Are you judging this just from pictures? Have you actualy seen the unit or - better yet - have you heard it?
Not sure what you mean. On their website they provide literature on the product, with which you can see any and all changes. After comparing the literature and then the specifications, there are virtually no substantive changes aside from the new handles, the small change to the phono section, and the ability to either send signal through the tubes or through solid state (cool feature unto itself). I may reach out to see if there are other changes that they chose to not mention.
It's only 2 chassis vs 3, has handles, and configurable phono for either MM or MC cartridges. The phono change was vastly different from previous versions where both phono inputs were fixed without variable settings to match a wider variety of cartridges. I personally like the look as it matches my amps.
@audioquest4life It's not 2 chassis vs 3. The previous version and this version offer the same functionality within two chassis. A controller and an analog preamp. With the previous version, the separate digital preamp D1100 could be made a part of the C1100, so that it became 3 chassis with much greater flexibility (inclusion of a DAC).
As of yet there is not a corresponding digital unit that has been released with the new visuals of the C12000. So total functionality has gone down. However they must be working on a digital unit like the D1100 so that people do not lose that capability. For the time being you can probably plug the old D1100 into the new C12000 but you'll have mismatched aesthetics.