Putting a mic on COS. Would that equal cosmic? Nothing ever does when tastes diverge so broadly. Going in I had my own review plus those by Dawid and Christiaan. For v1 it meant triplicate consensus on a resolution-first voicing. It clearly wasn't groomed for romance, extra density or lushness. Yet none of us heard it err on analysis or vivisection. Given my current resident DACs without knowing how v2's hardware changes would sound, I still expected more distance between COS and Denafrips than COS and Sonnet. Given my reliance on Pál Nagy's AVCs with hi/lo-pass filters for precise subwoofer integration in both systems, I also anticipated close performance for amp-direct so preamp mode when comparing v2 to my passive-magnetic volume controllers. With small paper widebanders upstairs and big versions downstairs all augmented by tweeters and woofers, my preamp and amp preferences focus on ultimate lucidity.
All the qualities we might lump into the tone drawer—mass, warmth, fullness & Co—I have at the desired doses from my sound|kaos and Aurai speakers. On that score I don't want any extra from my electronics. Hence my wholesale embrace of Pál's multi-tapped autoformers. Those are a further refinement on John Chapman's original Tap-X concept for Bent Audio. These passives are quicker and more transparent than my best active DHT preamp so have taken over. Doing nothing is the desired linestage Zen. Now a variable source can be ideal to further simplify our setup. Spanning 0.5dB steps over 63.5dB of signal cut plus 6dB of gain, the purist COS with its remote has the right stuff and won't convert its two analog inputs to digital.
Delivery in flight case as befits a proper audio attaché.
Now you have my psych profile of expectations, listening bias and hardware context to evaluate v2. With no v1, I obviously couldn't compare. I'd only assess how the D10 bedded into our two systems which had upgraded since my review of the original. For headfi I had HifiMan Susvara/HE-1000, Final D-8000/Sonorous X and Audeze LCD-XC. If synchronicity smiled, even the new Camerton Binom-ER might be on hand.
At left we have the three original Connoisseurs Of Sound of team COS: one for all, all for one. The central chap is CC (really!) and their president and sonic sensei. Nothing makes the final cut until he signs off on the sound. My contact is Stephen to his left. He designed the D10's chassis so works as their mechanical engineer but also on circuitry.
He has many stories on thinking a project wrapped only for critical CC to intervene last minute and ask for another change. Being close friends, it's all good sport and part of their group dynamic. Oliver at right is in charge of product R&D.
As indicated already, for 2022 they're still hoping to release a few streaming-related items so that the many cloud-based music users can improve the sound of their current Internet platform/s. Speedy scheduling simply sees itself opposed by ongoing parts shortages and serious shipping delays.
Today however is all about the D10 v2 without the optional streaming module to discuss DAC, preamp and headfi utilities unified under one full-size €4'500 hood. If you wondered about the BB chip photo and its 4 flying leads, it's how COS optimize S/NR over using traditional PCB traces. Each unit's dual-mono quads of wires between converter silicon and output stage get measured, spaced for lowest noise then fixed with epoxy and finally tucked under a don't-touch dress plate.
"We're old school" explained Stephen with that grin of his.
So we won't expect a ferrum Hypsos-style external power supply with switching parts to offer universal output voltages and upgrade stock SMPS. When the time comes, COS shall champion the classic pure linear cause with fixed output voltages. It's also why the D10 gets a resistor-ladder analog not digital volume control; why COS write their own algorithm with linear-phase delay FIR filter; why they bother with their costly boxes-inside-a-box nested chassis. Old school. "Like you I'll be sixty this year" is how Stephen drove his point deeper. Youth is wasted on the young? Following progress of his FedEx tracker, I saw travel from Taiwan to Guangzhou/China then East to Sennan-Shi/Japan then back West to Dubai before entering Europe in Belgium's Grace-Hollogne to hit a delay. Four days later that unfroze to forward rapidly to Cologne, Paris then Shannon/Ireland to show "on FedEx vehicle for delivery". As just shown with a black unit, the D10 arrived in a sturdy branded flight case so already very first impressions ride into town in high style. About the COS I²S-over-HDMI pin assignation, "it's hardwired to the PS Audio standard and not otherwise configurable."