Tempotec Sonata HD-V Review
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
Tempotec is a familiar name in the dongle’s market especially speaking of dongles with high price performance ratio. I reviewed Tempotec’s E44 previously and I like it. Today I have another dongle which is from Tempotec as well, namely Sonata HD-V. HD-V has lesser output power compared to E44, but in terms of its sonic performance, we will take a look at it today.
DAC Chip: ESS Sabre ES9219 DAC Dual
Full MQA decoding
3.5mm Single Ended Headphone Out
RGB Indicator light
Supports Multiple Devices: Windows/MAC, iOS/Android
Output Level: 2VRMS
Output Power: 145mW@16Ω, 95mW@32Ω
DSD: Up to DSD256 natively
Packaging is very straight forward, doesn’t come with a storage pouch or case, however, like the E44, it does comes with a front and back film protector to prevent scratches on the HD-V’s body
IEMs used for testing
Rose Technics QT9-MK2S
Effect Audio Axiom
TinHifi P1 Max
Win 11 Foobar2k -> Sonata HD-V(ASIO)
iPhone 12 Mini Apple Music -> Sonata HD-V
Upon my first listen to HD-V, it definitely has got the neutral to slight bright sound signature, but not fatiguing to listen to. I wouldn’t say the timbre sounds organic nor thin, but it definitely sounds natural to my ears.
Bass is clean and tight, HD-V shows no emphasis on both the sub and mid bass
However, on the P1 Max, the bass doesn’t sound as clean as it’s supposed to compared to other IEMs that i have tested with, i believe it could be due to P1 Max’s Planar driver requiring slightly more juice
The bass overall is “uncolored” and it has got the “audiophile” kind of bass rendition
Bass decay sounds pretty fast to my ears as it is keeping up properly in Slipknot’s Duality, it doesn’t linger too long causing the track to sound muddy
The vocal sounded a little pushed back to my ears, compared to E44. So it does give a slight perception of being slightly laid back, however this is totally up to individual’s preference, some like the vocals forward and some like them laid back
The texture is pretty good and it doesn’t sound thin which could contribute to “cold” sounding. This is not the case here at all
Plenty of detail and good amount of air rendered here on most of my IEMs
Nowhere near analytical sounding, i would say a balance between fun and detailed, which is good for its asking price
Soundstage rendition is somehow slightly out of your head to give the perception of space, however it is far from being very wide but not to the extent of sounding very in your head
Imaging is good, instruments can be identified easily and doesn’t over power each other, layering is also impressive on orchestral track where each and every instruments can be heard clearly
Comparison (Xduoo Link2Bal)
Link2Bal sounds a lot fuller compared to HD-V, but this is to be expected as the amplification power is also higher on the Link2Bal, but this is not to say that HD-V is bad either, considering the price of HD-V, the performance is actually impressive
Link2Bal sounds warmer compared to HD-V, bass is slightly emphasised on the Link2Bal
Timbre is slightly more organic on the Link2Bal
Soundstage is wider on the Link2Bal
In terms of imaging, I’m surprised to say that HD-V is actually better on this, instruments are well layered and at times, Link2Bal actually does suffers a little on this
Battery drain when using HD-V with my iPhone 12 Mini is not bad (i do not have professional measurement tool to measure current draw, this is based solely on my average estimation)
From 92%, at 40% volume level playing Tidal’s MQA tracks on my iPhone 12 Mini, dropped to 83% over the course of 20 minutes on screen off scenario. Considering iPhone 12 Mini has got much smaller battery capacity compared to most of the Android/iPhones out there, the estimated current draw is actually very acceptable for me
I personally preferred the detachable cable design compared to E44’s cable which is attached directly on the dongle itself, at least there is an option to opt for better cable, or cable replacement when the cable is worn out compared to on detachable cable design
Supports decoding of various formats including MQA which is very welcome at this price point. Xduoo’s Link2Bal does not have MQA decoding even though its priced 2x of HD-V
HD-V is a very good dongle dac/amp that offers good performance at entry level price point. It has got decent driving power as well as good sonic reproduction capability. Sure, it is not the most detailed sounding dongle in the market, nor it offers a lot of output power, but considering the asking price and also the size of HD-v, i believe it is fair and in fact it is very easy to look past the said weakness that i mentioned.
All in all, this is a very good dongle and I highly recommend this if you are in search of a good sounding dongle yet it will not break a hole in your pocket.
If you are interested in getting one, head over to Tempotec’s Aliexpress store via the link below, it is not an affiliated link.
*A big thanks to Tempotec for sending over the sample in exchange for my review. I am in no way compensated nor influenced to produce this review despite receiving the sample for F.O.C.