Sonica DAC pairs the absolute sound quality of a traditional audiophile DAC with the convenience and versatility of a high resolution network player. Whether you’re connecting a computer via USB, or streaming from DLNA servers on your computer or NAS drives, Sonica DAC ensures that you’re hearing your favorite music at its best.
Sonica DAC allows you to access your favorite music in many different ways. It can be used as a traditional DAC to improve the audio performance from your computer via USB, as a high resolution media player decoding audio from connected USB storage devices, or even as a network streamer playing content from DLNA servers and via AirPlay and Bluetooth.
- Reference Quality Video with HDR & Dolby Vision
- Lossless, High-Resolution Audio
- UHD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, SACD, DVD, and CD
Whether you look at the Sonica as music streamer with a DAC, or a DAC with streaming features, its credentials are impressive.
Oppo uses a top-spec ESS Sabre chip boasting support for 32-bit/768kHz hi-res music files. Even in audiophile circles, that’s niche. If you do happen to have such rare hi-res tracks, you can play them using Oppo’s USB type-B connection. It also supports even-harder-to-find DSD512 tracks.
All other connections – optical, coaxial, balanced XLR and RCA stereo – offer a more standard 24-bit/192kHz file support threshold. You can also directly play hi-res files stored on USB memory sticks, including DSD64 tracks.
Once connected to your home network, the potential for streaming music – whether hi-res FLAC files or bog-standard MP3s – opens up.
The Oppo Sonica DAC can stream from any device connected to the same network – NAS drives, laptops, smartphones – and there’s support for streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal.
There’s no internet radio, unlike the Cambridge CXN for example, but it does have Bluetooth so you can play radio stations from your smartphone.
You can stream songs over wi-fi, but we’d opt for the more stable and reliable wired ethernet route.
The Sonica DAC can also be used as part of its own multi-room system. However, if you fancy going multi-room with Sonica wireless speakers, the streaming resolution limit drops down to 44.1kHz or 48kHz, depending on the sample size of the original.
The half-width box wouldn’t look out of place in your existing hi-fi system. Its solid, aluminum-clad chassis is sturdy, practical and blends into the room rather than shouts at you with flashy design.
Controls are minimal: two rotary dials (one for navigation, one for volume) flank a 2.8in monochrome OLED display. The only other features on the front panel are the power button and USB port.
The text on the OLED screen is too small to read from afar, but that may not matter too much since you’ll be using a smartphone or tablet app for the majority of controls.
That’s right, you have to operate the DAC using the Oppo Sonica iOS or Android app – unless you pony up another £24 for the optional remote control.
Its streaming features may offer more flexibility, but the Sonica’s real talent lies in its ability as a DAC. Sitting between our reference Naim streamer and reference Gamut amplification, the Oppo’s rich and weighty sound comes to the fore.
The layered guitars on Band of Horses’ Is There a Ghost are delivered with plenty of texture and solidity. They sound chunky, while also having a layer of smoothness. The soundstage is big enough to for the indie track to roar into an arena-filling rock tune, and the guitars never harden up even when pushed.
We’d like a touch more openness though, so instruments can breathe more freely. Compared with the Cambridge CXN, the Oppo has a suggestion of restraint to its sound.
From vocals to a piano note to cello strings, the CXN opens up to deliver more space (especially at the top end), more awareness of where instruments are placed, and a whole new layer of detail. It sounds more dynamic, too.
Ultimately, the rather spiritless sound coupled with the high price tag doesn’t bode well. That’s a shame, as the Oppo Sonica DAC was full of potential. Its streaming credentials tick all the right boxes, and the good quality DAC chip promised much.
But you can get far more exciting, insightful sound elsewhere, and for less money. Call it a DAC or a streamer, the Oppo’s price and dynamics leave us disappointed.
- Contact : Dicky Ng 012-3308893
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