When we embarked on developing our next generation standalone music playing platform, we want something revolutionary. The standard approach by all other vendors have been to take a motherboard (embeded Windows, Linux, Android), change the DAC and headphone amp, improve the power supply. The most advance portable players from Sony, A&K etc are all taking this approach.
For high end system, we have computer (PC, Mac, Windows) sending out USB audio to external DAC+headphone amp. Music comes from local HD, network DLNA and online streaming and all goes through different route to reach the DAC.
So what can we do to fundamentally improve the entire system? How can we do something that leapfrog the competition?
As we progress through the development cycle of Omnia in the past 18 months, we got more ambitious and we kept raising the bar.
Here we are, almost ready for the release of Omnia. And it is time to disclose a few very cool features.
(photo taking from prototype board)Motherboard and Omnia Audio Processor Unit (OAP Unit)
It is an open Android OS so it is possible to install other Apps (streaming app, office software, etc). The main board is customized for playing music so graphics intensive games are not recommended. Watching 1080P video is ok.
The most innovative feature that sets it apart from any music playing computing platform is the isolation of audio processing from degradations due to high CPU utilization or signal drop-off resulting from wireless congestion. The OAP Unit does the following:
- Caching of digital music (yes, it can prefetch entire playlist into internal cache independent of the CPU)
- Jitter elimination to undetectable level
- The ability of Omnia to access memory cards of various qualities and types for uncompromising performance
The implication of this design is that we have to implement the low level audio API and the Omnia app. So this is a complete redesign work from motherboard to firmware to operating system layer API. But in order to ensure that other Apps work and Android OS can be upgraded, only the NuPrime implemented Omnia app is able to take advantage of the custom hardware. For example, if you use some other music player, the OAP Unit will be bypassed.DAC & headphone amp boardThis is now a customer replaceable module
Omnia will be shipped (in January 2017) with ES9018K2M by default, but if you prefer the slightly warmer AK4490EQ, it is also available. You can also buy both modules just for fun.
Omnia P1 is capable of replacing a high-end desktop DAC and headphone amp owing to separate professional true-balanced 3-pin XLR left and right outputs through a NuPrime-designed OPA chip with high output current for ample desktop power.
It is THE ONLY portable product that I know of with two separate 3-pin XLR outputs. Other portable products that support XLR output has a single 4-pin output. 400mW x 2 of custom OPA chips!
Ultra-low-noise power supply with super capacitor (470,000µF) for fine detail and deep bass.
USB-C port for high speed external drive • Internal SD card • Internal battery for 7.5 hours listening • HDMI GDI & Optical output • Multi-zone streaming • Stereo streaming at 32-bit/384kHz or DSD256 between two Omnia P1 • AllPlay, AirPlay and DLNA based standard • 5” touch screen (IPS 1280x720)
There is a companion Omnia H1 dock that has HDMI, Optical output, Stereo RCA outputs, RJ45, 3 x USB-C port.
Just to be clear, this is not a portable DAC replacement and it is not meant to be connected as a DAC to the computer (what's the point, after all the work to redesign the motherboard). You use it as a stand alone music server (therefore 3 x USB-C port), music player, streamer, receiver.
Omnia P1 (send) ----- stream ----> Omnia P1 / WR-100 or SONOS (via AirPlay)
Omnia P1 (as DLNA) --- stream ---> Omnia P1 / WR-100, or any other streamer and receiver
Omnia P1 also appears as network (SAMBA interface) hard drive so you can drag and drop music files onto it from your computer
Omnia P1 --> Optical output --> high-end DAC to music system. This is only required if you have many other digital sources. Otherwise just connect Omnia to power amp.
Omnia iOS app is planned to mid 2017. The use of iOS app is not necessary at this point even if you have an all Mac/iOS system. Omnia P1 is a standalone system, and you can stream to it via AirPlay, or share the music library with your Mac (remember that Omnia can appear as a network drive). iOS or Android app can be used to control other future "screen-less" Omnia devices.