Hifime UDA38Pro DAC (ES9038Pro + SA9227)
The Hifime UDA38Pro utilises the ESS Sabre ES9038Pro DAC chip that has received a lot of attention and praised as the most important new DAC chip in ages. It has impressive specifications and some great features like the THD compensation that minimises THD (distortion) caused by external components. It also benefits from ESS’s patented 32-bit HyperStream DAC technology that is also present in other ESS Sabre chips like the ES9018.
We have paired the ES9038Pro with OPA1622 output stage amplifier that can drive a wide range of loads including low and high impedance headphones and also line level loads like preamps and amplifiers. The ES9038Pro DAC chip creates a detailed sound quality that also have a mature, profound feel to it making it sound very real.
The UDA38Pro comes in a small portable case that can be powered from USB only or with an additional external DC power supply (5V-12V supported). There is a 3.5mm mini-headphone jack output and a stereo RCA pair. A digital volume control sets the output level from the DAC chip to obtain lossless volume adjustment in 58 steps. The DAC is clocked by a 80MHz TCXO and accepts inputs via SPDIF optical and USB. The USB input is asynchronous and accepts all PCM sample rates up to 384kHz/32Bit (including all MP3, FLAC etc) and DSD64 and DSD128. SPDIF input that accepts rates up to 192kHz/24bit.
No drivers are required in Mac, Linux and Windows 10 (Windows drivers are available for Win 7-9).
The DAC can get power from USB and doesn’t need any external power supply to function with a computer. With some Android phones it will require external power to work. It also needs external power when used at full volume with low efficient, power hungry headphones like the Hifiman HE-5LE, as they draw to much current and will make the DAC partially cut out in peaks. Power consumption is around 450mA without external PSU and 115mA with external PSU connected.
It accepts a wide range of external power, from 5V to 12V DC, minimum 500mA We recommend 9 to 12V and min 1A.
We have tested the DAC with many different headphones and made it work with both sensitive in ear monitors as well as more demanding headphones like HD650 and even Hifiman HE-5LE (38ohm/87.5db). Android phones vary a lot on how they supports USB DACs, and compatibility can also change after Android OS updates, so it’s not easily said what phones are supported. So far we have tested the DAC with a few phones we have available.
Google Nexus 5X (Android 8.0.0) works (only tested with external PSU).
Xiaomi MAX (microUSB) also works without external power supply.
The Xiaomi Mi MIX (USB type-C) works, (also without external PSU connected however we experience some skips and ticks when power supply is not connected.)
The DAC will consume quite a lot of battery from a phone when external PSU is not connected. However it can be convenient to be completely mobile for a listening session and then quickly charge the phone.
Output power on USB power (5V): 70mW@30ohm, 3.75mW@600ohm
Output Voltage on USB power (5V) 1.5Vrms
Output power with ex 9V power supply: 125mW@30ohm, 11mW@600ohm
Output Voltage with ex 9V power supply: 2Vrms@32ohm, 2.6Vrms@10Kohm