Next our broad-shouldered Denafrips Terminator with latest-gen processor board slipped beneath the COS to juxtapose the Nagra through the same analog attenuator. Here the mainland Chinese became a synthesis of the former two converters. It combined the Classic DAC's weight and sonority with the crisper articulation and treble elucidation of the D1. On definition it was PCM but its warmer gravitas added a whiff of DSD if we stay with such generalizations. Given that this system's current incarnation was carefully curated around and centered on our L2 direct-heated triode line stage, it was time to hit the eject button for the COS and properly activate that part of the chain. Given my read on the Classic DAC's voicing by then, I simply knew that in conjunction with the Vinnie Rossi and for my ears, I'd err too far on the side of softness. The obvious solution? A smaller dose of active thermionic preamplitude. Hello Nagra Classic Preamp.

This equaled sterling teamwork. With now jumpier dynamics and deeper staging than the D1 produced whose preamp behavior is more passive than active, the stacked Swiss went beyond the previous combinations. Whilst on layering and ultimate spaciousness our Elrog 'super' 45 go still farther, they prefer a more edge-limned crisply enunciated source. With the Nagra Pre meanwhile, the softer slightly more reverb-rich Classic DAC dovetailed ideally; no real surprise given provenance but first-hand certainty still eclipses hopeful assumptions.

If we now return to our prior dialect skit—remember enunciation and pronunciation, transient spice of tongue/tooth action versus bloomier thicker decays farther back in the throat?—we'll peg Nagra's Classic DAC as a speaker with a slightly 'southern' accent.

It's far from a lazy drawl but does contain echoes of a mellower delivery. It's neither clipped, hurried nor hyper punctual. If you're a Northerner who falls in love with a sunnier Mediterranean climate; if you fancy a very slight Scottish brogue over formal BBC English… then Nagra's Classic DAC speaks your language and vacation destination. This mini tutorial will have you all set.

Leafing the regular hifi tutorial, we see a legendary brand whose exceptional customer service is on record. We see built-in cachet and universal desirability. We've ticked off all the digital mod cons. We took note of the still rarer MO which up-converts PCM to high-rate DSD based on proprietary FPGA code. That happens on the fly without user intervention or external software. It covers all inputs so needs no USB. It works equally with my SD cards or any physical discs you might still spin. The display can be dimmed or extinguished for black-out ops. There's even an upgrade path via the Classic PSU which will power up to three smaller Nagra components – a real boon for diehard brand fans. Sonically you noticed how this review featured more classical music samples. That was no coincidence. Nagra's voicing set the course. It resurrected sonic attributes which put me closer to a symphonic or chamber-music setting than hard-hitting techno studio mix. But that was already in the name. Nomen est omen.

It's the Classic DAC after all.