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I was excited about joining this drop because I’ll be needing a DAC for my incoming Stax setup, but honestly I can’t bring myself to support Airist given the current situation - regardless of how good the product may be.
Hopefully, Massdrop’s subsequent collaborations are with better, more ethical companies.
Annnnd... I really have to ask... what ethical problem? Think carefully before answering... :-). There is a possibility of a possible copying which may or may not be plagiarism based on what might or might not be relatively standard design... you are falling prey to one of this age’s most significant challenges (though in this case a pretty banal example of it)... The platform known as the internet allows anyone to say anything and for many to jump on the bandwagon because it SEEMS right. Before you know it something that is oft repeated becomes accepted truth, irrespective of actual truth.
As to the observation that the small PCB in question has an incredible resemblance to the one by sosolar.... as I mention elsewhere, I am an electrical engineer and I certainly think they look very much alike. What I cannot tell you is if that is evidence of theft, or actually reasonable... given the same function (a resistor ladder) in the same form factor (small board) should they reasonably look different? How common is this design style? That is, do R2R DACs look largely the same or very different?
Look at it this way... if I ask several people to design for me a 10 ft flagpole, how many variations am I likely to get, and overall how similar will they all be? Yes, it is a contrived example, but one specificalmly intended to make the very obvious point...
Anyway, not judging, not defending, and not attacking anyone at all. And that is the whole point of this.
Hopefully you understand that you're not the only electrical engineer in this discussion thread! And hopefully, as an engineer, you understand that there's a pretty significant difference between designing a 10ft flagpole and designing the PCB found in the RDAC =)
Given not only the uncanny resemblance between the board in the RDAC and the Hibiki, but also William Tse's inconsistent explanation for the design process, it's reasonable to be suspicious of this Massdrop x Airist collaboration. With that in mind, while I had planned on joining this drop, I fail to see why I wouldn't instead order an Audio-gd R2R 11 or a Soekris dac1321... or just wait for the next alternative.
If others want to support this drop, whether for the excellent reviews, its aesthetics, or some other reason, it's their right to do so. For me, while I am happy to join different drops in the future (perhaps the 6xx, Elex, or FIBAE), the current concerns (and yes, there are concerns) mean that I'm out on this one.
***”Hopefully you understand that you're not the only electrical engineer in this discussion thread!”.*** No doubt!!! Nothing that I said in my comment implied (a) extra expertise or (b) was used to support (or condemn) Airist or MD.
In fact I said ***“I am an electrical engineer and I certainly think they look very much alike. What I cannot tell you is if that is evidence of theft, or actually reasonable... given the same function (a resistor ladder) in the same form factor (small board) should they reasonably look different? How common is this design style? That is, do R2R DACs look largely the same or very different?”***. In effect I use the fact I am an EE to say I know enough to ask questions, but not enough to acquit or convict regarding IP theft.
***”Uncanny resemblance”*** to be sure! Is that reasonable or not? I just don’t know. I used the flag pole example - an example that I EXPLICITLY said was contrived - as just that, an example to make the point that sometimes there really is no option but for things to be similar. I love corner case/extreme examples and frequently use them to establish if there is (or isn’t) a different perspective to consider. Maybe a slightly more technical/apt example might be the placement/layout of memory DIMMs in a system... most look very similar because there are few good alternatives given signal speeds and timing requirements, voltage swings, ringing considerations, thermal/air flow challenges, physical constraints, etc. Again, that is a somewhat, but more technical, CONTRIVED example to make a point, not a defense of Airist. Just pointing out that similarity might exist for a reason. In no way am I saying that is the case here.
I neither have the right nor a reason to be bothered if you and others don’t support the drop. That is YOUR right (and since I have no vested interests in this I just don’t care). What I am bothered (and have the right to be bothered) by at a macro level is what I PERCEIVE as an (admittedly small) example of a very detrimental societal trend. Accusation and appearance has become enough. No one is safe from that. Airist may be guilty or not. I draw no conclusion. And frankly neither should others. You and others are obviously free to buy or not buy. Just don’t draw a conclusion. Sosolar should take this out of the court of public opinion and into a legal court if he is convinced a legal wrong has occurred.
I want to add before you hit the reply button that I don’t really think you personally are convicting Airist, and can see what you wrote as more of an expression of doubt... So, if it seems I am flaming you, really it is more an opportunity for me to rail against the broader discussion on this topic - it really has become pretty unseemly. Sorry that yours was the thread I responded to 😂😂😂
Also, I am sorry if I appear to be speaking from a high horse, I simply had the benefit of amazing parents who taught me well, and an incredible formal education that taught me to think critically.
Now as to the Audio-gd R2R 11... I looked at that as well. Don’t like its size (the footprint is huge) and I have heard mixed reviews. Never heard of the Soekris dac1321... Thanks for the lead, I will look into it!!