While I heard and reviewed the Drop Signature variant here, I had never had a chance to hear the plain Zen DAC. This here is the V2 version of the Zen DAC. It sounds different from the Drop Signature version (I have no idea how the V2 Signature sounds like), in that it's less laid-back, less outright warm, but yet maintains a palatable mid-to-high treble free from digititus common in the higher-end ESS + OPA1612 designs built purely to score well on SINAD graphs to the tenth of a decibel. Resolution and technicalities match what I remember from the Drop Signature. The Zen DAC V2 is energetic with plenty of slam in the low end and strong attack on the transients without the etch or splash. There's also bit of that vintage saturation thing going when the signal hits peak levels. (I'm betting a uplift in THD as we get near and toward 0dbFS). A bit like the Burl B2 Bomber DAC, but with the Burl's output level turned down a bit. In terms of presentation, the Zen DAC V2 reminds me most of the Burl. A smidgen of outward warmth, an internal warmth that becomes most evident at higher sound levels, and muscular drive. If you prefer your toms sounding smeared and snares lacking the snap that wakes you up, then by all means go elsewhere. No, the Zen DAC V2 doesn't render bass textures or microdynamics as well as the Burl, but it doesn't cost well over $2k either. Compared to the slightly higher priced Modius E, the Modius has the edge in "black-ground", fine detail, and a delicateness (I know, unbelievable for an ESS based DAC). However the Modius E's transients are less hard hitting; and however a good job Schiit has done to un-delta-sigma the highs to the point where they are better than AKM version of the Modius, they are still evident, especially in longer listening sessions. It's really pick your poison when it comes to Modius E and Zen V2. They are simply different sounding. Personally my pick is the iFi Zen DAC because of its energy and drive. To me, it's a mini Burl B2. Your pick may be different. One thing for sure: the Zen DAC deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Note that I only used the single ended outputs. I used the Magni 3+ and Piety as head-amps with a wide variety of headphones (Grado, HD650, ZMFs). I'm turning sour on balanced stuff on the entry level end. PIA and extra expense that I'm just not going to bother with it. The best entry and mid level stuff is single-ended. FWIW, I do my DAC evaluations these days blind. I put a box over the DACs so I don't know they are. Every day before the kids head out to school, I ask my wife to scramble the cables. It's really not that hard to tell the difference. Just as it wasn't hard to tell the difference between the beef nihari at Pakwan or Shalimar. This assuming if one was familiar with how each restaurants made this dish (although it would be hard for someone who had never tasted beef nihari). The downsides to the Zen DAC? USB input only. Also, just pretend the built-in headphone output doesn't exist or is a freebie prize found at the bottom of the Frankenberry cereal box. P.S. I bought this for myself from Amazon.