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TempoTec Sonata BHD Pro Portable DAC & Amp Review

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 1.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 7 2.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 27 10.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 218 84.8%

  • Total voters
    257

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the TempoTec Sonata BHD Pro portable DAC and headphone amplifier. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $70.
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone amplifier review.jpg

I really like the fresh look of the BHD. There is a red LED that lights up the tiny ICs in there, giving it some elegance. There are volume control buttons on the side with good tactile feedback. And from what I could see in measurements, they have fine resolution.

Importantly there is support for 4.4 mm balanced headphone out in addition to 3.5mm.

EDIT: I originally left out "Pro" out of the name. Corrected some but the rest of the graphs are still missing that word in the model name.

TempoTec Sonata BHD Pro Measurements​

Let's start with our dashboard using balanced output:
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone amplifier.png


SINAD of 105 dB is excellent for a portable DAC. But check out unbalanced output:
TempoTec Sonata BHD dac and headphone amplifier.png


Wow, this thing will give many desktop dacs a run for their money! And that is not all. See the dynamic range:
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone DNR amplifier.png

Stunning!

Jitter performance is the best of any dongle from what I can remember:
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone jitter measurement amplifier.png


Dynamic range is excellent even at 50 mv:
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone 50mv balanced amplifier.png

most quiet headphone mobile phone amp dac.png


High output voltage translates to plenty of power for 300 ohm headphones:
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone Power 300 ohm amplifier.png


most powerful portable dac headphone amp 300 review.png


Same for 32 ohm:
TempoTec Sonata BHD balanced dac and headphone Power 33 ohm amplifier.png

most powerful portable dac headphone amp review.png


Not feeling well so no listening performance. May do so tomorrow and report back but I expect no surprises.

Conclusions
The performance of the Sonata BHD Pro rates as state of the art for portable DACs and will easily substitute for many desktop DACs as well. Add this the nice enclosure and controls and you have a winner.

It is my pleasure to add it to my recommended list.

Manufacturer Specifications:
Sonata BHD Pro is a USB C dongle DAC&
  • DAC: 2*CS43131
  • SNR: 131dB
  • THD+N: 0.00012%(@32ohm 1kHz 0dB signal )
  • OUTPUT LEVEL: [email protected]/32Ω,[email protected]/32Ω
  • OUTPUT POWER: [email protected]/32ohm
  • Frequency: 0-40KHZ /+- 0.5dB
  • RGB light: indicates working status
  • PCM: up to 32Bit/384kHz DSD256(NATIVE)
  • DSD: up to DSD256
  • MQA: MQA renderer 8X
  • Volume Control: hardware buttons
  • Platform support: Windows PC,MACOS and Android
  • USB Audio driver: Win7,Win8 Win10 & Exclusive ASIO driver for windows system

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:

Grotti

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Wow! If the power is subjectively sufficient, this seems to be a steal for the price! Very much looking forward to your subjective experience: get well soon!!!!
 

ZolaIII

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Very positive but little unexpected U turn towards performance of unbalanced output and definitely more useful (for sensitive IEM's & headphones which is what you will use with such most of the time's anyway).
 

jamescarter1982

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could this be used as a desktop dac or hidden inside an enclosure in say a diy amp ? I missed what the input Is I'm guessing usb ?
 

Michael Fidler

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What a little killer! This would be great for my desktop setup.

I wonder if the balanced headphone output could be used as balanced a line output as well and connected to a suitable device with a ground-referenced line input?

Voted GREAT
 

MCH

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Thanks for the review @amirm
Isn't this the "PRO" version? I have the impression that the tempotec sonata BHD looks different and has a cable attached.
This pro version is also more expensive I believe (90$ tempotec shop)
 
Last edited:

Grotti

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You seem to be right. But even for 90 $ I would have voted "Great".
 

ZolaIII

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It's not that the unbalanced output is more performant as a whole, just that both outputs are optimized for 2V amplitude:
View attachment 312321
Reduce the Bal out to 2V and you get the same 112dB SINAD.
Yes I see how they get there but still very useful with regular unbalanced output and 90% of stock wired headphones/earphones (unbalanced wired). Usually you get use of both DAC's and amp's only for balanced output. Tempotec ounce again gets the great recommendation from me for good engineering effort and put into right direction. It's not best performing portable dongle nor a best CS43131 implementation but for the price it's hard to argue about it (while performance is more than adequate) and of course they will provide good long term support (firmware and driver's) which is rare this day's.
 

pavuol

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Excellent matchbox, it seems almost ridiculous that by mere switch to balanced cables (where possible) you can power even the most demanding headphones to high volume levels, it's almost like a "featherlight hammer" for many of those expensive boutiqe desktop headphone amps..

And the guts are illuminated :)
(head-fi pic)
12143973.jpg
 

Michael Fidler

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Excellent matchbox, it seems almost ridiculous that by mere switch to balanced cables (where possible) you can power even the most demanding headphones to high volume levels, it's almost like a "featherlight hammer" for many of those expensive boutiqe desktop headphone amps..

And the guts are illuminated :)
(head-fi pic)
12143973.jpg
I really like this kind of design feature!
 

Matias

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Strange that SINAD is impacted by big 2nd harmonics when using the 4.4 mm out. At least max volume (4V). There is some design limitation there, as the Tanchjim Space is better behaved there. At least with -1 volume (2.9V). Maybe we should compare both at -1 to avoid clipping on both?

BHD Pro
index.php


Space
index.php
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

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Bang goes my theory this was the same as the Tanchjim Space- likely just shares a shell rather than the full thing.

EDIT- nope, defo not the same shell either

12116402.jpg
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

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Thanks for the review @amirm
Isn't this the "PRO" version? I have the impression that the tempotec sonata BHD looks different and has a cable attached.
This pro version is also more expensive I believe (90$ tempotec shop)
You are right. The Pro has the similar / same shell as the Tanchjim Space. The original BHD came just after the legendary Sonata HD Pro with a similar look but with a 2.5mm out
 

milosz

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Amir, why do you review and recommend things? First it was the Dan Clark Stealth and I had to buy those; now it's this dongle, which I've just ordered. Are you trying to send me to the poorhouse? (Admittedly this dongle was a lot easier to buy than the Stealth 'phones. But still...)

WAIT! I bought the Fosi V3 with 48V supply based on your review too! Almost forgot that. (great amp for the system in my small workshop)
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

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Well not quite. Tempotec Sonata HD Pro is capable of 66 milliwatts into a 33 ohm load; the TempoTec Sonata BHD delivers 137 mW, a 3.17 dB difference.

And no balanced on the OG Sonata HD Pro (which is useful for both giving the extra oomph plus compatibility with more terminations). Shame the balanced out on the BHD Pro suffers a little on paper if not the ears for performance (EDIT- but @staticV3 makes a good point above about that)
 

Svensson

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Thanks @amirm This is a fabulous device! With the price, spec and volume controls, I'd buy right now if I didn't already have my E1DA 9038D that I bought back when you reviewed it. It might not be long before that 'King' of small form factor dongles is matched or beaten.
 
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