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The injection-molded cab is no longer a cast aluminum
clamshell affair but a 'natural composite' of 50:50 wood and artificial fibers. That's said to be fully recyclable, exits the mold without needing paint and is properly resonance suppressant to combine acoustic and ecological virtues. Signal-sensing 'on' adds more green thinking and ramps up the box within 2 seconds. Unlike others of its ilk, this auto-on/off worked flawlessly and reliably.

At B.M.C. meanwhile they practice squaring the circle. All their gear combines curves with corners. As the first model in their more cost-effective new PureLine range, the PureDAC does that with a central display orb which continues as a tunnel across the top meaning you can't stack another machine on top. But purists wouldn't dream of that in the first place. Four digital inputs cover AES/EBU, Toslink, S/PDIF coax and USB. The latter turns into an external soundcard but isn't compatible with NAS or memory sticks. One exits the machine analog on either RCA or XLR. But the PureDAC is also a fully balanced headphone amp with its own dedicated circuit, ergo fully independent of the line-out preamp function and its volume.

The fascia segregates into thirds with the eye-catching central display showing both preamp and headphone volume plus current sample rate. At left is the power switch, a button to toggle through the four digital inputs, the main volume control and its mute switch. At right are a mute and volume control for headphones plus a 6.3mm and XLR headfi port. The asynchronous USB input does it state of the art with 32bit/384kHz acceptance and DSD64/129 (Asio drivers included). By their formats coax and AES/EBU are limited to 24/192, Toslink to 24/96.

Completing socketry is B.M.C.'s proprietary optical link. That sends trigger signal to their own power amp to directly regulate its amplification factor for the most direct control over gain. As we're not doing a full B.M.C. system today that's mentioned merely to be complete. Those curious about more on this unique tech might want to re-read colleague Ralph Werner's review of their DAC1.

We'll now segue straight into sound. For source I piped in Redbook via Audiolab's 8200CDQ and more highly resolving data off a notebook via USB. The air between PureDAC and Genelec M040 was bridged symmetrically with an XLR cable and the Genelec's ran at -20dB input sensitivity. Which is recommended unless you want them to blow-dry your hair.

As the first bars of Donald Fagen's Kamakiriad unfurled (I like to kick off new gear journeys with it) I couldn't help but grin. Rejuvenation time. I was right back in my old tone studio chair. Apparently Genelec had kept the faith with their former sound ideals, i.e. an analytical clearly drawn sound image of brilliant dynamics and Teutonally precise sorting. Take "Snowbound". A sound as though mapped out on a blueprint grid: clinically pure drums free of any side noises, a groovy bass line in typical Fender Jazz Bass vibe, rhythmically interlinked hammond organ and guitar slivers and above it all the slightly hoarse pipes of Donald Fagen. Our B.M.C./Genelec combo mapped out stage scale from the word go. Each virtual source locked millimeter-precise into the lateral panorama to open vertically like a curtain.

Tonally nothing above the upper bass stood out, everything was drawn ruler flat. As didn't surprise with a compact monitor, down low things got more wiry than massive. Bass runs were gnarly and jumpy but more served the groove than wrenched and pummeled my gut. But that went beyond the hifi hardware and also pointed at the album's somewhat sterile mix. To tease out bass performance in more detail, I next cued up Elvis Costello's "Alibi" from his When I was cruel days. Here Costello deliberately ties the bass phrasing to a bass drum for added phat. And that's how our review system took to it without giving up on dynamic accuracy. I had proper kick and transients rose steeply and direct. Unlike the stereophonically somewhat flat Fagen effort, with this number I also enjoyed good illumination of venue depth.