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TempoTec Sonata BHD, a better budget option than the HD Pro?

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#1
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001418279284.html

I just saw this listed on AliExpress. It's just under the price of the TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (Hidizs S8), which reviewed pretty well.

Asides from the addition of another CS43131 chip, and very slightly better SNR measurements listed, the BHD looks to be twice as powerful. It looks like a really good deal! Has anyone tried this out?
 

Jimbob54

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#2
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001418279284.html

I just saw this listed on AliExpress. It's just under the price of the TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (Hidizs S8), which reviewed pretty well.

Asides from the addition of another CS43131 chip, and very slightly better SNR measurements listed, the BHD looks to be twice as powerful. It looks like a really good deal! Has anyone tried this out?
Its balanced 2.5mm which explains the twice as powerful- so depends what HP you want to use

I would guess it is the balanced version of the pro/S8
 
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Thread Starter #3
Its balanced 2.5mm which explains the twice as powerful- so depends what HP you want to use

I would guess it is the balanced version of the pro/S8
I didn't even notice that it was balanced! I am an egg. I wonder if you can plug single ended into it as well.
 

Jimbob54

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#4
Assume you can't.
 

DeepSpace57

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#5
Really interesting to see such a tiny device with dual dac chips and balanced output. I am so eager to look at its results by @amirm .
 

Jimbob54

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#6
Really interesting to see such a tiny device with dual dac chips and balanced output. I am so eager to look at its results by @amirm .
Will it unseat @IVX at the top of the balanced dongle tree? Let's not forget the E1DA 9038s g1 is "old" in this world and the g3 I suspect is the benchmark still.
 

IVX

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#7
from the tech point of view, I don't see another reason to use dual DAC if the goal isn't dynamic range or SNR. I have measured Meizu HiFi DAC (single CS43131 no buffer) and found SNR -130db(A) DR 130db(A) vs tempotec with dual CS43131 -129db. What is the real reason of using a dual DAC config there, if at the 32ohm load we'll see SINAD -100db, as it was with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (Hidizs S8)? If I was going with CS43131 I would:
1) add a decent buffer opamp to keep THD low under real load
2) replace CS43131charge-pump potentially dirty power for the cleanest external one opamp based to get SINAD lower -115db
 
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#8
Even now is the TempoTec Sonata HD Pro still the cheapest DSD256 DAC?

Perhaps a summary somewhere of the real world implications of the incredible measurements given in Hidizs S8 page of ASR is necessary, because although that thread does throw doubt on the status of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro vs Meizu HiFi DAC, it is difficult to say either stands out as better than the other. But it is clear to me that TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is far from perfect in terms of PCB design and sound.
 

Jimbob54

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#9
Even now is the TempoTec Sonata HD Pro still the cheapest DSD256 DAC?

Perhaps a summary somewhere of the real world implications of the incredible measurements given in Hidizs S8 page of ASR is necessary, because although that thread does throw doubt on the status of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro vs Meizu HiFi DAC, it is difficult to say either stands out as better than the other. But it is clear to me that TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is far from perfect in terms of PCB design and sound.
I'm not sure what you are suggesting/asking.

So we know the S8 and the sonata HD Pro are the same device (think you know that?) so let's just talk about the S8 when referring to both.

Vs the meizu (which one, the pro or the none pro?)

So what clarification are you asking for? If Amir remeasures (he won't /can't), what is he measuring for?
 

IVX

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#10
Saidera, as I remember, TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (Hidizs S8) and Meizu HiFi DAC(not Pro version) pretty much the same CS43131 with direct output without the buffer. So, I have no doubt if they sounding the same. I bought Meizu HiFi DAC for $19, and Meizu promised DSD256, however, I never seen if it works yet. Did you see TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (Hidizs S8) plays DSD256?
 
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#11
Thank you for replying!

Yeah, it's confusing having so many variations etc

As for the Meizu vs S8 issue, I read about it from the S8 thread. The thread made me (a layperson) wonder how a user should connect the DAC to enter high impedance mode, or play at highest volume to maximise the specifications proven by Amir. If, at a lower volume (real world conditions), Meizu 'wins' over S8, does that just mean neither is perfect and both can improve on their designs or does it mean one should buy Meizu instead of S8 or perhaps as Ivan has replied 'sounding the same', it is a fact that both sound the same no matter what the measurement differences show?

Meizu having two versions really annoys me. Whichever one Ivan mentioned - the cheaper one I guess, non-Pro, no amp.

Incidentally, I can clarify that TempoTec Sonata HD Pro S8! is the cheapest DSD256 DAC, although Ivan: DSD256 is playable on JRMC etc but not when foobar or HQPlayer upconverts (ASIO Native DSD256 is necessary anyway) despite me using ASIO drivers. Note HQPlayer cannot use the Tempotec Bravo ASIO driver so I am limited to WASAPI DSD128. And HQPlayer works badly with Sonata HD Pro S8! - if the DAC goes to sleep the player can't start playing? I think.

Amir doesn't measure the same extra parameters consistently so it's hard to compare DACs like these small ones in real world conditions (I may be wrong here), but otherwise, there is no need to remeasure anything, only to summarise in one post the many posts in which Ivan has told us the downsides of S8 in contrast to its great measurements. That's what I am getting at.
 

raistlin65

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#12
The thread made me (a layperson) wonder how a user should connect the DAC to enter high impedance mode, or play at highest volume to maximise the specifications proven by Amir.
Well, if you are going to use it just as a DAC connected to a headphone amp or speaker amp, the S8 will sense enough resistance to go into high gain mode.

To fool it into high gain mode when using it with low impedance headphones is easy. Leave an extension plugged into it.

When the S8 is connected with just the extension, it senses infinite resistance and then goes into high gain mode. Then plug your headphones into the extension. I use this 6" extension with my 80 ohm Focal Elear https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QG1CCTF/
 
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#13
Thanks raistlin65!

I did read about it in passing but I forgot it. I do not have an extension. Only cords which don't have receptor jacks. I cannot imagine infinite resistance from an empty cable. But clearly it is an open circuit without current flowing yet voltage exists.

Are there other ways to fool it into high gain mode? And what benefits does high gain mode really bring?
 

Jimbob54

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#14
Thanks raistlin65!

I did read about it in passing but I forgot it. I do not have an extension. Only cords which don't have receptor jacks. I cannot imagine infinite resistance from an empty cable. But clearly it is an open circuit without current flowing yet voltage exists.

Are there other ways to fool it into high gain mode? And what benefits does high gain mode really bring?
Don't know how else you could trick it. Benefits are immediate in the following scenario :

Android playing Spotify app, low impedance IEMs that have quite low sensitivity (ety er2se is my example). Without tricking the meizu (either), I barely get any volume. I think this is because of androids silly low volume limits. In high gain, plenty of volume.

I have the S8 (well, the sonata) and both meizu. For my money, using mostly various iem, I honestly can't say which is best but haven't tried rigorous a/b testing, just no revelatory moments. I think they are all good.

If I had to buy again I would look at the price and availability more than performance.
 

IVX

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#15
Saidera actuallally, I do not have s8 at all, only Meizu HiFi DAC(non-pro, today taobao offers for $14. Highly recommended, must have!) but as I said, both devices have the same DAC chip without a buffer opamp, hence, they have good performance only without load. Meizu HiFi DAC Pro has the buffer and should perform under the load better.
I have to say, that dirt-cheap Meizu HiFi DAC(and s8 tempotec as well, because it is the same bare Cirrus DAC chip) anyway outperforms tonnes of ifi/fio/ibasso at 32ohm load because most of them never care about technical specs at all. Cirrus made the chip which makes high-performance audio simple as never before. If we compare that with ES9038Q2M which requires external power rails, at least two opamps per channel for I/V and buffering, CS43131needs datasheet-like connection with a few surrounding passive parts, that's it. All power rails made internally, all opamps inside too. However, if you are really audio-geek, you can notice that CS43131 based DACs all have exactly the same performance, like twins. ES9038Q2M with decent I/V, clock, low-noise power, and buffer give you a chance to get a top-level of performance, way better vs CS43131, however, poorly cooked ES9038Q2M may have shameful performance(DF cobalt THD+N -70db i.e. 11-12 bit of the actual resolution!), CS43131 never just because the chance to cook that wrong was dramatically reduced by Cirrus. Bravo, Cirrus Logic!
PS: But even ALC5686 which has SNR 120 dB forget about that BS, many company if unlucky with reaching the needed specs use that naive trick. They show you the "SNR" with the switched off DAC's outputs, so-called auto-mute gate or so. You need to check the ONLY Dynamic Range instead of "SNR", DR is equal to real SNR*(-1). I was surprized that even AKM goes this way and trying to deceive with their cheap DACs like AK4377. Of course some manufacturers just copied that fake "SNR" from the datasheet to their products specs without measurements.
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#16
I didn't even notice that it was balanced! I am an egg. I wonder if you can plug single ended into it as well.
One thing you can bet on for sure is that some customer will try running it with a 2.5mm->3.5mm adapter. I note there's no warning about this in their listing, maybe that will change. I assume they're running it with one chip per channel handling opposite polarities, so it depends on whether the output buffers on the CS43131 can tolerate being tied to each other. Unfortunately, just as with the 9038S, the 4-pole 2.5mm connector doesn't provide a system ground, so you'll run into the same problems trying to use it with a balanced headphone amp and would need a funky custom cable to pull the ground off the usb connector. It's a pity, because good desktop balanced DACs start around $200, and I'd certainly be interested in a well-measuring dongle that was a third of the price, but maybe using a dongle to feed a balanced amp is just too niche a market.

I like the little case they provide, though these things always end up sitting at the back a drawer for me.
 

DeepSpace57

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#17
from the tech point of view, I don't see another reason to use dual DAC if the goal isn't dynamic range or SNR. I have measured Meizu HiFi DAC (single CS43131 no buffer) and found SNR -130db(A) DR 130db(A) vs tempotec with dual CS43131 -129db. What is the real reason of using a dual DAC config there, if at the 32ohm load we'll see SINAD -100db, as it was with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (Hidizs S8)?
Have you ever tested Tempotec HD Pro or its another version with dual core config? It may perform better than Meizu HIFI on your test set-up like Amirm’s

If I was going with CS43131 I would:
Why do not you use CS43131 on your designs?
 

IVX

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#18
DeepSpace57, no time for that but I have some interest to play around CS43131 to get THD+N better than -114-115db, as I see I have a chance. CS43131 has already VERY low SNR/DR(that's why I see no techincal reason to use dual CS43131) but THD+N would be nice to get better to kill all competitors.
 
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#19
Saidera actuallally, I do not have s8 at all, only Meizu HiFi DAC(non-pro, today taobao offers for $14. Highly recommended, must have!) but as I said, both devices have the same DAC chip without a buffer opamp, hence, they have good performance only without load. Meizu HiFi DAC Pro has the buffer and should perform under the load better.
I have to say, that dirt-cheap Meizu HiFi DAC(and s8 tempotec as well, because it is the same bare Cirrus DAC chip) anyway outperforms tonnes of ifi/fio/ibasso at 32ohm load because most of them never care about technical specs at all. Cirrus made the chip which makes high-performance audio simple as never before. If we compare that with ES9038Q2M which requires external power rails, at least two opamps per channel for I/V and buffering, CS43131needs datasheet-like connection with a few surrounding passive parts, that's it. All power rails made internally, all opamps inside too. However, if you are really audio-geek, you can notice that CS43131 based DACs all have exactly the same performance, like twins. ES9038Q2M with decent I/V, clock, low-noise power, and buffer give you a chance to get a top-level of performance, way better vs CS43131, however, poorly cooked ES9038Q2M may have shameful performance(DF cobalt THD+N -70db i.e. 11-12 bit of the actual resolution!), CS43131 never just because the chance to cook that wrong was dramatically reduced by Cirrus. Bravo, Cirrus Logic!
PS: But even ALC5686 which has SNR 120 dB forget about that BS, many company if unlucky with reaching the needed specs use that naive trick. They show you the "SNR" with the switched off DAC's outputs, so-called auto-mute gate or so. You need to check the ONLY Dynamic Range instead of "SNR", DR is equal to real SNR*(-1). I was surprized that even AKM goes this way and trying to deceive with their cheap DACs like AK4377. Of course some manufacturers just copied that fake "SNR" from the datasheet to their products specs without measurements.
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Many thanks for the fascinating insights! It's a pity they 'have good performance only without load'. And it's interesting to know that CS43131 is consistently good but only ES9038Q2M can become excellent which comes with some risk. And the way even AKM deceives those who don't look at datasheets is unfortunate. I presume you have seen the ALC5686 datasheet? I did look at the ALC4050 PDF you attached over at diyaudio and I understand the experience with Realtek because I also contacted them a lot back in 2018 about their 2007-8 ALC889DSD chip and ALC1220. I really wanted to be able to create a $10 portable USB DAC to rival the only other DAC at the time which was COZOY's hugely expensive one. Who would have imagined a state like now where aliexpress is swamped with USBC dongles?

At the time I wanted to realise these features using ALC1220:
  1. Compatible with VAIO DSD software - i.e. has to be the same DSD methodology and chip mechanism as ALC889DSD + has to be recognised not as a USB Class device but as the same onboard codec (just like those Conexant, IDT, Realtek chips in most computers) even if it has to be via tricking the OS
  2. Be able to record DSD128 via Realtek ASIO using compatible software
  3. Be the cheapest DSD DAC ever, at just RRP $10. It doesn't have to do PCM at all.
Unfortunately ALC1220 is used in gaming mobos only and usually comes with extra large caps, amps and other IC components + Amir measured one board and found it underperforming, although other mobo designs probably do better.

And as you guessed, Realtek does not reply ever. I tried the Japanese Realtek supplier and they wouldn't take me seriously.

I guess 'record DSD128 via Realtek ASIO' is a niche, but if you downsample DSD to PCM the file probably sounds better than direct PCM recording. You could digitise vinyls and tapes for example. Of course that is based on the premise that DSD has some uncertain advantage and this is the topic of discussion in https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/the-sound-quality-of-dsd.14773/

As a layperson without that much experience, that thread is perhaps too technical but seems to cover more than previous threads dating from the early 2000s.

So when I saw Sonata HD Pro I decided it is good enough despite not being $10, and I just forgot about Realtek entirely. Note how Sonata HD Pro and S8 have DSD printed on its back. I thought, OK, that's similar enough to my idea despite not having a mic function...

Let me tell you just how much I felt indignant about Apple and aptX HD's 24/48 PCM limitation which Realtek and other codec makers adopted around 2016! Why bring 24/48 PCM limitation to PCs too!? It's meant to be a limit for phones - and the contradiction is that these days Android phones can do 32/384 funnily enough, and the cheapest can do 24/96 easily but I daresay the iPhone and ALL new PCs (except gaming mobos) are still 24/48 PCM! This was a strong impetus for my $10 portable USB DAC which I called DS10, before learning that there is a model called 'DS-DAC-10' in real life.

So when I see IVX tackle the DAC industry single-handedly with his E1DA lineup I feel a strong sense of support which isn't limited to just a general awe and respect of great engineers but is something higher, more broad, far greater than merely selling a product globally. It encompasses showing the masses what really really true, good, and accurate sound can be, as well as allowing us to know the process through which the DAC is created, and giving us the opportunity to customise it after we have purchased it. It will allow more people to hear what the mastering engineers hear in their studios, or what they intend us to hear. It will show us the clear difference between streaming and true hires and may make us prefer hires in a general way, which keeps music labels in business and gives them the funds to create better art whatever that may be. It is one example of an individual freelancer positing an alternative way of audio compared to the multinational corporations, on many different levels. To me what stands out is the use of wired connections and hires formats (cf. American streaming audio culture). But customisability is likely to be a much bigger factor, as is sound quality and measured performance.
 

IVX

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#20
Why 48k limit? Why iOS USB 5V rail available only for pay, why no USB HID for free or Bluetooth? Why S. Jobs dead, where is the second one? The answer is only one: 42 ;)
To me Apple inc today is the company about money ONLY and nothing else they care i.e. it is a bank's mimicry on Apple. No any novelty, no product quality even no serious testing - purified greediness as it is. I wish they'll establish a bank and give up the electronics business, that would be fair.
 
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