The best is the new C2700. It also has a dac based on the ESS 9028 chip. This dac is an excellent one.
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Wrong stereo5, and I have proof below. 2 internal pics of the analog board side of the C2500 and C2600. Clearly different. ( so its not just the dac )
Look at it closely, it’s just not the same board, everything looks better made on the newer board. Shorter signal paths. Look also at the 2 rights tubes, they upgraded the input / output modules. The C2600 seems to be a nice upgrade in that regard.
The ESS 9018 dac module on the C2600 is Wadia inspired ( since they absorbed Wadia Digital) . Big upgrade compared to the older BB in the C2500.