ESS Technology announced a series of USB low-power audiophile CODECs that feature QUAD DAC Technology. Intended for use in headsets and audio adaptors that demand high-quality sound, the new line of CODECs can support end-to-end audiophile quality. The family is built around a low-power USB controller that supports USB 1.1 and 2.0, and can handle audio data rates up to 32-bit 384kHz PCM. At its heart is the legendary SABRE®DAC audio converter with HyperStream II modulation that provides the ultimate in sound quality and stable sound field. The integrated headphone amp delivers that performance all the way to the headsets with up to 2.0Vrms output voltage, ensuring plenty of headroom for demanding headsets.
The highly-integrated parts also include all the needed blocks to make designing a USB audio system simple, including jack detect, button detection and GPIO inputs/outputs for custom buttons or switches. Reference designs are available for USB-C audio adaptors and USB-C headsets, and the parts can be easily customized using external EEPROM.
The ES9281PRO is the flagship of the new line and can provide best-in-class audio performance at 124 dB DNR and -112 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N).
The ES9281PRO is the first USB product to offer an integrated hardware MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) renderer that makes MQA playback easy and cost-efficient. MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as the standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms. The encoding process folds extra information into the signal that can be recovered later. The subsequent “unfolding” process takes place in two steps: the first unfold, called Core Decoding, can be done on most DSP systems, including software included in smartphone applications. The final step in the unfolding, called rendering, needs to be done in tight cooperation with the DAC. The ES9281PRO will automatically detect the MQA stream and engage the rendering; the entire process requires no additional design work.
An integrated Audio Signal Processor (ASP) allows for creating real-time audio filters for use as Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), customized Parametric Equalizer (PEQ), Sidetone, or other filter-based audio effects.
The ES9280PRO offers the same impressive audiophile features as the ES9281PRO but without the MQA rendering. Both products feature a wide range of additional input formats beyond USB. In addition to the standard microphone support, they feature stereo line input and 8-channel I2S, allowing it to act as USB audio bridge for desktop audio player applications.
The third product in the line, The ES9270, offers a streamlined solution focused on creating high-quality headsets and dongles. The ES9270 can provide 117 dB DNR and -110 Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise (THD+N) and features the same low-power audio controller as the flagship, without the ASP or I2S bridge. These parts are ideal for mainstream USB-C headsets and adaptors that still want great sound.
Samples, evaluation boards, and reference designs are available now for all three parts.