Tempotec Sonata HD Pro Review II – The Mighty Mouse

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Pros

  • Small and light, good build.
  • Doesn’t heat up.
  • Easily plug and playable, compatible with desktops/laptops, apple and android phones (with OTG cables/adaptors if needed).
  • Very low output impedance.
  • Excellent details, clarity, imaging, instrument separation.
  • Quite neutral, with a slight tinge of warmth.
  • Transparent and clean sound with black background, no hiss or clicking.
  • Shuts down when not in use (battery saving when gear is detached from 3.5 mm connector).
  • Not too battery hungry.
  • Volume controller.

Cons

  • Volume steps too far apart.
  • Not compatible with mic/phone calls (only music mode).
  • Can’t juice up power hungry cans (but then again it isn’t marketed for these as per the specs).
Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Tempotec Sonata HD Pro provides a great upgrade in sound quality for smartphone and desktops for cheap. It has so many good points and the term “superb price to performance ratio” was created for this baby.

Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

INTRODUCTION

The Tempotec Sonata HD Pro is a DAC/AMP dongle, and it seems to be the OEM version of Hidizs S8 but at half the price. Some folks in the other audio threads have kindly opened and measured the two and they seem comparable internally and on measurements. The Hidizs S8 is very well regarded here on audiosciencereview: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/…dizs-s8-usb-c-headphone-adapter-review.10823/

Last year, I had purchased two of the predecessor of the Sonata HD Pro (the non Pro version), and while this non Pro version was above average in sound quality, the non Pro version had a bad hiss with highly sensitive IEMs, and it could cook an egg after use (it really generated a lot of heat!). There was some clicking with changing music tracks and it had no volume controller. The Sonata HD Pro promises to fix all these issues and for an affordable price of $40ish USD, and after reading Jurgen’s review, I knew I had to purchase the Sonata HD Pro to check it out.

Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Recommended Headphone Maximum Impedance: 32-50 Ohm
  • Input Type: Micro-USB
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 1.85in x 0.66in x 0.31in
  • PCM: Yes
  • DAC Model: CS43131
  • WIFI: No
  • MIC INPUT: No
  • Built-in Battery: No
  • DSD (Direct Stream Digital): Yes, DSD SUPPORT: DOP128 NATIVE 256
  • Output Power: 60MW/32
  • Signal To Noise Ratio: 126
  • Bluetooth: No
  • 24bit/192kH: Yes
  • 32bit/384kHz: Yes
  • DSD64: NATIVE & DOP
  • DSD128: NATIVE & DOP
  • DSD256: NATIVE
  • SNR: 128dB
  • DNR: 128dB
  • USB DRIVER: Yes
  • ASIO: Yes
  • Tested at $42 USD
Tempotec Sonata HD Pro
Tempotec


ACCESSORIES

  • 1x Sonata HD Pro dongle (the shops generally sell an Apple compatible version and an Android compatible one, or even a package that is compatible with both, so choose what you prefer).
  • 1x Adapter (female type-c to male USB-A).
  • 1x Hi-Res logo sticker.
  • 1x OTG cable (micro-usb to type-c).
Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

BUILD

The Sonata HD Pro has a great sturdy build, yet it is very light, and comes in a small size that is very portable. All the necessary cables/adaptors come in the package, but if you want to use it with some micro USB smartphones, you might need to get some OTG cables/adaptors.

It has a built in volume controller and the cables are pretty well braided. I think it should last a long time, definitely until the next hypetrain dongle DAC/AMP comes!

Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

FUNCTION

The Sonata HD Pro is a plug and play set, and is compatible with desktops/laptops, apple and android phones (with OTG cables/adaptors if needed). *please ask on the Audioreviews facebook site or audio forums regarding compatibility of smartphones as there have been reports that certain android models are not compatible with the Sonata HD Pro. FWIW I have no issues with the Sonata HD Pro on a few variants of Samsung smartphones (Note 5, J1 ACE).

The volume can be changed on the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro and/or at source (eg phone, desktop/laptop). Generally, most would agree to max out the volume at the source and do fine tuning on the dongle. Unfortunately, the volume steps on the Sonata HD Pro are pretty far apart, so for fine tuning, I prefer to do volume changes at the source.

One good thing is that the Sonata HD Pro’s in built volume controller remains at the last volume set even after it is disconnected. When nothing is connected to the Sonata HD Pro’s 3.5mm port, the DAC turns off, thus saving battery life. Very ingenious and user friendly ideas were incorporated here!

It doesn’t eat that much battery from my smartphone usage, and it doesn’t heat up at all compared to the non Pro predecessor.

It can go up to 2V output but has an auto gain setting based on the impedance of the connected transducer. I ever almost blew up my ear drums with the non Pro version when I previously connected a highly sensitive IEM straight after a low sensitivity IEM (and I forgot to change the volume), so this is quite an innovative idea on the manufacturer’s part with the Sonata HD Pro version.

Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

The Sonata HD Pro can play DSD 256 natively with a sample rate till 32bits/384 kHz.

The Sonata HD Pro sports a neutral sound signature (with a very slight tinge of warmth), with great improvement in dynamics, details and with low THD.

I did not note any hiss nor clicking with changing tracks midway, and the sound is very transparent, clean and layered on a dark background.

I like that I didn’t detect any subbass roll off (unlike some other DAC/AMPs), and there is no colouration to the bass frequencies. Bass texture is improved with the Sonata HD Pro. Mids are clean and detailed, with good timbre. The Sonata HD Pro provides good treble extension, with no sibiliance. I definitely hear better resolution/clarity/details/separation/imaging with it, compared to just a low end smart phone source, and transients in music are quicker.

Soundstage on the Sonata HD Pro is above average compared to a low end smartphone.

The Sonata HD Pro has a very low output impedance. I usually struggle hard to find a good source pairing with the Audiosense T800 as this is one finicky IEM with a very low impedance of 9.2 ohms. The Sonata HD Pro drives it very well with no hiss at all. Perfect pairing!

With very high impedance cans eg ~ 300 ohms, the Sonata HD Pro doesn’t do the best job and stuff sounds a bit flat with lack of dynamics. Then again, the Sonata HD Pro wasn’t marketed to power such gear as per the specs, so nothing I can fault the Sonata HD Pro as such in this area. It could power almost all of my IEMs with room to spare, maybe except for planar type IEMs which do need some juice.

Tempotec Sonata HD Pro
Tempotec Sonata HD Pro


 

 

COMPARISONS

As above, the Sonata HD Pro truly lives up to the “Pro” moniker, with better specs than the non Pro version. The Sonata HD Pro doesn’t come with a mic and it cannot be used for phone calls, unlike certain flash versions of the non Pro version.

Versus the non Pro, the Sonata HD Pro has:
– Better subbass extension than non Pro
– No hiss with highly sensitive IEMs, unlike non Pro
– Does not heat up, unlike non Pro
– No clicking when changing tracks, unlike non Pro
– Volume controller, unlike non Pro
– Better technicalities, compared to non Pro

Tempotec Sonata HD Pro
Here our other Tempotec Sonata HD Pro review.
Tempotec Sonata HD Pro

CONCLUSIONS

This is one versatile and great sounding DAC/AMP dongle I’m not gonna leave the house without. It provides a great upgrade in sound quality for smartphone and desktops for cheap, especially for IEMs. It has so many good points and the term “superb price to performance ratio” was created for this baby.

I’m actually done chasing the “upgradiitis” bug for audio sources with this, but I’m so impressed with this set that I’m probably gonna get a second Sonata HD Pro soon! 10/10 for me!

DISCLAIMER

I bought the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro at my own expense at the recent Aliexpress sale. It can be gotten at $40ish USD at a few shops on Aliexpress (I got mine at $33 with discount coupons).

 

 

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