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Neutral and transparent DAC – SMSL VMV D1 or Oppo Sonica?

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#61
Good Sunday everyone,
the Italian review Audio Review in the month of October 2017 had made a review of the Sonica, I scanned the test to make you have a comparison with what read on Archimago's.
I hope this is an interesting initiative, unfortunately the article is only in Italian. ;)
 

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wadec22

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#62
Good Sunday everyone,
the Italian review Audio Review in the month of October 2017 had made a review of the Sonica, I scanned the test to make you have a comparison with what read on Archimago's.
I hope this is an interesting initiative, unfortunately the article is only in Italian. ;)
can you translate any key points? :)
 
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#63
Start by posting the TEST CONCLUSIONS

With only one exception in practice, the performances of OPPO Sonica DAC are similar to those of the universal UDP-205 player that we tested on the August 2017 issue, so we have an amazing frequency response here too, with the maximum formats (DSD512 and PCM a768 KHz) exceeds that of most amplifiers.
The same goes for the residual noise, with the quieter PCM and the DSD which becomes a bit more noisy - again in digital terms, of course - as the sampling frequency rises, and an equivalent resolution that goes from the 17.4 bit DSD64 to the 16.4 bits of the DSD256.The divergence expands on the dynamic range, which we can qualitatively classify as "resolution for small signals" and that in PCM always exceeds 121 dB (value of absolute respect), while in DSD it ranges in the range between 102 and 112 dB.
The spectra (excellent) of the low-level tones and the characteristics of the output stages are also almost superimposable.
The exception is positive and concerns the jitter. Now that of 205 was very low in the random component and low in the periodic, but that of the Sonic DAC, drops sharply in the periodic component up to under 4 picoseconds in DSD !!
Fabio Montanucci
 

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#64
PRAYER TO CONCRETE
Actually, the Sonica DAC had already been announced before the release of the universal readers with whom it clearly shared the development.
It embraces the constructive philosophy as you can easily see inside the frame where the section dedicated to the path of the audio signal is in practice the replica of that of the two channels seen in the UDP-205.
Everything revolves around the Sabre 9038Pro chip that Oppo promptly started to implement after the presentation by ESS Technology last year. This is the evolution of the aforementioned ES9018S, an 8-channel DAC configurable in parallel four at a time to obtain the stereo mode.
Going to analyze the catalog of the various producers of integrated circuits it seems that the category of D / A converters has reached a sort of limit of the technical performances.
This despite the new Saber release is credited with slightly better signal-to-noise and dynamic range values than the already remarkable values obtained from the predecessor.
Among the interesting features of the ES9038Pro obviously maintains the volume adjustment with operations that occur in a numerical environment, using 32-bit words, which makes the attenuation of the signal close to the ideal one.
The final result both instrumental and sound is however discriminated from the output stage.
On the Sonica DAC a reliable circuit architecture has been taken up, already seen also in the past realizations of the OPPO house.
Low-noise operational uses specific to audio applications such as Texas Instruments LM4562 and OPA1632.
Compared to what we have seen on the UDP-205s, we notice a perforated metal cover that shields the entire area of the circuit where the DAC is located and the analogue audio signal is managed.
For the rest, the food appears cured and substantial, we appreciate the presence of a toroidal transformer, the separation of paths and the ELNA Audio Grade capacitors from 6800 uF / 38V.
The frame is made of a folded metal cradle on which plastic side panels are inserted, the front panel and an upper coupling cover, made of a solid aluminum profile.
There is not the sometimes tiresome splendor of some Hi-End products, there is great concreteness and the appearance is still a little more luxurious than the already appreciable one of the multi-player brothers thanks to the polished and brushed finish of all the visible surfaces. The dimensions are compact with the width that reaches half the rack and a height that stops at just eight centimeters, including feet.
On the front panel an OLED display is an element of distinction with respect to the rest of the current OPPO production.
Two knobs of different diameters are placed on the right and on the left, allowing volume adjustment and selection of the inputs, while a convenient USB A socket has been provided for the use of external memories.
 

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trl

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#65
Sonica measures very well, great DAC indeed, but like I said before, it's pity manufacturer haven't paralleled all the channels. I suppose replacing it now with an ES9038C2M or Q2M will provide identical results. Not sure paralleling channels 4 by 4 will improve the measurements with more than 1dB in practice, but still...it would be better if manufacturer did that.
 
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#66
MUSICAL ATTENDIBILITY WITHOUT LIMITS OF FORMAT
The evolution has transformed the most advanced DAC into key points of the plant, the real control units able to control the digital signals coming from different sources. The Sonica DAC allows a 360 degree management of all the currently available formats (and of those that perhaps will arrive) through the computer protocols and the most classic SPIDF. You can not ask for more at the moment, being able to take advantage of a reading mechanics, memories, network streaming and the computer coming in this last way to process files still not available on the market in PCM 768 KHZ / 32 bit or DSD512.No obvious lack of wireless equipment.
A RCA stereo input has also been provided to take advantage of an analogue source which in fact makes the Sonica DAC a preamplifier capable of directly driving a sensitivity end that is not too low. As is logical in such a machine, the analog input signal is made digital from an ADC (specifically a PCM1808) and then continue the path in the same way as the other flows treated.The general operation of the appliance is impeccable, the display despite the not very large size is quite legible from a typical distance for a living room, while it makes you feel a little lack of a remote control (available a few months after this review) that certainly would not have failed.
For remote control OPPO makes available a free application dedicated to smartphones and tablets following the current trend that in practice obliges to take advantage of the home Internet to communicate with many of the components of the audio chain.The graphics of this App is very basic, allows the management of music content from the same mobile device or access to streaming services such as Tidal or Spotify or a NAS but is a little cumbersome in the control of the functions of the DAC itself. In particular, the volume adjustment is not immediately usable and goes a little searched. It is of the cursor type and somewhere there is also a version supported by virtual keys + and - which help to set the fine attenuation (with steps in dB) that scrolling the screen with your fingers is not always possible to get.
The impulse response carried out in our laboratory has revealed the use of a Minimum Phase Fast digital filter, such as the default setting of the UDP-205, therefore without pre-ringing and with long decay. Unexpectedly, however, it is not possible to choose the digital filters that the Sabre 9038Pro chip provides, whose influence on the sound someone judges marginal but that someone else would like as an element of fine-tuning and fun.
 

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#67
There is no reason to be angry because the smile is guaranteed listening to music. The Sonica DAC offers sonic performance that tends to overlap with those of the UDP-205 by reaffirming precise and coherent reproduction. A satisfying performance on all the fundamental parameters starting from from the timbral linearity that in every frequency band is obsequious of the original musical message. The Sonic DAC does not try to please at all costs what passes through it, rather it reports diligently with good neutrality. The high range is crystalline and punctual, in the median area there is considerable cleaning and the low end can guarantee support for very generous loudspeakers in the heavier octave.
Engaged with acoustic instruments, does not strive to warm the colors or accentuate the contrast, simply exposes the recording without sweetness. The piano has the right harmonics and correct times of decay, on the solo violin you can perceive the nuances and movements on the strings without difficulty.The voices have a clear display that enhances the details and intelligibility.
Overall, in fact, it also affects the transparency and attention to detail that emerges with natural evidence, in a global context in which one has the sensation of enjoying a particularly clean execution. Nothing to complain about in terms of energy and speed. more incisive orchestras are resolved firmly, the rapid level excursions do not worry the Sonic DAC as well as the dry shots of the drums that have the dynamic space to express themselves properly. From the atmospheres of acoustic jazz to congested rock or to the impressive symphonic music the signal coming out of this OPPO is always very effective in a wide scene in the three spatial axes.

QUALITY AND CERTABLES
Oppo has accustomed us to important performances going well beyond the commercial range of relevance and the Sonica DAC continues decided on this path. The versatility is remarkable, from traditional reading mechanics to computer flows you can freely choose how to manage your music and format it is not a problem, since all the digital file formats currently available are compatible and we are ready to face the near future without fear of suffering an early obsolescence. The construction is solid, the internal hardware is at high levels and the sound yield is among the most reliable that can be found at the moment.
To get all this you do not even have to spend a fortune, the list is affordable and not breaking through the threshold of one thousand euros lets enjoy a good sound with the knowledge that you have made a good investment.
Andrea Allegri
 

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