The rear panel shows the four numerically marked line-level analog inputs, the USB input, the fixed output, the variable output, the coaxial input, the CD/PC toggle, the mains fuse and the SpeakOn power inlet.

Now we look at the upper board of the converter which combines a plethora of resistors with what probably are Mosfets for noiseless switching devices.

Next comes the section between the converter board and front panel with a toroid ...

... followed by the tube output stage with stacked toroids.

Here we get at the output transformers right behind the bottles...

... and two more trafos, with the USB transceiver board and relay-switched analog inputs behind them on the front panel.

To fire off the usual proof-of-life email to Alexey whose standoffs for the heavy digital PCB had taken a hit in transit to be rather wobbly and with busted top nuts, I connected the Lilt directly to my Pass Labs XA30.8. PureMusic and the OSX sound panel immediately recognized his USB input as Combo384 Amanero. I ramped down the relay-clicking attenuator to -50dB with the plastic remote wand before I hit play on Anouar Brahem's Le pas du chat noir. Presto, distortion-free sound. For mellow levels into the 85dB EnigmAcoustics M1 monitors, I sat at -33dB to hoard plenty of headroom for real noise. At my actual level, the output meters barely twitched. With this exercise cleared, the assignment was on.

Because it was due to make onward tracks to a German importer very shortly, my first tube DAC challenger became Fore Audio's DAISy 1 from South Korea, to be followed by the also glowing Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII from Italy. All converters sent signal to the COS Engineering D-1 for volume control. That's because Lilt excepted, the other two valvers run on fixed gain. In these trials, I thus also used the Lilt's fixed outputs. These choices minimized variables. Now I could focus on the sonic contributions of various converters and establish first map coordinates for Alexey's machine.