This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, PureMusic 1.84 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Amarra 2.3; April Music Eximus DP1, Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Synergy Hifi tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
: First Watt F5, J2, ModWright KWA 100SE
Desktop sy
: 160GB iPod Classic/256GB SSD iMod, Cambridge Audio iD100s, Bel Canto Design 5Ci, EBTB Terra III, Amphion Impact 400, Beyerdynamic T5p with ALO Audio wire harness
Speakers: Voxativ Ampeggio, Audiomanufacture Boenicke B10, Aries Cerat Gladius
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event, Entreq USB cables
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: $1.495
Wot? Wyred4Sound's wyrdly Welsh spelling has wigged out more than one wonky wanker. Okay, let's try that again. Any hifi outfit with lab and/or research in its name instantly seems serious/legit even though it could amount to nothing more than one guy with a soldering gun and garage. E.J. Sarmento's chosen brand name spells it fresh and funky. Hence serious shoppers could diss it. Now add cosmetics. Sarmento's newest mINT or mini integrated lacks the ultimate cool John Stronczer's $1.895 C5i exudes by design. True, the latter's brand is Bel Canto Design. Word!

But check beneath the casings. Now tables turn. BCD runs digital volume which first converts the analog input. W4S uses an analog poly-silicon true resistor ladder type as in their larger integrated products for "extremely low noise and minimal distortion". Their one-stop master control is mere encoder.

BCD's 24/96 USB works in slave mode. Wyred's is asynchronous and runs an ESS Sabre chip*1. But it gets mintier yet. Here the second analog input may become an HT bypass with the push of a switch while the fixed output—there's also a variable output—can be inverted with another switch to turn main-in. Now you've got a pre-out/main-in loop to insert a digital crossover or such. Quite ambitious for a $1.495 half-width all-in-one box. And that's exactly what it is: a standalone DAC via the fixed output; a remote-controlled DAC/preamp via the variable output; an integrated amp into speakers; and a headphone amp*2 with DAC. Insert a subwoofer into the expansion loop to eliminate low bass from small monitors via the sub's high-pass filter. Add an iPod loaded with full-resolution AIFF/ALAC files, a $99 Pure i20 digital-direct dock and speakers of choice. Presto, a complete minimalist system. Does it need to be any more complicated?


*1 The built-in DAC is close to the DAC-1 but the latter has better microdynamics and is simply a better converter. The mINT DAC is also available as the standalone $399 uDAC. The real difference to the DAC1 is in the power supply where I had to trim the fat due to real estate and the input options had to be simplified. The biggest separation in our various digital products is that we use the 8-channel chips in quad-paralleled mode in the larger units and the 2-channel versions in the mINT and uDAC.

*2 I decided to design the headphone circuit as if there was no other use. Obviously I couldn't go too wild as if it were a standalone headphone amp but I did insist to feed the discrete class A linestage into the best headphone driver I could find. That would be the Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 with differential inputs and >120dB S/N and dynamic range. Output power is 720mW into 32 ohms, 132mW into 300 ohms and 60mW into 600 ohms.