Oppo Sonica DAC (an affordable ES9038PRO Sabre DAC)

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by mtoc, Sep 11, 2016.
  1. mtoc
    $799, details coming
     
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  2. occamsrazor
    Some info here, from the Absolute Sound 2016 guide:
    http://www.theabsolutesound.com/buyers_guides/35/
     
     
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  3. Giupy
    I'm sorry if it seems like I got a bump on the head for saying this (even more so here, on Head-fi), but my definition of affordable seems to be quite different.

    I genuinely think that calling a 800$ product affordable is encouraging less affordable prices. After all, a bad reception from the public due to the price may determine the company to make said product less pricey.

    I do know that the 9038 is the next "sliced bread" after the 9018, but I don't think the slices are that much better, if you take the time to analyze them closely, they may appear different, however at the end of the day, you may not notice that much of a shift in taste when taking a bite out of your new sandwich... Apologize for that terrible analogy.

    I do see the DNR difference from the 9018, I do see the THD (+N) difference, but I doubt it has an immense impact. What I am seeing, however is that it brings numerous benefits to manufacturers. Lower power consumption, easier to program software and rearrangeable channels, but does that really matter so much for the end-user? Sure, may be something if you're making your own device, but for someone who is buying something pre-built, it doesn't seem to be this important. Not to my ignorant eyes (or ears, in this case).

    Really wish that affordable would mean about a quarter of my monthly pay, not half, but maybe I'm just paid badly :D

    Of course that's just my opinion, feel free to disagree
     
    D2Girls, jodgey4, obobskivich and 3 others like this.
  4. sdolezalek
    Let me feel free to disagree....
     
    To the extent that I think it is a safe assumption that the Sonica will feature PCM384 and DSD512 (perhaps even natively) and more and more of us are using software like HQ Player to upsample everything to DSD256 or DSD512 (so that we can then apply much gentler filtering in software) and get terrific sound (even from 16/44 streaming), the new DAC will be capable of competing with DACs that today run anywhere from $2k to $4k or more.  Rather than paying the DAC developer to custom develop those filters and associated programming, you can much more cheaply purchase the standalone software.  
     
    Today, many of us are using the Oppo BDP-105D in that way (but limited to DSD128).  Others are using the Oppo HA-1 to get to DSD256.  If the Sonica let's us get to DSD512 AND has better overall noise and distortion specs, it will be a worthwhile addition.
     
    My guess is that we will see other DACs implementing this latest generation of Sabre, or AKM's AK4497, or Burr Brown (TI's) PCM1795 DAC chips.  But my guess is that Oppo will win the price/performance ratio award when all is said and done.  The one other competitor at this price range worth keeping an eye on is AMR's iFi division. 
     
  5. audiobill
    Regarding the expected retail price of $799, the ES9038PRO DAC chip alone is currently selling for $75. Considering that they're not using DAC chips that cost only a few dollars like the majority do I think the $799 price is very reasonable. Hopefully their implementation will be up to displaying the capabilities of this new chip, but we won't know that until it is available and are able to hear it.
     
    LarryMagoo likes this.
  6. cordobaman
    I eagerly await details on this unit. The sole reason for not purchasing a BDP-103/105D is the inability to stream DSD gaplessly.  If this feature is implemented in the Sonica DAC then I will be an early bird on this one.
     
  7. Giupy
    May very well be, but you're basing that on an assumption. Moreover you're comparing it to 2/4K USD DACs, which I honestly believe are highly inflated prices that cannot be reasonably justified. Be it either by ridiculous designs of materials/ production procedures used or just simply because they have a shiny logo or brand name on them.

    My other point was the discernible level in quality, but I honestly don't want to touch on that topic here, on Head-fi, this type of thing tends to crash and burn.

    And my main beef was with calling it affordable. If you call something affordable, it needs to be comparable with other affordable products. After all, the word itself means that it's generally easily afforded.

    I do not doubt the quality of the final product, as I'm sure a lot of clever engineering goes into it and I know from experience that Oppo does have a higher standard of quality than other companies. I am, however, doubting the pricing and I am fully expecting it to go down even further  after more similar products emerge due to the afferent competition. Everything that's new has a bump in price strictly from being new, that is generally true for most markets - how the audio market differs in this regard is that prices don't usually go down all that much after the product stops being new.
     
  8. MLGrado
     
    2/4K DACS cannot be justified?  Hardly.  PLENTY of justification for the best DACs in that price range.  Now, if you want me to agree with you, you need to add a zero.  Its the 20/40k (and more) DACs that could be considered unjustifiable, in my opinion.  
     
  9. Giupy
    Yeah, I don't even want to take something like that into consideration. Put it into the perspective of comparing with the price of a car and a 2K DAC will still fall short on that.

    Don't get me wrong, I love music, probably more than some. That's why I spent money for it, both buying CDs, instruments and other audio equipment, but at the end of the day, you can't spend all your money on audio. Having a family puts me in a position that makes me want to be practical. I'm no longer in college, where I spent half of my salary on new pickups for my guitar and most of the rest on rent, so I had to eat cup noodles for a whole month. That just isn't the best course of action when more people are involved.

    And yeah, I do find them hard to justify, because I imagine they cost a lot less to build. I'm familiar with the production procedure of both hardware and software and I know that the difference between money out and money in is immense. I also know that no consumer can ever know exactly what you spend to make your product. You have preferential contracts with material vendors, you have bulk deals, you have endorsements and the occasional cut corner. Usually a consumer will only know what you want them to know.

    So with that in mind, I do find it very hard to justify those prices. Especially since I can get a half-decent used car that's a few years old for around the same sum. And no, I don't want you to agree with me. I just think it's too soon to call it affordable :)

    Now I realize I may have overstepped my boundaries in my vehemence against ridiculous prices, I don't want to sour a thread for anyone that's happy about a product, so without further ado, I will retire from this thread now and I apologize for any inconvenience caused by my unwanted comments.
     
    D2Girls likes this.
  10. Armaegis
    I might feel better about this Sonica if it was a new design from the ground up. The HA-1 felt like ice picks in my ear; an upgrade to bigger better ice picks would not be appealing... but hey, feel free to disagree.
     
  11. gr8soundz
     
    Must be the ESS chip.......
     
    Don't get me wrong, implementation is still more important but I think each dac chip's character still comes through in the final sound. I've yet to hear a dac or dap with an ESS chip that didn't sound somewhat edgy. In contrast, those with Wolfsons usually sound a bit smoother (sometimes overly smooth and less detailed).
     
     
  12. purk Contributor
    I think it is more toward the implementation.  My ESS9018S on my PHA-3 is relatively warm sounding compared the the one on the HA-1.  I know some of you don't believe in digital cable, but I was going sell my HA-1 until I upgraded my USB cable.  It totally cure the brightness and grainliness for sure.  
     
  13. audiobill
    I'd be curious to know which USB cable you ended up with that performs so well, and I do believe that everything in audio makes a difference. TIA!
     
  14. gr8soundz
     
    I agree 100% that cables make a difference (have about $250 worth of usb cables and adapters because of it). Anyone who thinks a cable or connection in the chain has no effect can't hear the subtle differences.
     
    That's the main thing with dac chips and cables: the differences are fairly subtle. Far easier to hear differences between headphones and amps which can have much more impact.
     
    However, even after swapping cables, I could still hear some of the 'character' of each chip inside whatever dac I was using. Although not enough to be able to guess which type of chip it was (now that some manufacturers aren't specifying which chips they use).
     
    Many of my dacs and sound cards use TI / Burr Brown chips which (imo) have a neutral to warm sound. Nothing wrong with that but lately I prefer the warm yet detailed sound of well implemented Wolfson chips. So much so that I got rid of my main usb dac with TI chips and ordered a new sound card with a Wolfson 8741. Won't know how well its implemented until I get it but hopefully it sounds as good as the card's specs suggest.
     
    I also plan to try a Resonessence Labs dac in the next couple of weeks. They only use ESS chips but their implementation of them seems to be universally good.
     
  15. purk Contributor
    It isn't a brand name but a DIY from a friend of mine.  He use 6N solid core silver 24 Awg with 1% gold wire.  Yes, I know it sounds exotic but I now can live pretty happy with the HA-1 now.
     

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