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Essensio - Review
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Essensio Plus  -  The N E W 32 bit  DAC
Stream audio 192kHz/32 bit files via USB

The new Essensio Plus digital to analogue converter is based on the existing Essensio DAC and features integrated headphone amplifier.
The Essensio Plus 192kHz-32 bit USB DAC is designed to be the heart of your system. Five S/PDIF digital inputs on coaxial and TOSLINK connectors and a high speed (480 Mbit/s) asynchronous USB input that accept digital stream till 192kHz-32bit is all you need to connect any existing digital media in your hi-fi system.
But Essensio Plus with its built in multifunction control knob allows input selection and fine volume setting for line analogue and headphone output. North Star Design integrated into the Essensio Plus a special high current amplifier to drive headphones. A complete set-up menu configure your unit for a perfect matching with any amplification system.




  • USB 2.0 High Speed (480 Mbits/sec)

  • PC and MAC compatible for HR files streaming

  • Low Jitter

  • 5 SPDIF inputs ( 2 Coax, 3 Toslink),  USB

  • 192/32 digital upsampling

  • Input frequency upper limit: 193 kHz on  coax and USB, 96 kHz on Toslink
  • Single ended RCA  analogue outputs

  • Headphone output on 1/4" Jack
  • High current headphone amplifier
  • remote control

Essensio Plus ... a DAC for the moderns age!

North Star Essensio Plus Group Test by hi-fi News

Hifinews - June 2012 issue. In a group test competing with seven outboard DAC's from Shanling, M2Tech, Rega, Wyred 4 Sound, Cambridge Audio, Musical Fidelity the North Star Essensio Plus was the winner.

Essensio Plus, the most delightful DAC of the group
HIFINEWS Outstanding Product Award

Essensio  -  32 bit  DAC
Stream audio 192kHz/32 bit files via USB

The Essensio seems to be based on the experience of the North Star from the design of the DAC32. It uses custom digital logic of the larger model, but based on a combination of a digital interface (CS8416) and a upsampler (CS8421) of Cyrus the signal processing and in the PCM1795 32bit Texas for part of the DAC. The Essensio available USB 2.0 port into asynchronous pace reclocking memory and to support sampling rates up 192kHz/32bit (with special drivers) and even offers five inputs S / PDIF, coaxial two that go up to 192kHz and two perspectives that go up to 96kHz. The USB port is galvanically isolated from the circuit of the DAC. In the analog stage, the North Star has used operational amplifiers LME47910 of National and precision materials and the supply is accordingly carefully, with four locally stabilized power supplies.


Digital Input frequency: 32kHz-192kHz  
Dynamic Range: 126dB (24bit)
S / N Ratio: 112dB
Digital Input: S/P DIF RCA COAX  × 2 192kHz/24bit S/P DIF TOSLINK OPT × 3 96kHz/24bit USB2.0 ×1 192kHz/32bit
Outputs:  RCA unbalanced analog outputs (L / R) × 1
Size mm: 300(W)×60(H)×170
Weight: 3.0kg
Power: 20W

hi-fi News

"At a shade under a £1000, North Star Design’s Essensio DAC can hardly be considered a casual purchase, but it does deliver highend sound. With good recordings the delivery is polished and refined, and boasts deeply felt, full-bodied, and taut bass. Even the most committed analogue diehard couldn’t fail to be thrilled by the sound of high-resolution files from a computer-based source when decoded by the Essensio."

USB dac32  -  The N E W 32 bit Reference DAC
Stream audio 192kHz/32 bit files via USB

USB dac32 is the response of North Star Design for those that for music, streaming or not, want a reproduction without compromise. The first DAC in absolutely to combine the management of streaming audio up to 192kHz and 32bit via USB high-speed signals and perform upsampling to 192kHz-32bit before the digital-to-analog conversion. This makes it an ideal unit for the playback of high resolution files from your computer and a perfect companion for traditional sources. And it is very easy to use.

As for its use with conventional sources presents maximum flexibility in interfacing with four digital inputs (coaxial, optical, balanced, I2S) capable of handling signals up to 192kHz-24bit. The unit is equipped with an anti-jitter and an upsampler that, regardless of the frequency and resolution of the input signal, rises it up to 192kHz-32bit. The digital section is completed by a pair of converters in balanced mono configuration that can handle digital streams u to 192kHz-32bit. These important resources in the digital section are complemented by a refined and silent analog section with intrinsically balanced output. The excellence of the DAC is confirmed by two separate power supplies; one dedicated to the digital section and one dedicated to
the analog section. But what makes this converter so special and like no other is the ability to reproduce audio files with frequencies up to 192kHz and resolution up to 32 bits. It’s equipped with an USB2.0 high-speed port (i.e.capable of transferring data at 480Mbit/sec) which overcome the limit of 96/24 common to other converters. By connecting a PC or a Mac to the USB2.0 port you will be able to play audio files in high resolution beyond the limits imposed by the previous technology on USB ports. Appropriate drivers have been developed for different operating systems, thus ensuring a proper timing and a no-compromise reproduction quality. But all this would not be enough to get an audiophile reproduction.
One of the big challenges in the reproduction of streaming music is the (negative) influence of the computer on the quality of reproduction. Many audiophiles have the experience that for playing music from a PC or Mac via a dedicated sound cards, also of great quality, one often faces limitations related to noise generated by power supplies and not to mention the noisy fans needed to cool down the computer, which are limiting the pleasure of listening. Forget about all that. Today you can get the most from these sources by designing the converter to make it independent of the computer used for playback.
Two are the devices used: data resynchronization and magnetic separation of the ground. The first solution allows different methods to release from the transmission on USB, using on-board reference oscillator with low jitter of the DAC is capable of re-clocking of incoming data from the computer with absolute precision. The second solution allows to completely decouple
the ground of the computer from that of the DAC, allowing the transmission of signals at high speed but without the noise generated by the computer. We can say that, whatever the computer, the playback quality will always be at the highest levels. Whether it's music from a PC, MAC or traditional source such as a CD player, DAT, satellite receiver 's USB dac32 represent the heart of your system, capable of dialoguing with each type of source always at the highest levels.
USB dac32 ... the future is already in your hand

Model 192 DAC


Price inquiry and additional information?

The Model 192 DAC is without any doubt the most famous NSD product around the world.
This DAC represent a cost effective solution to upgrade the sound of a mid-low class CD-player.
The Model 192 DAC is a 192/24 upsampling DAC with anti-jitter and discrete design analogue stage. Five digital inputs are available on different standard with a proprietary I2S standard on RJ45 connector. This DAC represents a significant example of the modern digital sound: dynamic and sweet with a wide sound stage.
What your CD’s want!


  • Compact and slim line

  • S/PDIF, AEF/EBU, I2S digital input

  • Separated toroidal transformers for digital and analogue

  • High quality mains filter

  • Discrete design analogue stage

  • Cirrus CS8420 digital receiver/upsampler

  • NPC SM5849 192/24 digital upsampler

  • Cirrus CS4396 192/24 DAC

  • Low jitter digital reclocking

Product reviews:


EXTREMO DAC - A True HiEnd Reference Unit


Price inquiry and additional information?

The Extremo 192/24 DAC is the North Star Design’s flagship digital-to-analog converter.
This unit is the result of many years experience of our R&D in digital and analogue research.
Each part of this DAC, from digital input to analogue output, is optimized by intensive listening sessions. The Extremo DAC can be connected via S/PDIF or AES/EBU to any existing digital source like CD-player, DAT, CD-transport.
A I2S digital input allows a direct link with M192 CD-transport for the best audio performance.
When you buy an Extremo DAC you can be sure that nothing similar exist at this price level and you will give a new life at your CD sound.


  • Compact size

  • High rigidity metal frame

  • High quality mains filter

  • Shielded power supply

  • Rubber insulated aluminium feet

  • Digital input on NEXTGEN RCA connectors

  • True balanced analogue output

  • Double mono balanced analogue stage

  • Cirrus CS8416 digital receiver

  • Analogue Devices AD1896 digital upsampler

  • Texas 2 x PCM 1792 DB DAC

  • Fully discrete analogue stage design

  • Separate Toroidal transformers for digital and analogue

  • Very low jitter system clock management

  • Fully insulated digital input


Avaliable finishes:

ClassicSilver Satin

Black SatinConcerto

Some quotes from the review in the:      

"Well, whatever you think of the swish styling, the most important aspect of the £1,249 Model 192 transport is that it features a proper heavyweight Phillips PRO 2 CD transport (typically only seen in exotically priced, high-end designs, like the £4.195 Chord Electronics BLU transport and the new £8,000 Audio Research CD7 player for instance), complete with compliant suspension in its chassis. The second interesting specifi cation which differentiates the Model 192 from most CD players/ transports - is the option of using a 12S digital output."

"Considering this is a totally unknown brand to me, and I suspect to much of the hi-fi world, I have to say how (pleasantly) surprised I was at this transport/DAC combination. The layering of the violins and stringed instruments from ‘String Quartet 1 ‘Metamorphoses Nocturnes’ by György Ligeti from his 1997 release ‘String Quartets And Duets’ was most impressive, as the North Stars ably handled the rather demanding and dynamic music with aplomb. Resolution of the stringed instruments was excellent, very similar in quality to the £6,190 Chord Electronics BLU/DAC64 transport/DAC I reviewed last year. "

"The North Stars will provide a fatigue-free music making experience. To my ears, they have almost all the redoubtable ability of the £6,190 Chord Electronics BLU/DAC64 combination but at approximately only half the cost and therefore, in a high-end context, represent superb value. "


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