The sound quality is great. The amp is only good with IEMs. The sound quality is not so good with philips X2 directly plugged. However, the sound quality is excellent when I pair the 9018 DAC with a Fiio E12 amp. The sound stage is not very big, but it feels like listening live concert in a room. The resolution is high and you can hear every detail with accurate position. The DAC is definitely worth the price. A good amp is a must if you use a headphone instead of an IEM.
Issue with OS El Capitan: upgrading to 10.11.4 Beta fixes this. Device works perfect again!
I bought this a couple of days ago from Amazon (UK) and can only repeat the other comments - good and bad. The sound quality and amp are of a very high standard and astonishing for the price but the USB cable/connection is really poor and feels flimsy - the build quality is much worse than the Android mini DAC I also own.
It works from my laptop with USB Isolator. I thought it didn't work because of power comsuming but it does work. I know I can't go up 96/24 but that's ok, I use Tidal with it. And the USB Isolator really does work! Very happy.
How to resume my impresssion!!!
forget the 9023.
Using this one, i discovered a new time all my music and i find it even better that the asynchronous 9018.
The sound stage is so detailled.
I'm french and with the help of this one, i can now catch so easily nearly every english word unless it was so hard before with the Dragonfly or the 9023.
I use it on my raspberry pi with an iphone 1A power(the 5V source with lowest noise i found) using mopidy and the experience is so good now that i can't imagine something sounding better.
I have this great little DAC for a week now and the sound is simply great. I use it with a vintage amp and my self designed and build speakers, a tree-way (Visaton RHT12S, Dynaudio D54, Vifa 21wp250) large floor standing speaker. I have no experience with high level DAC's because i used my Sony H855TV dac.
The improvement is huge and the sound, witch already was good, is of a other level. The sound became more alive, dynamic with a deep soundstage and lots of tonal detail, separation and musicality. Good recordings sound great, less good recordings more flat then before. My wife thought i was using other equipment ;-) and i showed this little simple black box and she was stunned about the difference. Great job, Hifimediy guy's, thanks for the great product!
Works seamlesslly with my moto G 4g :) very good sound compared to my phone, more clean and detailing.
Moved up from the Fiio K1 to this....... I cant believe i wasted my time with that. This makes the K1 look like a toy. Hifime did an amazing job with this. Seriously, this beats my desktop dac/amp combo... bottom line I am a happy customer :)
A big THANK YOU! Thank you for your passion and for your hard work - this DAC rocks.
I have the ES9023 as well but this one sounds much clearer & crispier and makes Monitor Audio BX2s vibrate just as they should with a Marantz PM6004 amp.
Received mine and while it´s still in breaking-in period (48h for now) the results are very promising and possitive.
I completely agree with Corley, for this task (Dac+integrated amp), this approach and implementation is very smart and the results are quite remarkable. The amp is VERY powerful and capable, it drives even difficult headhpones like my AKG K701 on the go with an astonishing ease but with headphones like AKG Y50 this dac really excels offering huge amounts of deep, controlled bass with detailed and transparent highs without any harshness.
Perhaps the only complaint to mention is that I would have preferred that the USB plug had been directly soldered to the board like all the others similar DACs. The integrated usb cable seems to be quite standard (WBT silver soldering? surely not...) instead of a direct, soldered connection perhaps would help even more to get a more quality sound removing the cord.
I'll compare the Asynchronous 9018 and this one, the Adaptive 9018. I find the Adaptive model is a little more efficient with its amp and more dynamic in the balance between bass and treble at the expense of accuracy. The Async model is still better, but it depends on the purpose. I use the Async as a desktop converter mostly, since I then Amp it separately with a hybrid valve setup. Where this model shines for me is being able to drive my 600 OHM Beyer T1 headphones really well by itself. They can both do it, but the extra dynamic power from this model allows volume, dynamics, deep bass, crystal clear transparency and silky smooth trebles without needing anything else but my phone and this converter. I think the Async model has a more accurate soundstage, I think of the Adaptive as fun and energetic. They are both miles above the excellent 9023 models. There seems to be a logical problem with it sometimes dropping out every few seconds until you stop and start it again, then it's ok.
Good price and sound. Died after 2 years of using.
I compared the T1 to an elderly Yamaha A1 and a few other t-amps. The A1 was particularly interesting since it is a massive device from the 1980's (or slightly earlier), which was very expensive at the time. It sounds perfectly good in isolation, but the T1 somehow just sounds rather dramatically better. This is a bit annoying, because it means I keep having to run my outfit through a patchwork circuit board and power supply, which is a lot less impressive to look at than the A1. However I'm probably stuck with it since the other t-amps aren't quite as good as the T1 either - and they also come in boxes.
So, rating: stellar.
The greatest and best DAC I've ever received till date. Guys do check out headfi and audio forum reviews about this DAC I'm sure all those reviews up there and the reviews here will be fully convincing to your ears.
A history of all DAC's I own till date:
Trasam HA2+ (Dissapointing, beaten by my phone built-in DAC)
My phone MI Note with ESS Sabre DAC (Good)
UH-1... best DAC ever owned without a question. Extremely revealing DAC with clarity (never miss a beat in complex musics), a little sharp (like most ESS dac's sound signature) but otherwise it is/or sound extremely close to neutral harmony.
Wonderful and prompt customer support from Cindy, whom immediately shipped a DAC after informing her the previous one was sent to wrong country due to an honest mistake.
I'm all for supporting small reputable audio businesses, using UH-1 with my AN speakers and sonic t amp, none ever disappoint me being amazing value for money. Your money will be safe here @ hifime, shop wisely everyone!
Really good product ! The sound is really clear with good details. I have the Sabre ES9023 too, but I didn't take the time to make a real side/side comparison since the ES9023 is in my car 'home made' installation... But this 9018 sounds to be a great update ! Works well with Linux, and Android Nexus 7 (2013 model - Marshmallow CyanogenMod based)...