Marc Mickelson

Authorized Genesis Dealer

March 1997

Seeing a Bit Better: Notes on the Genesis Digital Lens

Jitter, you make me crazy. I accept the notion that the J-word is in some way responsible for the differences in sound of many high-quality CD transports and digital cables. I've even read that different pressings of the same CD can have different levels of jitter, so what's a digiphile to do? Give jitter what fer with one of the various outboard jitter fighters available--although I can tell you from experience that these devices are uneven in their effectiveness. The main complaint I have--and it's a big one in my mind--is that each jitter-reduction device I tried homogenized the sound, substituting the natural sense of space and place on each CD with one it created. In fact, I've only gotten decent results while cascading one unit into another, neither of these by the same manufacturer. I'm sure that my Timbre DAC's handling of jitter--along with its supreme ability to re-create the recording venue--had something to do with my dissatisfaction, but I've never stopped hoping that there's something new and improved around the corner.

[PICTURE OF GENESIS LENS]Meet the Genesis Digital Lens, a unique piece of equipment both because of what it does--genuinely improve the sound of CDs--and how it does it. Other similar products--your Sonic Frontiers Ultra Jitterbugs, Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32s, Meridian 518s--use dual phase-locked-loop configurations, making the digital signal metaphorically jump through one hoop and then another smaller one to essentially reduce jitter. The Digital Lens eschews this strategy for a theoretically superior one: a data buffer that holds the bits on their merry way to the DAC, strips them of unnecessary hangers-on such as track and time information, reclocks them, and then outputs a jitter-free digital stream. Thus jitter is not reduced within the Digital Lens, it's eliminated. Cool.

All of this wiz-bang technology and theorizing means nothing if the Digital Lens doesn't deliver, but it does--beautifully. For the record, I've auditioned all of the devices I mentioned above and none was as musically meaningful as the Lens--which, to be fair, costs more than any of the others (not to mention that I didn't audition the Audio Alchemy entry with its mates via the I2S bus connection, its optimal use). What makes the Lens so special? It seemingly untangles the digital signal, further separating each individual sound and deciphering more musically significant detail. Instrumental lines become easier to follow, and even lyrics seem a touch more understandable. And along with this added detail comes a wonderful sense of ease. Music is more involving, less mechanical, and you'll need to listen less intently to hear what's on each disc. Game, set and match.

In addition to its superlative sound, the Lens is nicely styled and thoughtfully manufactured, with a thick beveled aluminum face plate and attractive LED display, high-quality input and output jacks on the back, and the inclusion of an IEC connector for those of us who just have to play with add-on power cords to further enhance the Lens' sonic ability. I also like the remote control, which lets you set the Lens' dither mode and output word length (I found the standard Dither 1 and 20-bit settings to be the best) from your listening chair and even turn off the front-panel display altogether. Uniquely, the Lens will also measure the speed accuracy (in parts per million) of the transport to which it's connected. According to the owner's manual, this measurement has no correlation to the sonic quality of the transport. My Wadia 20 registered 14 ppm, an indication that its speed is very accurate.

Not cheap, the Genesis Digital Lens, but worth it if you've got it. A clear recommendation.

...Marc Mickelson

Genesis Digital Lens
Price: $1800 USD

Genesis Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 669
Minturn, CO 81645
Phone: 970-827-9515
Fax: 970-827-9519