After great deliberation and numerous auditions, decided to check out two lesser known products (without audition) - the Denafrips Terminator Dac and the Kinki Studio EX-M1 integrated, proudly made in China. I was inspired by Srajan's (of 6moons) reviews of these products and encouraged by some senior forum members, thanks to them.
The equipment has been in use for over a month now and, I believe, sufficiently burned in. I do like the sound a lot. I'm a bit of a cynic and hate to use superlatives, and I wouldn't want to use words like lush, sweet, etc., that can mean different things to different people. I just want to say that the stand out feature of the combination is the pinpoint accuracy of imaging and separation of instruments/players, without sounding too analytical.
Quite a few of my audiophile friends have come by for a listen and they just don't believe that my equipment has no tubes anywhere - that's how full and warm it sounds. I read in one review that you can walk up and shake hands with individual musicians. That's a very apt description indeed. It is detailed and resolving, yet laid back and never harsh, what Srajan of 6moons describes as the Swiss sound. In fact, I was on the verge of closing the deal on a top-end Swiss amp costing 5-6 times more, until I cam across the Kinki.
The Terminator DAC is a bit of magic too. I've not used the i2s and BNC inputs, but with the other digital inputs it beats every DAC I've heard till today, including my previous premium Italian one. All the while, running in the background is the excellent service from Alvin of Vinshine Audio, who's always been there when needed. Finally, I think I've found something I can live with for many years to come.
Credit: Kishore @ India