Small print. Makers of streamers wanting a review from me face our household's allergy to WiFi radiation. It gives us instant headaches. I listen to 99% locally hosted/purchased files. Where I do stream cloud-based music to discover new tunes, I use a PC/Mac over external USB bridge, 27" or 34" screen plus keyboards/mice. WiFi disables yet Bandcamp, Qobuz, Spotify, Tidal and YouTube are all accessible via their browser windows. Audirvana Origin on my Win10/64 workstation and Audirvana 3.5 on my music iMac are the intermediary software players.

For that any DAC sans USB suffices. My USB bridges output reclocked coax, BNC, AES/EBU, even I²S over HDMI/RJ45. So I have no use for add-on streamers. And yes, that puts me in the extreme minority. I'm simply too set that way to now change spots when our home's microwave allergy condemns headless streamers relying on WiFi tablets or smartphones for their GUI.

It left Madison and I to do DACing in fixed/variable mode plus headfi via its coaxial input for both local and cloud-based files. I'd simply not use the RJ45 input. If your focus was the latter, you've come to the wrong place. Désolé.

Of course sonics should be 100% identical to my pre-clocked use if Engineered have aced their card's isolation and clocking from run-of-the-mill Internet access hardware aka routers. Considering how far costlier kit from competing brands runs Engineered's 8-layer network module [right], it seems a very fair assumption. That ends today's small print.

No separate power mains or input selector point at a push/hold/rotate controller to unify necessary functions. Less is more. Easy is elegant, complicated for chumps and chimpanzees. That includes fixed upsampling and automatic DSD⇒PCM conversion. We're asked not to second-guess the Engineer. Just enjoy the fruits of his labor. There's no forbidden tree to raid for apples. Perhaps this time we won't get ourselves ousted from Eden. Stay in and prosper.

The world according to Madison? It certainly does toy with manly notions of required weight and size. But then some Darwin fellow declared that man descended from apes. And what do monkeys know? If you've been to a zoo, you know exactly what.

It's why Engineered's press kit includes two photos of bonsai audio: with a PSI active monitor from the same town…

… and a Boenicke W5 from up north in Basel. If you get the right stuff, a proper hifi needn't be complicated or big to sing like a (bürger)meister.

By early July so five months past writing the intro, I checked on status. With at least four Madison reviews published already, what about my sample? Wattson's delay was awaiting Roon cert. They hoped to bag it by month's end. The other reviews had all been organized by various distributors. As an Audirvana user, Roon would be entirely wasted on me. Could that fact expedite dispatch? I asked my contact Guy Cheval at the factory. It sure could. "Not having Roon when we launched Emerson sometimes generated bad points with reviewers. But in your case, I'll organize a sample from France by next week."

And so it came to pass that on the eighth day…