Khadas Tone 2 Pro mini desktop Hi-Fi system supports MQA decoding, balanced RCA outputs

Khadas Tone high-resolution audio board was introduced in 2018 for audiophiles wanting to design their own DIY HiFi system using Khadas VIM/VIM2 SBC, or connect it the USB version of the board to other single board computers.

The company is now about to launch Khadas Tone 2 Pro mini desktop Hi-Fi system based on the same ESS ES9038Q2M DAC, but a faster XMOS XU216 capable of handling MQA decoding, and equipped with balanced RCA outputs, as well as an I2S USB-C port.

Khadas Tone 2 Pro key features and specifications:

  • Multicore MCU – XMOS XU216 with 16 real-time logical cores on 2x xCORE tiles; up to 1000 MIPS
  • DAC – ES9038Q2M 32-bit stereo mobile audio DAC
  • Amplifiers – 4x OPA1612 operational amplifiers, 3x buffer amplifiers
  • Seamless hardware MQA decoding
  • Native DSD512 decoding, PCM decoding up to 32Bit/384kHz.
  • Left and right balanced RCA jacks for transmitting a balanced analog signal via Line-out.
  • 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced headphone jacks
  • Rotate-push encoder for mode-selection and volume control
  • RGB volume ring light
  • USB – 2x USB-C ports, one for power and the other for separate I2S signal input

If it looks like a finished consumer product instead of a DIY solution, that’s because it is. One of the reasons is that MQA (the company) will not allow MQA Audio (Master Quality Authenticated) technology to be used in bare/development boards. Khadas explains what makes Tone 2 Pro special as follows:

Tone2 Pro is our second generation Tone Board from Khadas that incorporates a variety of user feedback from our first-gen product, the Tone1. ESS ES9038Q2M DAC has been paired with four powerful OPA1612 operational amplifiers, and three buffer amplifiers. This 3-stage amplification pathway enables Tone2 Pro to drive a wide-range of demanding audiophile-grade headphones with impedances of up to 150 ohms. The OPA1612 was selected because it provides superior audio quality and excellent distortion characteristics; THD + noise is below 0.00008% throughout the audio range (20Hz to 20kHz).

The latest addition to file format support is MQA decoding. The onboard XMOS XU216 processor enables bit-perfect, hardware-native, USB class II, asynchronous “unfolding” of MQA data for both web streaming and local high fidelity audio playback, enabling future-proof “original master quality” audio reproduction just as the artist intended, but at reasonable file sizes and streaming bandwidth requirements.

Khadas also plans to offer Tone 2  DIY Kit in the future, but it will lack MQA support, the headphone amp and features the same XMOS XU206 as found in the original Tone board.

Khadas Tone 2 Pro will be launched on December 16th for $179.99 on Hifigo. But you can pre-register to get the HiFi audio system for $169.99, or try your luck to win one as part of a giveway

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