Over at the back, the same simplicity applies. The 10mm thickness of the aluminium case forms an overhang above the connector bank. When in use, the connector/cable spaghetti is obfuscated for the most to add to the clean lean design. From left to right we found the RCA output duo followed by 2 x RCA S/PDIF inputs, 2 x  TOSlink and one USB. For future use there are two extra connections, one named DiDiT link and one USB Host. The DiDiT link is a CAN bus to connect to the upcoming AMP212. The USB Host is meant for software updates and the like. An IEC receptacle completes the business end. Two things caught our eye when mulling over the back end of the DAC212. Instead of the usual hex nuts which affix WBT RCA connectors to a case, DiDiT use custom round (!) nuts to fix the connector to its Teflon base. How does one tighten a round nut? With a special three-pronged tool that uses the 3 holes in the nut to get a grip. Do It Different indeed.

With the outsides checked now, ‘twas time for the inside. Six countersunk bolts held the bottom of the DAC tightly to the aluminium top. Once undone, the lid came off easy and at the same time showed off the very tight tolerances the two parts were machined for to fit like a sealed clamshell. After disconnecting the flat wire that connects display to PCB, the lid opened fully, just leaving the ground wire in place. The lid is clearly a CNC’d block of aluminium that when closed divides the PCB contents into separate compartments: one for the power supply, one for the digital control electronics and two for the analog outputs. On the PCB the corresponding mounting lines are clearly visible and the six closing bolts’ locations are explained as well. The SMD work looked fine and the shiny DAC chip cover showed another eye for detail from the designers. In digital environs, there can’t ever be too much shielding. Another thing that showed was the absence of wired patches. We spotted no shortcut wire to overcome a last-minute PCB trace omission or rewire. It was obviously a well though-out and tried concept far removed from amateur status. Even the remote control was simple yet efficient. Housed in a cylinder, a remote will and shall roll away. Flattening one side of the cylinder will keep it put. For the time being, that is until the app rolls out, this remote is also key to the submenu structure where a few settings of the DAC are made. A lovely detail was the soft mute, hence no hard on/off.

In order to have the DAC212 communicate via USB with a PC or MAC, one needs a driver. DiDiT supply a 32- and a 64-bit ASIO driver for Windows and an OSX driver for those of the Apple persuasion. Installation on both platforms via the provided USB stick with the drivers was flawless, quick and successful. We already mentioned how an app is forthcoming. So is DSD support. The Sabre chip is natively ready, DiDiT just need to write some software adjustments in cooperation with ESS, the chip manufacturer.

Time to connect the DAC212 to one of our systems. To start, we wanted to give the DAC ample burn in so used it in combination with a PS Audio PerfectWave transport set on endless repeat. The digital interconnect became a Crystal Cable. For the power cable we were in doubt. For burn-in purposes, the supplied €0.50 thingie would do but later we’d want something better. With the sleek and slim design of the DAC212, that might be a problem however. The connector cavity of the DAC212 makes standard Schuko IEC types too big. Fortunately we had some power cords in our stash with Furutech FI-15 connectors. Those Rhodium-plated jobs had no issue with the tight space. Even better, the FI-15 did not touch the DAC212 case anywhere – another lovely design feature.

Power and S/PDIF connected, a light touch of the front power switch brought the DAC212 to life. The bright red matrix confirmed how we were dealing with a DAC. The initial volume setting adjustable via the sub menu was a cautious -40dB. Via the remote we now set the input the PWT was sending to. With a CD on repeat we went about our daily routines. When after 100 hours of non-stop duty we thought the DAC had been accustomed enough to its new environment, we went in for real. For starters the DAC212 connected to our Audio Note Meishu integrated running WE 300B tubes. In turn the Meishu connected to our Sounddeco Alpha F3 3-ways from Poland. We made a nice selection of CDs as well as high-res material from Todd Garfinkel’s M.A. Recordings. Al di Meola’s Cielo e Terra came first. The guitarist’s mostly acoustic performance enhanced with synclavier pieces came to us full of flavour and richness. The sound was vivid and offered up a deep aural vision on the settings the producer hade made of the recordings. Truly stunning was the rendition of the 24bit/176.4kHz recording of Sera Una Noche La Segunda on M.A. Recordings. This is a very airy reading captured with just two microphones. Its dynamic range is really rare these days and the musical style of early tango ideally suited. All kind of rhythms pass by, from African milonga to vals criollo and Argentine baguala. Next to a wide spectrum of rhythms, the instruments cover just as wide a musical range. Voice, bass clarinet, guitar and cello are augmented by higher-spectrum instruments like flute, harmonica and percussion. The DAC212 locked on to the higher bit rate without issue and just as all incoming PCM material, oversampled the input to 1.5MHz before further processing. As we played more hi-res PCM material—DSD was still a work in progress—we became more and more fond of the DAC212’s ‘sound’.