Resonessence Labs HERUS: The Canadian HERO

Disclaimer: Resonessence Labs sent us The Concero HP (which Dave reviewed here) and the Herus for review. Samples will go back to RL after the review. We will most likely do a Concero HD review in a few weeks as well.

 

Resonessence Labs. Again?

Oh Yes! The Canadian based company is back on Headfonia already. I’ve been using the Herus for several weeks now and those who have been following me on twitter or on Facebook know I’ve been very impressed with it. Those of you who like negative reviews better stop reading because 95% of what I am going to tell you is going to be good.

After these few weeks with the Herus I can fully understand why Dave was so pleased with the Concero HP and why he absolutely wants to listen to the Concero HD. But first let me explain what the Herus actually is and how it works

The Herus

Basically it is a tiny hand-assembled DAC/AMP unit measuring 63.5mm (2.5in) long, by 31.7mm (1.25in) wide and 19mm (0.75in) high. It is machined from a solid block of aluminum and it is very light and basic.

On top of the unit you have the famous “R” logo with the Magenta or Red background color. On one side of the unit you have a USB type ‘B’ socket and a TRS ¼ connector on the other side. On the bottom you have the serial number and a rubber anti slip strip. That’s it. The Herus arrived in a simple yet nice cardwood box in which I found a nice silk like bag with the Herus inside. No USB cable, no manual, no cd with driver. Back to Basics. HERUS, like all Resonessence products, is Designed, Manufactured, Tested and Shipped in Canada.

I love how it looks. It’s got style and with its tiny size it’s so easy to take along with you on trips.

On the inside there is a Sabre ESS 9010-2M DAC chip (The Concero HP uses the ESS 9018-2M): Asynchronous, up to 24bit 352.8Ks/S (PCM), DXD and DSD64/128. It is a USB powered device that achieves more than 100dB of SNR, (typically 108dB) and is capable of driving 2.4V RMS into headphones from 600 Ohms to 32 Ohms. The distortion in all cases is better than 0.005% (85dB): the measured THD+N is typically 89dB for 32 Ohms and 90dB (about 0.003%) for 600 Ohms. All the technicalities can be found here. Resonessence was founded by the former Operations Director for ESS Technology and they’re very good when it comes to DAC chip implementations.

The Herus works on Windows, MAC OS, Linux, iPhone (with CCK) and Android devices (Works great with USB Audio player Pro). It contains Resonessence upgradable hardware and firmware and it can be used as a DAC or an AMP/DAC combo but more on that in a bit.

As you might have noticed I didn’t say anything about a volume control, basically cause there isn’t one: Herus takes over your volume control on your pc so you can just use your system slider.

Amp? Amp/DAC? What is it then?

Well it is both. You can either use your headphone with the internal amp or you can set the volume to 100% and connect it to your headphone amp with a ¼ to RCA cable.

In the beginning I was mostly using the Herus as a DAC only in combination with one of my full sized desktop amplifiers. When I first received the Herus I was using the Sennheiser HD650 a lot and I wasn’t too convinced with how it sounded straight from the Herus. Then later when I switched headphones I just kept using it as a DAC only until I discovered how excellent it sounds when used as an amplifier as well.

Story continues on Page 2

Resonessence Labs HERUS: The Canadian HERO
4.5 (89.09%) 11 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

41 Comments

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    Dave Ulrich

    Nice review L. It is good to know there is someone else who can share my love.

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      L.

      Thank you Dave. I love listening to it. Have you received the HD already? How is it?

      • Reply May 20, 2014

        Dave Ulrich

        It is a lightning powered DAC. The polar opposite of the Neko. It’s energy is out of this world.

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    Rexxar

    Fantastic review!
    Pair a Herus with an iDevice and HF Player and you have HiRes playback on the go!

    I had a great time with Herus; unfortunately my recently purchased Shure SE846 picks up unacceptable amount of hiss from it.
    Since their products are great, I am now considering the Concero HP.
    Do you have experience listening to Shure SE846 with the Concero HP?

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      L.

      Thank you Rexxar. No we do not, sorry

    • Reply May 22, 2014

      Alex Acemyan

      I recently purchased a Concero HP and own a set of Shure SE846 IEMs. Overall I find the combination to be extremely good and non fatiguing. Adding the DAC has quite a large impact on the depth / layering of music compared to directly from my iPhone 5S.

      As for hiss, there is a very minor amount of hiss when volume is at ‘0’ and no music is playing. The instant music is on, you don’t notice any hiss at all. hope this helps.

      • Reply May 22, 2014

        L.

        Thanks alex!

      • Reply May 23, 2014

        Rexxar

        Thank you for your insight! I will definitely try it out when I have a chance.

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    disqus_VAcp0ievmN

    Nice review, L. Have you tried it with Sennheiser HD600, I was wondering? I still can’t decide between Concero HD, HP, and Herus …

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      L.

      Thank you. I do no longer own the HD600 as I liked the HD650 more, but based on the also 300Ohm and the fact that the 600 already sounds “brighter” than the 650, I do not think the Herus would be the best match. I would look into the HP or HD for sure

      • Reply November 25, 2014

        digitldlnkwnt

        A couple notes on the Herus from my experience over the past few weeks:

        The Herus and the HD600 don’t sound bad together, but of my SennAmperior w/Apollonian Cable, HD600 w/Cardas cable and ZMF with Zapex rewire/Bass tune – it’s my least favorite. Plugged into JDS Labs custom 02 with RCA input and getting the power it needs, the sound fills out a bit better.
        In either case I would pause to label it as “bright” – “anemic” is a better term with appropriate imagery to go with it.

        I have also plugged Herus into my WA7 w/SS PSU and that actually sounds nice and thick, very vinyl-like presentation with any of my headphones. If you thought the built-in DAC was maybe a touch cold – the Herus is like a warm blanket.

        Herus vs DX90 – 1 vs 2 ESS DAC – the DX90 is more spacious and a bit brighter in it’s resolution. No question, across all of my ‘phone/monitors. Sometimes i prefer the sound of 1 DAC v 2 – especially with older recordings that are not the best to begin with. The dual DAC design is less forgiving v the Herus single DAC.

        I hope i didn’t go to left-field on you guys but i thought some would like perspective.

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      If you have a good separate amp, go for the HD.

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    Marc

    It’s always refreshing to read reviews from the different authors of Headfonia. There’s always a certain character and feel to reviews here which I don’t normally see. Great work as always, L.

    You mentioned in your review that the Herus’s DAC portion is close to the Theorem DAC. Would you consider the Herus and the CLAS -dB to be comparable sonically? How would the cheaper DAC fare? By extension, how is the pairing of the Herus and the Duet?

    It seems to me that the (trans)portable DAC market is stepping up their game from the AQ Dragonfly, Meridian Explorer, HRT Microstreamer, and the like into supposedly higher functioning DACs like the Herus, Geek Out, iDSD Nano, and ALO “the Key.” I’m hoping to see more reviews of the latter DACs.

    Cheers,
    Marc

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      L.

      Thank you Marc.

      I do feel the dac levels are close, yet the Herus sound is quite different from the Cypherlabs sound. Both are great, are at a high level and I love both. I do find the CL product easier to use on the go because they are easier to stack. Both brands have a desktop quality sound. The cheaper Herus is really good as a DAC but when compared as a DAC/AMP to the Theorem or -dB/Duet combo, it just isn’t at their level in total

      I’ve been trying to get a Geek, but didn’t get a reply

      • Reply May 21, 2014

        Dave Ulrich

        I think the Concero HP/Theorem would be the better comparison. Send your Theorem my way and I would be glad to test them 😉

        • Reply May 21, 2014

          L.

          yes that. Ooooor….

      • Reply May 27, 2014

        David

        Pricewise, the JDSLabs C5D seems to be a closer comparison than the Theorem. I haven’t been able to find any comparisons between the two. How would you compare the Herus with the C5D?

        • Reply May 27, 2014

          L.

          The Dac part of the Herus is a lot better than the C5D, and you don’t need a CCK to connect it. The Herus amp is more neutral while the C5D amp is darker and warmer, has more weight and bass boost but has less detail

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    dalethorn

    I was just measuring my Microstreamer, which is the same length and width, but the Herus is twice as thick. So basically it should have much better electronics. Would be nice to get a side-by-side comparison

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      L.

      It is filled with awesomeness!
      Send me your microstreamer and I will compare them 😉

  • Reply May 21, 2014

    ghost2031 S23

    A lot of interesting and diverse Reviews lately.
    Looking forward to the concero hd dac review which i bought this week.

    • Reply May 22, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      You have to let us know what you think when you get it.

      • Reply May 22, 2014

        ghost2031 S23

        Sure, a few thoughts about it can’t hurt, i’ll try to do it.

    • Reply May 22, 2014

      L.

      Thanks!
      I’m looking forward to it too, I’m thinking it will be published around mid June

  • Reply July 7, 2014

    Nickjan Glas

    Another candidate for my iPod 5 next to the c5d (although its 100 dollar more expensive). as I understand you dont need an external power source with this one and no cck (its Mfi certified then?)?
    As the ME explorer was rated better than the microstreamer (other reviews) and this one is rated above the microstremaer also; can I assume that the level is equal to the ME explorer?

    • Reply July 7, 2014

      L.

      No external power, you will need a cck. This DAC is way ahead of the C5D DAC; but the C5Ds amp section has a gain setting and bass boost. Don’t know about the explorer

      • Reply July 7, 2014

        Nickjan Glas

        gain and bass is not that important to me personally. Another I hope to see/try on canjam then. Just bought the cck; unfortunately I cant test the ME either with it as they dont sell powered usb where I am at the moment (argh). thanks for the clarification.

  • Reply September 17, 2014

    Nickjan Glas

    Reading all the reviews I might be ‘rocking the boat’ by saying this, but partly based on ‘http://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/ipod-touch-5g/audio-quality.htm’ I bought the iPod touch 5, with the golden ears app, for a portable music player. Although it isn’t a dedicated mp, I was planning on adding maybe the herus to it, as I mentioned in my previous comment. Re-reading this review and several others, I again noticed the reference to Idevices here, which I generally don’t encounter unless it is with the iPod classic or the ipod5g review. Am I totally off track with my decision, or is it a good middle way as I actually use the multiple functionalities?
    thanks

  • Reply November 16, 2014

    digitldlnkwnt

    I just pick up one of these to use with a JDS O2 Amp Custom, Power/RCA input in the back, 1/4 inch up front. I also picked up a Forza Y cable 1/8inch to RCA, their least expensive version, .5m length.

  • Reply January 18, 2015

    Richard Gordon

    hello there, how would you compare this against the centrance dacport LX? thank you!

  • Reply June 29, 2015

    Peter

    So in order to use this with my audeze and v200 violectric I need an adapter and USB cord. Which cable would I need to connect the herus to the v200? Also I see you mentioned the lcd 2 was good enough on the herus and the new el 8 are more efficient so this shouldn’t be any problem with the herus?

  • Reply September 5, 2017

    Julien

    Hello,

    I have a herus+ connected to a liquid carbon. Sounds great!
    I have an opportunity to get a chord hugo 1, would it be a significant step up as a DAC and worth the +1000usd investment? I use a ether flow and hd800s in balanced. Thanks!!

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