Well so far all he's responded with is suggesting I cut the wire inside to disable the mute relay hardware permanently. He hasn't specifically said one way or the other about the availability of a new firmware update. However, I asked for an explanation as to why they used a "hardware mute design" rather than software, since the rest of their lineup apparently uses a software-based design, and he said that it was for cost reasons, the hardware solution being cheaper. It all has to do with enabling the DSD support, which I really don't care about. I followed up his last email asking if cutting the wire will disable DSD support. I'm guessing SACD etc playback could still be achieved via PCM if DSD support is disabled? Which is fine with me, because I don't really have many SACD recordings, but the mute thing is nonstop annoying. Given his explanation of why a hardware design was used instead of software, I'm assuming that a firmware fix isn't even possible (hence the physical switch on the new model). I've asked him whether cutting the wire will void my warranty, now waiting to hear back.