The Moonriver 404 Reference Integrated's new DACs

When I reviewed the Moonriver 404 Reference integrated amplifier in the February 2021 issue, I noted that the then-recent fire in the AKM factory in Japan had left the company without chips for the unit's optional DAC. A year later, that issue has been resolved.

A visit with company founder George Polychronidis at the Moonriver display in the MOC's expo halls revealed the 404's two versions of the company's new optional DAC. Because the integrated has a sole digital input, one must choose between the S/PDIF version (approx. $600–$700) and that for USB input (approx. $700–$800). Both use the ESS Sabre 9010 DAC. S/PDIF supports PCM up to 24/192: USB supports PCM up to 24/384, MQA, and DSD up to 512. Guess which one I'd recommend?