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In the instruction sheet John includes a list of recommendations for optimizing PC hifi sound such as disabling the ground of the computer’s AC supply, JPlay, kernel streaming, Windows 7, WAV files instead of FLAC or other lossless formats. While I heard no difference from floating my laptop’s ground, I did find most his suggestions beneficial. Everything has an influence on the sound even though it can vary greatly from system to system. Experimentation is the order of the day.

Over the last several weeks I've been enjoying Bertrand Chamayou’s incandescent reading of Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage [Naïve 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV], a truly staggering piece of music interpreted with exceptional verve and passion. I thought the JKDAC32 admirably captured the attacks and sustain of Chamayou’s instrument—there was real thunder on those huge dynamic peaks—and revealed the light, nuance and beauty of the softer moments. On a recent recording of Kalevi Aho’s Chamber Symphonies [BIS 24/44.1 WAV] I noted a distinctly open, clear and very involving sound. Strings came across clean, clear, crisp and extended without any undue edge or shrillness.

With LCD Soundsystem’s live-in-the-studio London Sessions [Virgin 16/44.1 WAV], electric bass was taut and tuneful with a great sense of forward propulsion and bounce if lacking a little in bottom extension. Drums and cymbals had plenty of snap and bite. Interestingly the manner in which the JKDAC32 handled pace and rhythm as well as transients and dynamics reminded me of some of the better non-oversampling DACs such as the excellent Peter Daniel-designed Audio Zone DAC-1.

Listening to Los Pajaros Perdidos [Virgin 24/88.2 WAV] provided an excellent demonstration of what high-rez is about - nuance, refinement and truth of timbre. This lovely collection of Baroque South American music ranked among the finer more exhilarating digital playback I've had in my home. There was ideal separation between performers, awesome spatial depth and a convincing reproduction of instrumental and vocal sounds, especially that of the various singers.

And there’s the fine new hi-rez download of Elton John's Madman across the Water [Island 24/96 WAV] from HDtracks. It came across as big, powerful and wildly involving. All it took was the shimmering harmonics of the opening piano chords, Sir Elton’s distinct vocal timbre and astute phrasing on “Tiny Dancer”. I was hooked. This is one of the better hi-rez remasters that avoids the sonic crapification of the dismal 24/88.2 remaster of the Stones’ Some Girls.

In many respects how the JKDAC32 presented music reminded me of those great Decca recordings of the 50s and 60s which are so rarely matched these days - a wonderfully large airy soundstage combined with exquisite precision and clarity that wasn’t the last word in warmth and body. Think of Solti’s Ring and all those awesome Karajan/Vienna recordings; and of course those of Ernest Ansermet and his delightful L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Particularly impressive was that clarity and incisiveness did not come at the expense of treble smoothness and ease. No glare, no edge, no brittleness, no digital nasties.