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The DAC-100 is trimmed out in a copper-plated chassis Marantz reference style. It has a mother board with piggybacked USB transceiver board, a toroidal power transformer behind a metal shield, a power supply board with 17 capacitors and four seriously heat-sinked voltage regulators of LM2941T type.

There's a Xilinx processor integrated into the input switching board with the sample-rate indicator display.

The USB transceiver chip is again NuForce branded and here identified as NFUSB192S 12W13 to signify 192kHz happiness. The associated clock reads H12.000MA2 on its casing.

The main processor is a Xilinx Spartan field-programmable gate array. Here we see another AKM chip, this time an AK4118AEQ 24/192 transceiver and also a Microchip PIC16F1939 flash-based 8-Bit CMOS chip. What appears to be the actual DAC chip is defaced to conceal its identity. The clock here is a Silicon Labs 552CH000230G. There are also two socketed LM 4562 op amps and four International Rectifier regulators.

The remote control for this unit switches sequentially between the four inputs but doesn't turn the smooth volume control which lacks a motor. "The digital volume control for the DAC-100 happens right inside the 32-bit digital filter prior to analog conversion. So the stream is I²S to 32-bit digital filter and volume control to Delta Sigma conversion."

Real music has curves. That was a reader who'd bought a DDA-100 on 30-day return privilege before my review finalized. He found it "flat as a pancake". He also noticed "immediate differences in the SMPS section between the pictures you published and the DDA-100 I received. Obviously manufacturers are free to make changes in production but it seems to me that my unit is a 'stripped-down' version. I did not remove the shield since there was none. As you saw, there also was no big coupling cap in the PSU. I have been running the DDA-100 continuously for two days hoping it would 'open up'. It's very quiet. There's no sound whatsoever even with volume set at maximum (no signal) and my ear pressed against the speaker cones which are highly efficient. It also seems to have a very even frequency range. But at the moment the sound is completely 2D and I am used to SET amps."

I had exactly the same response. In another review I described it as "that endless Pizzicato Symphony for three sewing machines: lean, centered on the leading edge with insufficient engagement of follow-up body, edge-rimmed like shadow-play cutouts, tonally bland and in general whitish, stale and flat."

Anssi Hyvönen of Amphion assured me that my unit just needed proper break-in. During the Munich show he'd loved the NuForce with his Ion+ to recommend I hang on to the latter for the occasion. But then he was very surprised when a new DDA-100 in Finland didn't match his recall from the show. Such a poor parody of bad digital as the NuForce painted out of the box would need major blossoming if it was to make any final cut. But as I emailed the reader, when its time in the oven was over, cooked or not I'd have to talk sonics. And really, $549 for a 50wpc remote-controlled integrated was midfi pricing. Expectations had to remain realistic. So I wondered whether my occupation with costly hifi had simply ruined me for the DDA-100 altogether? Or had we met prematurely? Neither as it turned out when the oven bell finally went off.