New ES9218 Sabre HiFi SoC from ESS Technology Introduces Highest Quality Audio for Mobile Devices

October 13 2016, 06:00
ESS Technology’s patented 32-bit HyperStream II architecture was initially launched in its Sabre PRO DAC series (ES9038PRO) at CES 2016. Based on the same architecture, the ESS team now introduced the ES9218 highly integrated HiFi SoC combining Quad 32-bit stereo DAC channels, analog volume control, 2Vrms outputs and much more. The new ESS Sabre will be powering LG’s newest smartphone, the V20.

ESS Technology had a great 2016 planned and they have been putting out a consistent series of great products since the announcement of the Sabre PRO DAC series with the new HyperStream II architecture. Back in September, ESS quietly revealed its newest and highest performance mobile HiFi subsystem for smartphones and mobile applications, bringing forward even more the high quality audio experience from mobile devices. And apparently smartphone manufacturers took notice and lined up to introduce the technology in their newest models, starting with LG and its latest V20, promised to be available sometime this year.

The new ES9218 SABRE HiFi System-On-Chip (SOC) integrates 32-bit stereo Quad DACs, high-power headphone amplifiers, ultra-low noise DAC references and output switches to save both space and cost. It introduces advanced features previously found only in high-end audio equipment allowing, according to ESS, for “a supreme listening experience directly from your mobile device.” 

The chip offers output switches designed for those high quality audio applications in easy to use 40-pin CSP and QFN packages, delivering up to 130dB SNR, 124dB DNR and –112dB THD+N using the ESS patented 32-bit HyperStream II DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator. The ES9218’s integrated DAC supports up to 32-bit 384 kHz PCM and DSD512 data in master or slave timing modes. A fully programmable FIR filter with eight presets provides a customizable sound signature and the ES9218’s integrated headphone amp supports up to 2Vrms output with analog volume control to reduce output noise at real-life listening levels. The integrated output switch allows non-HiFi sources, such as speech to bypass the ES9218 to minimize power consumption.

The ES9218 supports the industry’s most popular high resolution and lossless audio formats including FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV and completely supports compressed legacy formats so the consumer is assured that they will have the best listening experience possible. 

The Analog Volume Control (AVC) feature in the ES9218 delivers 130dB SNR at low listening levels by reducing noise as the audio signal decreases, while the internally connected parallel quad DACs deliver the specified 124dB DNR and -112dB THD+N. The integrated headphone amplifiers have true 2vrms outputs, capable of driving professional high impedance headphones and deliver professional line-level outputs.

These unprecedented performance levels for a mobile device make the highly integrated ES9218 SABRE HiFi SoC the premium choice for a new generation of devices with the potential to rival the audio quality of expensive home theater components. “The ES9218 pushes the envelope on performance for an integrated HiFi SoC,” says Robert Wong, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for ESS. “More important than any numbers that appear on our data sheet is the amazing sound produced by our newest HyperStream II SABRE DAC. This is the same technology that is being designed into the most demanding high end audiophile equipment in the world.”

LG V20 collaboration with ESS
When, back in August 2016, LG Electronics (LG) announced that its forthcoming flagship smartphone, the LG V20, will be the first smartphone in the industry to feature 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital to analog converter) capabilities it was clear they would be the first company shipping a product with the new ES9218 SABRE HiFi SoC.

According to LG, the Quad DAC delivers a crisp and clear sound that up-samples music whether it is saved on the V20, streaming or even from the audio track of a video, when using compatible wired headphones. LG worked closely with ESS Technology in this project and the company had previously provided its 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC in the V10, LG V20’s predecessor.

“As smartphones mature, we’re seeing more and more customers looking beyond just fast processors and big displays in their devices,” said Juno Cho, president of LG Electronics and Mobile Communications Company. “Higher quality audio is simply the natural evolution of the smartphone, as the industry moves toward a more holistic multimedia consumption experience. We’re pleased to continue this long-term partnership with ESS and bring best in class audio to LG V20 users.”

“We are extremely excited that our Quad DAC technology will be featured in the V20, LG’s latest flagship smartphone for consumers who demand the best media experience,” said Robert Blair, president and chief executive officer of ESS Technology. “As a technology more typically available in high-end audio equipment, Quad DAC on the V20 will make users feel as if they are carrying around a professional home-audio system on their smartphone.” |
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