I am severely disappointed in all the DACs I've heard with AKM's AK4490 chip. DACs with the previous generation AK 4396 and 4399 sounded great to me compared to older AKM chips (some of the audio interfaces I've heard with these are horrible); they were almost like what a Sabre should be but so often fails miserably at due to ESS's ridiculousness: Very neutral, lean, and mean with little glare while being great at replicating instrumental tone and timbre. The AK 4490 increased the detail, staging, and is definitely less out-of-phase. However AKM adopted some ridiculous Japanese audiophile Engrish coined "VELVET SOUND" philosophy that combines Chi-fi and Japan-fi tuning with a thick bass, blooming into the lower mids and "enhanced" highs as heard in the old Modi 2U vs the nu-Modi 2U which share the same analog section. The Grace M9XX and Bifrost 4990 were the same despite the Bifrost 4490 having a lot more detail than the smaller units. Considerable guitar detail was masked by the bloom of all three compared to vinyl, many CD players, DACs with older sigma-delta chips (AK4396, 4399, ESS Sabre 9018, AD1955, etc), the Yggdrasil, and even the Bifrost Multibit. What gives in AKM making their new technically better performing but tonally less high-fidelity? Audiofool market pressure? Adding both warmth and crispness to today's over-mixed, sample-replaced, and hyper-compressed ProTools productions?