Now folks, most of my background in electronics is working with/repair/modifying/and building-from-scratch high-end audio gear (anyone else ever worked on a $12,000 CD player?). THIS is how you build a piece of gear!:
From what I can see, this unit is DC-coupled. I.e., no capacitors of any sort in the signal path. I would assume by the lack of anything that appears digital at all that all the signal-switching relays are the latching type, which means the coil shuts off immediately after being triggered. If this is the case, there will be no induced noise from a relay coil being held constantly under power. The rotary switches are of good quality, and are not the type that solder onto the circuit board (This is a GOOD thing, in my experience). The HP filter seems well designed, and simple. There are precious few resistors in the signal path, which is also a good thing. Look up "Johnson Noise" (ok, don't anyone go there
) if you want to know why.
The part numbers on the chips appear to be at least partially obscured, and they would certainly have to be buffers, as there is no way to rig a normal opamp for gain given the way they are configured. The only opamp that has any gain at all appears in the next pic. If they used the same opamp as I would in such an application, the distortion figures would be so low that most people would say "bullshit" if they saw the number. All the jacks and connectors appear to have gold-plated contacts. Using conductive-plastic pots is a great touch! I can't tell who made these, but good conductive plastic pots are amazingly quiet, both when in motion, and from the standpoint of Johnson Noise. Put it this way: There is a reason high-end mixers use Penny & Giles conductive plastic faders.
And THIS is how you build a power supply!:
Looking at this, the engineers vs. the "bean counters" contest definitely went with the engineers (assuming it was even an issue). A toroidal transformer that appears to be even heftier than some power amp transformers I've seen is a welcome sight, less load = quieter transformer. Heatsinks are not cheap, and the ones on the voltage regulators are more than adequate for the task. In other words, this power supply would be considered overkill by many people (NOT me), but one person's overkill is another's "This-thing-almost-certainly-will-never-break". Oh, and it has passive ventilation also!
Did I mention both circuit boards have ground planes? Not only does this make for less noisy gear, it is better for the environment also. Less chemicals needed to make, and less copper waste to deal with.
No, I don't work for Future Retro, or any kind of advertising company. I'm just impressed, that's all. It's just rare that I see a piece of sound gear this well thought out, designed, and (presumably) built. I mainly wanted to point this out to people who are used to opening up a piece of gear and seeing a gazillion parts. A lot of people would look at these pics and go: "Why am I paying money for a box of air?" For instance, even if you buy those resistors in lots of 1000, they still cost 20 cents apiece, not counting the expense of hand-matching (which is a PITA).