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Here is the obligatory belly-up shot for the guts and glory of inner virtues.

Without dismounting the upper board, the motherboard eludes proper inspection so you have to make do with a few partial shots.

By going discrete on their regulators Wyred4Sound mirror Burson Audio.

Connected to my usual iMac the DAC2 immediately registered itself as 32bit 384kHz DSD interface, allowing me to set PureMusic's upsampler to a target frequency of 352.8kHz for all RedBook material.

Once PureMusic's DSD engine was properly pointed at the Wyred deck I had instant happiness with both DSD64 and DSD128 files. Windows users will have to install EJ's driver. Macists are ready to rumble from the word go. That's our reward for otherwise being held hostage by Apple's closed-system approach.

The Sabre DAC's on-chip volume here topped out at 65 though the manual said 70*. From there it descends in single-digit steps. But there's also a ±15-step balance control, 180° polarity inversion, input switching, display dim, HT bypass and mute all from the remote wand. Pure digital listeners thus have all the preamp functionality they could wish for.

* "70 is the max setting but the volume number on the display will show the max minus min setting. The units are preset for a min of 5 and max of 70. This correlates to a max displayed number of 65. The idea is that with an inefficient system where you can't hear anything below 13 for example, you can raise the min setting to start the display where actual sound kicks in. The max level is just to cap off the top for those who wish to limit or lower the output level in variable or fixed mode. Changing the min level doesn't affect how 'loud' it will play, only offsets the starting position on the volume table. I have to admit that it's a cool feature which really confuses most customers, kind of like those features we add for 4% of the clients which the other 96% will activate by accident and think the unit is broken. This happens with the main in/out feature of the mINT all the time. Can't win but that's the name of the game. "

The display conveniently confirms the incoming sample rate and whether the signal is PCM (no indication) or DSD. Hence there's no doubt as to whether your hi-rez files actually arrive unmolested without format conversion; and/or whether your software player's upsampler works as you've set it (you could prefer native playback). In the setup menu which is accessed during power down with a special sequence of button presses—hold 'up' and 'down' simultaneously whilst briefly tapping 'power' to enter—one may adjust various options. This includes assigning fixed operation to any input; or max/min level allocation which could be useful to trim the 5.2/2.6V output on XLR/RCA respectively. Here the manual explains what numerical values equate to a 1/2/3/4V output. Also the I²S input can be set to left or right justified, the IIR bandwidth to <50, 50, 60 or 70kHz, the roll-off slope to slow/fast, the HT display level and discrete** input on/off.

** "Discrete on/off will activate/deactivate discrete codes if one wishes to use a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony where our codes are available for the Logitech devices."

The first surprise? Unlike the Sabre-powered AURALiC Vega and Burson Conductor, the DAC2 DSDse had no issues with my Cambridge Audio iD100 iPod dock. No stutters, hiccups or drop-outs. When I'd reported this behavior to Burson, they'd at the time tested an iD100 sample in Oz to pronounce its S/PDIF output too irregular for their implementation of the ESS chip. I'd thus bought a Pure i20 dock which the Conductor played nice with. Even in its least critical clock setting the Vega had equally disliked the Cambridge dock. Now came Wyred to demonstrate how same chip needn't mean same behavior. Sabre's much-touted jitter immunity finally worked as advertised.