Resonessence Labs Concero HD: Another Home Run

Editor’s note (L): This is the third review of a unit from Resonessence Labs in Canada. Hard to believe but they’re not site sponsors. I’m kidding of course, their units just sound so good we had to cover them all.

Read this review (https://www.headfonia.com/two-perspectives-on-the-neko-d100-mk2-dac/ ) and then come back here. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Done? Good. I love that review. Mike loved that DAC, and I… didn’t so much. The reason I love that review isn’t just that Mike and I disagree, however; it was because we are both clearly hearing the same thing. It is just that Mike loved that sound, and I took major issue with it. I bring this up to point how much personal preference comes into play when talking about the tonality of something, in this case a DAC. Mike prefers a dark tonality. My ideal tonality is neutral. I like a very well balanced sound. To put it another way, my ideal sound is the Resonessence Concero HD. I included this intro so when I called the Concero HD the best DAC with which I have had the pleasure to listen, I wanted you to know exactly what that means.

To back up briefly, Resonessence Labs is a Canadian company that makes DACs using ESS Sabre chips. Their president used to work for Sabre so they are very talented utilizing these chips. L recently reviewed their mini DAC/amp called the Herus (https://www.headfonia.com/resonessence-labs-herus-canadian-hero/), and I did their higher end DAC/amp called the Concero HP (https://www.headfonia.com/resonessence-concero-hp-canadian-dacamp/). After my very positive review of the HP, they sent the Concero HD my way, figuring my review would be glowing. They figured right.

The difference between this, the Concero HD, and the Concero HP, is worth mentioning. They both have the same DAC section, utilizing the 32bit ESS ES9018-2M Sabre DAC, and they both have USB and Coaxial inputs. The Concero HP, however, is a DAC/amp unit that has no analogue out, so you can only use it as a DAC/amp. The Concero HD is a DAC only, so it replaces the headphone out with a RCA analogue out. It is also missing the volume knob, but, having no amp built-in, it isn’t needed (well, actually it is, but more on that later).

Let’s talk about the neutral tonality for a second. Some people have the impression that neutral is boring, and I suppose that could be the case with some gear, but certainly not with the Concero HD. With the HD, I prefer to look at it as the DAC letting the music choose where the emphasis goes. When the music calls for some sparkly highs, the HD delivers. When it calls for a huge crash on a bass drum, it thunders. I just received a review sample of the Woo Audio WA7, and one of the biggest differences between the WA7’s (perfectly fine) built-in DAC and the Concero HD is how much more authority the bass has with the HD. Bottom line: this is a terrifically musical DAC!

Beyond the tonality, you can expect a sound stage with good width and excellent depth. The micro detail is pretty excellent, and, due to the sparkly treble and fast, tight bass, the energy level on this DAC is unreal. If you feel your system is lacking a little bit in the energy department, this might be just the DAC for you.

It continues on Page 2

Resonessence Labs Concero HD: Another Home Run
4.1 (82.31%) 26 votes

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25 Comments

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    ohm image

    Dave, the more of you I read, the more I realise that we share a sound preference. You’ve made me very interested in the Concero. Thanks.

    • Reply July 8, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      What made me interested in the DX90 is that it uses the same DAC chip as the HD.

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    L.

    Good Read Dave. based on my experience with the Herus, I fully believe this unit is extraordinary

    • Reply July 8, 2014

      ohm image

      It is Canadian, eh. You should expect perfection.

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    Shini44

    nice Review man ^^ the concero indeed is a good DAC still way more Musical than what i like but hey all of us got different taste, Used to have it, i think adding extra $$ and going for the X-Sabre is a better option since the X-Sabre beat it hands down and the difference is like very affordable, but hey thats my opinion 😛

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    sunless07652 .

    So by ‘musical’ do you mean it’s colored?

    • Reply July 8, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      No. It is quite neutral. People have a tendancy to equate neutral with adjectives like “dry” or “sterile” or “clinical” . I am just saying that, despite the neutral sound, this DAC creates one hell of a fun sound.

      • Reply July 28, 2014

        ohm image

        It’s a shame that the word ‘neutral’ is tantamount to boring or clinical, etcetera and so on. You can have neutral dark or neutral dark or neutral silky. I’m of the mind that as long as the DAC isn’t filtering out a frequency, and keeping things in order in all frequencies it is ‘neutral’. In that presentation, however, there are different capacities to ‘sound’ different.

        I’m a dyed-in-the-wool neutral fan.

        • Reply July 28, 2014

          Dave Ulrich

          DACs don’t get much more intense than this one. If it were any more forward the sound would be in back of me.

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    ghost2031 S23

    Nice read.
    Unfortunately i have to go with the Concero (SD) atm but i hope for the best considering that i enjoy my Audinst Hud-Mx1 the Concero should be also good.

  • Reply July 9, 2014

    montanari

    i have just a question:
    i mostly use it a a usb/spdif converter
    i connect the 75 ohm cable, and rca (as a pure dac) for some dsd etc.
    i don t need to use any remote to skip from dac to converter
    it work in both way..
    am i wrong? i mean: there is the risk to break it?!

    • Reply July 9, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      When the unit powers up, it is set to both USB and spdif output. You need to hit down on the remote to turn the USB to spdif converter. Does that answer your question?

      • Reply July 9, 2014

        montanari

        Well
        It is connected to a Burson conductor via spdif and rca
        I have just to switch The different out of the Burson to use the concero as a dac or a converter, without touching the remote..

        • Reply July 9, 2014

          Dave Ulrich

          Well, if it works…

  • Reply July 12, 2014

    crooner

    I have this DAC which I use as part of a super high quality and compact digital front end for my vintage tube Marantz gear. If you have a smartphone with an IR blaster (I use a Galaxy S4) you can skip the Apple remote and download one of the many free apps that emulate this remote. They work terrific on the Concero HD. I agree about the sound quality. DSD on it is particularly astonishing. But even good ol’ 44.1 PCM with the upsampling is superb.

    • Reply July 12, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply July 24, 2014

    genedel

    in https://www.headfonia.com/violectric-dac-the-v800/ it was noted that the v800 dac really shines paired with the v200 amp, otherwise the v800 was pretty okay. Any thoughts on pairing the Concero HD instead? It would seem the more musical HD might accentuate the strengths of the v200…

    • Reply July 24, 2014

      L.

      I love the HERUS with the V200. I am sure the HD pairs great with it too

      • Reply July 24, 2014

        genedel

        Thanks. Going by the review it seems a more versatile (and less expensive!) DAC over the v800.

  • Reply October 11, 2014

    Tibor

    Hey 🙂 Could you give me a small comparison of this and a Meridian Explorer if you can? Will this be a big jump considering the price? Probably Explorer can compete with Herus, so this should be a good step forward.
    I am looking for an end solution for my mid fi setup at home, I would connect Concero HD to the PanAm, so far Explorer is the dac (because it’s better than the one in PanAm), and I am hoping for quite an improvement 😉
    Thank you

    • Reply May 31, 2015

      Little Chicky Hippi

      i have the Concero (not the HD version) connected to the PanAm running the LCD2. However, i would say that the improvement is subtle compared to the DAC (a little more air but lesser bass amount) in the PanAm. Probably it would be my ears or more importantly, the PanAm is not up to the task of revealing the strength of the Concero DAC. I will get a better amp in the future thats for sure.
      Hope that helps!

  • […] feel. You can find quite some favorable reviews on the internet, here are just a few of them: Resonessence Concero HD Review Resonessence Labs Concero HD | Confessions of a Part-Time Audiophile The HE-560 and EF100 were […]

  • Reply August 10, 2016

    Amigastar

    Nice Review Dave,

    My Concero HD has really smooth and balanced sound.
    The first weeks it had too much energy i admit, but now it really is liquid and sublime sounding.
    My onboard Realtek, now that is forward sounding and unpleasent to listen to.
    But with the Concero HD i couldn’t be happier ( i use fidelizer which it seems to me makes the sound also a tad warmer)
    This lovely device has grown up sound, i say that without hesitation.

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