From the previous page, the thinking reader recognized a living truth. Concern over USB-transferred noise is far from exclusive to our communal imagination-addled audiophilia nervosa. Hi-tech labs which rely on measurements not polluted by computer-generated noise sweat the very same issue. Which reminds me of how I first learnt of the Vibex powerline cleaners from Spain's Cliff Ormand. Nagra's sales & marketing manager Matthieu Latour hipped me to them. He discovered them when their R&D department complained about their resident Swiss power delivery. It was too noisy. It interfered with their test gear. They couldn't see deeply enough into the noise floor to make important design decisions. Back to Intona, their original focus on industrial applications sidesteps the realm of imaginary diseases and their equally imaginary cures. Forget unscrupulous tech quacks who exploit our collective audiophile ignorance and real desire for better sound. The problem of noise contamination which migrates across the USB pipeline from our computers is very real. It can be measured. Whether that means you can hear it when that noise is removed; and whether you deem the improvement or change worth the associated expense... that's on a whole nutha page.

Two discrete PCB joined only by digital isolators to "cut the cord" between computer and DAC. Even visually the "dual everything" concept makes sense.

The thinking reader—hey, those do exist!—also wonders. Why is it that our audio designers at large seem incapable of building Intona-type solutions into their/our DACs? Why do we need external fixers? At what sell prices for D/A converters should we insist on total immunity to such aftermarket add-ons? It doesn't seem right that after years of USB Audio, our high-performance segment remains caught out as improvable by sub €500 USB isolators, reclockers and sundry doodads. Doesn't that make your blood boil?


One certainly expects that as DAC prices go up, the degree of improvements possible from Intona types diminishes to eventually matter naught. And, one expects that even betterment in the lower ranges occurs in the small-percentile range - far removed from upgrading speakers or amplifiers. But after the basics are sorted, the high-end pursuit soon does become one of incremental hard-won gains not dissimilar to Olympic wins of fractions of a second. Whilst a swimmer touching the last lane's stop by half a finger's reach sooner than a competitor seems little to brag about after doing so many lanes, it's often the difference between gold and silver medals. Given my assortment of DACs, by how much could the Intona secure a lead if at all?