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Even mint. In matters of humidity against the drier cracklier more alert Job 225, the Wyred/Dayens meet was far more evenly matched. That said, the class D mini still didn't exude the same golden aura of the Ecstasy III. It felt a bit feistier to fall somewhere between the Swiss and Serbian if closer to the latter. On bass heft and solidity the mINT outgripped the III but the latter retaliated with more suave textures. All 3rd-gen ICEpower amps I've heard shared this fatter fuzzier trait via Hypex UcD-based platforms. The Danish take on D class is warmer, the Dutch is leaner and quicker. It thus wasn't surprising that EJ Sarmento's mini shouldn't diverge much from the Dayens mold as described. The core distinction was Wyred's inherent minor softness being drier than the Ecstasy III's added fluffy aeration.

Adding up Dayens' take, they couldn't cash out the Goldmund challenge but nothing at that price I've encountered does. The Job 225 is a bit of a fluke or freak of nature. It'll only be later this year that a $1.695 global 115/230V version shipped directly from Geneva will crack the current US exclusive to become a far-reaching argument. Back in the real world of evenly matched competitors when like coin is involved, on sound if not features and finish the Ecstasy III played it on the level of Wyred4Sound's compact award winner. The mINT adds i/o socketry, a decent starter DAC with USB and a strong 6.3mm headfi feed. The Ecstasy III ups power and physical size. In the final tally where only the ears vote I'd give the nod to the Dayens for a higher dose of languorous fluidity and silkier tone.

Relative to the remote and without any included instructions, I could never figure out how to pair it to reach ecstasy. That it emitted IR was crystal when the volume+ command moved the Khozmo's volume down with a shared code. The remote simply did nothing for the Dayens without first inputting the proper pairing protocol. Clearly the Serbians need to up their game and include those instructions. Making a mistake with my address, they'd also screwed up the first shipment by getting it back undelivered after languishing in customs for a while; and then—mysteriously, we never learnt how their hand-written label had gotten attached to the wrong parcel—'sent' me a box with motorcycle paraphernalia whilst the intended one was embargoed at customs for lack of a proper value declaration. On the shipping end of things there's thus still work to be done at Dayens.

If this became a somewhat more cautionary tempered tale than my prior Ampino gush, it's because in the intervening years one would have expected basic shipping to have gotten sorted, packaging and remote turned professional and proper instructions on pairing included. Having repeatedly received Trafomatic Audio shipments from Serbia, I know the margin of improvement that's possible and necessary for Dayens. This would also include timely communications about status and unanticipated shipping delays. Whether it's a paying customer waiting or a reviewer having reserved a time slot, we all want to be kept in the loop. After all, €1.850 is professional coin. For it one expects professionalism on all fronts and knows how competitors like Bryston, Rogue, Wyred4Sound and hundreds of others offer it without fail.

Wrapping sonics. If you consider the €2K barrier for integrated amps transitional—well past MediaMart or Electric Avenue offerings but not yet completely in high-end's heartland—you could suspect that walking across this bridge compromises refinement. The Ecstasy III would beg to differ. Whilst it does give up resolution, separation, bass control and immediacy versus dearer or more advanced specimens, it makes up for these mild omissions with a winning combination of silkiness, fluid spaciousness and minorly golden tone. It's the antithesis of choppy, edgy, bright, cutting or coarse. In short, it's been voiced to sound beautiful rather than ultimately dynamic and energetic. Considering the majority of likely speakers it'll be mated with, that would appear to have been a deliberate and well-informed decision.
Dayens website