I don't know about ESS's lower end DACs but I do know they created the best DAC chip in the world. I don't know about their lower end parts which is why I didn't list them. I didn't choose the ES9018 because of specifications, I chose it because its a chip I know sounds good. I don't know about the other chips that are available from them, or from the other companies.I did actually read it. I just wanted to provide everyone else with some more useful information. Just saying it's expensive by itself is arbitrary. MWeston once told me that a $3 accelerometer I asked him about was unrealistically expensive.The 8 channels are optional. Most DACs support 4+ channels. The performance difference is VERY noticeable, any audiophile will attest to that. Additionally, specifications don't mean much of anything as to how the end result sounds. And if you actually read it, I said it was very expensive, and gave some alternatives.
Obviously the 8 channels are optional (kind of like 8 cores isn't it?).. but in this case they would appear to tangibly be adding to the price in a way we can all witness (probably also adds to part footprint). The performance difference.. between what? I'm not saying that there's no such thing as performance difference in DACs, of course there is. I'm saying that there may not be did enough of a difference between the next lower model or even lower below it, for this particular line. Have you tested them all yourself? Because that's what OPT should do before making a purchase.
I can however say with pretty high confidence that 32-bit over 24-bit gives you nothing whatsoever and I don't know what the point is supposed to be behind that one.