Code names

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Sometimes I feel like an international spy, skulking around the engineering lab, speaking in code at meetings. New products under development get code names so we have something to call them before they launch–mostly cute names that make people laugh. And the projects are kept secret because a few never get finished, abandoned for one reason or another.

Two years ago, on the same day we launched DirectStream, we committed to our next project, code named Junior. Our goal was to build a less expensive version of DirectStream that leveraged its unique architecture, without excessive sonic compromise. Would it be possible? Could we build a product close in performance at nearly half the price? What compromises would we have to make? Would this project be one we invest a ton of money and engineering time into–then later have to abandon?

It’s hard to tell the future with any accuracy. We try our best to polish the company’s crystal ball as brightly as possible, but often enough, clouds of murk obscure our view of the future. There’s simply no way to know if a project like this would succeed. Other engineering challenges are rather straightforward and the mists inside the fortune teller’s ball clear quickly: a new low cost DAC, amplifier, power product, or cable. These are all “roll-your-sleeves-up” straightforward engineering tasks with clear outcomes. But a project like Junior is different, it’s outcome uncertain.

And sometimes we succeed beyond expectations, as we did with Junior, and then it becomes time to officially christen it with a proper name. We searched, we asked, we took suggestions. Lists and lists of suggestions. But, in the end, no name better described this new DAC than DirectStream Junior.

And so, we welcome to the world Junior. May Junior enjoy a wonderful, fulfilling and fruitful life, bringing the joy of music to thousands around the world.