Battleship. Though a real low rider in night-vision black, the Lektor Joy also proved to be a very dense flounder. Lifting it spoke to euro-per-kilo conversion happiness for those who measure ROI in such metrics. Gauging my white hair, even the delivery man of the weather-wrapped wooden box issued a "this is heavy" warning upon hand-over. He clearly expected I'd drop the lot. The only similar-looking player I'm aware of was Bo Christensen's Bow Technologies' ZZ-Eight way back when. Since then it's become Ancient's signature look. With Jarek's laser lens exposed, we obviously leave a CD on as protective dust cover topped by the small puck. Connecting my usual FiiO R7 SD card transport's USB output to the Lektor's input opened FiiO's standard permission screen. It identified the unfamiliar USB input as .3lite interface 2.0 and prompted me to okay the connection which I did. I also connected the R7's coaxial output to the Lektor's matching input with the late Chris Sommovigo's finest Tombo Trøn. I was all wired up for my first joy ride. I had volume ramped down to zero since I didn't yet know whether Jarek's first 30 steps would fall below the ambient noise floor—a typical engineer's approach which irritates in practice by throwing away nearly 1/3rd of all available 99 steps—or whether audible sounds would commence at the first step beyond mute. Better safe than sorry when each system's gain structure and listener's loudness perception differ.

As expected, first faint sounds started just below 30. With the rear-panel gain switch set to 'high', 60 and 70 respectively generated what I call medium/loud SPL to reflect my usual setup which too has me listen between ~30-40dB below max. CD playback was just fine but my USB link only output in the right channel at half speed and heavily distorted. Jarek suspected a cabled solder joint had failed in transit but trying to open his machine as instructed, its business end didn't budge. Not wishing to risk a customer's loaner by applying undue force, I reinserted the six screws. I'd focus on CD playback with a tip of the hat at Ol' Murphy, patron saint of Irish cockups.

I couldn't find a way to dim or extinguish the display. Jarek confirmed that one can't. That's a minor personal McMurphy which my Cen.Grand DAC is guilty of as well. I simply prefer how my Sonnet Pasithea DAC with true variable gain has a timed display-off function which only comes on when I change the volume then blacks out again. My FiiO too has this. So does my smart Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box II crossover. It not only saves retinas but prolongs the life expectancy of displays. Especially after sun down I'd rather not have sundry idiot lights and hifi displays compete for my attention so always advocate for giving us black-out or at least dimming options. Whilst I can't see anyone pursuing our Lektor Joy as just a transport, it does come with a coaxial output. Here I would like to also see AES/EBU because in my experience of digital transmission versions, I²S over HDMI or RJ45 comes first though does require flexible pin configs to match non-standardized receivers; AES/EBU second; BNC third and coax fourth. But that's just me earning my keep as a critic being critical. So tip this reviewer a measly quarter for a virtual non issue.

That ol' McMurphy only acted the partial spoil sport I learnt in the main system where USB worked right away. A potential explanation awaited in Audirvana Studio's audio window. Here the Lektor Joy appeared as 'DIYAudio Digital' good up to 384 PCM and DSD128. I'd never seen two USB receivers identify the same sender by such different names. It rather suggested that for reasons unknown, the upstairs FiiO had misidentified the device to cause problems. Always one to wrap himself in mystery, I saluted the curmudgeonly Mac and promised to empty a bottle of whisky on his grave. The small folks are a thirsty bunch. Best keep 'em appeased. But now all systems were a go. My Joy ride was rumbling on all three cylinders of CD, USB and coax. Jarek: "This is one reason why I dislike PCfi. Everything sounds good until some misunderstood bit of a hidden setting, out-of-date driver, LAN address or other issue causes problems. It's horrible. Pressing a computer into playing easy music is like pressing a bear into riding a monocycle. After many trials he can ride a few circles around the arena but no bear is meant to ride."