I tested the audio in 2-ch mode, pure-direct, direct, stereo and multi-ch stereo using the highest quality XLR cable I have.
Pure-Direct definitely had the best SQ by far, while still allowing HDMI video bypass.
No audible noise floor that I could hear even at full gain.
The SQ isn't quite as good as a Classe 800 nor a Sabre Reference DAC, but IMO it IS the next best thing...
It's "good enough" that I can say with confidence that you better check your speakers and amps first, before blaming the 7705.
I could barely discern the difference between it and some of the worlds best DAC's.
It appears to have lots of voltage and drive power, from what I can tell thus-far.
It struggles most with crosstalk, channel separation, and micro detail retrieval in complex mixes.
But at this level it's almost splitting hairs. I'm making it sound like it is horrible, but this thing is better than 99.9% of anything out there. It's the 3rd best DAC I've heard in-person to-date IMO.
Makes the Rotel 10 series and Emotiva UMC-1 sound like garbage.
Lots of golden ears claim to hear things, but here is my Harman Listener score, just in case you don't believe in my ability to hear things in double-blind ABX testing.
As an open challenge, feel free to test yourself against my score if you think your ears are more golden.
I'm not saying my ears are perfect, they ain't, but they are certainly "good enough". Level 8-10 is <1db differences if I recall. Their app will certainly push the limits of what you can discern.
I will try to take device-level REW measurements of the 7705's XLR output when I get a chance (it will likely take me several weeks to get around to it as the drivers in my new HTPC rig are acting up. Had to use my old HTPC rig above for HDMI ASIO.) I don't have an audio precision test bench, so don't expect miracles, but I will do my best with the gear I have. If it ain't good-enough then at least I tried!
Being flat from 2hz to 24khz is very important to me, as that is the bandwidth of my home theater speakers/subs.
Any rolloff will cause my subwoofers or supertweeters to drop output, which would be very un-hifi of the 7705, and even though I can't hear those frequencies, it's just the audiophile principle of it I suppose. hehe!
Ideally the 7705 would not worsen my existing signal path:
Only time will tell...
In any case, the 7705 is already a HUGE upgrade over what my previous movie-mode DAC was doing...
As far as heat output goes, the thing is barely even room-temp after running for hours, no idea what others were talking about
: re Marantz pre's being warm...?