Resonessence Labs Concero HD: Another Home Run

If you did read my review of the Neko D100 mk2, you will have noticed that I took issue with a $250 DAC (Dacport LX) doing anything better than a $1500 DAC. Well, how does the Concero HD stand up in such a test, again, using the LX as the standard (which I still think sounds darn good for $250)? Well, it doesn’t sound 3.6x as good, but I can safely say that everything the LX does well, the HD does better: more sparkle in the highs, more power in the bass, more detail across all frequencies, more depth and width in the sound stage.

As with the Concero HP, the HD can handle signals up to 352.8/24, and it can do DSD and DXD and all that stuff. It also has the same filters that take 44.1k and 48k and samples them up to 176.4k and 192k respectively. The logo will glow magenta when the filters are active and blue when they are not. The first filter is the IIR filter while the second is the Apodizing filter. The filters do seem to add a little space and air around the instruments as opposed to without. The differences are subtle, however, and with or without the up-sampling, the Concero HD sounds great.

The Concero HD also has the same great build quality as its DAC/amp counterpart. Its depth and width is less than that of a standard CD case, and feels built like a tank. It might be the heaviest pound I have ever felt. I was going to make a joke about it being a good makeshift throwing star, but remembered I made one in my previous review, so never mind that.

So, yes, I think this DAC is just the bee’s knees, but there are a few issues that I, as an honest reviewer, should point out. First, the Concero HP is able to use its volume knob as a way to cycle through the up-sampling filters. The HD has no such ability. In order to use the filters, you need to have an Apple IR Remote. Now, I believe that a DAC, especially one at the cost of $850 dollars, should come with everything needed utilize its features. That you have to buy a separate piece of gear to use these filters is a mistake. The HD can also function as a USB to S/PDIF bridge, but needs the remote for that as well. For an extra $50, they will bundle the Concero HD with the remote and a USB power module, but I still think it is wrong to charge extra just so you can use all of the options the DAC offers. So, I wish they had included the knob in front as a way to control the filters on the HD version as well.

I also still wish that the Concero HD and Concero HP were available as one unit. Even if it were a little bigger and cost a bit more, it would make it an even easier recommendation. You could buy the unit; use it as a DAC/amp, until you have saved up enough to buy a great amp worthy of being connected to this. And on days when you don’t feel like setting your whole system up, you would still have a great all-in-one unit at your disposal.   Maybe I am just dreaming aloud, but I do think that would be wicked cool.

Anyway, what minor issues I have aside, this is absolutely the best DAC I have had the pleasure of listening to. I was also lucky to have this DAC for review at the same time as the G109 amp, as that wonderful amp made it easy to hear the many virtues of this DAC, and vice-verse. As I am now done with the review, I will be sending the Concero HD back. I offered them my first born in exchange, but they weren’t having it. This is a sad day for me, but I am glad to have gotten to spend time with the wonderful gear from Resonessence Labs. If you, like I, crave a neutral, yet wonderfully musical DAC, this is the one to jump at.

Once again, the cost of the Concero HD is $850 and it can be bought directly from Resonessence Labs at: http://resonessencelabs.com/

 

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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