The new Hifime Sabre 9018 DAC is a great sounding audiophile DAC at an unbelievable price. We have picked the most important features to include in this DAC be able to make a incredible sounding DAC at this low price. It comes in a new nice looking case which is still simple and keeps cost down.
The sound from the Sabre 9018 is very detailed with a great soundstage. The 9018 DAC chip is a high end chip and combined with the Sabre headphone driver makes a great sounding combo. The noise is very low and can be used with also the most sensitive headphones. It is tested to work and sound great with Audio Technica ath-m50 (38 ohm, 99dB), Sennheiser hd650 (300 ohm, 103 dB), IEM: JH Audio JH-13 (28 ohm, 116dB).
The Sabre 9018 works without drivers with all major systems and programs; Windows, MAC, Linux. iTunes, Spotify, and Android see compatibility list).
First USB type C DAC ! (optional)
The Sabre 9018 might also be available with USB type C plug if there is enough interest for this. It connects and works without adaptors with the new Macbook, the newest Google Nexus phones and other computers using the new USB type C plug. Go here to contribute to the type C plug crowdfunding campaign:
- Sabre ES9018k2m DAC chip and SABRE9601 headphone and line out driver, SA9023 USB receiver chip
- Works and sound great with most headphone (including low impedance IEM and high impedance headphones) and all line level devices (preamps, amplifiers)
- Accepts 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz and 96kHz inputs files @16 and 24 bit.
- Volume controlled by computer vol +/- keys
- Ultra low noise regulator LP5907 with added noise reducing aluminium solid capacitors (NCC PSF series)
- Patented Time Domain Jitter Eliminator (by ESS Technologies)
- Optical output
- No drivers required! Optional Windows ASIO drivers available
- 122dB SNR
- 110dB THD+N: 2V rms @ 600 ohm load
- 100dB THD+N: 30mW @ 32 ohm load
- No DC blocking capacitors on the output
- Power usage: 40-80 mA depending on sample rate and volume
- Dimensions:5.5 x 3.5 x 1.8 cm (without cable)
- Weight 30g
32kHz to 96kHz resolution
The Sabre 9018 DAC can play any format (MP3, AIFF, FLAC etc) from CD quality up to high resolution 96kHz files. It does not support 196k or 384kHz natively, nor does it play DSD files. Why? Most people does not have 192/384/DSD files. You do not benefit from a 384kHz capable DAC when playing CD quality (or high resolution 96kHz) files. If you need a 192kHz/384kHz/DSD DAC then we have other options for you. We have intentionally omitted this for all of our customers that don’t play 384kHz/DSD so you can save and get a better sounding CD quality DAC.
But I thought higher resolution is better??
If you have bough high resolution 192kHz/384kHz files then yes it is better to have a DAC capable of decoding 192/384 without downsampling. If you like most people play CD’s, FLAC, Apple lossless, MP3's, iTunes, Spotify, Tidal high resolution etc then you will not benefit from a 192/384kHz capable DAC.
The benefits of max 96/24 includes:
- No drivers needed!
- Responds to system volume level in detailed 64 steps
- It works with the USB isolator to further reduce noise from the computer and improve clarity and sound quality
- You don’t pay extra for what you don’t need
More technical background
The most important parts in a DAC is:
- DAC chip
- Headphone/output driver (if any)
- Power supply
We have chosen a great sounding and performing pair (ESS Sabre ES9018k2m DAC+SABRE9601 driver) and added DC noise filtering to improve the DC power quality from the USB port. There are great performing aluminum solid capacitors together with a new ultra low noise regulator (LP5907). We spent a long time designed and optimised the 4 layer PCB for the circuit in order to achieve the best performance and low ECM noise.
USB transfer mode
After careful experimentation we have chosen USB adaptive mode for this DAC. You can read more about the difference between synchronous, adaptive and async here: http://hifimediy.com/news/asynchronous-usb-audio--asynchronous-digital-to-analog-converters
The Sabre 9018 is also our first DAC to use our new case. We have made a simple case at minimal added cost compared to the generic case we have been using before.
( Two questions posted in reviews moved to the forum post: http://support.hifimediy.com/support/discussions/topics/8000002794 )
Please comment or ask questions in forum.