For from-the-seat A/B I burnt two identical copies of a 78-min. playlist then launched both spinners via shared remote code. One press on the DAC's remote switched between coax and AES/EBU inputs while both transports served up the same constant data. To eliminate cable variables, I then repeated the test with swapped leads to experience each transport via both a Chris Sommovigo Tombo Trøn coax and Allnic AES/EBU digital cable.

Both spinners took virtually the same time to progress from TOC to play. Hence switching between them incurred nary any time shift. The stream remained nearly seamless. My ducks lined up neatly. But would my ears be trusty detectors of differences? The bits-are-bits faith swears that there could be none. And I was certainly dreading involuntary conscription to that monochrome binary army. I do wear my audiophile epaulettes with conviction, all 3½ stripes. Though truth told, once differences get so tiny that half a track in they've lost all significance, I've grown too old to care. It's why I'll never be a full-blown audiophile admiral. That time has passed. Would this be just such a junior instance of go scrub the latrines?

Affirmative, sir. And sparkling I had the officers' head, too. Both streams sounded equally robust, earthy and moist. There was something marginally different but far too embedded and slippery to call out by name. It lived somewhere on the matte/glossy balance sheet, with the Lektor seeming just a bit shinier? But when we run A/B which cut songs into short slivers, we don't listen for how a melodic arc develops, tension builds/releases and artistic phrasing comes off. We parse words instead of sentences, paragraphs or full chapters. Of course the same words spell the same if there's no typo. Unless enunciated in strong dialect, single words aren't where differences tend to occur. So more rapid switching must be accompanied by full song comparisons lest elemental things fall through the cracks. Regardless, here I was all cracked up. Between the spinner mechs of Austrian Pro8 and Dutch CDM4/19 for two pedigreed takes on one subject, I couldn't discern reliable offsets after the first second of switching. Ditto for crossing cables. In my book that was far too subtle to be worth more pixels. 

A more interesting question was, had my latest iMac reboot diminished even squashed remaining propeller-head advantages? Was my resident serving/streaming of local files finally fully up to par with physical CD? How about cloudy files? Those don't route through Audirvana Origin but directly from a Qobuz Sublime subscription which enters via a Lhy Audio network switch with quality oscillator. Qobuz exits USB into the same super-cap powered Singxer SU-6 bridge which my local files encounter. Those serve off an outboard 4TB SSD drive then buffer in RAM and process through the Origin player's most extreme mode. Before we go there, one more tussle between actual spinners, this time with the Simon Lee AIO. Its Sony/Sanyo drive doesn't carry the same audiophile cachet so perception automatically places it a rung or two beneath the two others. Now the Denafrips exited stage right and the AIO took its spot.

The South Korean was lazier to spin up. That put it two seconds behind the Lektor. More important was being off latrine duty. I was back top deck with admirals, vice admirals and captains shooting the salty sea breeze. The SAG machine didn't just spin up slower. It even sounded lazier with less innate tension. It was softer around the edges. In matters of musical vitality, it felt more subdued so less pert and alert. This offset was easy to hear. It operated fully inside the realm of significance. It put paid to the notion that as long as there's bit-perfect transfer, all digital transports sound alike. Clearly not. In this instance, a consumer-grade plastic spinner was outclassed by a high-end metal/carbon affair. It was a proud day to wear my audiophile epaulettes. Strut another ramrod day. Of course a chance to return to the latrines awaited just around the bend. This meant duplicate playlist on my new iMac versus physical disc chopping air on the Lektor. Of course not hearing any difference was the real hope for a change. It'd mean that my streaming files had finally caught up fully with a premium disc transport. It's what most people believe. But without a top-shelf CD transport on hand, how could they possibly know? Just any spare laptop with a floppy DVD drive and USB output is not the end of that road.