as it appears to be going on . have you done the very simple test i asked to show your ears what i hear. i would assume you have but denounce the concept as such you find other ways to prove the point wrong. if i may what dacs do you own and base this info on. please answer if you did the test i have asked ,, then we can go on . weather its yes or no i do not care actually. lets talk dither does the dac perform this function as well . the dac is pitched a little high this makes the dac feel it has more details but at the expense of accuracy of pitch in all vocals and instruments to each there own .
My tests were done with my dacs and headphones. Not yours. I specified I did not use the HD800 which I find slightly bright and thin sounding with a flat input, such as that of the Hugo's. My other dacs sound darker. All of them, the W4S, LH Labs, CEntrance and others. I have over three decades of experience as a reviewer and use as much of the scientific methods to eliminate variables as possible under these conditions. Moreover, I don't need to take up every challenge thrown at me by any opinionated individual, as I have gotten hundreds of similar challenges and arguments after every review a reader didn't agree with. Whose got the time or will or want to expand the energy?
Suffice it to say that most of the readers here who also have experience with a variety of dacs agree in general that the Hugo is extended and neutral - it was designed to be so - and not at all bright. There is a distinction between having high frequencies in proper proportion to the rest and brightness. In fact, I raise the EQ for both the LCD-X and LCD-2 in the brightness range so I hear the Hugo flat at the ears. I don't do this for testing, just for personal listening. I had posted the EQs earlier and others confirmed my findings. Tyll Hertsens posted the reverse observations for the X, and my EQs makes it relatively flat.
To answer your question about dither, let me say this: both dither and some of the other adjustments I specified for Fidelia and FHX - as well as the crossfeed the others talked about here - affect frequency response. The more corssfeed, the more perceptual roll off. You have no choice, whether or not you use a speaker or headphone-based system, but to ultimately make your adjustments by ear, to your ears.
I repeat. The dac is not pitched high, your reference earphone is. I explained the whyfors for the psychoacoustic reasons for this phenomenon that can be, and has been, tested independently of my comments, as reality is what is, not what we prefer it to be.
You prefer to hammer a dead horse, the alleged Hugo's brightness, until someone out there will hear what you hear. Good luck.
Lastly, don't think for a New York minute that the Astell&Kern or any DAP connected to a Hugo will equal the sonic integrity of a MAC-Fidelia-FHX based server.
If you have not tried it, I assure you that you have not heard the Hugo at all, you only think you have.
And I have good reason to believe you have not tried it. Hang in there Al!