• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

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: 219 84.9%

  • Total voters
    258

Deckard01

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2023
Messages
73
Likes
10
I would like a sound comparison between Sonata and Go Link. As I find Go Link really nice for the price.
I have go link, I should have wait so as to buy the Sonata I guess..!
 

frankh

Active Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
107
Likes
75
After a few days of listening to the BHD Pro, my only wish is that Tempotec will release another firmware update with the possibility of different sound tuning. As of the last firmware update, the sound is very good but lacking just a tad of top end shimmer/sparkle and air at higher frequencies.
 

frankh

Active Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
107
Likes
75
I didn't realize they had one until I post the review.
I've checked the BHD Pro's ASIO audio latency with Ableton Live DAW software and I'm very impressed with it's latency which is as good as my much more expensive Audient iD14 MkII audio interface. I've tried the Mojo 1's ASIO latency and it's completely unusable in Ableton Live. I'm not trying to diss Mojo 1 again but that's the only other DAC/amp that I've tried using on Ableton Live since Mojo 1 supports ASIO too.
 
Last edited:

GoMrPickles

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
170
Likes
182
  • Platform support: Windows PC,MACOS and Android
Since they offer a Lightning cable, I infer that iOS is also supported; is that correct? Can anyone verify? TY!
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
So, mine arrived today. Anyone else with one used it with uapp on android?

Hardware volume controls in uapp doesn't work and I'm not sure what the bhd does in terms of startup volume. Does anyone know, does it startup at a preset output level? Default to min or max? Or last position you left it in?

Can adjust hardware vol in Hiby player exclusive mode but that isn't my player of choice. I'm guessing uapp would need tweaking to work with the bhd so will flag it to them anyway but was interested in other users experience
 

Eddie

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2018
Messages
17
Likes
10
Hi,
What about the "Linearity" ?
I'm really intrested in bying this.
In order to measure linearity (and also IMD and multitone) Amir would have to measure again using TempoTec's ASIO implementation. He measured with his ASIO emulator instead (whatever that is, possibly ASIO4All).

This was also the case for the Tanchjim Space.

You could try to persuade him. I would be interested, too.
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
So, mine arrived today. Anyone else with one used it with uapp on android?

Hardware volume controls in uapp doesn't work and I'm not sure what the bhd does in terms of startup volume. Does anyone know, does it startup at a preset output level? Default to min or max? Or last position you left it in?

Can adjust hardware vol in Hiby player exclusive mode but that isn't my player of choice. I'm guessing uapp would need tweaking to work with the bhd so will flag it to them anyway but was interested in other users experience

So- prelim investigations. The volume on the device "sticks" between sessions and devices. Having been blasted a few times by either user error or device "quirks" I would advise anyone using this with UAPP and IEM or sensitive headphones to plug in, lower the volume several steps on the device buttons AND if possible reduce software volume in player before hitting play THEN put in your ears.

The absence of any on device volume indicator plus inability to see what hardware volume is on UAPP ( as I can with every other dongle I have) is a recipe for disaster IMHO.

If you are just using this through the android mixer for spotify etc you should be fine- just lower the phone volume low down before playing.
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
Thank for the response about testing k701! Sure everyone's loud is not the same that is sure.

Sorry I did not get what you mean by "power requirement with the dongles" and the "They would have to be really bad to impart a "sound" to anything that they can drive properly(and/or have a high output impedance)"

Thanks again
I meant the main differentiator between all these dongles is their ability to drive the headphones you want them to more than any "sound" they may have.

Got my BHD today and I am afraid to say, whilst you can get pretty loud with the K701 its not very loud and if you use EQ, I suspect most people would want something more powerful. Of course, this was from the 3.5mm socket, the 4.4mm balanced socket would be a different story but as the K701 are fixed single ended cable, without modding the k701 you arent going to be using the 4.4mm socket to tap that power.
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
7,129
Likes
11,360
Got my BHD today and I am afraid to say, whilst you can get pretty loud with the K701 its not very loud
It should drive the K701 to over 110dB SPL Peak according to Amir's data. Are you sure that there were no additional volume limiters in place and that your audio was mastered to close to 0dBFS Peak?
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
It should drive the K701 to over 110dB SPL Peak according to Amir's data. Are you sure that there were no additional volume limiters in place and that your audio was mastered to close to 0dBFS Peak?
I'll double check later. Thought I had all eq off etc but you never know

Another reason I don't like it doesn't display hardware vol on uapp or the device. Might be different connected to a pc etc
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
It should drive the K701 to over 110dB SPL Peak according to Amir's data. Are you sure that there were no additional volume limiters in place and that your audio was mastered to close to 0dBFS Peak?
Any actual music you know of on tidal that is definitely at a high level if I make sure replay gain etc is off?
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
7,129
Likes
11,360
Any actual music you know of on tidal that is definitely at a high level if I make sure replay gain etc is off?
Sorry I don't use Tidal.
I'd use UAPP to first play a 60Hz full-scale sine, then measure the output voltage with my multimeter to make sure that I'm getting the full 2V, then play one of my Flacs with known amplitude.
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
7,129
Likes
11,360
Now that I think about it, it's possible that the BHD Pro, like many other CS43131 implementations, has impedance sensing and auto gain where the dongle will reduce the max output voltage with loads <200Ω, lower than where the Amp would naturally clip.

This auto gain can be defeated by first plugging an unterminated 3.5mm plug or high impedance load into the Amp, then w/o unplugging, switching to the low impedance load.

It's possible that Amir's measurement setup did that w/o him noticing, and so his measurements don't represent what the average consumer will experience.

For example, when he measured the Meizu HiFi Pro, he got 86.54mW @33Ω (=1.69V), which can only be achieved by defeating the auto gain:
MEIZU HIFI AUDIO PRO Power into 33 Ohm Audio Measurements.png

If you're a normal end user and you plug a 33Ω headphone into the Meizu Pro, then it'll cap the output voltage to 1.0V

For testing and diagnosis, I can highly recommend the E1DA Cosmos Load board. It makes loading and probing dongles and headphone amps very easy.

For anyone else that doesn't want to measure, just to defeat the auto gain, there are headphone adapters like this.
They are very simple 3.5mm Male to 3.5mm Female adapters. No resistors or anything. You plug the adapter into the dongle, then your headphone into the adapter, and then you get the Amp's full output regardless of your headphone impedance.

Edit: Just to reiterate, the above is just speculation. I don't know whether the BHD Pro has auto gain and whether an adapter is required to get full output with <200Ω headphones. I'd have to measure it myself to say for sure.
 
Last edited:

chi2

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 13, 2018
Messages
157
Likes
165
Location
Switzerland
Got one for 61 USD and I'm quite happy with its performance. It has a good low impedance handling (e.g. Symponium Helios) and is pretty powerful in balanced mode.

The main downside from a usability standpoint for me is the lack of support for the phone's volume regulation under iOS combined with the extremely slow action of the built-in volume buttons and the lack of a volume indicator. They have so many levels and every step takes so much time that it takes far over half a minute from zero to max (!).

Imagine it set to a too high level from an insensitive IEM or headhone and then connecting a highly sensitive in-ear. Scary. The only way to possibly save your hearing is to rip the dongle or the cable out in a fraction of a second.

I really hope a later firmware adresses this issue and provides a much (much!) faster volume action.
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
Sorry I don't use Tidal.
I'd use UAPP to first play a 60Hz full-scale sine, then measure the output voltage with my multimeter to make sure that I'm getting the full 2V, then play one of my Flacs with known amplitude.
No need- found a few settings that needed disabling. So @Deckard01 with no EQ or other DSP running it gets the K701 plenty loud for me - I knocked it down 8db in software to be comfortable on most tracks I quickly listened to. So enough to add some EQ in there and by god do the K701 need some EQ when you are loud.

If i can be bothered I might see if the auto gain/ impedance sensing thing is in play too that Static references
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,992
Likes
14,588
The main downside from a usability standpoint for me is the lack of support for the phone's volume regulation under iOS combined with the extremely slow action of the built-in volume buttons and the lack of a volume indicator. They have so many levels and every step takes so much time that it takes far over half a minute from zero to max (!).
Yup. This is bonkers. (android for me) When you plug the device in you have zero clue what it's volume is set at. The only way to use the thing is to reduce your player's software volume waaay down before hitting play.

And even then if you're plugging sensitive iem into the balanced socket you might not lower it enough of the device is on a high hardware volume setting.

Advice to anyone using this. Do not start music with your 'phones in/on your ears.

I got annoyed with the tanchjim space for the opposite reason, it's hardware buttons always started too low. But at least that reported it's other volume levels on UAPP so I could check everything else. There was a degree of safety built inti the Space that this massively misses.
 
Top Bottom