edit: i really apologize. the akm is a spdif receiver. you can see the ess indeed. however the filter curve being on the fpga is still really making it fpga based as that is what is so special about ayre's sound signature. of course i am not entirely sure about that either but what else would the fpga be doing there? it is very expensive and they would not use it for no good reason. still, i could be entirely wrong about that as well. you guy's look for yourselves. a newer unit.you can plainly see the akm and fpga. i do not know why ayre limits the dsd on their units. the qx-5 twenty is lower than the codex. perhaps because the akm can go considerably higher than the ess. i feel it is a better sounding chip than the 9038pro let alone the 9018k2m. i hope these pics are appreciated here and not viewed as spam.