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Tech support

Postscript. About duplicating my Denafrips issue with the X7-DDC, tech support's first answer was more generic: "On our MacBook (OS Catalina 10.5.5), we connect to an Onkyo AV receiver with an iFi Pro IDSD 4.4 or our own X-7 MQA DAC via Audirvana and PureMusic. 44.1kHz signal lock was no issue. All sample rates up to 192kHz worked properly. Your Denafrips Terminator isn't imported to Korea so we couldn't try it. The X7-DDC's S/PDIF output handles up to 192kHz. A 352.8kHz input is downsampled so you could have perfect sound. For about 10 months, there hasn't been a single DAC in Korea with any input errors from Windows or Mac. It's difficult to determine whether your X7-DDC is defective or has a compatibility issue with Denafrips. As you said, it doesn't seem to be a hardware issue when Windows worked perfectly. Still, we're very curious why your DAC can't lock to low sample-rate signal. First, let's check again to see if it is a hardware or firmware issue. Please let us know if our answer is insufficient or you have further inquiries."

Polite but basic, their answer demonstrates typical challenges for remote diagnostics. It was nearly a given that they'd have no issues on their end or they'd not have shipped my sample. Having it confirmed that Korea knew of no problems did nothing for me yet. Without asking what Mac OS I run, what iTunes, Audirvana and PureMusic versions, at what settings – how could they replicate my scenario minus my specific DAC? How was I to isolate whether mine was a hardware or firmware issue? It turned out that tech support had mistaken me for a dealer. They'd assumed higher trouble-shooting skills to only carry out a more generic test. When I responded, they next did ask for details of all of my PC software versions to conduct a more specific test just as they presumably would for a consumer who runs into issue with their product. "We are trying to set up your environment. An iMac with the same iOS as yours is ready. For Audirvana we had to request the previous version from the Audirvana administrator. We'll let you know when we have an update."I was curious whether they'd be successful duplicating my issues. That must always be the first step to create any cure. Without it, no solution is possible.

"We conducted another test. Audirvana are currently not selling version 3.2 but allowed us one month of use for testing. This test was conducted with the ADI2 PRO from RME. Everything worked normal without any of the problems that occurred to you. Please check if our Audirvana setting is the same as yours." I duplicated theirs to no avail. With the Terminator DAC, I still had the same issues. It was time to pack up my review loaners and have thme returned to Seoul. Chances were 99% that upon checking my sample, they'd find nothing amiss. Without a Terminator in their lab, they'd not be able to replicate my problems; and even with one, perhaps something else had been my culprit?