Award-Winning Review for Essence HDACC II-4K by
John Gatski from EAN, June 2018
“ For $599, the Essence HDACC II-4K receives a major uptick in audio quality plus HDMI 2.0a compatibility. Its small foot print, connection prowess and the ability to handle most any headphones or drive an amplifier with the upgraded sound extends its reign as the Swiss Army Knife of D/A converters.”
“The Essence HDACC quickly became a favorite all-in-one, do-it-all, bang-for-the-buck digital converter/HP amp. Its got that rare DAC HDMI input, and I found numerous uses for the HDACC with my laptop as a standalone DAC and A/D, and as a digital distribution device. And it only costs $699 retail. This box really shines.”
“A veritable Swiss Army knife, this is where the HDACC pulls away from the competition….the Essence™ offers both singled AND balanced outputs. It’ll also serve as a remote controllable, digital pre-amplifier…..Headphone enthusiasts get to tap a quarter inch socket. User-selectable impedance values (16, 32, 64, 200, 300 and 600 Ohms) sees even reference-level models like the Sennheiser HD800 driven to more than adequate levels (and beyond)….. You get a LOT of D/A converter for your money with the Essence™ HDACC. At time of writing it’s one of the keenest priced entry points into the world of third party hi-res Blu-ray LPCM decoding. Well worthy of further investigation”
“The Essence HDACC is everything a good headphone amp and DAC should be, and then some. The addition of HDMI may be transformative for those looking for a way to get high-res Blu-ray soundtracks into a legacy system. But don’t ignore its other talents. The HDACC is the only headphone amp in this roundup to offer selectable impedance matching, and the only DAC with selectable sample-rate conversion and bypass. It also performs admirably with a variety of headphones.”
The take home? Irrespective of data stream choices, the Essence will likely lend an audio upgrade to most budget Blu-ray hardware solutions. The sound is more open, with better separation, more dynamic and more elastic. This alone is justification enough for the Essence DAC. If you’ve a budget disc spinner but don’t want to go all the way to an A/V receiver, holding tight to your existing amplifier, the HDACC provides the missing digital link. If your Blu-ray player is one of the increasing number to feature only an HDMI output (thanks to 2013′s analogue sunset) then again the Essence piece could intercede.