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In the shipping box: The Zodiac+ is quite compact. It's no taller than a CD case and just a bit deeper. It ships in a cleverly sub-partitioned carton which includes a cheap Chinese SMPS with locking collar and ferrite clamp on the umbilical, a mains cord, a Toslink cable, a generic USB cable with mini B plug and the owner's manual.

Inside the enclosure: The Zodiac+ slots two PCBs into the ribbed side panels of its black extrusion which nicely avoids screws on any of its sides. These circuit boards communicate with each other via one short multi-pin ribbon cable. Four longitudinal metal shafts bolt front and back panel together. They also insure that the pin connector of the digital board seats properly in the fascia's retainer to run AC power to its push buttons and display.

Here is the two-storey assembly moved out of its casing. The blue blocks are precision trim pots for the XLR outputs.

Here is the underside of the digital board.

The upper analog board and...

... the lower digital board with the temperature-controlled clock, a BurrBrown PCM1792A DAC, the ISP 1507-A1 USB 2.0 transceiver (that supports high/full/low-speed USB at 480, 12 and 1.5Mbit/s respectively), a flexiFlash™ Lattice XP2 field-programmable array and an Atmel 256K flash-based 32-bit RISC microprocessor.

Various close-ups open to full size in new windows.

While audiophiles of course habitually refer to higher numbers as louder, the Zodiac betrays its pro-audio heritage with a display that calibrates volume in reverse. It shows actual steps of attenuation presumably indicating dB. That makes 0 equal to zero attenuation, i.e. full uncut signal. Now -90 becomes mute (the numerical volume value remains live for 2 seconds before the display reverts to the incoming sample rate for digital inputs or an analog input confirmation as shown above). From mute volume jumps to -55, then proceeds to 40 in increments of 5. Between 40 and 20 each step is 2, then it narrows to 1 between 19 and 13. Then the scheme (at least on my loaner) jumped from 13 to 11 and 9 in steps of 2 again, then hit 8, skipped 7 and from 6 returned to steps of 1 all the way up to zero.

I checked this multiple times in both directions with identical results. I assume this skipping of certain steps is intrinsic to the chosen approach which eschews an optical encoder, relays or stepper pot. To perfectionists the Zodiac Gold's stepped attenuator beckons as will its upgraded power supply. A cheesy off-the-shelf Sino SMPS smaller than a laptop's is the first sign that the Zodiac+ doesn't exactly cater to audiophiles at least on perception.