December 15, 2018

Already sold out] Essential reveals its Audio Adapter HD, a $150 machined titanium external DAC for the PH-1


X Scalper

Essential’s Audio Adapter HD has finally been announced. The company has been talking about the existence of this new external headphone jack/DAC since June, and this month’s security update indicated we’d see it soon. But there are a few twists: It’s $150, and a limited edition.

Andy Rubin originally promised new wireless accessories “every few months,” but for whatever reason, it seems the company wasn’t able to stick to that schedule. It’s possible a lawsuit surrounding the modular accessory communication tech could have had something to do with the delay.

The new Audio Adapter HD may be expensive, but it’s delightfully over-engineered, with a solid machined titanium build and a snazzy ESS Sabre DAC (ES9281Pro) that supports hardware MQA, providing 16, 24, and 32-bit playback at absurdly high sampling rates (44.1, 48, 96, 192MQA, 384 kHzMQA).

We’re not entirely convinced of the merits behind such sky-high bit-depth and sampling rates, ourselves, but they’re an option if you’re interested. The Audio Adapter HD’s built-in amp is also able to better power high-impedance headphones via the 3.5mm output, and it’s IP55 rated. Full specs are available here.

Essential’s omission of the headphone jack was a point of contention for many, including us. While you could use a dongle, now there’s another higher-end (and more expensive) option. Just remember, Essential says this is a limited edition.


Essential has already burned through its inventory, selling out all the Audio Adapter HDs it had. The company expects to get more in next week, though. It may be a limited edition, but your chance isn’t gone (yet).




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