Polish brand Ferrum has announced the release of an improved version of its ERCO DAC and headphone amplifier. Thanks to a complete reprogramming of the ERCO software coupled with dramatic changes to the analog circuitry, the Ferrum ERCO Gen 2 is one step closer to the performance level of the WANDLA , Ferrum’s flagship converter. This upgrade is available for ERCO owners at a price of 1795 (EUR/USD) – which can be considered affordable for high-end/hi-fi.
A complete reprogramming of an original Ferrum ERCO DAC involves the implementation of a completely new firmware structure and goes much further than a typical firmware update. Ferrum ended up using the actual code from its SERCE digital audio system with module, using the experience gained during development to refine the original design into the ERCO Gen 2. The company’s entry-level DAC will now have DSP capabilities equal to WANDLA, providing support for 768 kHz, DSD512 , improved DAC performance and including the most preferred WANDLA digital filter.
The ESS DAC chip used in the ERCO Gen 2 is the ES9028PRO, not the ES9038PRO as in the WANDLA, but the ERCO Gen 2 also has important updates to the current-to-voltage (I/V) converter based on Ferrum’s experience with the WANDLA, which according to According to the company, it provides “more detailed and natural, immersive sound character.”
Because the digital hardware in ERCO is very similar to the hardware in the SERCE board, Ferrum was able to port the entire SERCE software stack into ERCO. This means that ERCO Gen 2 behaves exactly the same as if it were based on SERCE. This allowed for the addition of the HQ Apodizing digital filter, the same one available in WANDLA and preferred by current WANDLA users. Ferrum also bypassed the filters in ESS, including MQA for all non-MQA signals, and implemented playback of 768 kHz signals over USB. At the same time, according to the company, it was possible to reduce intermodulation and intersample distortion and adjust output levels to meet the RED book standard on the line output and maximum output power on the headphone outputs.