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Andrii Volikov

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HiFime UAE23HD USB DAC (ES9018K2M+SA9023)

HiFime UAE23HD USB DAC (ES9018K2M+SA9023)
Views: 246659 Brand: HiFime
Product Code: 10000146
Availability: In Stock
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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
5 ( 5 / 5 )
I was shopping for an inexpensive USB DAC for my my laptop/Spotify setup when I stumbled across a review of the Sabre 9018. I was running the headphone jack into my Nobsound HiFi 6J1 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier > TubeCube | 7 Stereo Vacuum Tube Amplifier: an awesome little 3.5 watt tube system ($225 total + tube upgrades). It sounded great, but instrument separation/definition and soundstage were lacking. It was also a bit harsh to my ears. This is the best $70 I've ever spent on a music system. Hands down. All frequencies are smoother, yet clearer and more defined. Bass sounds much fuller and more rounded; treble is crisp, but not harsh. But, I'm amazed at the difference in midrange vocals. This is where things really bloomed. The DAC also completely eliminated a bad hiss I got from the headphone jack. The Sabre 9018 DAC has brought my system very close to the warmth and clarity of my Music Hall MMF 7 turntable. I'm totally satisfied with this product and will recommend it to others!
5 ( 5 / 5 )
I use this in office with my work laptop and a pair of iLoud Micro Monitor at very low volume. Makes the speakers come alive, and me glued to the table. Very good details, wider and a bit deeper soundstage, bass is extended and hits lower. Good dynamics and micro details. I know I nail it with this DAC as I'm just glued to listening compared to before I just constantly wanted to tinker with the setup to improve sound. I have used 3 other DACs with this setup so far. Fiio E10K which sounded more polite with less dynamics and bass. Dragonfly black v1.5 which sounded as good as this Es9018k2m but with graininess. And also Mojo which sounds very very similar but let's just say more controlled but by no means lacking. Overall I think I just prefer this ES9018K2M. It just makes the music feels right. One thing to note however is EMI or RFI. I have to find some shielding.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
I'm new to stand-alone DACs and wanted one for listening to my FLAC collection without having to go through my computer's old ESS soundcard or having to burn to CD for listening on my component system. I settled on the affordable Sabre 9018. It sounds amazing with my Denon AH-D2000 headphones and drives them nicely with computer volume set at only about 30%. Lots of power to spare. If it ends up sounding even better after burn-in, I'll be smiling! I haven't tried the optical output yet but look forward to hearing how it does directly into my component systems. I have neither 'golden ears' nor experience with other DACs but I'm very happy with this purchase. A great value for the price.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
To David regarding using the adaptive mode 9018 on Linux... I use Linux on Intel, Android and on Raspberry Pi with many HiFimeDIY DACs, the only difference I found was power consumption, the Async one does sound the best I agree, but I couldn't drive it with some Android devices I think due to power, whereas the U2 and others worked ok from Android, although I get stutters with the 9023 U2, which could either be power or just a bad instance of this model. This Adaptive mode 9018 worked on all my Linux devices with no hiccups, I'd say it's not Linux, but most likely the particular instance of the product, it may need to be returned and replaced.
1 ( 1 / 5 )
The decision to go with adaptive over asynchronous was, IMHO, a cost-cutting solution that is bad for the end user. I've had excellent success with this product's predecessor, the Asynchronous Sabre U2, but this one doesn't work in Linux (with mpd) at all well. Jitter and stuttering aplenty, while the U2 works a treat. HIFIME reply: It works with other Linux devices, there might be settings you can change to fix this. Try adjusting buffer or process priority/niceness. This isn't directly related to async vs adaptive, but some other settings with the 9018.

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Tags: Hifime, Sabre, 9018,
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