Best value SABRE DACs?

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by nickwin, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Reduce notification noise and clutter, something something high signal to noise ratio, not HF, etc. etc.
     
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  2. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    @nickwin because we like it to keep the forum clean, not only from unwanted people but also from clutter.

    This:

    https://i.imgur.com/NG9KPTZ.png

    Is cluttering and that's the reason people refrain from doing it. Not only keeps everything in order but saves the moderators time and they, like most of us, use their free time to be here.
    It's good that you ask, it shows interest. I know that you already presented yourself and, if you haven't done it by now, take a look at:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/what-is-sbaf-must-read-version-2.5555/
     
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  3. nickwin

    nickwin Acquaintance

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    I didn't really see it as cluttering when its my thread that very few other people seem to have any interest in it and I also didn't realize it would require any "cleaning up" on anyone else's part but if thats the case I can certiainly oblige.

    I tend to just put different thoughts/topics in different posts and for some reason multi-quotes are a pain on my phone. Rules are rules though, I guess, ill try to do better from now on.

    Thanks for the explanation.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
  4. Jokko

    Jokko Friend

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    The Holo Cyan is the first DAC I really didn't care for. Lack of microdynamics, "plankton" and not to mention the limp dick bass. Made my Genelec's low end sound like the Pinnacle PX. Shame, because it looks gorgeous and head-amp is decent.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Microdynamics were coarse and flat. NOS to some extent. Mostly high price / performance ratio. And NOS should be charged less, not more.
     
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  6. Dzerh

    Dzerh Friend

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    as you are asking for a "best value", as an alternative, check one of ES9028PROs with two transformers from aliexpress with opamps of your choice. There are multiple sellers, most of the boards are of the same design with choice of ES9018/9028PRO/9038PRO.
    I'd not go for 9038PRO as I believe motherboard designs there are not allow to use it at full potential (not a much of engineering knowledge behind it, just some common sense) and it is not like I'd need it.

    I actually bought one sometime ago (for about $350 + shipping), just to have a "SABRE sounding DAC". It is OK (at least with ZDT Jr.), it sounds pretty resolving and airy to my ears (take into account that I can't hear past 14.5KHz) But I can't recommend it as I don't like the signature of the sound. Or to be more precise I like it less than "double PCM1794A" DAC I bought from the same seller for less than $80 (to have "Burr-Brown sounding DAC" also :) ) . Despite Burr-Brown's one is probably less technically capable.
     
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  7. NekoAudio

    NekoAudio Acquaintance

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    I didn't think the Sonica DAC sounded poor, and it was definitely a great value at the MSRP considering all the features that were included. The HA-1 was also an outstanding value IMO. Now both of them can go for a premium on eBay.
     
  8. Lemuel

    Lemuel Rando

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    My Yamaha Aventage 2060 has Sabre Dac chips and I also use the HiFiMe Sabre 9018 with my Yamaha R-S 500. I am very pleased with both systems and they sound great. I have not yet bought headphones (Hopefully, next year!). I noticed many budget Sabre dacs at Amazon in the $70 to $120 range. Many are aimed at portable audio and getting better sound out of Cell Phones. That is the primary use for my Sabre 9018. It is hard to judge the plethora of Sabre implementations with a broad brush and it would take time and $ to review a half dozen of these. My next dac probably will be the Schiit Mobi 3 (for my bedroom TV to an analog receiver). Besides the Dac chip, there is a huge amount of other audio components necessary for a dac that affect sound quality.
     
  9. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    I tried the Yamaha and returned it. Not only was YPAO pathetic, the "audiophile DACs" everyone kept talking about sounded way worse than my modi MB.
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    No it's not. While I cannot speak for the latest ESS 9038 models, of prior ones, only 1 of 12+ Sabre DACs sounded good, 2 were passable, and the 9+ rest sounded like ass, with several units costing over $4000+. That's what my broad brush says.

    As far as the other components (i.e., power supply, board layout, USB, inputs, etc.), they do matter, but the core engine remains the same, especially if it's chip based. This is why people who are experienced with these things can kind of tell what's in the box. The chips all have a certain sound.

    This is why I can say I've never heard a bad DAC using the AD1822 (or whatever part), be it Bricasti, Dangerous Source, or Lavry. Just the the better implementations sound better and the poorer ones don't sound like ass. Or why Wolfson DACs, including some Lampis, PWD, Gamma 2, EAR, are pretty good except for that stridency / rasp. Or why Cirrus just sounds dead and boring, but with deep and open staging.

    To put things in another way, you can't make a Sabre based DAC sound like any of the others, but you can certainly make the others kind of like Sabre DACs with crap implementations. The chip is the heart of the DAC.

    Putting a weak-willed brain more interested in veganism or social justice than winning football games at-all-costs into a young clone of Tom Brady's body does not make a Tom Brady - or Joe Montana, or Aaron Rodgers, or even Doug Williams.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
  11. Lemuel

    Lemuel Rando

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    The Yamaha AVRs have very good reviews, consistently high sales, repeat buyers, and happy customers. As long as Yamaha maintains its quality and brand leadership, I too will be a repeat buyer when the time comes.
     
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    So do Marvel superhero movies.

    To this day, the only one I truly like is still the first Ironman. And that wasn't Disney, it was Paramount.
     
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  13. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    I know. Doesn't mean it doesn't sound meh.

    I don't like the DAC in the NAD T758 v3 I have either, but the amp section is surprisingly okay when I use my spare Modi MB with it and DIRAC is so much better than YPAO.

    You'll learn here we don't give a shit what is popular or well reviewed. We care about what sounds good at the right price.
     
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  14. Lemuel

    Lemuel Rando

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    I was just speaking for myself. You are free to do as you please and make sweeping judgments about products you have never heard. And, as you plainly state, this is not hard for you to do. But I will refrain from doing as you do.
     
  15. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    Again I've listened to most of the aventage line and the 3080 most recently before making my decisions for my theater. The implementation sounds like shit. ESS gives you crap for documentation and the good implementations of ANYTHING in the SABRE family have more to do with mastery of the firmware and undocumented features ala Larry Ho implementations than almost anything else.

    Your dogmatic belief that you must be right probably indicates that you don't get SBAF at all.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Problem solved. Watching Marco Polo on Netflix has only made my resolve stronger. I wish Netflix didn't cancel it. Two more seasons would have been about right.
     
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  17. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    Luckily it only took (my) time, and no cash needed to change hands. Find below reviews of four ESS-based DACs (all in the $2000+ bracket). These are well-known mainstream and pro-audio audiophile brands: McIntosh, Simaudio, Benchmark, Wyred4sound. I concur with @zerodeefex that the Modi MB at $275 is better than any of these:
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ot-of-dac-talk-on-here.197/page-7#post-155986

    I shudder to think how the random implementations from unknown brands at < $100 on Amazon sound.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @Lemuel: permabanned for the following:
    1. Creating straw-man argument
    2. Appealing to authority (mass publications)
    3. Showing lack of deference to the bartenders.
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ^ great succinct impressions, and of those DACs I have heard, match mine.

    The McIntosh Sabre based D100 is indeed the one of the better ones, but it still sucks in the overall scheme of things, as you said. Which reminds me, the TOTL McIntosh SACD player, MCT550 / 600 is actually very good with decent headouts. $5k though.

    So I guess that makes it two Sabre DACs that I like, but then you just reminded me of three more units that I forgot about.
     
  20. Scubadude

    Scubadude Almost "Made"

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    I haven't spent much time comparing DACs but my daily driver for the last four years is a Wadia 121 which, as far as I can tell, is mostly (entirely?) free from Sabre nasties. Definitely none of the embellished detail and bleached timbre that I hear on the Nuprime uDSD. Having said that, the little Nuprime is a fantastic bargain and good enough to use in a pinch but I typically use it as a USB bridge to a vintage Theta Progeny. Another likable Sabre that crossed my path was the Twisted Pear Audio Buffalo III.
     
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