The new Hifime Sabre 9018 DAC 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).
- 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
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: http://hifimediy.com/news/asynchronous-usb-audio--asynchronous-digital-to-analog-converters
The Sabre 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.