The ESS Sabre ES9038PRO chip has received a lot of attention and praised as the most important new DAC chip in ages. It offers such great performance and features so this is easy to understand. Depending on how the chip is used it can achieve up to 140dB dynamic range, -122 dB (0.00008%) total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) in mono mode. It also has other great features as THD compensation to "minimize THD caused by external components".
The few commercially available DACs using this chip are all quite expensive, which is understandable as the chip is more than 10 times as expensive as the ES9018K2M chip! So we are excited to announce that we are making a ES9038PRO DAC that will be very affordable, even though it will be our most expensive DAC to date. Our philosophy has always been to make affordable gear without charging hundred of dollars for diamond casing or making expensive and hip marketing videos.
We have made a few different samples over the last few months and are finalising the circuit and doing additional testing these days.
The DAC has many of the features from our UDA18 DAC: USB and SPDIF inputs, digital volume control adjusted in DAC chip, optional (not required) external power supply. It also comes in the same sized case as the UDA18, so it is a very portable DAC. It uses the ES9038PRO chip in combination with the OPA1622 output stage chip. This opamp is a newer generation chip with greatly improved performance. It can drive both line level loads and headphones with extremely low distortion, and we found it to be a very good match for ES9038PRO.