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Board layout and circuit design follow stringent measures. Apartheid for digital and analog puts the former right, the latter left. Both are fully symmetrical. There’s no shortage of internal shielding, both against self-generated cross talk and external radiation. The latter is attacked with up to 4mm thick cross braces and seems to work as advertised. Placing a mobile phone in the midst of sending an SMS atop the PX created zero interference – highly commendable if not as common as it ought to be.

The volume control too undergoes strict selection. Whilst its supplier remains secret, the firm does claim close handpicking to guarantee tight channel balance. I applaud such selectivity. Too often am I surprised by just how poorly many pots track at subdued levels even in costly gear. Lo and behold, no piggishness here. The usual trouble spot between 8 and 9:00 o’clock was perfect. Oink oink!

Another nicety? Imagine listening to USB, then switching inputs. The DACmini PX makes your computer believe it’s still streaming. Why? So that when you switch back to USB, your PC needn’t relock the DAC which has most Windows machines emit a dull two-tone alert. Aside from doing away with driver installs, this was another pleasant example of attention to detail. Apropos firmware, if desired you can install the optional ASIO-for-Windows driver upgrade. This is claimed to be a sonic improvement as it bypasses Window’s internal data rate conversion. It’s no mere claim as we’ll see. Now enough tech talk. Into the warm crib to see what this mini can do.

Digitally fed, amped up on class D. Since it’s most likely that the DACmini PX ends up as part of a speaker system using its own amp, that’s how I started. My Marantz SA7001 player leashed up coaxially, my Neat speakers the usual way, Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania spun up inside the deck. "The Celestials" is one of the better cuts and well suited to taking the pulse of any new-coming hardware. Acoustic guitar and the throaty vocalizing of Billy Corgan kick off against sparse string synths. I dug how strictly point-source vocals and guitar appeared stage center. Though occupying similar frequencies, both sources remained distinctly discrete. At 1:30 intensity rises and picked e-guitar, bass and drums enter to broaden the stage action.

The PX tracked this build-up organically and tacitly. The bass immediately convinced with a particularly fleet bouncy gait. The piece grows in intensity to finally segue into a typical Smashing Pumpkin-esque wall of sound for brutal e-guitars and  violently whacked forward-mixed drums. In the bridge relaxed restrained moments of endlessly decaying guitars and reverb-laden synths intercede. The DACmini PX kept pace and admirably supported the coarse shifts between micro and macro workouts.

Tonally the PX kept it mostly neutral, with the bass more wiry/quick than substantial/extended. NuForce’s Icon tested in 2010 for example reached down lower. The midrange here attracted no attention in any direction, the treble felt well resolved but not exaggerated. The PX mixed it up well with hefty voltage swings and load changes.

Achievable max SPLs even for larger rooms were perfectly sufficient as long one stays clear of low-sensitivity humdingers. In this context it’s good to know that even very high levels exhibited no onset of harshness or compromises. Compared to the tonally similarly weighted Trends Audio TA10.2 for example (which I own while colleague Ralph reviewed its predecessor in 2009) the Centrance played in a clearly higher league.

Now I jumped to Phillip Boa’s quite challenging early Aristocracie whose "I Dedicate My Soul For You" is one of the few cuts which predict the direction Boa would take later. This is rhythmically extremely tricky driven fare combined with persistent earworm hooks one can sing to already during first listen. This number is a high-speed affair with samba-fied percussion and a walking bass whose breakneck antics approach ironic Jazz showmanship.