Reasonessence Concerto HP

This unit has been around since 2012. It’s based on the ESS Sabre 9018-2M. It got nothing but rave reviews when released. It’s a small 4”x4” USB DAC/Amp. Does anyone have experience with this? Does it offer an upgrade path from DFR? It’s $850 but had been touted as one of the best under $1K units.

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I’ve not played with the HP version, but I did write up a review of the HD version (no headphone output, newer version of the DAC implementation):

I don’t have very much good to say about it. And honestly I would, personally, much rather listen to the Dragonfly Red than the Concero HD.

I think there are myriad better sounding options for much less than $850; including the iFi Nano or Micro iDSD Black Label Units, Chord’s Mojo, the DFR you already have, Meridian’s Explorer 2, a Jotunheim or Lyr 3 with either the internal DAC modules or an external Modi MB, any of the Massdrop x Series amps with the built-in SDAC, and so on.

At $850 you could probably even find a used RME ADI-2 DAC that’ll run rings around the Concero, as well as having a huge array of excellent, and super-useful, features.

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Thanks Torq. Read ur review. I’ll take this unit off my list.

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I am really enjoying my Schiit Lyr 3 multibit. It was just over 800 with upgrade tube and their transistor “tube” replacement. It pairs well with my inefficient Sennie HD650. You get a user upgradable DAC board and a 6 watt headphone amp that complements the natural sounding Sennies. Easy to tailor the tonal signature by tube rolling or plugging in the solid state tube if you want a change for a day. It does only have a USB input if that is an issue. Feeding it with a Allo Sparky and USBridge connected as a Roon endpoint.
I like the fact that for around 100 dollars you can replace the DAC as technology advances occur - not that it needs anything for my listening demands.

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I second the recommendation to buy the RME

Late to this party… I had a Concero HP a couple of years ago. Kept it for maybe 6 months as a work desk DAC/amp. I found that it doesn’t do very much compared to a MacBook Pro audio out. The amplifier stage on it managed to be both underpowered for larger headphones and noisy (significant hiss) with sensitive IEMs. The DAC is serviceable, but the lack of RCA outputs just sucks on a unit of this type. I think it runs <400 USD on the used market now, as people have discovered that it does not do much to earn the 850 USD price tag. No clue why the launch-time reviews were so favorable (including one on InnerFidelity, for goodness sake!).

As far as these types of miniature USB-powered units go, the Emotiva Big Ego costs much less, has more features (optical out and line out along with headphone amp out), and a better headphone amplifier stage.