I enjoyed reading the review but was frustrated by the lack of a definitive statement about which DAC was superior. When you think about it using the terminology in the article allows the writer to portray his emotional reactions to the products without actually offending either manufacturer. I am an Ozzie but found some of imagery a stretch: "A DAC that's pure Sydney springtime. It's got tits and teeth and isn't afraid to expose either." I have visions of John Darko snuggling up to the D1, a glass of wine in hand, and an arm draped over the DAC while whispering sweet nothings into it's USB port.
That's a conundrum with review sites in general and I'm not blaming Darko at all. In fact, I find his reviews to be quite helpful as despite the flowery language, at least you can get a handle on how a certain equipment sounds unlike a certain popular review site here which contains nothing but 99% fluff and 1% actual content. One needs to carefully balance between reviewing objectively and pleasing your sponsors after all so there is a certain level of politics involved.
So where does that leave us? You just need read in between the lines. For example, Darko described the D1 as having a "sunlit" presentation. The way I understand it, he is trying to say that the DAC is to the bright and dry side which is in line with my experience with Sabre ESS9018 DACs in general. The opposite can be inferred with the Reference 7.1 which he described as "austere".