TempoTec Sonata HD Pro

DAC Chip: Cirrus Logic CS43131 (Single)
PCM 32bit–384khz, DSD256, SNR: -128db, Power: 2 Vrms Adaptive, USB Type-C Female, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: NO), 10g Painted Aluminum, OFC Cable


LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING


💚PROS

  • Neutral balanced timbre, naturally clean
  • Well rounded and controlled dynamics, great coherence
  • Crisp and smooth Treble with polished decays, great extensions
  • Balanced Mids with rich textures, realistic tonality
  • Punchy, fast Mid-Bass responses, great texture, fast decays
  • Deep Sub-Bass presence, smooth decays
  • Realistic guitars and stringed instruments tone, polished edge
  • Great balance between technical and musical ability
  • Well rounded circular soundstage with excellent spatial imaging
  • Great Macro & Micro details retrieval, very transparent
  • Amazing speed and transients, will not get congested or compressed
  • Great resistances to sibilance, forgiving on Lo-Fi recordings
  • Drives Magnetic Planars 75/100 Volume, great fidelity
  • Great resistance to heating even used for long hours
  • Does not drain host battery too fast
  • Synergize well with many type of IEMs/HPs/Earbuds
  • Easy to upgrade firmware: Version 3

💔CONS

  • Driving power maxed out around 95db lowest sensitivity
  • Slightly lacking air in the notes compared to the top performers
  • Volume adjustment on the buttons not as refined, big jump between levels

VERDICT

TempoTec Sonata HD Pro (V3). Sonata HD Pro is a very popular unit. Without a doubt among the best implementation of CS43131 so far, especially after the Firmware version 3.0 update.

Sonata HD Pro is a very clean sounding Dongle, the presentation is crystal clear even when used with both of my Magnetic Planar IEMs/HPs. The clarity and transparency helps to extract as much details as possible from the source depending on how competent the paired IEMs/Earbuds/HPs are.

Driving power appeared to be just enough for demanding IEMs/HPs. Both my TIN HiFi P1 and FOSTEX T40RP MK3 magnetic planars needed 75-85/100 of volume to achieve proper listening loudness (with 2 Vrms High Gain mode activated). Once loudness matched, the output is very satisfying with good density to note weight. Timbre and dynamics remained clean, stable and coherent with great balance. Dynamic range is good but does not extend as far as the topmost performers – decays audibly shorter and prompt. It was also not as airy as how I prefer it.

Sonata HD Pro sounds amazing with my Etymotic ER4SR. They complement each other greatly. Mids are a bit intimate with forward focused vocals. It is rich and organic sounding. Treble presented with crisp polished edge and extends better than it was with T40RPMK3 and P1. Bass responses fast, deep and very tightly controlled, as how I expect it to be on a DF Neutral BA. The overall presentation, greatly balanced and technically competent. Switching to my VE Duke 64Ω, it is even better with the Micro DD IEM. Similar sonic presentation as ER4SR, with even better Treble details and extensions, stronger dynamics and density, while equally fast on speed and transients. Staging also audibly larger and more spacious. Spatial imaging and layering nothing short of reference grade. Bass responses remained fast with more pronounced weight (as would be expected of a DD). Very similar results with HZSOUND Heart Mirror (VE OFC Candy cable), except that it is not as detailed and transparent as how the Duke is, of which the difference simply the Duke being superior than Heart Mirror. Heart Mirror synergize beautifully with Sonata HD Pro, very smooth highs that are well textured and equally smooth decays, deep fast Bass responses and neutral Mids. Very spacious staging too.

With bass heavy CVJ CSK Hybrid (VE SPC Cable), overall presentation still warm V shaped, but admirably Bass responses are fast, tight and well controlled. No bleeding into Mids. Treble details also well pronounced. It’s much better with Moondrop Aria (VE SPC cable), I am not a fan of bassy IEM like the CSK or VE BIE, Aria being the few ones that I love, offering great Harman Curve experience. Sonata HD Pro balances things out very nicely for Aria notably with technical competencies – it is fast and detailed, again with deftly controlled and tidy Bass responses.

With earbuds, VE Monk+ exhibited rich meaty Mids with great textures and intimate vocals. The rest of the spectrum are normal sounding, I have heard better synergy of Monk+ with other sources. Additionally, the soundstage not as wide as I would expect it from Monk+ pairing with other Dongles. Perhaps the tuning for Sonata HD Pro is more optimized for IEMs, or perhaps VE earbuds tuning curve require different source signature.

TempoTec Sonata HD Pro vs Xnyocn Q2:

With VE Duke 64Ω, USB 3.0 Samsung S20, Diana Krall “California Dreamin'”

  • Q2 has more driving power by 10 points vs HD Pro
  • Q2 has slightly more pronounced details vs HD Pro
  • Q2 has crisper decays vs HD Pro faster decays
  • Q2 slightly more air between notes vs HD Pro

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ ($33.00)

Best Pairing: Flexible for anything above 95db sensitivity

Back to #donglemadness

With iPhone 7, ddHiFi TC28i Adapter & VE Duke

8 Comments

  1. I use lightning cable in sonata package with iphone x . I found sound not upgrade. but I use type-c in package with android phone. sound upgrade so good. or even Ipad (type-c) sound nearby android phone.
    ddHiFi TC28i with type-c in sonata package help upgrade sound or not?

    Like

    1. Depending on your needs. HD Pro offers slightly different signature of being flat clean and Avani offers a bit of warmth and Mids intimacy. But both performs practically identical in many ways

      Like

  2. Hi Andy, Have you try flashing BHD firmware onto HD PRO to cheat the device for being on high gain at all time?
    I wonder if the sound quality will turn into BHD if i were to buy HD PRO and do it since BHD review are pretty bad according to your review

    Like

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