Do-It-All DAC from Essence
hile the Essence HDACC ($699) is most readily a digital-to-analog converter, it includes an integral volume control, line-level inputs and outputs, a headphone jack, and HDMI input and output, making it the centerpiece of a combined audio/video system.
With the HDACC, users can control their entire system, converting digital data from a computer and CD transport via the unit's USB 2.0 and coaxial digital inputs. An HDMI v1.3 input also allows for the conversion of digital data from Blu-ray Disc players, both for music-only and audio/video discs. "The digital data from Blu-ray is the highest-fidelity content in audio history," says Bob Rapoport, the designer of the HDACC. "For the first time, the home enthusiast has access to a bit-for-bit identical copy of the original master recording, uncompressed with the full bandwidth and dynamic range of the live event."
The HDACC's line-level inputs perform A-to-D conversion, so users can connect line-level analog sources and digitize their output. Digital conversion capabilities top out at 24-bits and 192kHz, and all digital inputs can be upsampled to 24-bit/192kHz resolution via the HDACC's DSP engine. To address jitter, the HDACC uses a "highly accurate" phase locked loop and a low-jitter clock system. In total, there are two sets of analog inputs and four digital inputs. Both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs are included, along with HDMI and TosLink digital outputs.
To top things off, the HDACC comes with an IR remote for controlling volume, choosing inputs, and accessing the HDACC's menu system. The large front-panel OLED display gives readout of the HDACC's operating status, including the sample rate of incoming digital signals.
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