ESS Introduces the World’s First CODEC with Hardware MQA Hi-Res Rendering

< Newsroom | Posted: Thursday January 3, 2019

SABRE® DAC provides hardware MQA-rendering in low-power audiophile CODEC. 

Milpitas, California – ESS Technology, the industry leader in audio and analog design, announced today the ES9068Q Low-Power Audiophile CODEC.  The newest in a line of SABRE®DACs, it is designed for small desktop and portable applications with demanding audio specifications.  This is the first product to offer an integrated hardware MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) renderer that makes MQA playback easy and cost efficient.  This is also the first product in the series with CODEC capabilities; it features microphone support as well as stereo PDM inputs.

The ES9068Q will offer Best-in-Class performance based on the SABRE DAC architecture with HyperStream® II modulation and can be used as a functional upgrade to the successful ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, and ES9038Q2M products. The ES9068Q provides a Dynamic Range of 128dBA and total harmonic distortion of -120dB THD+N.  The DAC can support a wide range of input formats including: PCM up to 32bit 768kHz, DSD1024, DoP, SPDIF, and MQA.

MQA technology is becoming widely accepted as the standard for distributing ultra-high-quality music across a variety of platforms.  The encoding process folds extra information into the signal that can be recovered later.  The subsequent “unfolding” process takes place in two steps: the first unfold, called Core Decoding, can be done on most DSP systems, and system designers looking to implement this can take advantage of standard code.  The final step in the unfolding, called rendering, needs to be done in tight cooperation with the DAC.  The quality of the rendering depends on the DAC output filters, and this has typically involved hand tuning each design.  However, the ES9068Q’s hardware rendering takes care of all the tuning automatically, without the need for special tuning.  As the ES9068Q will automatically detect the MQA stream and engage the rendering, the entire process requires no additional design work.

This new CODEC is a great solution for USB headsets that utilize the microphone input and can be combined with wireless radios to create wireless systems that are able to stream high quality MQA music.   The ES9068Q is also a great fit for a desktop DAC or mini-system that benefits from great sound quality and easy design.

Samples and evaluation boards are available and the ES9068 will be featured for listening in the ESS demo suite at the 2019 CES show in Las Vegas, January 8th – 11th.  For more information, contact your local sales representative.


About ESS Technology
For more than three decades, ESS Technology has been on the cutting edge of audio technology. A privately-held fabless semiconductor company, ESS Technology designs and markets high-performance analog and HiFi audio devices for mobile, consumer, automotive, and professional audiophile systems. The company was founded in 1984, and today ESS Technology is best known for its SABRE series of high-performance audio products. For more information, visit

About MQA

Using pioneering scientific research into how people hear, the MQA team has created a technology that captures the sound of the original studio performance. The master MQA file is fully authenticated and small enough to stream, while also being backward compatible, so you can play MQA music on any device. MQA’s award-winning technology is licensed by labels, music services and hardware manufacturers worldwide, and is certified by the RIAA. MQA is a UK-based private company.

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