In use, the top button 2 controls on/standby, the middle button 3 mute and Apple remote pairing, the bottom button 4 opens/exits the menu or selects inputs. Pressing all three buttons at once during a specific power down/on sequence defaults to the factory settings. A brief press on button 4 enters source selection mode and buttons 2 and 3 double as up/down selectors. A 3-second press of button 4 enters menu mode, a short press cycles through the options of upsampling on/off, fast/slow filter, display brightness at 10, 40, 70 or 100% and display blackout after 1-5 seconds. Now only a single dim LED in the lower right corner stays lit. C'est ça. Why must a DAC be any more complicated? There's sample-rate support up to 24/192 PCM and DSD128 and the XMOS USB transceiver supports an MQA unfold which the display confirms with 'MQA'. But who needs file support beyond 192kHz? In my very small hi-rez file collection, not a single track published at 352.8kHz or above. Aavik's machines cater to the real world, not number's puffery. No Kool Aid on tap. How refreshing. If you paid attention to the IEC marking, you already know that with 100-240AC acceptance from an SMPS, these decks work on all global voltages, no switches or rewiring involved. It's plug'n'play anywhere. If you must sell at a later date—perhaps to upgrade to a higher tier?—the whole world is your classified oyster. Diligent shoppers consider it all. Time to go sonic. Again, any differences I'd hear between the three units wouldn't be from different converter chips, filters, output stages or power supplies as any of the usual suspects. It'd be from the outré stuff not found in any textbook on electronic engineering. Great minds don't think alike. They chase what hasn't been done before.

The only one-time housekeeping chore for Windows users 7 and up is installation of Aavik's USB driver for full sample-rate support. As always, on that Mac users get a free pass. All of that's very basic. As the photos showed already, even aged eyes won't complain about the legibility of these displays. The font should be large enough for all listening distances typical for home hifi. Not that a DAC with fixed outputs has vital information to display we must know past our initial setup. Artist and track names remain reserved for the matching streamer below. For that we await Dawid's report.

For the tech savvy, there are still the 4-layer PCB, ultra-low jitter clocks and 13 voltage regulators whose noise "is measured in a few microvolts respectively nanovolts, significantly lower than the noise level of conventional regulators". There's also a differential floating topology with virtual ground for the I/V conversion stage to "isolate the signal path from both potential ground noise and signal-induced ground modulation". Aavik clearly feel that their many-tiered noise-attenuating solutions far dominate their choice of conversion silicon since the latter merits no mention anywhere.

By September 27th, an Ansuz press release hit to net this announcement from us: Out of sorts? If you are about ingress of noise at your hifi's open plugs, Ansuz have their new Sortz range of "anti-aerial" noise reduction devices which plug into unused RCA, BNC or XLR connectors. USB and LAN versions will follow. Inside each device's hidden coil sits a zirconium bar used for its "unprecedented resonance control". Meanwhile the outer aluminum casing comes in three finishes. Depending on version, skins include zirconium, tungsten and aluminum titanium nitride. Common to all is a final cryogenic treatment. The RCA or BNC version costs €680/€1'000/€1'400 each for the standard, Supreme and Signature, €900/€1'340/€1'800 for the XLR equivalents.

This has us appreciate even more just how strategic—some might say relentless—Audio Group Denmark are about applying their material sciences know-how across all possible applications. It also reiterates how some of this stuff looks and prices like jewelry. To remind ourselves, zirconium is "a very strong, malleable, ductile, lustrous silver-grey metal whose chemical and physical properties resemble those of titanium. Zirconium is extremely resistant to heat and corrosion, lighter than steel and in hardness similar to copper. Zirconium oxide is used in ultra-strong ceramics to make crucibles that withstand heat shock, furnace linings, foundry bricks and abrasives. It is so strong that even scissors and knives can be made from it." Current uses for tungsten aka wolfram are as "electrodes, heating elements, field emitters and filaments in light bulbs and cathode ray tubes. Tungsten is commonly used in heavy metal alloys such as high speed steel from which cutting tools are manufactured". Meanwhile aluminum titanium nitride often shows up us a coating to further harden tungsten-carbide tools. So these all are hi-tech materials from industrial sectors not often overlapping with hifi except for wolfram in vacuum tubes.