Interesting. It appears to be modular in nature, which I think is a good thing, as indeed the market seems to move so quickly that consumers might be reluctant to buy into something that will be obsolete or limited in a few years. It reminds me of a Nuprime project where they are creating a box in which you can put a Raspberry Pi together with their uDSD DAC/Headphone amp, in effect creating a nice cheap DAC/streamer with open source upgrade abilities. This may be seen as more ambitious project, involving a full (pre?)amp module in which you can add DAC and streamer modules (and other stuff as well.
This fits into the part of the market where DACs and preamps are becoming nearly indistinguishable and are often combined with streaming facilities as well: many such combinations exist (for example the new Yamaha WXC-50). Also many seem to lack one or other kind of connectivity some user would like to see. Witness the many threads on fora asking for specific combinations. I understand that adding too much functionality will be detrimental in cost for those who do not require every kind, so going the modular route makes perfect sense. As you're undoubtedly aware there are other companies doing this to some extent. This appears to be taking modularity almost to the extreme.
If I read this correctly, the basis still is a good (pre)amp and power supply. To me this seems useful as these are the parts that arguably are more difficult to achieve with simpler projects like Raspberry. I would like this to have a Raspberry module, which at the same time would relieve you of the necessity to produce and maintain streamer apps and software.
With respect to DAC modules, I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable to identify what is feasible. From a user perspective, I would simply like the possibility to play all relevant formats (which for me at present range up to 192 kHz/24 bit and 2x DSD, possibly in the future MQA). If necessary I could do this also with an external DAC (but then you'd have to allow a USB-out to DAC and connect it to AUX in! I'm not sure all streamers/preamp combos allow bypassing the internal DAC in this way). I'm beginning to believe that essentially a DAC nowadays is not complicated or expensive as one can get impressive quality very cheaply, so a simple DAC module could work. But then I may be underestimating this.
The remote volume control is a necessity nowadays, I wonder about the remote selection of inputs. I'm not sure what's the easiest system: just moving through the range or allowing to directly choose the input by coupling specific buttons to specific inputs.
Some things I'd like to see:
- remember which input was last chosen, even if the unit is fully powered down (i.e. power cut with external switch).
- for the DAC/streamer possibly: remember last settings. This depends on what settings are available.
- possibly some kind of upsampling or filtering, but admittedly this is curiosity. Maybe this is something that a Raspberry Pi could do.
- sufficient alternatives to allow reuse of existing DACS and streamers.
Also, as I wrote in a different thread, I'd like to have a more uniform ecosystem whereby I could have a second streamer in a smaller unit to place (for example) in a bedroom, and/or even a portable system (such as only the DAC in the form of a USB-stick). Using modules might make this possbile (in particular if using Raspberry or something similar).
With respect to inputs: it might be an idea to add a HDMI input, in particular if this would allow playing DSD on the internal DAC. This is something that is not very often present in normal hifi audio and might be an additional selling point. But possibly this would incur undesirably high licensing costs.