the musical and dynamic capabilities of the 2.16 ULTRA. Instead of using a relative coarse solution as buffering we decide to use the ULTRA OCXO which reduces the jitter to an absolute minimum. This resulted in an extremely low latency but fast and dynamic playback system.
An extreme OCXO like the Pink Faun ULTRA OCXO is just half of the solution to eliminating jitter. The Way the OCXO is implemented is as important as the quality of the OCXO itself. To get the most out of the ULTRA OCXO Pink Faun developed the ULTRA OCXO module. The ULTRA OCXO module is a multi-ultra-low noise regulated board for the Pink Faun ULTRA OCXO with a high bandwidth output circuitry that is powered by a 5.000.000uF supercapacitor supply. This module is completely decoupled from the chassis and fully shielded making optimal use of the Backbone Chassis.
The carefully selected hardware for the 2.16 ULTRA guarantees flawless playback of all audio formats with low latencies and zero buffering. The 24 threaded CPU used allows all the 24 threads to be carefully divided and assigned to different parts of the operating system as well as music playback software. The full system operates from 32GB ECC RAM allowing locally stores music files and files from online services like Qobuz or Tidal to run in RAM before playback starts (this is different from buffering music files, playback of the music files happens in real-time from the RAM). This ensures lowest latencies, high data integrity resulting in easy, stress free musical reproduction.
The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) of a motherboard is a piece of low-level software that lets your operating system communicate with your computer’s hardware. The BIOS or the BIOS configuration, has a huge impact on the musicality of a computer-based music server like the Pink Faun 2.16 ULTRA. Instead of using solutions without a BIOS we use the motherboard BIOS to our advantage. At first boot of a new built system the BIOS will perform into default (read: unoptimized) “factory settings”. While these default settings are good enough for most daily tasks, it is not good enough for using the hardware for high fidelity musical playback. When BIOS settings are configured incorrectly it can really slow down the system and/or make the system very unstable. Optimizing the BIOS settings will have an immediate effect on the performance, noise figures and latency of the system. Countless hours of listening sessions brought the right BIOS configuration, resulting into true transparency and dynamics as well as a lush, dense, bodied midrange and true to instrument low presentation of the music played from the 2.16 ULTRA music server.
Strongly believing the synergy between hardware and software can make or break system, a dedicated audio operating system of the highest quality was chosen to optimize the music data flow. This is where Euphony Audio has joined our ranks. A fully customized version of Euphony Stylus OS was developed for the 2.16 ULTRA hardware platform. The exceptional harmony of the hardware and software transforms the 2.16 ULTRA into the next generation digital audio sources. Stylus provides the music enthusiast with a captivating yet user friendly audio experience.
The CPU in the 2.16 ULTRA runs at an optimized clock speed, while each core of the CPU is assigned to a specific task. Assigning specific cores will improve overall system effectiveness. Because in a multi-core CPU environment all individual CPUs have a separate cache for each CPU core which is only accessible by that certain CPU. Based on our listening sessions we have assigned several individual parts of the operating system to their own exclusive set of CPU cores. This allows us to keep background tasks to an absolute minimum. All extra CPU usage inside the 2.16 ULTRA will affect the final musicality. With this approach the minimalistic yet agile custom operating system of the CPU load barely reaches above 1%.
No compromises made connecting the 2.16 Ultra to your DAC. The quality of this connection is of the same importance as the quality of the music server itself. The universal slots at the rear of the 2.16 ULTRA music server offers a seamless integration of a wide variety of PCIe cards. From Pink Faun offers an USB output (DSD & PCM), a SPDIF (COAX and AES/EBU) and a I2S connection to your DAC. All outputs can be individually clocked with our state-of-the-art ULTRA OCXO. The modular platform of our Bridges guarantees long term usage of the 2.16 ULTRA and it can adapt very easy with changes being made throughout any audio system. Also, multiple output Bridges are possible to drive more than one DAC or use optimized outputs for specific files i.e. an optimized USB connection for DSD playback and simultaneously an optimized SPDIF connection for PCM playback. The Bridges are designed with the same philosophy in mind as the 2.16 ULTRA itself. Think of low noise linear regulation with pre and post choke / PI filtering, Ultra- low noise, accurate low-noise OCXO and fast and simple electronic circuits with high-quality components.
The 2.16 ultra is built to order. Price starts at € 20.000,-