HiFime UAE23HD USB DAC (ES9018K2M+SA9023)

HiFime UAE23HD USB DAC (ES9018K2M+SA9023)
Views: 395990 Brand: HiFime
Product Code: 10000146
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Best portable DAC in Norwegian newspaper VG! 6 stars and best portable DAC of the Year in Lyd og Billede!


The Hifime UAE23HD DAC with Sabre 9018 is a great sounding audiophile DAC at an unbelievable price. We have picked the most important features to create an incredible sounding DAC packaged in a simple, nice-looking case at the lowest cost possible.



The high-end 9018 DAC chip combined with the Sabre headphone driver give a very detailed sound with a great soundstage. 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).



It works without drivers with all major systems and programs; Windows, MAC, Linux. iTunes, Spotify, and Android see compatibility list). iPhone adaptor available here (lightning to USB).



  • ESS 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 input files @16 and 24 bit.
  • Volume controlled by computer vol +/- keys
  • Ultra-low noise regulator LP5907 with added noise-reducing aluminum 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 users does not have 192/384/DSD files and 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 who don’t play 384kHz/DSD so they can save and get a better sounding CD quality DAC at a lower price. 


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 down-sampling. However, most users play CD’s, FLAC, Apple lossless, MP3's, iTunes, Spotify, Tidal high resolution etc, and 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
  • 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 are:

  • DAC chip
  • Headphone/output driver (if any) 
  • Power supply
  • Circuit/implementation

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 high-performing aluminum solid capacitors together with a new ultra low noise regulator (LP5907). We spent a long time designing and optimizing 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:



The DAC 9018 is also the first DAC to use our new case. We have made a simple case at minimal added cost compared to our existing generic case.

Model: uae23hd
2 ( 2 / 5 )
I don't know why you all giving 5 stars? I mean... the sound is really good but this DAC producing popping noises when music is not playing. When I browse internet it pops, when I explore system folders it popps and i have only 82dB efficient speakers and 20dB gain amp. DAC pops even with my low efficient headphones. They bragging that this DAC can handle 116dB headphones... whaaat? I think these headphones would explode! Oh and there is absolutely no warranty for this crap. I spoke with them for 5 days and they told me that i should set system volume for 100%... Nice solution, wonder how it's working with 116dB headphones? Is that a chinese sense of humor? HIFIME REPLY: There must have been a misunderstanding regarding the volume level for 116dB headphones. Also we always accept returns if it doesn't work as intended in your setup, and there is a 1 year warranty.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
Bought the UAE23HD to use with my office laptop. I've been using a $50 pair of Sony MDR ZX610 24ohm headphones for 2+ years and although my laptop was able to drive them easily (24 ohms) they sounded okay but a bit muddy and bass-heavy, yet not very clear. After plugging the Sony in the UAE23HD, I was amazed what a difference in sound, clarity and volume this DAC/Amp delivered out of the box. I could drive my phones at %30 system volume. I then bought the Audio Technica ATH-M40X (45ohms) and my laptop couldn't drive them at all. Then I plugged the ATH-M40X into the UAE23HD and WOW now I have a perfect setup in my office. These two go together really well producing enough loudness at 50-60% system volume, a crisp midrange, detailed bass response and highs that are not annoying. I'm still waiting on my ATH-M40X to burn in properly and refine the high frequencies. UAE23HD and Audio Technica ATH-M40X is a great match for me.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
For more than 15 years I am mainly listening to music from my PC and already experienced some huge sound quality improvements: Onboard Sound -> Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium = huge difference 200 EUR Magnat full size speakers -> KEF iQ5SE full size speakers = huge difference 200 EUR SONY amplifier -> AVM Evolution A2 high end amplifier = big difference With my latest setup (~190 kBit VBR MP3, Soundblaster X-Fi, AVM Evolution A2, KEF iQ5SE) I was quite happy for some years now. Then I heard about the HiFime USB DACs and decided to give it a try. Today I received the UAE23HD and … wow: Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium -> UAE23HD = big difference I was already presuming that the Soundblaster X-Fi was the bottleneck in my setup, but I wouldn't have thought that a 70 $ USB DAC would be that much better than a good sound card. Music brought tears to my eyes again (the same music I was listening to for years). Thank you so much for this awesome product!! I will recommend it to others!
5 ( 5 / 5 )
Fantastic unit! A clear upgrade from the regular UAE23. I am very happy with the performance of this unit, especially for the price, although I am not assessing it based on the price. Thanks to the folks here for making it possible to break into some great quality sound for relatively little expense.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
Just received this 2018 DAC and am a bit shocked at the clarity and overall great sound I'm getting from it now. At first I was a little disappointed until I warmed it up for about an hour and then loaded the ASIO driver with windows 10. The sound really came alive and started kicking butt. It was extremely dynamic with tight bass after loading that driver. The overall sound is so natural and live sounding now. What a great value, especially compared to the Dragon Fly Red which I also tested. The DR may have a little larger soundstage, but it did not seem as tight in the bass nor dynamic to my ears. This could be also due to the DR having the lower end 2016 DAC vs. the 2018 DAC in this HIfi. The overal fit and finish of this DAC with the plastic case may be on the lower end, but the sound is what really matters. I may wrap it up in some ultra strong tape to help protect it. Again, don't forget to try the ASIO driver because it drastically improved my sound.

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Tags: Hifime, Sabre, 9018,
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