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Elac Discovery Series DS-S101-G Music Server – A lovely way to discover your music

  • Written by rikhav
  • Category: Reviews
  • Hits: 470

Enter Elac Discovery network streamer which has Roon essentials 1.3. Agreed it's not the full fledged Roon system as the name suggests but it's not exactly a stripped down ROON either. It does almost everything a full package of Roon can do within its capabilities.


The Elac Discovery is a very minimalistic looking machine with its chassis made out of aluminium and has a very solid feel to it. The front has nothing but just one LED which blinks when there is no network connection or something is amiss. The rear has a connector to power up the machine with a supplied wall wart, an optical and coaxial digital out, USB input to connect a thumb drive or a portable hard disk, Ethernet port and two analogue outs which can be used to connect directly to a power amp or powered speakers. Essentially, it can be used as a DAC with a preamp and also a network streamer connected to your external DAC. It can play different tracks to all the three zones i.e. digital out, analogue output 1 and analogue output 2. Note: you can only run one instance of Roon on your network at a time so you cannot run Roon Server/Core on another device in addition to running Roon Essentials on the Discovery. It can also read a shared network drive or folder on any other pc connected to the same home network the discovery is connected to. I won't be getting into details of how roon works and difference between roon essentials and full fledged roon package. Everything is controlled by a Roon Essentials remote app which can be used from a mobile phone or a tablet. A tablet is always preferred as roon has optimised the working of the app for a tablet. So it is a different experience to browse through the whole music catalogue by a tablet. Inside Discovery resides a Quad Core ARM9 Processor running at up to 1.2Ghz, 512MB of storage for the OS, 8GB of flash memory for meta data storage, and Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC’s (24-Bit/192kHz) with Burr Brown op-amps. There are two linear power supplies, one for each set of analog outputs. One is notified on the Roon Essentials remote app whenever there is an update for the main Roon Essentials and one just needs to press YES and rest is taken care of. Roon is always improving its eco system so that's an added plus point It does not support DSD playback but Elac is almost ready with higher end streamer in the discovery series which would support DSD playback. Roon Essentials can only catalogue a maximum of 30000 tracks but that should not be a big worry for most users. It is most likely that Roon would increase the limit with its next major room essentials update as it did earlier increase the limit from 15000 to 30000 tracks, which to be honest is a LOT OF MUSIC!

To get the Elac Discovery going, one simply has to hook the network connection through a ethernet cable, connect an output of your choice and power. Download the Roon Essentials app on to your hand held device, post which just advise where the music is located, login to Tidal (if you have a subscription to Tidal) and which output to play through. Essentially it takes less than 10 minutes for you to get the Elac Discovery going and is very hassle free.

My System Details:

Power amplifier - Odyssey stratos extreme ++ Pre amplifier - DIY Salas hotrodded B1 (based on pass design B1 pre design) DAC - Burson conductor Speakers - Nibanna Dvee Computer transport - HP Pentium quad core laptop with Audiophile Linux OS and running Roon Core with Uptone Regen Reclocking USB audio stream Music Server - AMD based desktop running Roon Server

The Sound:

The Elac Discovery can provide two different sound signatures depending on whether the analogue out or digital outs are used. The final sound from digital outs will be obviously majorly influenced by the external DAC used but surprisingly I could find hardly any difference between coaxial out of the Elac Discovery feeding my Burson Conductor DAC and a laptop running roon feeding my DAC via USB. The laptop runs fully optimised audiophile Linux as OS and has an Uptone Audio USB Regen Reclocking USB signal connected to my DAC. I did listen to varied kinds of music in lossless Flac and WAV formats ranging from well recorded bollywood soundtracks to typical demo material for audio shows and some chesky records music. The Music sounds rich and warm. There's also a nice weight to the sound and drive that keeps an engaging listening atmosphere. The analogue outs won't have the ultimate resolution of a high end DAC but still the sound signatures is enjoyable and sort of forgiving with any kind of playback. Don't get me wrong, it's no way lo-fi but just that it lacks the ultimate resolution and is more leaning towards a forgiving sound probably helping to be good for all kind of playback methods including internet radio stations which the discovery can play from.


Anybody using any kind of computer device as transport to play digital files or any streaming service would be aware about ROON, which is a playback software by Room audio labs. Add to it a network streamer which has lifetime of Roon embedded into it at no extra cost (don't have to pay extra for Roon subscription) is what makes the Elac Discovery a very interesting product. With all its capabilities Elac has put into the Discovery it makes for a good product to be had in most audio setups except for the very high end setups which would be having a media server costing three or four times the price of the Elac Discovery. The only downside being the retail price being on the higher side for someone to consider it just as a network streamer. Keeping the pricing aside the Elac Discovery is a very well thought out product with an added bonus of a lifetime of Roon services included.

Elac Discovery WebLink

Oppo Sonica DAC – A Hidden GEM!

  • Written by Denom
  • Category: Reviews
  • Hits: 2244


Early in February 2017, Oppo launched the Sonica DAC, this being the second product in the Oppo stable to share the Sonica name. M/s. Jay Multimedia, the distributors for Oppo Digital in India kindly sent us a unit to review for which we are very grateful as the Sonica DAC on paper looked very impressive and hence we were itching to put one through its paces.


The Sonica DAC comes very well packed in a high quality cardboard box with lot of protection in the form of styrofoam compartment that house the main unit and the power cable with user manual & fold out poster.


The Sonica DAC is a complete black affair and rests on nice chrome ringed feet. The Front panel from left to right consists of the power button, source selector knob, a fairly small display screen, below which on the right is a USB type A port and a largish volume knob. The sides are flat black and have no screws attached. The rear consists of Co-Axial, Optical & USB type B inputs below which are the XLR & RCA Pre-outs. Next we have in & out Triggers below which are the Aux-In RCA connectors. A lan port, USB Host Port & a Ground Screw followed by a voltage switch & the IEC Power Cord 3 Pin Connector. Quality of the components used are very good and overall fit and finish is as expected from Oppo. The brushed aluminum face plate does look good & the Sonica DAC is surprisingly heavy for its size, due thanks to a large power transformer.

Build Quality: 5 Stars

We paired the Sonica DAC with the following Gears:

Source(Transport): Marantz SACD7003, Oppo BDP103, Marantz CD5005, Yamaha CD1000

Amplifiers: Marantz CD6006, Synthesis Nimis LE, PS Audio GCC-100, Jadis Orchestra Reference, Naim Nait 5Si

Speakers: Amphion Helium 410, Heco Victa Prime 302, Totem Rain Maker, Heco Celan GT202, Nibbana Dvee, Cadence Arista, PMC DB1Gold, PMC Twenty.23

Cables: Nordost White Lightning Speaker Cables and Interconnects, Transparent the Link Interconnects & The Wave Speaker Cables Nordost Purple Flare USB Cable Nordost Blue Heaven Co-Axial Cable AudioQuest Forest Optical Cable


Designs and specifications are subject to change without notice.

Dimensions (W x H x D) 10.0 x 3.0 x 12.2 inches, 254 x 76 x 360 mm
Weight 10.4 lbs, 4.7 kg
Power Supply AC 110-120 V ~ / 220-240 V ~ 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption 30 W (operation), 0.5 W (standby)
Trigger Input 3.5 V - 15 V, 10 mA minimum
Trigger Output 12V, 100 mA maximum
Operating Temperature 41°F - 95°F, 5°C - 35°C
Operating Humidity 15% - 75% No condensation
USB Audio Input (USB B Type)
Input Format Stereo PCM, Stereo DSD (DoP v1.1 or native)
PCM Sampling Frequencies 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz, 352.8 kHz, 384 kHz, 705.6 kHz, 768 kHz
PCM Word Length 16-bit, 24-bit, 32-bit
DSD Sampling Frequencies 2.8224 MHz (DSD64), 5.6448 MHz (DSD128), 11.2896 MHz (DSD256), 22.5792 MHz (DSD512, native mode only)
Profile USB 2.0, USB Audio 2.0
Coaxial and Optical Digital Audio Inputs
Input Format Stereo PCM, Stereo DSD (DoP v1.1 or native)
Sampling Frequencies 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz
Word Length 16-bit, 24-bit
DSD Sampling Frequencies 2.8224 MHz (DSD64)
AUX Audio Input
Input Impedance 10k Ohm
Maximum Input Level 2 Vrms
USB Ports (Type A)
Profile USB 2.0, mass storage only
Audio Format Support AAC, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, APE, FLAC, M4A, M4A (Apple Lossless) ALAC, OGG, WAV, WMA, DSF, DFF
Maximum Sampling Rate PCM up to 192 kHz / 24-bit, DSD up to 2.8224 MHz (DSD64)
Wireless Standard
Wi-Fi 802.11.a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1

DAC Performance Specifications

Specification XLR Output RCA Output
Output Level 4±0.4 Vrms 2±0.2 Vrms
Frequency Response 20 Hz - 160 kHz (+0/-2.4 dB)
20 Hz - 20 kHz (+0/-0.04 dB)
20 Hz - 160 kHz (+0/-2.4 dB)
20 Hz - 20 kHz (+0/-0.04 dB)
THD+N at 1 kHz (A Weight, 20 Hz- 20 kHz) < -115 dB < -115 dB
Channel Separation > 120 dB > 120 dB
Signal-to-Noise Ratio
(A Weight, 20 Hz- 20 kHz)
> 120 dB > 120 dB
Dynamic Range
(1 kHz -60 dBFS, A Weight, 20 Hz- 20 kHz)
> 120 dB > 120 dB


We hooked up the Oppo Sonica DAC to a desk top computer, a laptop both via USB and optical inputs as well as CD Players which we used as a transport which we hooked up via Optical & Co-Axial. We also had a M2Tech Young DSD DAC which we used to compare in an A/B test. The Sonica DAC is controlled by the same app that was launched for the Sonica wireless speaker, so once we selected the DAC option, it was pretty much seamless from there on, with similar menu accessible as that of the wireless speaker. We never had any glitches using the app and were satisfied with its performance like before when we used for the wireless speaker. There is no option for a remote and neither is one provided with the DAC but then the app is meant to be used extensively which is why the absence of a dedicated remote isn’t felt at all. This though could be a deal breaker for some and so Oppo should think of providing a remote in future either bundled in with the Sonica DAC or as an option at additional cost. Using the display of the Sonica DAC, we weren’t too impressed by the rather basic resolution and black & white display as we feel that the display should be A) in colour and B) have higher resolution. This clearly appears to be done to cut costs but then once we hear the performance of the Sonica DAC, all is forgiven! The display can be dimmed but then the graphics and fonts get a little rough around the edges. Maybe a higher resolution screen in colour can be thought of in future models. Like the erstwhile BDP105, the Sonica DAC comes with a ESS Technology DAC Chipset, but with the current top of the line ES9038 PRO Sabre Chip. We applaud Oppo for choosing the top-of-the-line, audiophile-grade, ESS PRO Series Sabre chip, the ES9038PRO, which we are sure is likely to be more expensive being the flagship chip that ESS produces. A good feature to have is the bypass mode, which can be easily achieved for the AUX input or all inputs. Once the break-in took place, the Sonica DAC showcased its true colours. We were pleasantly surprised at how musical the Sonica DAC is keeping in mind the overall presentation across the frequency range. An area where the Sonica DAC truly excels is in the low frequency region where the bass is articulate, defined and extremely well represented. The Sonica DAC does justice to the midrange and mid bass particularly well. It also presents a more accurate soundstage in comparison to the M2Tech Young DSD DAC that we compared it with. I would not describe the Sonica DAC as especially revealing or clinical as the ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC chipset used in the BDP105, which is good as we actually preferred the much smoother and organic presentation of the Sonica DAC. In short, the Sonica DAC provides the resolution minus the overt digital and clinical detail.


The Sonica DAC, is the Oppo’s first dedicated stereo DAC/music streamer. The Sonica DAC can be used as a standalone DAC capable of decoding high-resolution sources up to PCM 32/768 and DSD512, a high resolution audio player capable upto 24/192 and DSD64 and or as a music streamer. The fact that the AUX input of Sonica DAC enables you to connect existing analog audio source to the Sonica multi-room network is another bonus. The Sonica DAC is truly a well thought out and superb sounding DAC, being adequately rich in features in the price segment it is competing in. We are sure that a lot of digital music enthusiasts will appreciate the Sonica DAC for what it offers. Also those who have been using the BDP105 as a stand alone DAC should seriously consider the Sonica DAC as an upgrade to the same. At Rs.79999/- we say it is pricy when one sees the US price but then we are to keep in mind the custom duties, allied taxes and logistics costs for a low volume product sold in India.

Klipsch Powergate - Tiny Tot!

  • Written by Denom
  • Category: Reviews
  • Hits: 2493


Klipsch, the famous Loudspeaker manufacturer has been evolving a lot than just being a loudspeaker manufacturer, getting into niche segments since the past 2-3 years. The powergate is one of these interesting new products which is a highly versatile product to say the least. It can be used as a traditional stereo amplifier, USB DAC, Headphone Amplifier, Wireless Streamer and used to play back form audio sources via network accessed in a room. We were pleasantly surprised to know that it has been launched recently in the Indian market. The Indian Distributor, M/s. Cinerama Pvt. Ltd.(Cinebels) very kindly sent us a unit to review and play with.


The powergate came packed in a fancy printed plastic coated cardboard box which shows the powergate picture and shares quite a bit of the details on it on the box itself. The powergate comes packed in foam/plastic bags and is ensconced in an egg crate type paper mache cradle, with a compartment in the side having all the relevant cables as stated below. 1 post card sized leaflet which indicates how one can expand their wireless streaming experience with other klipsch products and a small instruction booklet with a warranty leaflet, safety instructions booklet and a spotify leaflet that is folded to the size of the instruction booklet, all packed together in a mini plastic bag. The quality of the packing indicates that they can be re-used for quite a number of times, which is good since one would like to carry it around keeping its small size form in mind.

Contents of the box were as follows:

Powergate Unit

Power Cords (3 pin & 2 pin)

3.5 Aux Cable

USB A to B Type Cable

Optical Cable

Remote Control with 2 AAA Batteries


We received our powergate in black color which is shiny at the front end and side edges, whilst the top and rear is a matt black finish. The front panel consists of a power button, a source selector button on the left side, a large volume/mute control/sub woofer gain dial in the centre and a 3.5mm head fone jack to the right. When powered ON, a red dot to the right of the volume dial which is essentially the stand by light goes off and the left side of the volume dial lights up in a white light with the blue tooth pairing light flashing continuously till the input is selected and a spotifiy connect icon lights up in white on the right side of the volume dial. One will find the following inputs light up once the relevant one is selected by pressing the input button(Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Aux, USB, Phono, Digital) The sides are lightly ribbed with perforations in between to ventilate the heat generated from within. We found the ventilation is rather inadequate as the power gate does get quite hot when in use for a couple of hours especially when the volume is over the half way mark. The rear end consists of (From left to right) Top Left to Right Ethernet Input, Ethernet Output, USB Service Port, USB Audio Input, Optical Input, WiFi Setup LED, WiFi Setup Button, Speaker Wire Binding Posts (L & R), Power Input Bottom Left to Right Phono/Line Input (L & R), Phono / Line Switch, Ground Screw Terminal, Auxillary Input, Analog Output (L & R), Subwoofer Output The remote is a nice slim one with all the buttons nicely spaced out and placed appropriately.

Build Quality: 4 stars


• 2 x 100 watt class D amplifier

• Wi-Fi connectivity for Klipsch Stream wireless multi-room audio integration 

• USB Audio (Type B Connection) 

• Bluetooth® wireless connectivity with AAC and apt-X decoding

• Phono pre-amp / RCA analog audio

• Optical (TOSLINK) 

• Remote control 

• 192kHz / 24-bit D/A Converter

• Headphone Output (3.5mm)

• Subwoofer Output

• Line level Pre-amp output (RCA analog)


We tried a variety of gears along with the Klipsch PowerGate, namely:


Marantz CD6006

Marantz SA7003

Oppo Sonica DAC

Cocktail Audio N15

Marantz TT5005

Marantz TT15S1


Amphion Helium 410

Heco Victa Prime 202

Mission MX-3

Cadence Arista

Nibbana Dvee

Merlin TSM BME



Taga TAVC-14

Nordost White Lightning


Nordost White Lightning

USB: Nordost Purple Flare

We threw the PowerGate straight into the deep end of the test by pairing it with a variety of partnering electronics, hoping that it will show us a weakness or 2. At the end of the day, we expect a product with the Klipsch name to be ready for taking abuse. That the PowerGate took the challenge well and performed admirably well in most situations, bears as testament to its abilities. The only negative we found with the PowerGate was that it heats up quite a bit! Surely being class D, that should not be the case but it does heat up a lot which makes us think otherwise. Having hardly any sort of ventilation built into its case makes matters worse and is surely not a good sign for the longevity of the product. We observed the heat issue getting aggravated when we pushed the volume up for sustained periods of time(3-4 hours at a stretch) which could indicate that the PowerGate does not like to be played at higher volumes for long periods of time. We brought up this issue with M/s. Cinebels who assured us that it could be an isolated case with the unit we received for reviewing as none of the other PowerGates they tested had heating issues. We sincerely hope that is the case as the PowerGate is a good product indeed.


The PowerGate is an extremely versatile product. It can be used as a traditional 2-channel stereo amplifier, having a phono stage, a USB DAC, Subwoofer out or as a Headphone Amplifier. It can also be integrated with the Klipsch Stream Wireless Multi-Room Audio system for playback of the audio sources via your network in your room. The small form factor and light weight also helps in one being able to carry it around and make the most use of it. At Rs.68000/-, it does seem to be a tad overpriced but the features it offers does make it a viable option for today’s requirements of wanting the features as desired.

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