The M2 Pro arrived in bilingual branded packaging which once cracked open revealed this split-top display box. The upper half housed the player proper, the lower a white USB cable and USB stick. The latter had on it 'CD format', 'hi-res' and 'iso' folders of sample tracks plus the XMOS driver. The music tracks were duplicated on the included 32GB Sandisk Ultra micro SD card in one of the player's slots.

The display on my black show demonstrator already betrayed many scratches which the included polishing cloth failed to remove. This suggested no glass and certainly not Gorilla glass.

Lesley confirmed it as 4H "high-strength acrylic because for this shape, glass is not a good option". Also, the 'home' and 'return' buttons bracketing the company name were barely visible "because we want to provide an associative perception especially when the screen is set to off. Now everything black looks better."

"But the red version has clear signs because its chassis color is bright already."

Signs you can't see aren't signs, are they?

Likely because it was Lesley's show demonstrator, my unit arrived with its battery run down to zero so I had to first charge it up on a USB slot of my PC. Plugging in my desktop's Meze Neo Classic headphones for a first sonic hit with then 22% on the battery which continued to charge, I cued up a preloaded 2.8MHz DSD track.

Alas, now I had the occasional stutter, small skip, even distortion. Was the M2 Pro unhappy to play whilst charging?

Esther and QP1R play flawlessly when charging on a Belkin smartphone dock. But one of Lesley's preloaded 24/96 track refused to play altogether. Ditto the next 16/44 track. Had I crashed the player? I restarted it with the charger cable unplugged. The same track still refused to play but another .flac file of some awful showboating orchestral fireworks ran just fine.

Not sure what to think, I decided to charge to full, then swap the preloaded card with one of my own. There I knew that none of my other players including Soundaware's own big SD card players A280Pro, A300 and D300Ref ever have any read issues. If a bad card was the culprit, I didn't want to give the player the evil eye. Scanning the 2778 files on my card took about 10 minutes (up to 50'000 are allowed). Playing any of those afterwards produced no hiccups. Perhaps Soundaware's own card was the worse for wear. Stuff happens. It's the Tao.

Inspecting my M2 Pro's sleek matte black casing, I marveled at the Foxconn cooperative factory's CNC chops and their seamless snap backs without any visible fasteners. I also wondered. Won't many shoppers in this €1'000 luxury DAP league expect iPhone and Galaxy-type shiny surfacing and hard glass that's impervious to scratches à la Questyle?

The M2 Pro's top edge has a 2.5mm 8-600Ω balanced headphone socket, a 8-300Ω 3.5mm combo jack with 32/192PCM/DoP coax digital and a 3.5mm balanced line out. The latter is compadre with the SAW-Link analog interface already seen with the MR1. With their breakout cable, it can connect to the shown 2 x XLR expansion box from which to drive a balanced power amp or active speakers.

So whilst Lesley's explanations didn't position the M2 Pro as being aimed at the stationary crowd, it still can be used that way. And as the upper photo also shows, the GUI theme has been updated with classy calligraphy.

The C-type USB input on the bottom edge bracketed by the two SD card slots promises +90% charging in just 2 hours when the M2 Pro is powered off. IEM play time is published as 11-14 hours (longer in balanced than single-ended mode); and as more than 20 hours in digital transport mode.

But if you have that much spare time on your hands, you're probably in jail and not reading this.

The signal path is direct coupled to avoid all coupling capacitors. The power supply itself gets "more than 30 high-performance AVX Tantalum capacitors plus reference composite capacitors. We also use Molex, Alps and Würth parts."