Essence Ships Sub-$700 DAC with HDMI Input for Blu-ray Audio

Essence is now shipping a DAC under $700 that includes an HDMI input for uncompressed native LPCM 24/96K stereo soundtracks on Blu-ray.
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Essence is now shipping a DAC under $700 that includes an HDMI input for uncompressed native LPCM 24/96K stereo soundtracks on Blu-ray.

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The target market is audiophiles with high end 2 channel analog preamps who want to add Blu-ray HD Audio as a source without using video. No display is required. The owners of AVR’s or PrePro’s built before 2008 lack the right version of HDMI to enable playback of the uncompressed soundtracks as well. The HDACC is a bridge to the digital world for all those analog systems still in use around the world. 

The HDACC outputs analog stereo on balanced XLRs or RCA stereo jacks and also features additional digital inputs for Asynchronous USB 2, Optical, and Coaxial digital plus 2 analog inputs with A to D conversion for older content on vinyl or tape. The Hi Def Audio Control Center (HDACC) sells for $699 MSRP and includes remote control switching and volume control, making it two products in one; it can be used as a versatile digital preamp or as a DAC.

The OLED display is easy to read from a distance, the company says. A separate headphone amp with selectable impedance control is also included.

Many audiophiles have not yet upgraded to Blu-ray because their current stereo system lacks digital inputs. All 2 channel Preamps and Preamp/Processors built before 2008 are unable to connect by HDMI v1.3, the minimum necessary version of HDMI with HDCP compliance required for playback of the highest resolution uncompressed HD audio content. The other outputs like USB or Coax/Toslink down-rez the audio output to the previous standard, still compressed 2 to 1. The HDACC is a digital hub controller to accommodate the growing list of digital sources in addition to Blu-ray; SACD, CD, PC’s, iPods, Tablets, Servers, Networks, Smartphones, Satellite radios, and more. 

“I believe music is the essence of life," said Essence CEO, Bob Rapoport. "Blu-ray audio puts us closer to the original recording than any previous format; it’s the perfect add-on for audiophiles with analog 2 channel systems because it includes the protected HDMI input/output as well as inputs for all the other digital sources. For the first time, the full frequency bandwidth and dynamic range, bit for bit identical to the original master recording, is available for playback on home systems that only support analog stereo, the end of a long journey in search of the holy grail of high fidelity for many audiophiles."

New Pure Audio Blu-ray releases by Universal Music of famous catalog classics by Marvin Gaye, Supertramp, Velvet Underground, Bob Marley, Nirvana, and many more are now shipping.

The HDACC is an audio only device that can pass the native 1080p HD video through to an HDTV from its HDMI output, fully HDCP compliant. The HDACC supports HDMI v1.3 on pass through, only extracting the LPCM 24/96K stereo soundtrack for conversion. Video is not required to hear the audio so no display is required.

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