ESS Introduces the World’s First Low-Power Sabre DAC with Hardware MQA Hi-Res Rendering

January 3 2019, 13:05
ESS Technology announced the ES9068Q Low-Power Audiophile CODEC, its newest in a line of Sabre DACs designed for small desktop and portable applications with demanding audio specifications. As previously announced in May 2018, this is the first product to offer an integrated hardware MQA (Master Quality Authentication) renderer that makes MQA playback easy and cost efficient. This is also the first product in the series with CODEC capabilities; it features microphone support as well as stereo PDM inputs.

The ES9068Q will offer Best-in-Class performance based on the Sabre DAC architecture with HyperStream II modulation and can be used as a functional upgrade to the successful ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, and ES9038Q2M products. The ES9068Q provides a Dynamic Range of 128dBA and total harmonic distortion of -120dB THD+N. The DAC can support a wide range of input formats including: PCM up to 32bit 768kHz, DSD1024, DoP, SPDIF, and MQA.

MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as the standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms. The encoding process folds extra information into the signal that can be recovered later. The subsequent “unfolding” process takes place in two steps: the first unfold, called Core Decoding, can be done on most DSP systems, and system designers looking to implement this can take advantage of standard code. The final step in the unfolding, called rendering, needs to be done in tight cooperation with the DAC. The quality of the rendering depends on the DAC output filters, and this has typically involved hand tuning each design. However, the ES9068Q’s hardware rendering takes care of all the tuning automatically, without the need for special tuning. As the ES9068Q will automatically detect the MQA stream and engage the rendering, the entire process requires no additional design work.

According also to ESS Technology, this new CODEC is a great solution for USB headsets that utilize the microphone input and can be combined with wireless radios to create wireless systems that are able to stream high quality MQA music. The ES9068Q is also a great fit for a desktop DAC or mini-system that benefits from great sound quality and easy design.

Samples and evaluation boards are now available and the ES9068 will be featured for listening in the ESS demo suite at the 2019 CES show in Las Vegas, January 8-11.
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