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Reviewers' ChoiceWhen I first laid eyes on the Director Mk2 preamplifier-DAC from Sound Performance Lab (aka SPL), it reminded me of a military-spec ham radio. Small yet built like a tank, it sports at the center of its faceplate a large Volume knob. At upper left is a small, red dot-matrix display, and at upper right two needle VU meters and a Standby/On toggle. At lower left is a smaller knob for selecting Mute or one of its 11 inputs, and at lower right are two toggle switches, labeled Tape Monitor Off/On and VU. The Director Mk2 is small—11″W x 4″H x 11.8″D—and weighs just 13 pounds, yet somehow exudes presence. In my many years of reviewing audio equipment, I’ve never seen such a small yet intriguing-looking preamplifier-DAC. It costs $3599 (all prices USD).

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