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To learn how the company saw it given how both models are within $50 of each other, cover the same usage (desktop headfi, DAC and preamp) and don't replace one with the other, I asked my people to talk to their people. "Moneypenny, could you make a phone call? "

"The DS5 is not replacing the DDH-1. It adds DSD but lacks the DDC* and analog-in features of the DDH-1. Our prime motive of course is not to cannibalise our products with each other but to provide a variety of choices to the audiophile community with different designs, different concepts and different flavors.

"One thing that will remain the same is the quality of audio we deliver at a certain price point. We really endeavor to spread to the world 'luxury audio you can afford'. We have two additional DACs under development right now and one miniature USB DAC & headphone amp all coming at the beginning of 2014. We are a bit behind schedule. By the way Reson, our distributor for Switzerland, Germany and Austria, will exhibit our wares at the Vienna Klang Bilder show."

From the Tokyo show again
* digital-to-digital converter

I told Moneypenny to call again. Different flavors we'd already surmised. Without a DDH-1 on hand for comparison, I was hoping for something more flavorful, namely how the two of them compared sonically. Did Ryu Takahashi figure this was for professional reviewers to solve? Or was it the evasive Japanese way? When one doesn't have the answer—or not the one expected to please—one politely confirms what's been said already and hopes the questioner moves on. Was asking again bad gaijin manners?

"We know the differences but need to find the right English expressions for them. I'll get back to you on those promptly." Ryu was simply being professional and keen on doing an exacting job. Translating hifi lingo is far from easy!

"When we first developed the DDH-1 we wanted to come out with an all'round product for the desktop supporting headphones, analog and digital inputs, digital output and a line-out to enable various uses. We made sure that it was well balanced overall and provided the most functionality without sacrificing sound quality. The cosmetics would be more functional and classic. The DS5 was developed during the final phase of the DDH1-'s development. This time we had DSD as our main focus. We first planned a half-rack size at a higher price but as our goal is to provide affordable luxury audio, we shifted direction to our main purpose and developed the product to be a smaller size desktop DAC.

"Although focusing on DSD supporting both S/PDIF and USB, we had to be careful not to bias sound quality to favor either DSD or PCM. For balance in a playlist mixing DSD with PCM tracks we had to lower the output level for PCM to match DSD and focus on sound tuning by providing an overall well-balanced output from bass to treble. Hearing can be very subjective but we can say that the DDH-1 handles dynamics with subtlety yet power providing a massively detailed punchy sound whilst the DS5 exhibits an open, full-bodied, natural, unforced and transparent sound." My only question left was the digital volume control. On what chip did it live and was it 24 or 32-bit math? "We directly control the CS4398 converter's on-chip digital volume. That's a 24-bit solution."