We predict that this will be the hot DAC of 2011. British Columbia based Resonessence Labs's Mark Mallinson was former Operations Director for chip maker ESS Technology. Their design engineers and owners are DAC experts and were key in the design of the ESS Audio DAC, including the 9018 SABRE that is used in some of the world best (including our reference, the Weiss DAC202).
Their first product, Invicta, a stereo DAC, combination of careful audio, electrical and mechanical engineering. The Invicta supports many major audio inputs and outputs. Two headphone outputs along with an SD card reader. The back panel reveals a high speed asynchronous USB audio, Toslink, BNCs and AES/EBU inputs.
All common sample rates are supported, and are displayed on the front panel. The analog outputs consist of both RCA and balanced XLR. The Invicta uses a large OLED screen where audio source, volume, song selection, are displayed (for SD Card playback). 130dB signal to noise ratio (typical) and 0.0002% total harmonic distortion (typical) specs are up there with the best. Solid engineering couples with deep digital know-how and good ergonomics should ensure that this will be a great unit.
- ESS SABRE32 24/192kHz DAC chip with HyperStream technology
- Digital filtering DSP and controls via Xilinx MicroBlaze FPGA soft processor cores
- Ultra-low phase noise oscillator master clock
- 1 x Toslink input and 1 x Toslink output
- 2 x BNC digital input (with a firmware update at a later date can also be set to use as part of I2S transfer where three BNC connectors transmit word clock, Sdata, Sclk)
- 1 x AES/EBU input
- USB input (Cypress semiconductor based, 96kHz at the moment, USB 2.0 via firmware update)
- HDMI video output (not yet in use, requires firmware update, for displaying tracks)
- All digital inputs are transformer coupled, galvanically isolated
- 2 x headphone outputs on front panel, simultaneous drive and levels can be independently set
- SD card input on front panel (automatic play upon insertion, WAV format only, up to 24/192)
- Low noise OLED screen
- Firmware upgradeable (FPGA)
- High quality AD797 J-FET operational amplifier output stage
- Non-switching linear transformer power supply
- Output: RCA: 2.4vRMS, XLR: 4.8vRMS