I bought the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro today to drive my Sennheiser HD 560s (120 ohm impedance, 110 db sensitivity), and I must admit I’m underwhelmed so far.
I know this is a dongle and not a nuclear substation for power, but it seems like the Sonata HD Pro only gives me about two more clicks of volume than driving the 560s straight from my iPhone 12 and the Apple Lightning DAC dongle. The sound isn’t really cleaned up THAT much, either. I expected more considering the praise here and other audiophile lairs online.
Am I doing anything wrong? Or were my expectations too high? Or does this prove again that the Apple Lightning DAC dongle is the best $9 bargain in hi-fi?
A dude at Audio Science Review just gave me a tip that transformed this thing.
The Tempotec Sonata HD Pro recognizes the HD 560s as low impedance cans and switches automatically to its low gain mode. You need to follow these steps to fool the Sonata HD Pro into thinking the HD 560s need max power:
Connect the 3.5-mm adapter that comes with the HD 560s into the Sonata unit. (The HD 560s come stock with a 6.35-mm plug)
Connect the Sonata with the 3.5-mm adapter to your source (phone or laptop) with the provided cable so the source recognizes the connected HD Sonata.
Connect your headphone cable into the 3.5 mm adapter connected to the Sonata and your source.
Wonky as hell, part of the charm and frustration of Chi-fi devices. But damn if it didn’t work. I’m listening comfortably to my 560s from my iPhone 12 at half-volume, with better fidelity because of the additional power.
One of the reasons I like the Tempotec is that it comes with a MiFi (Apple)-certified adapter. No need for the Apple USB Camera Connector. I wish the Tempotec cable was sturdier, but that’s the price of a $58 Chi-fi device, I guess.
Yeah, a bit annoying. But I only have to do it with my 560s. My Meze 99 Classics and Moondrop Starfields have low enough impedance and high enough sensitivity that low-gain mode provides ample amplification.
Now I like this little doo-dad!
I’m still very keen on getting a Qudelix 5K if it ever gets back in stock at Amazon. That thing looks like a monster – 33 percent more power than the Tempotec, Bluetooth, balanced and unbalanced inputs and a built-in parametric EQ for $110. Just take my damn money.