In the meantime, the competition

ESS Technology announces a new 2 channel DAC with built-in 2Vrms line drivers.

The new Sabre ES9033Q delivers studio quality audio with 122dB DNR (with DRE, Dynamic Range Enhancement) and –108dB THD+N. For what it is worth, this is better than the current dCS line-up.

https://www.esstech.com/essnews/ess-technology-announces-new-2-channel-dac-with-built-in-2vrms-line-drivers-2/

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Yep. ESS has always produced spec-leading chips. And this looks to bring even 512DSD closer to mainstream. A number of very fine DACs are built with their chips, and I expect we are going to see a round of upgraded components if they can produce the chips in quantity.

In a previous life I helped engineer a portable DAC based on an ESS chip and FPGA before FPGA was a “thing.” I think we toyed with RTOS on the unit, if memory serves me correctly. The sound was great but man, was it buggy. It never saw the light of production unfortunately. The ESS chip was solid and a great performer, I don’t care what others say.

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The Ayre guys did a recent interview with Dustin Forman (SVP Engineering) from ESS; protégé of the incredibly sharp Martin Mallinson who left ESS not that long ago. Fairly high-level, but it does provide some interesting insights into the HyperStream DAC design.

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Both in response to the ESS announcement, and borrowing from another thread in which we’ve discussed the (d)evolution of the high-end marketplace, I thought I’d post Matrix’s latest. For about USD$1000 delivered, you can get a DAC whose capabilities literally did not exist ten or even five years ago. This is, as we have talked about elsewhere, part of what the high end helps to push out. I suspect though, this curve has diminishing returns for us. Still, I may actually pick up one of these as a new desktop. It’s impressive.

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Announced, and available in early Summer, 2021: the Bartók by Esoteric: the Esoteric N-05XD:

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