Naturally the engine swap stands for all the measures LessLoss included to make their Reference go faster. How the virtual horse power increase manifested was interesting. Although the LessLoss still felt darker and more distant than my Polish opponent, it now had all the necessary authority to render feisty tracks just as effortless. On this count now the game was a draw. The new LessLoss proved very capable on bass reach and control but still managed to inject extra weight and roundness without penalizing speed or pressure. That was key. Now it knew how to charm and slam and that's one of the main reasons why I regard it as substantially more composed than and clearly superior to the Original. The more mileage I clocked, the more I felt that now the fight wasn't about two different leagues, just differently allocated priorities. My inherently resolved lit-up Pacific still was the more immediate and tangible. It projected larger more firmly outlined images and brought them closer to feel more energetic, speedy, airy, direct and here. The Echo's End Reference rendered images inside smaller more distant frames, was a fair bit denser and had its backdrop darker to elevate ambience. That felt more atmospheric and pulled me there into its own place. That's the rough outline. The Pacific's high notes were always sensibly magnified. The LessLoss suspended them about a row deeper but still substantial, lingering for long perfectly visible. That was quite the achievement considering its natural aspiration for a chocolaty flavor. On soundstage scale, complexity and accuracy, it was a draw again. So it was for smoothness, lack of grain and overall ease.
It seems fair to simplify and call the Pacific more fresh and direct so the younger keener player versus the more sedate, mature, calm and picturesque Echo's End Reference. Still, both operated at a tier too high to call them out on any obvious weakness. One's golden trait wasn't the other's rusty downside. Both had their basics sorted, then simply took off in opposite directions. Since this story is about the Lithuanian, I was caught off guard by how accurate and clear it was despite its naturally grounded somewhat darkish disposition. That was new. Clarity, accuracy, tonal generosity and substance are traits that don't usually match in equal proportions let alone this pronounced. In this sonic class, neither the Echo's End Original, AMR DP-777SE, Lampizator Golden Gate nor any other DAC I'm aware of blended these features like the Reference did now. I strongly think that this ability to do it so potently yet control the bass to slam hard upon demand is its most unique trait. After all, how often do we get to hear a naturally earthy machine that's so capable of keen articulation and dynamic force?
I shouldn't have been surprised of course. The Reference skill set is the effect of extreme silencing measures. That's what one pays for to achieve this type of sonic distinctiveness. Although this DAC is the most analog type I'm aware of, it has a very strong personality to remain more situational than my still costlier if arguably more universal LampizatOr. Having said so, the LessLoss will be perfect for systems which are already tuned for illumination, oxygenation, spatial grandeur, speed and openness. Systems favoring chunkiness, gravity and oomph will more appreciate a LampizatOr type. This hobby is more about balance than anything else. Whether your system would benefit from one of this report's contestants or the other is beyond my pay grade.
Highly potent noise-rejection measures inside the LessLoss Echo's End Original resulted in its distinctively earthy flavor. Now its nearly four times costlier sibling exploits even more of the same tech to reveal similarities then goes beyond where it matters most. The Original was already rather modest looking for its ask which turns today's Reference version into a more extreme proposition but their makers simply aren't into gratuitous functionality and bling. Extreme noise reduction instead discards aluminium, LEDs, knobs, switches, fuses and other contrarious culprits. Those quick to judge the modest dress code and OEM R2R modules will miss this picture – big time. This DAC targets an audience that's already hip to its makers' design choices to no longer question them. Such enthusiasts look beyond parts costs, fancy exteriors, displays and modern sex appeal. They pursue that very particular very captivating sonic moisture, elegance and maturity which won't compromise clarity or speed. If you fit that profile and can financially handle it, the LessLoss Echo's End Reference might be the last DAC you'll ever buy.