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.
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