With any music server review, listening impressions must always be preceded by feedback on user friendliness. If such a device is a pain to operate, sonics don't matter. If 6moons had a ranking scheme, I'd immediately award 5 out of 5 stars. That means it was really easy to stream music. On the front panel, my NAS storage and Minimserver showed up instantly and I could freely browse my library. That was a relief when past encounters, say with the AURALiC Aries, had been rather less play than plug. Though the front panel looked like Ayon's S5, the interface to a remote smartphone or tablet was easier and more compatible with 3rd-party apps. MIA however was automatic volume confirmation upon turn-on which should be added for safe use. I'd also like to see an automatic lowering of the volume each time the streamer is started. Especially over the network input, I had some trouble displaying correct volume information.

Gold Note's app was rather basic compared to the best made-for iPad/Phone apps but worked flawlessly. I could search for music on my NAS according to the usual criteria or browse folders on my hard disks. As far as I know, their own app is also the best way to remotely switch digital inputs like the two frontal USB ports which weren't accessible from the Lumin or Kinski apps. Front-panel control was as convenient as it had been on Ayon's S5. While there are many ways to control the DS-1000 (from the remote, Gold Note app, 3rd-party apps using Bubble UPnP, front panel), I recommend to sticking to just one. The use of multiple control points can create conflict. If you stick to just one, navigation and streaming operations work flawlessly.

As a Lumin user, I set the Lumin App as my preferred control point. On my NAS, I set the DS-1000 as a Bubble UPnP renderer, gapless option to 'on'. The Gold Note indeed worked perfectly gapless and the mute function was implemented correctly for no noise between DSD tracks or when switching from DSD to PCM. That should be the case for all DSD streamers but isn't. In that regard, the DS-1000 worked equally well via LAN or USB. Considering now its sonic fingerprint, I identified vividness and clarity as the two main features. That didn't mean it emphasized the treble or presence region. The full bandwidth was very linear, with taut robust bass, full-bodied detailed mids and extended but non-dominant highs. I definitely loved this clear and vivid sound. This remained true even for the USB-B ports and flash storage which usually leads to lesser results.

In terms of soundstaging, I had slightly better results with the Lumin U1 digital transport or Lumin S1 via S/PDIF through an Esprit Lumina USB cable than the Gold Note's Ethernet port. But the difference was not really worth the price difference. To my ears, the DS-1000 made for a valid all-in-one digital source option compared to my Lumin S1/Audiomat Maestro 3 Reference players and their higher prices. It was a bit difficult to compare apples to apples. The Lumin S1 with its digital volume is improperly designed to connect directly to a power amp. My Audiomat Maestro 3 Reference however has an analogue volume control, making it easier to compare it to my Italian loaner.

With the Lumin S1 as pure digital transport, I had a slightly wider soundstage than over the Stream Unlimited Ethernet input. I had also the sensation of slightly higher accuracy in the mid/high frequencies but the difference was subtle and tenuous. On Pat's Metheny A map of the World album, the maestro's guitar seemed a bit sharper and more focused. The main difference of the Audiomat Maestro 3 was a wider stereo image. Another salient difference was its more laid-back character where the Italian played it a bit more forward and punchy. Finally, soundstage depth was slightly more extended with the Audiomat. 

Shared features were stunning clarity, transparency and amazing tonal diversity. This feature is particularly useful to distinguish wind instruments in a symphonic recording, between French horns, trumpets and trombones, or flutes and oboes. Both delivered a very accurate level of inner detail and ambient information to provide a real sensation of being seated in a concert hall. I had excellent results with different amplifiers, be they Luxman M800a bridged or in biamp mode or the same configurations for Red Dragon's S500 class D monos. From that I'll assume that the DS-1000's preamp feature won't create issues with other amplifiers. I even think that optional valve preamps could provide further pleasure despite elevated gain and volume gradation issues. Trying the DS-1000 with my Coincident Technology Statement line stage provided interesting results especially with the Red Dragon S500 which have lower voltage gain.