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Hifime UDA38Pro DAC (ES9038Pro + SA9227)

Hifime UDA38Pro DAC (ES9038Pro + SA9227)
Views: 38766 Brand: HiFime
Product Code: 10000158
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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).

Power requirements

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.


  • USB (all USB ports accepted) All PCB sample rates up to 384kHz and DSD64/128
  • Digital Optical SPDIF. Up to 192kHz


  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • RCA stereo


  • Chips: ES9038Pro, SA9227, OPA1622
  • 58 step Digital lossless volume control
  • Two inputs: USB (type-B) and SPDIF Optical selectable by switch
  • Optional DC input. Can run on USB power when DC power is not connected
  • USB input supports all frequency rates up to 384kHz 16/24/32 bit and DSD64 and DSD128
  • Optical inputs supports up to 192kHz
  • Asynchronous USB transfer. 
  • DAC is clocked by 80 MHz TCXO
  • Output: 3.5mm and RCA
  • DC input: 5-12VDC min 500mA. 9-12VDC 1A recommended (not included)
  • DC input plug: 5.5/2.1, inside pin is positive.
  • 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

  • THD+N-116@32ohm

  • USB Power consumption: 450-520mA without external power, 110-120mA with external power
  • Size: 10 x 8 x 3 cm

Model: UAE38Pro

5 ( 5 / 5 )
For the beginning, I checked it with Crossfade LP2 headphones, and I imediatelly noticed wider soundstage comparing to 9018 based dac I used before (same range price, Apogee Groove), however I lost the bass power that Groove provided and I could not live without it. :) I checked it later with my Stax combo, and started to appreciate more in this combination. The overall transparency and detail was a pleasure to listen to, for good recordings. The only thing that I miss from my previous 9018 based dac used for Stax, was the... power button. :( It would be great to have a way to turn off all the lights when not in use. Adding separate power supply did not improve noticeable the sound in my case. The bass was still shy, but that is not a big problem since I will use them with Stax.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
The UDA38Pro exceeded my expectations. Having heard MANY dacs in the sub $500 range over the years, I was initially skeptical of the performance capable of an ES9038Pro based unit at such a low price. I was pleasantly surprised to find this dac to not have the typical Sabre sound of cheaper dacs. This dac is more three dimensional with a beautiful midrange. Make sure to give it the best quality power supply possible and you will be rewarded.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
A very technically capable DAC - neutral, smooth, realistic texture and detail. It has a sweet and liquidic character, an extremely pleasant and addictive sound. For me it is close to perfect. I can only compare to the Audio-GD R2R11 DAC and I think the UDA38 Pro is superior. The R2R11 had an unnatural coarseness to the sound, lacking in fine detail and sounding smeared with more complex music. the lossless volume works very well, there is no quality loss at any level. as mentioned by another reviewer it doesnt get very loud till about halfway, its a very steep logarithmic curve.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
My Setup USB input from MacOS, playing flac on foobar 2000 OPT input from Chromecast audio streamed from my android phone Output through RCA to my Linn integrated Amp, with Sonus faber Concertino speaker Some limitation: When listening to OPT, turn on the Mac with USB connection will break the OPT transmittion, need to reset it in order to resume the music The Volume control is not efficient, need to turn up the volume very high in order to send enough sound signal to the amplifier. Mainly Listening to Jazz and classical music. The sound is very balanced. It is not low heavy or sharp high. The sound can be regard as the most smoothest and natural-sounding I have ever heard. It is also dynamic with detail. It is easy to listen and can attract me listening more and more.

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