TempoTec is among the brands that make some serious audiophile products but not as famous as it should be. What I like most about their products is the price to performance ratio. Previously TempoTec’s Sonata HD was possibly the first type C DAC dongle to widely popular among the type C dongles. Now there is lots of such type C DAC dongles available in the market but as usual, TempoTec recently has launched a better alternative of such type C DAC dongle with improved hardware and it is called TempoTec Sonata HD pro. I got mine a few days ago and would like to thank TempoTec for sending me a unit for this review.
Specifications of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro
- Model Number – Sonata HD Pro,
- DAC Chip – Cirrus Logic CS43131,
- Structure – Anodized Aluminum,
- Size – 8mm x 17mm x 47mm (D x W X H),
- OTG Plugs – Micro USB 2.0 female inbuild,
- Analog Output – 3.5 mm,
- Supported OTG Cables/Plug – Type C to Micro USB, Apple Lightning to Micro USB, USB a to USB C adapter,
- Cables Length – 10 cm,
- USB Protocol – UAC 2.0,
- MAX decoding – 32 bit/384kHz; DSD256 Native,
- SNR – 128 dB,
- DNR- 128 dB,
- Distortion THD+N – < 0.0002%,
- Frequency Response – 20Hz-40 kHz,
- Output Power Range – 2V with Autodetect gain mode,
- Output Impedance – < 1 ohms,
- Rated power – 45mA average,
- Compatibility – Windows, Mac OS, Android, IOS (I pad pro with Type C),
- Microphone Support – No,
- ASIO – Yes,
- Drivers – Yes,
- Weight – 10 grams.
What’s in the Box?
- TempoTec Sonata HD Pro DAC,
- USB A to Type C converter,
- Type C to Micro USB cable,
- Apple Lightning to Micro USB cable,
- High-Res Logo Sticker.
Tested Sources with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro
Windows 10 PC, Oneplus 6T, Realme C2, Macbook 13 inch, TempoTec V1, Hiby R3.
Tested Apps with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro
USB Audio Player Pro, Tidal Desktop, Audirvana plus, Hiby Music player, Foobar2000.
Tested Gears with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro
TFZ My Love 3, LZ Z04A, HE 150 Pro Earbud, Sennheiser HD6xx, Nature Sound NS3, O Bravo Cupid, Magaosi K3 HD and Shozy Form 1.1.
Product Link – Here
Purchase Link – India or International
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is a plug and play device and works across the device without any additional drivers. But if you want to use the ASIO feature you can use the specific driver for it. Keep in mind that it is the same driver required for their old Sonata HD type C DAC.
Driver Link – Here
As of now, TempoTec hasn’t published any further firmware for TempoTec Sonata HD Pro. As the USB drivers are the same, the internal USB receiver should be the same as the non-pro one and possibly firmware updates can be seen in the future.
Setup & File format Support
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro supports PCM up to 32 bit/384kHz and DSD256. To use the highest PCM and DSD decoding install the drivers and follow the setup instructions below.
First, install the Foobar2000 software then install the components like ASIO Support.
USB Audio Player Pro
The presentation is very nice. TempoTec Sonata HD Pro comes inside a small white paper box. Branding has been done on the front side of that box and the serial no along with TempoTec’s contact information has been printed on the backside of the box. Inside the paper box, there is a metal box containing the Sonata HD pro and all the accessories, secured with foam. So overall the presentation is subtle and secure enough to keep everything safe during shipping.
Design & Build Quality
Design and build quality are good. TempoTec Sonata HD pro is entirely made out of anodized aluminum. It feels very solid in the palm of your hand. Size is very small and slightly bigger than a matchbox and almost similar in size of a thumb drive. On the front side of the device, you can see Tempotec’s Branding and two tactile buttons. Though the device is made out of aluminum, the buttons are made out of hard plastic. The device is painted matt black in color but the buttons are transparent with a dark yellow tint.
The backside of the device doesn’t have much, it is covered by an aluminum plate and the word ‘DSD’ is printed on it reminds you, TempoTec Sonata HD Pro can decode DSD natively. On the top side, the analog 3.5 headphone out and bottom side micro USB port is present. Both the ports are good in quality and you don’t have to struggle while using.
Build and design is good still there are some tiny things I would love to see in future, hope next time they will do it.
- Use of Type C port instead of micro USB (without increasing the price),
- Two holes on any corner to attach a string loop (It will help the device not to fall or loose),
- Small LED, to notify the working status of the device ( better if the LED color changes itself according to the sampling rate),
- Another Play/Pause button.
Accessories sets are also well built. The accessory set is complete with that Apple Lightning to micro USB cable, and you can use Sonata HD pro with almost every device available out there. In their first batch of TempoTec Sonata HD pro, they have shipped some flat OTG cables but now soft braided cables are present, which I think is a better idea because of the flat cables are hard to use with portable devices. They also supplied a USB A to Type C adapter which I think is not required because you can use any micro USB A to micro USB cable to use Sonata HD Pro with your PC.
The output power of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is very high. With the smart detection feature when you plug low impedance headphones it reduces its gain and with high impedance headphones, Sonata HD Pro reaches its max 2V output. After using it for some time, I can say if the impedance of your headphones at least 80 ohms, Sonata HD Pro activates its high gain mode. With high gain mode, it can run 300 ohms headphones without any problem.
On-device volume control is possibly the best feature you can expect from such small DACs. TempoTec Sonata HD pro supports 13 step volume control through the top + and – button. Sonata HD Pro also can remember the last volume so you don’t have to start from low every time. The volume control works separately with the source, which means you can reduce and increase volume both from your PC/Phone and from the Sonata HD Pro. The best practice is, keep your source’s volume at 100% and control it via the button on the device. Two annoying things which I have noticed that even with the lowest volume you still can hear the song playing and the volume steps are big so from one step to another step you may not find your suitable volume.
Noise, and Temperatures
With all my IEMs and headphones I have never faced any background noise with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro and after hours of usage no heating issue is there, it remains totally cool.
The input power draw of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is low. If your source device is equipped with a 3500mha battery then with max output, Sonata HD Pro can decrease 1% of battery after 30 minutes of continuous playback.
Mic & In-Line Controls and Standby mode
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro doesn’t support mic input, so you can’t use it while receiving any calls on your Smartphone. It also doesn’t support line in controls.
Standby is a unique feature in this type C DAC dongles and Sonata HD Pro also have it. If nothing is connected on the 3.5 mm port the DAC remains inactive and saves battery life.
Here are some of my favorite tracks which I have used in this review.
- ‘I Miss You’ by Adele ( 16 bit 44.1 kHz),
- ‘Sweet Child’ by Simply Red ( 24 bit 96 kHz),
- ‘Your Latest Trick’ by Dire Straits (16 bit 44.1 kHz),
- ‘Running On Faith’ by Eric Clapton ( 16 bit 44.1 kHz),
- ‘Trust in Me’ by Etta James ( 16 bit 44.1 kHz),
- ‘You Know I’m No Good’ by Amy Winehouse (24 bit 96 kHz),
- ‘Victim of Love’ by Eagles ( 16 bit 44.1 kHz),
- ‘Instant Crush’ by Daft Punk ( 16 bit 44.1 kHz),
- ‘Family Man (Extended Vocal Remix)’ by Fleetwood MAC (24 bit 96 kHz),
- ‘Three O’Clock Blues’ by B.B. King (24 bit 192 kHz),
- ‘Don’t You’ by Amber Rubarth (DSD 5.6 MHz),
- ‘Looking For A Home’ by Keith Greeninger & Dayan Kai (DSD 2.8 MHz).
The entire lower frequency part in TempoTec Sonata HD pro is quite strong. If your IEM can produce a good amount of bass, then you won’t miss anything in the bass region with Sonata HD Pro. Bass is punchy and tight with lots of impacts. Both in terms of quality and quantity Sonata HD Pro is capable of please a bass lover. The blend of Mid and Sub-bass is just perfect and not overpowering at all.
For example the songs like ‘Instant Crush’ by Daft Punk and ‘Family Man (Extended Vocal Remix) by Fleetwood Mac where the entire lower frequency part is dominating and while listening to them with TempoTec Sonata HD Pro and Magaosi K3 HD, I am totally overwhelmed by its performance.
The Midrange has been presented in a natural and soothing way with Rich texture and timbre. Neither the midrange has been recessed nor forwarded that much. Both lower and upper midrange sounds like buttery smooth. No harshness is present in the upper midrange too. Male and female vocals are full of texture and sound very engaging. While listening to my favorite Jazz and blues tracks I am totally amazed by the combination of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro and OBravo Cupid. Songs like ‘Running on Faith’ by Eric Clapton and ‘Looking For A Home’ by Keith Greeninger & Dayan Kai sounding delicate and emotional.
With TempoTec Sonata HD Pro the entire higher frequency part is not extended too much. The treble part is moderate and polished. I have seen such moderate treble with almost all Cirrus Logic DACs thus very good for treble sensitive people. Sonata HD Pro’s Cirrus Logic CS43131 is better and improved than their old CX42XX chips; you can feel the improvements in the treble response too. Treble is airy, sparkling yet not harsh at all. In a song like ‘Victim of Love’ by Eagles is with Sonata HD Pro and TFZ My Love 3, the sound of cymbals sounding less harsh yet sparkling.
Soundstage, Imaging, and Instrument Separation
Soundstage production is not super wide. Depth is there but in terms of width and height is not so prominent. Surprisingly Imaging is very good. Every instrument playing from a different angle of the room can be identified easily with a moderate IEM. With well-mastered tracks, TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is capable of rendering outstanding clarity and details which really helps to monitor your favorite tracks.
Before comparing it with other portable DACs, one thing I would like to mention that is though I am comparing it with other devices below they do not truly belong to the same category of TempoTec Sonata HD Pro. For example, iBasso DC02 or TempoTec’s old Sonata HD is a type C dongle DAC where HD Pro is a mini portable DAC.
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro Vs iBasso DC02
iBasso’s DC01/DC02 is the answer for ultra-portable DAC where TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is a product for more dedicated or pro usage. Here are a few things for that reason I think Sonata HD Pro is a better buy than iBasso’s DC02.
- No cable attached to the DAC like iBasso DC02 so you can use TempoTec Sonata HD Pro with various sources like PC, Android, and IOS devices.
- No dedicated volume buttons in iBasso DC02.
- Less priced.
- Better Solid Build in TempoTec Sonata HD Pro.
- No Heating Issue in TempoTec Sonata HD Pro like iBasso DC02.
- TempoTec Sonata HD Pro consumes less battery power from your source device.
- Better midrange in TempoTec Sonata HD Pro.
- DC02’s higher frequency part is harsh sometimes, where Sonata HD Pro is smooth and polished,
- Better imaging in TempoTec Sonata HD Pro.
The only advantage iBasso DC02 has a 2.5mm balanced DC01 version that is available for balanced earphone users.
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro Vs TempoTec Sonata HD
The non-PRO Sonata HD is also a good type C dongle DAC but it doesn’t have such benefits as the Pro one. The Pro one is double the price but really justifies the price. It sounds better than non-pro and less noisy too. Better dynamics and better resolution with better build and open to use with any sources.
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro Vs Hidizs S8
TempoTec Sonata HD Pro and Hidizs S8 are the same devices only the outer shell is different. You may know that Hidizs rebrand items and sells as their in house product. Previously they sold the same TempoTec Sonata HD as their product with higher price tags. Now Hidizs went way ahead and selling the same hardware with a different outer shell as Hidizs S8 and double the price. In other forums, people have already opened and posted pictures side by side showing the same internals in both these devices. I don’t have S8 otherwise I could have opened the devices and post the pictures in this review.
There are only a few products available in the market which as a reviewer I can suggest even closing my eyes. I am sure that TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is something like that. It is not only very cheap, but it also sounds very nice. Works with almost every source you can imagine and without consuming too much power from your portable source you can enjoy true Hi-Res Music. TempoTec Sonata HD Pro is highly recommended by my side.