ESS Technology announced its new flagship ES9038PRO SABRE DAC at CES 2016, generating immediate attention from audio manufacturers looking to raise the standard on new generation high-resolution audio products. The new ESS PRO SABRE 32-bit, 8-channel DAC chip goes the extra mile by offering the industry’s highest dynamic range (DNR) of 140dB with an impressive THD+N at -122dB.
During CES 2016, ESS Technology announced its new professional series of Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC) targeted at premium high-end consumer and professional recording studio equipment. The flagship offering for this professional series is the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC. This first member of the ESS PRO SABRE series sets a new benchmark in high-end audio by offering the industry’s highest dynamic range (DNR) of 140dB and offers impressively low total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) at -122dB in a 32-bit, 8-channel DAC.
As high resolution content proliferates through new, high-end music download services, users are looking for equipment that delivers the highest quality sound possible, regardless of file format or device. The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC sets a new standard for immersive and high-resolution audio (HRA) experiences. “The immersive nature and quality of the audio experience that listeners value is a direct result of how well the digital source material is converted to the analog sound that human ears understand,” says Dan Christman, ESS’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Our audiophile and professional customers are constantly driving us to push the technical envelope to deliver better performance and enhance the listening experience. We are very pleased to announce that our new PRO series, with the flagship SABRE ES9038PRO, takes that experience to a new level, both for the home and professional studio environments.”
The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC features ESS’s patented 32-bit HyperStream DAC technology. The HyperStream architecture is responsible for both the outstanding sound quality of ESS PRO SABRE DACs and the extremely low THD+N. Other 32-Bit 8-Channel DACs, using typical delta-sigma architecture, feature –107 dB THD+N (0.0004%), which when subjected to individual listening tests do not equal the clarity and sound stage of the ES9038PRO. This new flagship SABRE DAC was created to integrate seamlessly with both the existing and future portfolio of ESS headphone amplifiers as well as other audio building block technology.
New hardware features include full-scale manual/auto-gain calibration to reduce device-to-device gain error (allowing to configure multiple DACs for high channel count systems), option for programmable volume control ramp-rate with +18 dB, DSD over PCM (DoP) decoder and a total of eight preset filters for maximum design flexibility. Its programmable functions allow customizing outputs to mono, stereo, and 8-channel output in current-mode or voltage-mode based on performance criteria, together with user-programmable filters and programmable THD compensation to minimize THD caused by external components.
For audio designers, the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC includes significant advancements over previous generations, simplifying the implementation of specific software and reducing debugging time. The volume level of all internal DACs can be updated with a single software instruction. Clock gearing reduces MCLK frequency and saves power - the chip has 500 mW power consumption at 192 kHz sampling and 100 MHz MCLK - while advanced power management features enable a low-power idle mode when the audio signal is absent.
According to ESS, the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC was designed for premium home theater equipment including Blu-ray players, preamplifiers, all-in-one A/V receivers, and more. Studio environments can also leverage the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC’s industry-leading performance for professional audio workstations and other equipment. The PRO series enables studio professionals to recreate popular signature sound styles, using external DSP and specialized software packages, while remaining true to the artists’ musical vision.
In addition to the SABRE ES9038PRO, ESS is also announcing other members of the PRO series - the ES9028PRO and ES9026PRO SABRE DACs. These 32-bit, 8-channel PRO series DACs are designed for the audiophile/enthusiast who demands the high quality and performance of a SABRE DAC at a more economical price point. The ES9028PRO and ES9026PRO are pin-compatible upgrades for previous generation ESS products — the ES9018S and ES9016S — and feature 129 dB and 124 dB dynamic range (DNR), and -120 dB and -110 dB total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N).