To Get incredible sound you only need 4 modules:
1) Buffalo II + Placid $289
2) IVY III + Placid BP $139
Then you will need two transformers about $42.
So all the major parts will be about $470
The rest is just switches, jacks, and wiring bits.
For $30 more you get the Volumite and Firmware for Buf-II.
Still less than you will pay for the ESS9018 demo board (about $670).
What else can I say.
yes the new costs and options are considerably better value, but add international shipping, plus top shelf input and output jacks, plus very nice case (and the shipping for this), higher quality transformers (and the shipping for this) and you still go well over my stated 750. whether all of that is needed is up to the individual, as you can probably get similar performance with less; but that is the reality especially living in a country that doesnt really have to many local options for these things, that shipping adds a great deal to the cost. just my 3 sumR transformers was nearly 300 with shipping as they are quite bulky and heavy. now of course you could totally DIY a very nice case from scratch using CNC, or if you have the skills and access to equipment.
or you could forgo IVY III and just add some O-Netics or similar line transformers and get high quality balanced and SE output. this would save money on the IVY and you would need one less power supply. the new line is indeed much more flexible in this regard, kudos to you guys