Meddling with the mettle. Was there more to SD transporter duties than work as 'rust' remover with a freer-breathing gestalt? The next track was by Aytac Doğan from a compilation album. It sports the Taksim Trio's qanun maestro playing an Arabian form of what classical Indian music calls alap. Here it is done against tasteful ambiance and standing synth chords. Now I noted a still greater delta between USB/SD modes. It's why it's always sensible to start out with structurally simplistic music. It focuses down on what surrounds and informs plainness rather than getting overwhelmed by sensory overload of very dense complex arrangements. Once one knows exactly where and how a component's difference plays out, one recognizes it more easily on more difficult fare.

By now I suspected that eliminating the iMac altogether must have played to the adage that better than eliminating noise is not causing it in the first place. With the SD card, I heard very subtle mechanical player feedback from Aytac's Turkish lap zither which the iMac feed didn't resolve. As happens with piano recordings which may convey very clear foot pedal action to let you 'see' certain aspects of actually playing the instrument, I now had better insight into how Aytac played his qanun. Having seen him play in a Lake Geneva church, these little things helped to resurrect the vision. Clearly the noise floor for SD was still lower than what the D300Ref could strip off the USB feed.

This lower noise increased soundstage depth for more spatial realism. That's about the often quite subliminal contextual data whereby musical sounds reveal their location ambiance. Another aspect of perhaps the same observation involved inkier blacks. They made for higher contrast and image pop against the backdrop's velvet. Also, the window on tone modulation had opened up just a bit more. I heard more of the deliberate changes Aytac makes to the timbre of his lap harp which at times mimics a more twangy Chinese guzheng.

Still in a minimalist Turkish mood, I next cued up a spine-tingling taqsim by spiked fiddle virtuoso Cafer Nazlibaş. Played with a lot of feather-touch flageolet that just edges the line to flicker between different overtones plus certain quarter-tone steps, it's not well-tempered Western European music so all the more mysterious and 'other' for it. Yet because these strings are played so smack on the very edge, they can easily veer into the strident and nervy. Again, migrating from iMac direct to iMac detoured to SD card transformed that very element. It stripped away the hashy glinty noise flitting about the sounds like metal dust. By evaporating that buzzing cloud which hovered around the bowed strings as Cafer scales higher and higher, I got closer to their stringed essence and unfettered purity without the dreck. As before, eliminating the iMac altogether made the sounds spill out from their virtual containers. For lack of a better word, call it gush factor. It's like the difference between trickling and spraying water. It tastes the same, it measures the same yet energetically, there's a qualitative difference of delivery. Musically, things felt bigger, freer and more exuberant or lush even if in terms of basic soundstage coordinates, everything stayed put and nothing really changed except for depth.

At this juncture I grew curious whether these sterling results could be replicated by getting... well, blue in the teeth. Pairing my smartphone went without a hitch or secret codes. Seconds later, I had wireless tunes via Android's default GooglePlay. My head simply felt toxic from such powerful Bluetooth radiation. It couldn't help but influence my aural mood to think the sound greyish, canned and neon-like artificial. But the feature did work flawlessly. Even if it weren't one's primary playback mode, it really would be a superb socializer for those visitors whose mutant brains are impervious to such strong 2.4GHz bombardment. Like Lethal Weapon's Murtaugh, I'm simply too old for this APTX shtick. Back then to USB and SD card.

D300Ref display in Bluetooth source mode