Also, I despise having to be online for local files. In USB/local mode the Internet could crash and I wouldn't notice. In network mode I'd immediately be out of sound. That obviously goes for running local files over the network too, just for the spurious delight of cover art and meta data on the AQWO 2 display. I already enjoy that at far higher pixel count and scale on a 5K 27" Retina display right next to my seat. It's my inner curmudgeon expounding on his pathetically puny pulpit. I'm fully cognizant how most modern users will screw in the short included WiFi antenna, set the AQWO 2 to wireless then stream off a smartphone connected to Apple Music, Qobuz, Spotify, Tidal & Bros. On all that and actually having bought all the music I stream off my SSD, I'm a hardwired offline leprechaun; querulous, cantankerous and the odd chap out. The AQWO 2 simply doesn't care. It caters to my kinky kind and the vast always-on majority. It's a modern multi-tasker in the best sense of the word.

Cascaded network distributors plus two inline LAN isolators plus one transformer-isolated main RJ45 port in second switch [see insert and the isolation IC preceding the single RJ port between the fiber-optic and quad RJ45 ports].

Readers who assume that I hold back sometimes ask by separate email whether I'd buy a certain component for myself. Today let's ask in public. Would I buy an AQWO 2? No. But that's only because prior to our last move, I gave away our entire very large CD collection; and because with an iMac dedicated to just music playback, I have no need of a separate streamer with awesome touch screen. All I need is a top D/A converter; an AQWO 2 XS if you will. If I didn't already run the iMac/Cen.Grand combo; if I hadn't transferred a large CD collection onto SSD and added countless digital files bought off Qobuz and occasionally BandCamp; if it had volume control – I'd pursue today's 3-in-1 Métronome in a heartbeat. It unites streamer, spinner and DAC in one handsome well-built chassis without offboard power supply; and offers sonics right on par with what I ended up with after 20+ years on the beat. So now let's take it into the upstairs system and bump off Sonnet's Pasithea.

Given ongoing subtext, it won't surprise that what went bump in the light of day was another "you're a bit more dense" compliment. This extra weightiness telegraphed right off. So did absence of attendant loss of subjective resolution. All gain no pain. But there was a new lesson to be had; on unexpected tube microphonics. Whilst downstairs I'd heard zero direct evidence thereof—no tweeter hiss or midrange hum—a trio of recently updated Carbide Base Diamond isolators laboring in my second system made an advanced point. Once the 2 floated on zirconia bearings in diamond-coated raceways plus viscoelastics plus a second layer of less extreme ball bearings, tube mode eliminated the downstairs 'connective tissue' injection. It even minimized leading-edge softening. Those effects apparently tied to subliminal vacuum-tube microphonics. Extreme decoupling now eliminated or at least noticeably diminished those. And that lowered a very particular kind of subtle distortion to focus 6922 contributions purely on the harmonic domain.

DSD64 files over AES/EBU.