Bob Rapoport of Essence Electrostatic is a man on a mission. A mission to bring you D/A conversion over HDMI. A mere two months after the launch of his HDACC digital-pre amp (review soon) comes a cheaper, smaller box to tap multi-channel, high resolution digital audio from a Blu-Ray feed.
The Essence Evolve is an HDMI repeater that ‘de-embeds’ and decodes the high resolution audio streams contained on Blu-Ray discs, up to 24bit/192kHz.
How does it work?
Connect your Blu-Ray player’s HDMI output to the Essence DAC’s HDMI input, select ‘Bitstream’ on the DAC, select DTS MasterHD on the disc’s audio set-up page and voila (!) – each of the disc’s soundtracks spill forth. That signal gets passed along to the Essence’s HDMI output but inside the box the uncompressed LPCM 24bit/96kHz as 2.0, 5.1, or 7.1 is de-embedded. In other words, a high resolution PCM stream is extracted from the DTS MasterHD soundtrack without requiring DTS decoding.
How is this possible?
“The Standards Committee [that oversees the Blu-Ray specification] was obliged to consider those who would buy discs but not have access to a Dolby or DTS decoder. In exchange for being approved as options (and ensuring their royalty streams) Dolby and DTS are required to allow their content to be output as LPCM files at the highest resolution as long as the security protocols are in place.”, explains Rapoport.
In short, the Evolve DAC is for those who don’t want/have Dolby or DTS in their processing chain.
The resulting decoded output comes via 4 x 3.5mm sockets, each of which require a dongle adapter to separate left and right channels. The optical output supports Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and 2.0 PCM at 48kHz.
The Evolve DAC sells for US$249.95 and is available now.
Further information: Essence Electrostatic