The ESS DAC chips sound very good, so why wouldn't manufacturers use them? Ditto the AKM chips Marantz appears to favour.
I would expect some further work from Chord and Linn based on the pricing of their products, but I don't see any issue with makers implementing off-the-shelf chipsets if the results are good.
Yes, I would tend to agree, but sometimes a corollary also holds true. John Darko's review revealed that the DAC in the Marantz Model 40 is inferior to the DAC in the matching CD player.
Maybe Paul Rigby was too absolute in his review of the 9000A and 9000CDT pairing - he maintained the DAC in the amp was still very good - but for 3k I expect no compromise. And I think you can achieve similar performance in an all one one too for £3k.
But I'll concede that maybe Paul was too absolute. I suspect he was.