For those that have been following the delay of my introduction of the HDACC II-4K and Evolve II-4K, you know that I postponed the intro until HDMI’s chaotic roll-out of the v2.0 spec settled down. A year ago January it was simply v2.0, then last April they quickly adopted v2.0a, in Sept v2.0b, and in Jan 2017 v2.1. Until the dust settled, I advised everybody to be cautious, HDMI is great but the deployment even 10 years ago was chaotic too.
This rapid evolution left a lot of early 4K consumers out of the new High Dynamic Range features like HDR10 and Dolby Vision which came with v2.0a. v2.0b added WCG (Wide Color Gamut), a feature aimed at video production and professional uses, not consumer use per se. At CES, HDMI responded to the complaints by introducing v2.1 for 8K and any other new features that come along in the next 5 years.
This clarified that v2.0a would be sufficient to satisfy the needs of early and future 4K adopters for now and well into the future so I approved production just after CES. The 2nd generation HDACC II-4K as the name implies is our Native DSD / LPCM Stereo DAC featuring:
- 4 HDMI v2.0a inputs with switching, one HDMI v2.0a output
- USB 2.0 Async Input; Optical, Coaxial Digital Inputs/Outputs
- 2 Channel Single Ended RCA and Balanced XLR Outputs
- Native DSD x128 playback
- Native LPCM 24/192K playback
- 32 bit / 384K Sample Rate
- OLED Display of Native Sample Rate Inputs / Selected Output
- Headphone Amp with User Selectable Impedance Matching for any headphone type
- Remote Control
- THD +N = 0.00001% at -141 dB S/N Ratio
- $699 MSRP
Evolve II-4K HDMI Multi-Channel DAC
The new $299 Essence Evolve II-4K is an HDMI v2.0a Multi-Channel Audio DAC designed to extract the native, uncompressed LPCM multi-channel 24/192K audio signal from an HDMI v2.0a source like the new 4K Blu-ray players. It allows you to extract the original HDMI hi res audio signal and convert it to analog multi-channel audio or optionally to Optical output with support up to 192K sample rate.
Both the HDMI input and output support UHD video resolutions up to 4Kx2K@60Hz (YUV444), and is capable of decoding the native uncompressed native high resolution audio at 24/192K to analog for an amplifier or active speakers.
It supports decoding of high resolution digital audio formats including LPCM 7.1CH, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio, and supports audio sampling rates up to 192KHz at 24 bits, allowing fully synchronized video and audio.
- HDMI 2.0a (with 6G audio/video support), HDCP 2.2 and DVI compliant
- Supports extracting the HDMI audio and outputting to a multi-channel digital or analog audio signal
- Supports analog multi-channel and Optical S/PDIF audio outputs
- Supports HDMI audio sampling rates up to 192kHz
- Supports Optical (S/PDIF) audio sampling rate up to 192kHz
- HDMI signal supports High Bit Rate (HBR) audio
- Supports HDTV resolutions up to 4K2K: 3840×2160@24/25/30Hz, 3840×2160@50/60Hz (YUV444) & 4096×2160@24/25/30Hz, 4096×2160@50/60Hz (YUV444)
- Supports CEC bypass
- $299 MSRP
Its important to understand that while the video spec improved with 4K, the audio portion of the program achieved its ideal performance in first generation Blu-ray discs from 2009 on, there’s nothing left to improve when its possible to playback a one to one copy of the original master recording, it doesn’t get better than that. This model only has the one HDMI input but for those with even later model AVR’s sold before 2016, this will bring your system up to current spec for 4K, HDMI v2.0a.
Both models are now shipping. Its OK to jump into 4K now.