ESS introduces a pair of new chipsets to bring audiophile gear up a notch

mqa universal music group deal hi res audio man and woman listening to
Orla/123RF
Though you may not know it, a common thread is shared within a lot of high-end audio gear, and no, it’s not the price tag. While different brands add their own touches, chipsets from ESS Technology find their way into a lot of products, from the recently announced Onkyo DP-X1 digital audio player to some of the most expensive amplifiers and receivers in the world.

Just in time for the first day of CES proper, ESS is introducing a pair of chips that will likely power a notable portion of audio products released over the next year, from A/V receivers to headphones and digital audio players.

“Our audiophile and professional customers are constantly driving us to push the technical envelope to deliver better performance and enhance the listening experience,” ESS chief marketing officer Dan Christman said in a statement. “We are very pleased to announce that our new PRO series, with the flagship SABRE ES9038PRO, takes that experience to a new level, both for the home and professional studio environments.”

The ES9038PRO is the flagship of the company’s newly updated line of digital to analog converters (DACs). The chipset was created to integrate with the company’s own headphone amplifiers, though ESS says it is also meant to work with other audio building block technology. The 32-bit 8-channel DAC offers what ESS calls the “industry’s highest dynamic range” at 140dB and boasts low total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) at 122dB.

Along with the new DAC, ESS also announced the ES9311 regulator, which the company says is “the industry’s first low-noise, low-dropout regulator designed specifically for high-performance audio systems.” Meant to integrate seamlessly with the company’s SABRE DACs, the ES9311 replaces several components used in audio products, designed to lead to faster release cycles.

“For years audio quality was sacrificed for the convenience of portability but now we are experiencing a perfect storm with increased storage, greater bandwidth and readily available high resolution music content,” Christman says. “With the ES9311 we are introducing a new class of audiophile-worthy component to support this HiFi revolution.  For our audiophile customers it delivers a winning trifecta of better performance, simplified system design, and reduced build of materials.”

Judging by the focus on high-resolution audio we’re seeing once again at CES 2016, these components are only going to be in more demand over the next year. If you consider yourself an audiophile, or even if you don’t, that’s great news.

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