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Tempotec Sonata HD V DAC/AMP – Micro Win

Tempotec Sonata HD V DAC/AMP – Micro Win

Tempotec Sonata HD V is a 70 USD DAC/AMP with a microUSB connector, DSD256 decoding, 2 X ESS ES9219 DAC Chips, and MQA support too. It will be compared to other entry-level DAC/AMPs, including Hiby FC4 (99 USD), IKKO Zerda ITM01 (59 USD), and Jade Audio FiiO KA1 (49 USD). 

 

Introduction

You’re probably invested in Chifi by now, and if you aren’t, you should be, as those affordable products from China can offer superb price / performance ratio, are generally available on Amazon, and have good build quality too. The only thing they’re missing is marketing, and indeed, companies like Tempotec aren’t best known world wide, but they’re a company that audiophile enthusiasts are enthusiastic about, given how good of a performance they can offer at low prices. It would generally be best if you could purchase their products from Amazon to get the best support. 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Tempotec. I’d like to thank Tempotec for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with the Tempotec Sonata HD V. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Tempotec Sonata HD V find their next music companion. 

 

Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3BqdnkU

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3QPhWLi

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3QKPIRK

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Features

We have a small and sleek unit, with no buttons, no physical features except for the 3.5mm headphone output, microSD input, and a LED light at the front. Most of the magic happens inside of Sonata HD V, where it has a dual DAC design running two ES9219 DACs. It has DSD decoding in native mode, up to DSD256, and PCM up to hi-Res files, 32Bit / 384 kHz. There’s MQA decoding certification, and there’s a good driving power up to 95mW at 32 OHMs, basically enough for most portable headphones and IEMs. You won’t be able to drive an Audeze LCD-2C headphone, but you could get a really awesome experience with a pair of midrange IEMS like HIDIZS MS4 Mermaid, Periodic Audio Be Beryllium V3, or Lotoo Le-M1

The unit itself gets rather warm during usage, and it is tiny, but a bit hefty. The only real downside that I could find while using it is that it uses an outdated microUSB connector, and I barely have any microUSB cables around the house, but Tempotec was kind enough to provide the needed cables in the package of the Tempotec Sonata HD V. There’s a separate version for iOS, but as I use an Android smartphone and a Huawei Tablet, I can’t really say much about it. 

You can use Tempotec Sonata HD V in Exclusive mode if you use Hiby App, and honestly it works and generally sounds better than Hiby’s own dongle DAC/AMPs like FC4, making me think that maybe Tempotec is the OEM behind Hiby’s new dongle products, as they were for HIDIZS in the past. 

Tempoec delivers on their promise of a low power drain too, as Sonata HD V is more economic than most alternatives, but as it doesn’t have a battery of its own, it will drain battery continuously as long as it is connected to a smartphone or PC / Laptop. 

 

Sound Quality

Generally, Sonata HD V is a very clean and detailed sounding DAC/AMP, especially when you take into account the price range it is selling at. It has good technical performance, with good overall resolution and clarity, and despite the lower driving power, it has a rather good overall dynamic and can give your IEMs a pretty punchy sound. There’s enough power for most IEMs, like those I tested it with today, including Periodic Audio Ti V3, Ambient Acoustics MAD16, RAPTGO HOOK-X, IKKO OH2 Opal, and 7Hz Eternal. I noticed a super low output impedance on Sonata HD V, as it has almost no hissing with any of the IEMs I tested it with, and it also has a low background noise in general. 

The bass of Sonata HD V is surprisingly neutral, which gives way for good speed and precision, but for the price point provides a slightly thinner sound than most of the competition. This being said, it is still enough for bassy tracks, it simply is presented neutrally, with no coloration or tuning deviation from neutrality. 

The midrange shows good technicalities, and despite the DAC chip inside being pretty entry-level, it still can decipher much more detail and micro detail from music than my smartphone or other entry-level sources like Soundmagic A30. I love the overall tonality, for its precision, and although Sonata HD V doesn’t have any particular coloration to its sound, it can be rather smooth and musical when it needs to be. 

The treble of Sonata HD V is fairly neutral and clean, well extended and airy. This helps give it a nice sense of separation, width and height, with good instrument separation and stereo imaging. The treble is presented as it is, sharp, when it was recorded sharp, and smooth when it was recorded smooth. All in all, the listening experience is pleasing, and Sonata HD V is much more detailed than most of the competition around the same price, giving it a strong edge when it comes to delivering music to the ears of the listener. 

 

Comparisons

Tempotec Sonata HD V vs FiiO Jade Audio KA1 (70 USD vs 49 USD) – We have a type-C connector on Jade Audio Ka1, also, it is lighter than Sonata HD V. The sonics are in favor of Sonata HD V, as it has better detail, better resolution, less distortion, lower noise floor, and generally has considerably better dynamics, and more driving power (which you can use). Jade KA1 is smoother and leaner with some roll off, compared to the neutral tuning of Sonata HD V. 

Tempotec Sonata HD V vs IKKO Zerda ITM01 (70 USD vs 59 USD) – We have a custom connector on Zerda ITM 01, and I think that it is a bigger downside than Sonata HD V’s microUSB connector, but that custom connector on Zerda has a magnetic interface and rubber around, so it should be harder to break. Sonically, Sonata HD V has slightly better driving power than ITM01, also has better resolution, better clarity, more dynamics, and less distortion, making it favorable sonically. Zerda has Sound Modes, similar to EQ modes, while for Sonata HD V you’d need to use an equalizer. 

Tempotec Sonata HD V vs Hiby FC4 (70 USD vs 99 USD) – We have fair grounds here, but generally the only thing that FC4 does a bit better is driving power, as otherwise Sonata HD V has better micro detail, better resolution, and a less grainy, more clean sound. Also, the overall tonality is more neutral on Sonata HD V. FC4 has a type-C connector, which is preferable over the microUSB connector of Sonata HD V, but for sonics alone, Sonata HD V is favorable. 

 

Value and Conclusion

At the end of the day, Tempotec did what they always do, they provided an outstanding value with Sonata HD V, and it is surprising to see that they’re not more popular, given that they basically slay everything around the price point they release their products at. Naturally, they aren’t the most interesting of products out there, usually they’re simplistic but effective, and you could get a better experience if spent considerably more, but let’s be clear here, if you have a limited budget, and don’t mind the simpler design, especially that microUSB connector, Sonata HD V is an outstanding DAC/AMP that even has MQA decoding, and DSD decoding. 

For about 70 USD, you could get the DAC/AMP of your dreams, especially if you’re mainly using IEMs and portables, and if you don’t mind the microUSB connector. Tempotec made a little dongle that has more driving power, better impact and a wider, more separated sound with a more holographic feel than what you typically find up to 100 USD, so Sonata HD V is a fully recommended dongle DAC/AMP, for its sonic ability, and simple, but effective design. 

 

Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3BqdnkU

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3QPhWLi

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3QKPIRK

 

Packaging

Let’s get the packaging out of the way:

  • Tempotec Sonata HD V DAC/AMP Dongle
  • USB Type-A to Type-C connector
  • USB Type-C to microUSB OTG Cable
  • Glass protectors 
  • Manuals 
  • Warranty

 

Specifications

General

  • MQA Decoding
  • Hiby music app 
  • HiRes certified
  • 145mW high power
  • low battery consumption 
  • Direct Stream Digital DSD256
  • 2*ES9219 
  • RGB indicator light 
  • 3.5mm headphone port
  • ASIO driver

 

Audio

  • OUTPUT: 2VRMS
  • SNR: -123dB
  • THD+N: -105dB
  • OUTPOWER: 145MW/16Ω
  • DSD 64/128/256 (NATIVE)
  • PCM 32/384 (kHz)



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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu

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2 Comments

  1. […] been using a multitude of sources, including HIDIZS AP80 PRO-X, Shanling UP5 DAC/AMP, Hiby RS2, Tempotec Sonata HD V, HIFIMAN EF400, and Dethonray SG1 Pegasus. They are easy to drive and sound clean, wide and […]

  2. […] seen so far, up to December 2022. It will be compared to other super affordable DAC/AMPs, including TempoTec Sonata Hd V (70 USD), FiiO KA1 (49 USD), Periodic Audio Rhodium (49 USD), and IKKO’s own Zerda ITM01 (59 […]

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