Our review sample arrived just after the summer holidays but still without the optional external power supply which was to release a bit later. After unpacking, the now familiar 220 x 80 x 260mm 4kg device showed the characteristic fish-bone slots in its anodized skin. From left to right, the front has a 6.3mm headphone jack, a small blue LED and IR receiver. Just left of center sits a 2.8" TFT color display and more to the right the single-knob master controller. Although that knob is easy to operate, the DS-10 still comes with a remote.

At the back there's more. Top left are two analog outputs, RCA unbalanced and XLR balanced. Following is the multi-pin port for the external power supply's umbilical and the IEC power inlet. Bottom left are the RJ45 Ethernet connection, a mini and A-type USB with proprietary Gold Note Link port above. Multiple Gold Note devices can thus slave together to power on/off in sync. Digital inputs are AES/EBU and coax, with computer audio by USB-B and optical sources via two Toslink receivers. Wifi connections are indicated by a small blue LED above the WiFi reset button. Two asymmetrically placed antennas, one for Bluetooth and one for WiFi, complete the business end.

Inside things are just as well organized and the various parts not only high quality but grouped such that no mutual interference is created. The core processor is the Asahi Kasei Microdevices AK4493EQ converter. According to its maker, this offers 32-bit resolution at sample rates from 8Hz-768kHz. It supports native DSD up to x 8 i.e. 22.4MHz/DSD512. With a claimed S/NR of 123dB and total harmonic distortion of -113dB, this chip lives in the high-performance delta of DACdom. Built in are six types of what AKM call sound color filters. This same converter chip is also found in Metronome's Le DAC and Esoteric's K-07Xs.

Around it, Gold Note have configured their deck to handle the audible bandwidth with 120dB dynamic range. Input via LAN/Ethernet of Wifi is good up to 24/192 PCM. Next to LAN and Wifi, the DS-10 also accepts Bluetooth 5.0. All digital inputs handle up to 24/192 including flash drives on USB-A. For higher resolution, USB-B accepts PCM up to 32/384kHz plus native DSD512 so can handle up/resampled PC signal via add-on software like HQPlayer. Speaking of media servers, there's support for all UPnP-comm devices as well as DLNA and Roon-ready. The manual even speaks of MQA. The DS-10 outputs 1V over its analog RCA, 4V over its XLR.