That reader would love the T⇒T+ changes for staying on the organic side. And perhaps he'd elect not to exploit its new clock-out feature even though he also owns the D300Ref. That clock link operates as a clear resolution enhancement. Here I don't account for any seasoning with clock cables. I've not conducted such tests to know how much variability there is and what sonic attributes they affect. My ears are conditioned by a few years of Terminator ownership. During that time only once did I briefly lust after another – the big €30K DA0.30 C.E.C. designed by Rumen Atarski of Thrax. Now the Terminator-Plus felt like a two-stage booster rocket. Stage 1 are the small gains in 'analogue' midrange density, bass grip and treble sweetness. Those remain closer to earth(iness). Stage 2 moves deeper into interstellar space. Soundstage separation, 3D specificity and smaller detail from "more stars in the sky" all factor. To engage this second boost does require a source with copasetic clock inputs. As this review showed, it needn't be a Denafrips model.

Readers of my far earlier Mutec review—of a clock distributor and separate 10MHz master clock—might remember that I barely rated the clock. It took our very best ribbon-based headfi to apply extreme resolution and hear any benefits from it. Many years prior, an Esoteric rubidium clock had likewise missed my ears. In 2020, Mr. Zhao's scheme differs to be wildly more effective. He locates his oven-controlled master clocks within circuit-trace centimeters of the R2R arrays. He uses integer multiples of the 44.1/48kHz sample rates for his clocks so they needn't be reconstituted first. It doesn't matter whether that alone explains why his clock sync works so much better. Hearing is believing.

Prospective buyers without matching clock inputs will eye the Denafrips Iris which for just ~€450 duplicates our Soundaware's USB bridge function to cost less than many an audiophile power cord. Others not interested might instead eye the standard Terminator which remains with the program.

As to Terminator+Gaia = Terminator-Plus, I quote from my Gaia review: "Happy Terminator owners like our household will be non-chuffed to learn that bolting on Gaia in I²S mode does not equal the sound of T+. What Gaia added to the Terminator was more 'digital' detail by way of higher transient precision and superior overall enunciation. Without Gaia, the DAC's tongue felt slightly heavier so its articulation less precise. What T+ had over that combination was a more 'analog' midrange fullness, a slightly weightier bass and, undeniably, a sweeter more burnished top end. If we define the Terminator's Gaia gains as operating in the time/detail domain, the edge of T+ belongs to the tone/timbre territories."

I am back! In the fast-moving world of upscale digital audio, three years are half an eternity. Perhaps it was predestined that Ahnuld's famous line about the future would become the present already. The Terminator-Plus does more than just revisit a power supply with ultra capacitors for better-than-battery performance. It does more than just revisit the layout of the signal path to further lower noise. It upgrades its clocks then adds outputs for them to control the clocks of upstream gear. That's its biggest advance!