Long Live The Queen – Sonoma Model One (M1) Headphone System Review
Sonoma Model One is a headphone system, running as a complete all-in-one system, with a Headphone, a Headphone Amplifier, and a DAC integrated, all at the price of 5000 GBP or Great Britain Pounds. This is about 5000 USD, and it is a proper flagship, so it will get compared to the best flagship setups I reviewed on Audiophile Heaven, like Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ powering HIFIMAN He6SE, M2 Tech Young MK III to Wells Milo, both powering Kennerton Thror, iBasso DX220, using the AMP 7, powering Rosson RAD-0, and Aune S6 PRO, powering Audio-GD Master 19, powering Audeze LCD-Mx4.
Warwick Acoustics is an engineering company based in the UK, who devoted their entire existence to refining electrostatic systems, implementing DAC, amplifiers, energisers, and making some of the best electrostatic headphones there are. Many companies tried, but even more failed to make a proper electrostatic headphone that is really usable, because it is very hard to provide the proper build quality and design for electrostatic systems. Warwick acoustics has many english-speaking representatives, they are very talkative and helpful, and you can rely on them to provide some of the best service if you’ll ever need it. Their products are made well, especially the DAC/Amp, but if you’ll ever need help with your Model One, or even Aperio, I bet that they will answer quickly and get things solved in the most pleasing manner possible.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Warwick Acoustics, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank Warwick Acoustics for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Sonoma Model One find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
Sonoma Model One arrived to me in a large black box, made of plastic, in the style of Peli Boxes. It looks like this is not the official package, as the official comes in a cardboard box, and has two boxes, one with the headphones, and one with the DAC/AMP.
The unboxing can be a bit complicated since the package is large and heavy, but you get all the extras you could ever require in there. The box has a rich content, with the DAC/AMP, the Headphones, cables, power cables, power adapters, drivers, manuals, and pretty much everything you may require included in the package.
The package is good for a flagship headphone, although I would like to see extra headbands and extra ear pads where possible, as those can come in quite handy for a headphone this expensive. I would also like to see an extra cable, maybe a slightly shorter or longer one, although to their advantage, Warwick Acoustics included high quality pads, and a high quality cable to begin with.
What to look in when purchasing a Flagship Headphone All In One System
Configuration – Open-back, circumaural type
Transducer – HPEL, single-ended electrostatic
Effective Diaphragm Area – 3570 mm2
Frequency Response – 10 Hz – 60 kHz
Output Level – Compliant with EN 60065/A12:2011 (EN50332) when driven by M1 Energizer/DAC (for all inputs)
Ear and Headband Cushions – Cabretta top-grain, sheepskin leather
Input – Polarized, 4-pin, self-latching connectors for left and right channels
Drive Cable – Ultra-low capacitance, silver-plated OFHC copper, with foamed PE insulation and Kevlar reinforcement; 2 meter length
Weight – 303 grams (10.7 oz), without cable
DAC & ENERGIZER
USB Input – USB 2.0 type B; accepts digital audio formats up to 32-bit/384 kHz PCM and DSD via DoP (DSD64/DSD128)
Digital Coaxial Input – S/PDIF; accepts digital audio formats up to 24-bit/192 kHz PCM
Analog Input (High Level) – Dual RCA; 2.1 Vrms
Analog Input (Low Level) – 3.5 mm; 850 mVrms
DAC – Dual mono, 32-bit/384 kHz DACs with balanced outputs
ADC – 32-bit/384 kHz multi-channel ADC with balanced input buffers
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) – 64-bit (double-precision) fixed-point processing at native sample rates
Amplifier/Energizer – Discrete FET, single-ended, high-bias Class-A output
Distortion + Noise – < 0.05%
Bandwidth – > 65 kHz
Enclosure – CNC-machined 6063 aluminum
Power Supply – External: 24 VDC, 60 VA, fixed frequency, class B-compliant SMPS;
Internal – fully isolated, ultra-low noise linear regulation
AC Mains – World voltage compatible (90-264 V, 50-60 Hz); IEC-60320 C14, earth-grounded power cable; 1.5 meter length
Dimensions – H x W x D: 57 mm (2.24 in) x 190 mm (7.48 in) x 290 mm (11.42 in)
Weight – 2.45 kg (5.40 lbs)
(Build Quality, Sound Quality & Usage On Next Page)