Essence announce Evolve – a multi-channel HDMI DAC


Bob Rapoport of Essence Electrostatic is a man on a mission. A mission to bring you D/A conversion over HDMI. A mere two months after the launch of his HDACC digital-pre amp (review soon) comes a cheaper, smaller box to tap multi-channel, high resolution digital audio from a Blu-Ray feed.

The Essence Evolve is an HDMI repeater that ‘de-embeds’ and decodes the high resolution audio streams contained on Blu-Ray discs, up to 24bit/192kHz.

How does it work?

Connect your Blu-Ray player’s HDMI output to the Essence DAC’s HDMI input, select ‘Bitstream’ on the DAC, select DTS MasterHD on the disc’s audio set-up page and voila (!) – each of the disc’s soundtracks spill forth. That signal gets passed along to the Essence’s HDMI output but inside the box the uncompressed LPCM 24bit/96kHz as 2.0, 5.1, or 7.1 is de-embedded. In other words, a high resolution PCM stream is extracted from the DTS MasterHD soundtrack without requiring DTS decoding.


How is this possible?

“The Standards Committee [that oversees the Blu-Ray specification] was obliged to consider those who would buy discs but not have access to a Dolby or DTS decoder. In exchange for being approved as options (and ensuring their royalty streams) Dolby and DTS are required to allow their content to be output as LPCM files at the highest resolution as long as the security protocols are in place.”, explains Rapoport.

In short, the Evolve DAC is for those who don’t want/have Dolby or DTS in their processing chain.

dongleThe resulting decoded output comes via 4 x 3.5mm sockets, each of which require a dongle adapter to separate left and right channels. The optical output supports Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and 2.0 PCM at 48kHz.

The Evolve DAC sells for US$249.95 and is available now.

Further information: Essence Electrostatic

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. Looking forward to it, BTW you’re website doesn’t view properly on my android phone so I can’t read while on the move….

  2. Any idea if you might be reviewing the new Shiit integrated amplifier,”the Ragnorak” in the near future? Keep up the good work. You are my number one source of timely reviews. John

  3. 1. It’s *’RagnArOk’*, as in the Viking Armageddon – nothing remotely like ‘anorak’, thanks ….
    2. John, I just dont get the point of these devices when you can take the audio from most BD or universal players via the optical out straight into your 2-channel DAC anyway. What am I missing here ?


    • @Ned

      1. Thanks – looks like my phone’s autocorrect has a spasm. I’ll have to be more careful when using the WordPress Android app in future!
      2. Some BluRay players don’t have internal DACs – they only have digital outputs: S/PDIF and HDMI. However, the audio is down-rezzed to 48kHz when output over S/PDIF. Over HDMI (with this Essence DAC) you can access the full hi-res 24bit/96kHz LPCM stream.