Tempotec Sonata HD II English Review


Sabre and Maturity




Construction and Design
Packaging and Accessories




  • Sweet and harmonious sound.
  • Price.
  • Size.
  • Quality of construction.
  • No heat build-up.
  • Very low output impedance.
  • No additional drivers required under Windows 10.




  • It doesn’t seem to be able to deliver the full power it specifies.
  • I have not been able to get the mic to work with my smartphone.
  • It doesn’t have ASIO drivers, so far.


Purchase Link




Link to the Store







Tempotec continues to renew its product range. This time it is the turn of the simplest device: the Sonata HD II. This is the smallest DAC/AMP, which replaces the Sonata HD. With a very, very similar shape, Tempotec has changed the DAC chip, for one from Sabre, of course. This is the ES9270, with which it manages to improve PCM decoding up to 32bit/384kHz and gain SNR up to 116dB. It even supports DSD128(DoP) and provides 70mW/32Ω. In addition, it is compatible with the built-in microphone in the headphones, on Android systems. Finally, the Sonata HD II can run on PC, without the need for drivers, and also on MAC.
In this review we will look at the new features of this new small product.





  • Connection: USB Typc-C
  • Output power: 70mW/32Ω
  • DAC chip: Sabre ES9270
  • Support: 32Bit PCM/384kHz, DSD128(DOP)
  • Output level: 2V RMS/600Ω
  • SNR: 116dB
  • Microphone input: Yes
  • Microphone support: Adaptive detected by connected headphones (with or without MIC).



Packaging, Construction and Design


The packaging of the Sonata HD II does not change from the original version, it is exactly the same. The only difference is the EAN13 code on the side of the dongle. The dongle comes in a small black cardboard box, size 94x66x21mm. On the top side, in silver letters, there is only the brand name at the top and the model at the bottom. On the back there is more information, namely the address of the company and similar data. The box is sealed at both openings by two transparent stickers. Once the wrapping is removed, a metal box appears, with the model name and brand logo on its lid. After opening it, the dongle, inserted in a foam mould, a USB adapter and a Hi-Res AUDIO sticker can be seen. The device has a total length of 113mm. On the USB connector is the brand’s inscription in white letters, and on the cylinder, where the audio output is located, the model name. The female connector is gold-plated, 3.5mm. The covers of both connectors are metallic, black. The cable consists of a four-wire braid, whose flexibility is quite adequate. It appears to be a 4-core 6N monocrystalline copper cable. Included in the packaging is a USB Type-C female to USB Type-A male adapter for connecting the dongle to the PC. The construction is serious, it looks durable, the connectors have quality finishes and the cable seems well protected on both connections. I just think the cable could be a bit thicker, as seems to be the current trend.
The only difference between the old and the new model is in the cylindrical part that houses the audio output: in model II it is a complete and unique cylinder, which has a roughened part at the base of the cable connection. In the initial version, this cylinder is not regular, but consists of 3 cylinders together, at the ends of which the cylinders are narrower and smaller in diameter. Otherwise everything is the same.





It can be used with an Android Smartphone, PC or MAC. Connected to an Android phone, it may be necessary to enable the OTG function and USB debugging mode, which are in the developer options. I have used it with my Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro, with the HiBy Music APP, without any problems. The manufacturer recommends connecting the headphones to the dongle first and then the dongle to the phone. Although the manufacturer confirms that the dongle is compatible with headphones with microphones, in my case, even following the instructions, I have not been able to get the microphone to work, or even to be detected.
Connected to my Windows 10 PC, no additional drivers are needed, but it does not support ASIO, at least not yet.





In this section, there is little to comment. With my Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro and the HiBy Music APP, there is no problem for control and complete operation. With Windows 10 and Foobar2000, selecting the output in exclusive mode, there is no problem using it either. Operation is so simple that no further comments are required.





Theoretically, the Sonata HD II can deliver 2V RMS at 600Ω. In my case I have only been able to see that it delivers 1V RMS. There might be some high gain mode, which is activated by first connecting some high impedance headphones, but I have not been able to activate it. Even, connecting 100Ω or 300Ω resistors.
The calculated impedance is very low, clearly below 1Ω.


No load


It can be seen that the Sonata HD II gives slightly more than 1V RMS.



15 Ω


At 15Ω, the maximum voltage without visible distortion is 0.57V RMS, which provides a power of 22mW.



33 Ω


At 33Ω, the maximum voltage without visible distortion is 0.8V RMS, which provides a power of 20mW, quite far from the 70mW declared at 32Ω. As I say, I don’t know if any high power mode can be activated.



100 Ω


At 100Ω the 1V RMS voltage is reached and the power is 10mW. It can be seen that the no-load voltage and the 100Ω voltage are the same, indicating that the output impedance is very low, close to zero.



Frequency Response


The frequency response of the Sonata HD II is completely flat down to 40kHz, with no hint of roll-off or crosstalk between channels at different volumes. You can see that the response of the two channels overlap, demonstrating that they are the same.





OK, I’ve understood that Sabre doesn’t imply an analytical sound. Either that, or I’ve just got used to the sound of these DACS and have taken it as the standard profile. It is true that it used to be much easier to find AKM DACS in all their variants, but, after their factory in Japan burned down, this has become more and more complicated. Now ES chips are everywhere. And the sound of this new ES9270 even sounds warm to me. It is true that its profile is not analysis-oriented, but rather soft. It’s clear that its frequency response is complete flat and I don’t really see any high end or detail enhancement. So, I’m not inclined to decide that its profile is eminently warm, but it’s not bright. Let’s say it’s balanced with a slight warm tendency.
In the low end, there is that mix of power and smoothness: there is a good level of punch, but there is more smoothness than resolution. In this sense, the bass performance is well executed, but there are some technical shortcomings that prevent the sound from being completely clean or fast. The level of definition is quite adequate, but the texture is not of a superior descriptive level. Depth is not very marked either, but it does not suffer from it, there are no complaints in this respect. All in all, there is power, a well-balanced area, a good level of pressure, medium accuracy, width and depth balance and adequate resolution. The limits are in a more airy recreation, in the separation and cohesion of its background, something that prevents the sound from being perceived as clearer and sharper, perhaps it is the fault of the decay speed.
The midrange remains smooth, the resolution limitation persists and the degree of sharpness remains at that adequate, good level. But, it is clear that this is not an eminently clear and clean sound. The separation between notes is decent enough, but don’t expect a lot of air between them. Thus, the body is perceived as adequate, not too wide, with a medium balance between its depth and its width. The bottom is not black enough and there is a very light halo feeling, which has a binding tendency. It is that silky smoothness that characterises the sound. Despite this, the level of detail and the recreation of nuance is very commendable, remarkable I might say. The new Sonata HD II is quite good at describing those details and making them public, maybe not the most perfect drawing, but it is able to make them noticeable and at least point them out. All in all, the mid-range comes across as balanced, there is no favouring of either the vocals or the instruments. The former feel quite full, sweetened and silky, with a good projection and a fairly central location. The latter occupy the side and rear space, but maintain a good level of harmony and the overall recreation does not suffer at all. In this way, the integration is very good and the transitions between all the elements do not feel forced or unreal. Supporting all this, both tone and timbre are always respectful and there is no hint of artificial sound. These characteristics are also transferred to the upper range, where its execution does not feel crisp or sharp, but maintains that point of softness, which gives it a natural tranquillity and a point of maturity. In this way, the trebles feel reinforced, with a calmer, more harmonious sonority, a cleaner and more precise execution, with a point of greater resolution. As for the levels of air sensation, its level is adequate. Although, really, the sound cannot be catalogued as separated and well airy, since its separation is average, the level of clarity and sharpness has its limits and both the resolution and the precision of the high zone are good, but without being surprising.
In these terms, the recreation of the scene is perceived as good, without expanding too much on all three axes. Although I have said that it is not excellent in terms of clarity and sharpness, I must confess that I am judging the device from a higher level, comparing it mentally with dongles at least twice its price. If I judge it on its own level, there are very few faults to be levelled at it. But it is true that this device is in that first step of high resolution sound.





Tempotec Sonata HD


Physically, the evolution is small, just a few slight differences in the cylinder that houses the audio output. The packaging is the same and comes with the same accessories. There is no trace on the packaging that says that it is version II, which may come as a shock, as the buyer may think that he has bought the old version.
In terms of power, there is a slight increase towards the new version. It is true that the new model is somewhat more powerful, offering a fuller and more powerful sound, with a higher degree of detail and definition.
In the lower area, this point of superior power offers more strength in the punch of the bass, also more elastic and better finishes are observed. The pattern in version II is more rounded and harmonious, without implying less resolution or less descriptive level. There is more speed, better texture and more appreciable, in the new version, which provides a net qualitative leap, with respect to the previous model.
The midrange is sweeter and silkier in the new model, the relationship between instruments and voices is closer and there is better cohesion in version II. In the old model the mids were more vivid, immediate and direct. Now the mids are more mature and more dynamic and harmonic. An improvement that offers a more pleasant and less fatiguing sound.
However, it is in the high range where the improvement is most evident. The crunchy sparkle of the first version has given way to a more homogeneous and better drawn sound, without so many jolts. The treble of version II has improved in its execution, losing the crunch of the first version, but gaining in resolution, precision and naturalness. Thus, by increasing the level of resolution and fidelity, version II offers a more natural and realistic sound, which even offers a better recreation of details, where the nuances are shown more easily. Separation is even better perceived, as there is no longer the more forced brightness of the initial version.
At the stage level, the better cohesion and fluidity of the sound of version II, on this occasion, offers an improvement in its perception. The sharper sound of the initial version narrowed the scene, while the feeling of a rounder, more homogeneous sound gives it more body, more width and even depth, expanding the scene and improving the instrumental placement.
The change between the two is not night and day, but the II version offers a more pleasant and natural initial feel compared to its predecessor. Sounding more harmonious and smoother, with a good level of detail and less fatiguing, the Sonata HD II is an obvious improvement on its predecessor.





It is very pleasing that Tempotec continues to improve on such inexpensive devices. It is clear that the Sonata HD II can be the first step into the Hi-Res range, and indeed it is. Best of all, even in this range, improvement is possible and, most importantly, audible. With this new version, you don’t get the feeling that you want to go for a higher level of sound, so quickly. Its smoothness and harmonics are very pleasant and, despite its limitations, the Sonata HD II allows you to enjoy music without having to mentally resort to the sound of other, superior devices. For the layman, it will be a great device for unrestricted enjoyment. And for more advanced users, it will be a very affordable alternative, with a large number of different uses, which we will have no complaints about, because it is a device that continues to mature and improve in a good way. Nobody is bitter for a sweet, especially if it is good and cheap.



Earphones and Sources Used During Analysis


  • HiBy R3 Pro
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
  • Tempotec Variations V1-A
  • BGVP ArtMagic VG4
  • ISN H40
  • NS Audio NS5 MKII Extra Bass
  • Tin HiFi T4
  • Tin HiFi T2 Plus
  • NiceHCK EBX21
  • Ikko OH10
  • Reecho SG-03
  • Rose QT9 MK2
  • Takstar Pro 80





The manufacturer has told me that the problems with the lack of power and microphone performance will be solved in the second batch of the product. For those who have products from the first batch, these problems will be fixed with a firmware update.