With more and more music coming from digital sources, the DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) is one of the most important components in the playback chain. The new Sonica DAC from OPPO improves upon the highly regarded audio performance of previous products from the brand, such as the HA-1 headphone amplifier and BDP-105 universal player, and presents an upgraded DAC chipset, the flagship ESS ES9038PRO SABRE DAC.
Sonica DAC is ideally situated at the point where two different worlds in high-end audio intersect: the convenience of modern network streaming, and the ultimate sound quality of the traditional audiophile DAC. As a network streamer, the companion Sonica app for iOS and Android allows users to conveniently stream music from a smartphone or tablet, as well as from network shares on a computer or NAS drive. As a traditional audiophile DAC, Sonica DAC features all of the inputs and features users can expect, including the ability to handle high resolution PCM and DSD audio formats. On top of that, its ability to function as a high-resolution audio player and decode files directly from connected USB hard drives and thumb drives enhances its versatility.
By bypassing the low fidelity, poor quality DAC of traditional computer soundcards, Sonica DAC turns any computer into a high performance multi-media source by converting digital audio to analog through the ES9038PRO chip. The asynchronous transfer mode uses the high precision clock inside Sonica DAC to drive the audio signal, not relying on the clock quality of the computer. The USB DAC input supports PCM up to 768 kHz 32-bit and DSD up to 25 MHz (DSD512).
Music files of many formats can be played from USB drives attached to Sonica DAC, or from home network computers and servers connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. In addition to its traditional DAC capabilities, Sonica DAC is also a high resolution network player that can decode audio files up to 24-bit 192 kHz from formats such as FLAC, WAV, and Apple Lossless, as well as DSD64 files from DLNA servers and connected USB drives.
Bridging the gap between traditional and wireless audio, Sonica DAC brings high-resolution audio playback, network streaming, and mobile device connection to existing home audio systems. As a member of the OPPO Sonica product family, the AUX input of Sonica DAC enables users to connect an existing analog audio source to the Sonica multi-room network. And adding Sonica Wi-Fi speakers allows users to enjoy music anywhere in the home.
The new OPPO DAC provides both XLR balanced and RCA single-ended connectors for its audio output. The audio path is fully balanced from the DAC chip all the way to the XLR jacks. Even the RCA output signal is converted from the balanced output. The balanced design provides better common-mode noise rejection and improves signal quality. It also ensures better channel separation by eliminating the common ground return path. A toroidal linear power supply provides a very clean and robust power source to the audio circuitry.
For the network connection, Sonica DAC offers both wired Ethernet and built-in Wi-Fi supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n and ac standards. The free Sonica app allows users to easily navigate their music collection and control playback, and it is available for both iOS and Android smartphones or tablets. Additionally, Sonica DAC supports Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth 4.1, enabling instantaneous wireless audio. Coaxial and optical digital audio inputs provide an easy connection to additional digital audio sources, while the 12V trigger input and output make it possible to turn on and off the entire audio system with one click.
With its handsome build quality, premium parts selection, and innovative feature set, Sonica DAC is as at home in an audiophile system as it is in a modern network streaming music environment. Sonica DAC is available for $799 at oppodigital.com.