This model is discontinued. The new version is here: https://hifimediy.com/Sabre-9018-DAC
In the Hifime UAE27 dac we have managed to fit the high resolution, audiophile Sabre ES9018K2M DAC chip in a tiny compact box, the same used in our U2 and UAE23 Sabre dac’s. We used a double PCB to be able to fit in this small box. This chip has great specs like 127dB DNR, -120dB THD+N and patented Time Domain Jitter Eliminator.
The USB receiver is the Savitech SA9227 USB used in asynchronous mode (more about that here). It supports all sample rates up to 384kHz/32 bit and are clocked by two onboard oscillators. Hifime 9018 has MAX97220A headphone chip that can drive headphones down to 16 ohm as well as higher impedance headphones as the Sennheiser HD650. The volume level goes quite loud, more than enough for 300ohm HD650’s.
It works without drivers in Mac, Linux, and requires drivers to be installed in Windows. Note that 384kHz only works with ASIO which is accepted by some programs only, and not by Chrome, Youtube etc. Chrome on Mac’s also doesn’t support 384kHz. It uses by default USB Audio Class 2 which is required for sample rates above 96kHz. It will switch down to Class 1 if USB High speed mode is not available. It also have (like the U2 and UAE23) an optical output, which works up to 192kHz. In addition to normal PCB format It can play DSD files.
We think the sound of this DAC is really great! Another cool features is that it works with Android 5.0! This makes it a super small portable highly audiophile solution. Only caveat with phones is that it draws much more power than our smaller Android dac. The Nexus 6 battery lasts for 6 hours when playing constantly with the 9018 dac.
Update: Also reported working with LG G Flex running Android 4.4
- Compact size
- Audiophile Sabre ES9018K2M chip
- No drivers required for Mac and Linux. Drivers available for Windows
- Accepts all sample rates up to 384kHz/32bit
- Asynchronous USB transfer
- Analog and digital (optical) output from 3.5mm connector
- Volume level responds to computer hot keys, –however only in 8 steps. This is the behaviour of SA9227 USB receiver. You can fine tune volume level in software.
- Works plug-n-play with Android 5.0 Lollipop (Nexus 6 tested). Responds to system volume level/vol+/. keys.
- SNR: 112.5dB @ 1kohm, 109dB @ 600ohm
- THD: 0.0035% @32ohm, 20mW
- Crosstalk: 1kHz,10kOhm: -125dB, 1kHz, 32ohm -125dB
- Output power: 1.05Vrms/2.94Vpp@1kHz. 31mW @ 32ohm. In real life this DAC is much more powerful than UAE23/U2. It can drive most 16-300ohm headphones.
- Output impedance: 2 ohm
- Power consumption: Standby 170-190mA. Max draw 270mA
Download Savitech Windows driver here (updated april 16th). New driver supports Win 10 here.
The windows driver must be installed for the DAC to work on USB 2.0 ports. However you don’t have to use the ASIO output. The ASIO driver’s control panel will say “Device not available” even if the dac is connected. It will only show the device name when you have selected the ASIO output in a player program and when playing music.
Guide to setup DSD playback in Foobar here.
Foobar plugin files for DSD playback here.
QUESTIONS (moved from reviews)
I hope to see micro usb option as the purpose of taking this DAC is for phone. Would you consider for this …?
We did consider this actually, however as the dac draws power quickly, we think it’s not that convenient. It can also be used with the small OTG adaptor. Then you can also use it with your computer. We could make a few with microUSB next time if there is enough interest.
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.
Works on LG Nexus 5 (2013) v5.1.1. Tried with Tidal App and Youtube. Simple plug and play.
Corley Kinnane –
This 9018 Sabre DAC has a refined sense of balance between flat and dynamic – incredible precision, it’s analytic, even more so than the U2.
Unlike the U2, this 9018 DAC needs an amp into high impedance phones to get all the detail.
I use a hybrid valve amp it keeps the detail with the warmth and silky zest of valves.
This DAC will reveal floors in recordings easily and recorded distortion will appear unveiled leaving you certain where the distortion originated. Quality sources will sound not just precise, but balanced across the frequency range, with vocals sounding vivid and textured.
The volume control is a annoying, so few steps, another reason this DAC is really well suited to being amped.
It might be ok to go direct with lower impedance headphones, it has ample volume in any configuration, but this DAC deserves an amp and quality phones.
It’s simple, just trying to not interfere with the base output of the fantastic Sabre design, it doesn’t need to try too hard.
Source : Audacious en sortie ALSA → USB Audio (SA9023 & SA9227) / PC Debian
1 – Ampli Tripath & HP Dynaudio (monitor)
2 – Casque Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro
DAC -> câble de modulation «jack /RCA » [http://hifimediy.com/Accessories/audio-cables/headphone-jack-to-RCA-cable-1-meter]
Fichiers audio à 44,100kHz 16 bit (~CD Audio)
Différences audibles entre Sabre U2 & Sabre 9018
1/ Chaine HiFi :
– Même niveau de sortie.
– Différences audibles. Le Sabre 9018 sonne plus clair sur l’ensemble des registres. (le 9023 sera plus agréable pour certains auditeurs)
2/ Casque audio :
– Niveau sonore plus fort pour le 9018.
– Son plus détaillé sur les registres médium et aigu pour le 9018. Pour le grave, c’est moins flagrant.
Le Sabre 9023 est bon dans les deux cas.
Pour le casque préférez le 9018.
+ le 9018 chauffe plus (pas grave)
++ la LED du 9023 ne s’allume qu’en lecture audio , le 9018 reste allumé
My full review at Head-Fi: http://www.head-fi.org/products/hifime-9018-asynchronous-high-resolution-usb-dac/reviews/12586
– Detailed sound
– Controlled (tight bass, clear highs)
– Instrument separation, even with busy recordings
– Limited output power
– 8 level volume control
– Plastic housing
– LED location
The HiFime 9018 is a definite improvement compared to the sound card of my MacBook Pro. I still recommend an amp to drive high impedance HFS like the HD650 and my pair of DT990 250Ohm. Maxed out it will drive the DT990 to a loud listening level but nothing more.
Android 5 native support works like a charm, really nice for those bedtime listening sessions 🙂
The LED indicator is on the bottom while connected to a laptop. Weird!
I compared the HiFime 9018 to the Fiio E10k. They are close with a slight edge towards the 9018s sound. Then again the Fiio has a more capable amp & high quality finish.
Quality DAC but limited amp for high impedance headphones. Technically superior to its predecessors although no longer the great bargain.
Hifime reply: Thanks for the feedback. We had to reduce the max output power so that the DAC would not be too loud with many normal headphones. The 9018D model with display and 255step volume control will have higher output—————————————————————– 2 reviews merged ———————————————————– @Alex, @HiFime: I also cannot alter the volume below 0db while listening to DSD files with Audirvana+ on Mac. Luckily for me this still is a listenable volume on my 250 Ohm HPS. I suspect the reason is that below 0db the digital signal going into the DAC chip is altered by the USB receiver’s volume control. Is there a way around this? Will this also be the case with the 9018D’s lossless volume control, I guess not? In any case native DSD128 files really show the true potential of the DAC. What an amazing sound! Hifime reply: Yes, volume level of DSD is not supported by the USB receiver. Not sure if any other USB receivers support this. The 9018D model will be able to change the volume on, as the volume level is adjusted in the DAC chip. You can take further discussion/replies here: http://hifimediy.com/news/announcing-new-dacs-hifime-9018-series.html
This is a preposterously good DAC. If you have an android phone and you want an upgrade from your current headphone out, please do yourself a favor and buy this one. I cannot recommend the smaller 9023 android dac, which made my JH Audio Roxannes sound muddy, but this 9018 one draws enough power to make my Roxannes sound quite good. I never listen to my android phone without this.
Upgraded from the HIFIMEDIY SABRE USB DAC ES9023 96KHZ/24BIT to HIFIME 9018 ASYNCHRONOUS HIGH RESOLUTION USB DAC – I stream Tidal>Windows 8.1>SSD HD>J River>silver interconects>Marantz MP6004>Celestion Ditton 44’s(old but a great warm sound) and find a good increase in fidelity, detail, Bass/trebble definition and sound stage. Upped Bass and mid range by 3-5 db. Very pleased wit the results. My only hassle (which does not affect the end sound quality) is that I could not get ASIO to work so I output in WASAPI at 192/24 which is what the incoming signal is from Tidal. Overall very pleased with sound and well worth the price.
good dac but I have a problem to listen SACD files on a computer with foodbar. There is no possibility to adjust the volume : listen with headphones is impossible. Do you have a solution to allow foodbar to adjust volume on SACD files (ISO, DSF…) ?