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Guts & glory. Covering most of the top's inside is a thick perforated layer with many very small copper dots. It's affixed like a vibration-damping mat but in this case serves a different purpose altogether. "Even though the voltage differential of the digital/analog circuitry is only ±17V—the power supply is far higher but that's inside its own enclosure—this matrix of copper dots acting like miniature capacitors interacts with the voltage gradient inside the box and stabilizes the electric field above the circuit boards." The very sizable switch-mode power supply occupies the entire left third of the chassis. It is completely shielded behind a thick metal box cover. The only items exiting this bulwark are three flying leads. One runs to the analog board, the other two to the lower digital board.

The signal circuitry occupies three discrete layers: two digital blue PCBs top and bottom, one red analog PCB between.

The lower digital PCB centers around a Taiwanese Xilinx Spartan field-programmable gate array.

The analog board houses the three proprietary M™ modules—two DACs bracketing the clock—and output stage hidden beneath the digital input board.

Presumably potted but certainly shielded from prying eyes, the innards of these modules leave us and the competition guessing.

The digital input PCB contains this asynchronous XMOS USB 2.0 buss-powered transceiver.

The digital inputs are isolated with Chinese pulse transformers.

The sophisticated power supply begins with a Schurter line filter. The board's size raises eyebrows when you (cough!) consider the laptop-type wall wart Antelope Audio for example packages standard with their Zodiac converters.

What strikes the eye is the neatness of the overall layout. The few ribbon cables connecting the various boards and display run perfectly straight and as short as possible. There's no hint of the crisscrossing mess one wonders about elsewhere.