Hi Articnoise, I appreciate your congratulations on our Mystique DACs, but you have a few things confused: it was our last gen tube DACs that won "Best Sound Value" and "Silver Sound." Our new Mystique v3 direct-coupled DAC is the one that keeps winning "Best Sound" (cost no object) and "Best in Show." So it is our direct-coupled not our tube DACs that are getting the highest praises as opposed to an honorable mention. As for my "totally stupid" comment, that may have been a bit extreme and certainly taken out of context. Remember this whole topic started with a person asking about the PCM1704 K DAC chips. So my "totally stupid" comment was more directed toward the concept of obsessing over the K series DAC chip and simultaneously talking about putting the K chip in a tube DAC/pre amp. Fact is you couldn't hear the difference between the standard and the K series PCM1704 in most tube DACs due to the tube noise. So let me retract my "totally stupid" comment and change it to "any tube DAC/pre amp is a compromise." BTW, using the term "state-of-the-art" (SOTA) in regards to any R-2R tube DAC is sort of an oxymoron. Most of the R-2R DAC chips we're talking about are over 30 years old and the tube stages are more like 70-90 years old. SOTA in DACs would be 32-bit Delta Sigma DAC chips and these custom FPGA DACs. The R-2R tube DACs we're discussing would more accurately be labeled as "vintage." And "less is more" sounds more like marketing mumbo-jumbo or Eastern philosophy than a technical fact. By that "less is more" theory the best sounding systems would be an all-in-one server/DAC/pre/amp, such as the entry level products by Naim and Linn. Fact is these multi-device in one chassis components are more "lifestyle" products then "high-end audiophile" products. And any DAC/pre amp is one step in that direction. If it were not true that all these "multi" products were a compromise, then the same companies that make all-in-one components would not be making more expensive higher performance separates. Once again I'm quite surprised that some of you are even debating this point. Note that a volume control in a DAC is not "amplifying" (making louder) but rather "attenuating" (making quieter). That means you are sending a lower voltage signal down the interconnects. And that means that you now have a higher signal-to-noise ratio. That would mean the optimal place to attenuate the volume in a digital system would be the amplifier (last stage) as opposed to the DAC (first stage). This is why I'm a big fan of integrated amps. And this is why putting a pre amp and amp in one chassis makes sense where as putting a pre amp and DAC in one chassis does not make sense. Once again, it all comes down to the same dirty word: NOISE. Please don't be offended by this Articnoise, but the fact you are asking the question "why would an analogue tube stage need to be bigger than an analogue SS stage" tells me you have little understanding of how these components actually work. To begin with, any tube stage would require at least two additional power supplies: one for the tube's B+ and one for tube's filaments. And since the B+ for tubes is usually a much higher voltage than required for SS, and since the current for the tube filaments is much higher than required for SS, these two additional power supplies for the tube stage in a DAC are usually larger than the SS power supplies. So you have to relatively double the size and complexity of the power supplies in a DAC if you are adding a tube output stage. And that's not even considering really good tube power supplies that would have Pi or double-Pi choke filtering, each choke often being larger than an entire SS power supply. Then aside from the tubes themselves that are relatively quite large, tubes require an output coupling device, such as large capacitors or transformers that SS does not require. So all this theorizing earlier in this thread about how linear tubes are vs SS doesn't take into account the distortion from the caps or transformers required at the output of most tube stages. Even the best-of-the-best of caps and transformers measurably distort time, tune, tone, and timbre, and have a measurable sonic signature. And lastly because of the significantly higher EMI from the tube power supply, a tube DAC would need to have more of a physical distance between noisy and sensitive component parts and/or additional shielding between noisy and sensitive component parts. So in the end, a tube DAC of relatively the same digital circuitry as a SS DAC would have to be something like twice the size and would have to cost something like twice as much to account for all the additional circuitry and shielding. And I haven't even mentioned the size and cost of volume controls or other pre amp related component parts. Here's a perspective some of you may not have considered... All DACs are SS devices. No way around this unless you wanted to custom build an all tube DAC that would need a room full of racked tube gear in a climate controlled room as was used in the early tube-based computers. And all modern recording studios are 100% SS as well. OK...there are some digital versions of vintage recordings that were made on pre-Dolby tube reel-to-reels, but after the analog masters are digitized, all the editing, mixing, and mastering gear in studios is SS. So if you look at playing recordings of music with a perspective from the musician in front of a microphone to music coming out of your speakers/headphones as one process, all I'm stating is that the most advantageous place to switch from SS to tube circuitry or to attenuate the volume would be after the DAC. And my reasoning for this has to do with significant amounts of tube and attenuation related noise that mask significant amounts of resolution as well as distort time, tune, tone, and timbre.