Best value SABRE DACs?

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

  1. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    There are competent Sabre based DACs, without having to go above the 4 digits mark (matrix x saber for example). The question is why would you if you can have significantly better, for much cheaper.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    This list is for people who don't like me painting with a broad brush:
    • AGD-NFB-7??.3.1.4.1..5.9.2.6.5 (C-) Get an X-Sabre, mediocre value
    • Matrix X-Sabre (C-) Strident highs, good value.
    • Auralic Vega (B-) Weird timbre, unless super clocking mode activated, and even then...
    • McIntosh MCD550 (A-) Not bad, high price
    • McIntosh D100 (C-) Don't buy "cheap" McIntosh, it's for losers
    • TP Buffalo (C+) Highly dependent on build. Feed DSD or PCM converted to DSD. PCM feed sounds like shit
    • Oppo BDP83SE (D) Strident highs, not impressive all around, not even a good transport
    • Oppo HA-1 DAC (D+) Everyone I know who got one can't get rid of it on audio forums
    • Mytek 192 DSD (F-) Will put people into a murderous rage
    • PSA Nuwave DSD (F+) OK in highs, but offensively bad in every other way
    • Benchmark DAC3 HPV Second coming of DAC1, not as lean, get an X-Sabre
    • LHL GOV2 (B) Amazingly good from a strange company
    • LHL GO450 (D) Really didn't care for it, although a lot of people liked it
    • Ressossossossnance Invicta (D) Can't cover up Sabre with lush and goo.
    • Ressossossossnance Concerto (F) Almost as unbearable as the Mytek
    • Ressossossossnance Herus (F+) Little bit more bearable, but garbage
    • Grace m920 (D+) Oh why oh why didn't they just keep the old m902 which was good (not Sabre)
    • Yulong DA8 (F-) Not as bad in highs as Mytek, and worse in all other ways, wannabe Invicta
    • Yulong A?? (F-) See above
    • Wyred DAC-2 (C-) Meh, the price is right now
    • Ibasso D100? (F) Couldn't stand after 60 seconds
    I've definitely heard more, but can't remember.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  3. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    One day will loan out the used WA8 Eclipse I picked up.
    my grade = B, probably because the tubez amp section offsets the sins of the Sabre ES9018K2M
     
  4. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I used to own the Oppo HA-1. I loved the functionality of it, I used it as a preamp for my system and the headamp was more than competent, I thought. But damn, that dac section was scary bad. dry and brittle-as-fuck highs that made every cymbal sound the same. The ES9018 is a POS chip. I lined-in a Bifrost Uber and it utterly smoked it in every way.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  5. mitochondrium

    mitochondrium Friend

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    The Codex using the same chip does not sound incompetent either.

    Isn’t the cheapest Sabre DAC available the best value? It will limit the loss once you decide to move on (and away from Sabre).
     
  6. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    The cheaper Yamaha CD players with the TI/BB dac chips are way less offensive than the more expensive ESS Sabre ones.

    I’ll take a warm 1990s Yamaha digital mixer for 200 bucks used over ESS Sabre please thank you
     
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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  7. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    Is this an ESS chip for sure? I couldn't find anything specific online.
     
  8. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

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    Not sure if this qualifies, but the newer Sabre Quad dac in my LG phone definitely has a better but different sound.
    The treble is still prominent, with exaggerated detailing but no longer strident replace with a type of very euphoric sweetness and exaggerated detailing , timbre, & sustain in the trebles region.


    Yes and although that is an old model, this is a similar approach I am noticing with the new chip and so I think they are addressing the strident issue and replacing it with some other euphoric qualities which are actually artificial in nature so although it will be a very clean and Sweet sound I don't think the latest iterations will have the resolution or "taps" resolve that a Yggdrasil has.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  9. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    The only Sabre DAC I have heard is the D50 which I had all of 2 hours before putting it on eBay where it belonged :/

    Definitely a fan of AKM. Is there a Best Value AKM Dacs source? :)
     
  10. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Umm...Schiit Modi?
     
  11. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Point taken sorry for making you state the obvious :oops:
     
  12. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    No worries. All of Schiit’s non-Multibit DACs are AKM. There’s a few around here that even prefer the sound of Gungnir D/S over Gungnir Multibit.
     
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  13. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Don't know about the phone, but this is how I would describe the sound of the 9218 implementation in the Shanling M0. Good enough for my old ears given the form factor and price. I know "good enough" is anathema in audiophiledom, but it is my constant companion.
     
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  14. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    So I own an Ayre Codex. Ayre's cheapest DAC that sells for $2,000 new. Killer product that's on the cheap side for an Ayre product. Uses a Sabre chip, but Ayre didn't make it sound like ass. I post my impressions on my unit on the Ayre Codex thread if you want to read me blabbing about it.

    Anyhoo, most of the time people are selling their used Ayre's for 50% off most of the time on Audiogon. Mostly due to they want to upgrade to an higher end Ayre product (and opening up their wallets for $5k-$10k in order to get that new product).

    Here's what I'm saying. If you want a backup or main setup DAC, willing to accept it flaws (USB and Toslink input only, USB is using Wavelength drivers - which will not play nicely with some streamers. Also has an odd shape), and have a balanced set up (Ayre designed their stuff to run best balanced), then getting the Codex for $1,000 is excellent value.

    Then again, some will still say $1,000 isn't good value. Better than paying $2,000 IMO.
     
  15. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    about 1k usd is standard price for da only good quality box. However other boxes (source, da11, adi2 dac) will provide you with aes input, volume control, and good headamps making them more bang for buck. 2k tends to get you a to d too. Rme even has an ad/da box with the same guts but no usb nor dsp chip for well under 1k for those who already have aes pci cards or a console.

    Let’s not even get into getting a card and hunting classifieds for great deals like 100 dollar consoles in need of a tiny bit of work or basically free not bad used stuff from behringer, which will be either serviceable or awful with nothing inbetween but hey used behringer is pretty much free
     
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  16. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    But like a lot of things, how does it sound? We can both agree that just because something sounds cost $x doesn't mean that we would like the sound.

    That's pretty much how I feel about the Benchmark DACs in general. Nicely build DAC but I hate the sound of these units.
     
  17. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    I've been in a combo with @Poleepkwa, and the Shanling M0 looks like a pretty good value and highly portable. Looking forward to hear more about this ESS based $100 mini player.

    Like the next coming of the Zip+. A little more expensive, but w way more features and hopefully not a broken 48 kHz rate. In fact, all the way to 384 kHz and bluetooth. No horse on the race at all. Just happy to sense value.
     
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  18. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Don't have any 16/48 music, but I have one 24/48 album (The Nightfly), and it plays w/o problem with sound quality commensurate with that of any other bit depth/sample rate, including dsd64. Ironically, it is the only dac I own with native dsd capability, not that I really gaf, as I generally convert on the fly to 24/176.4 via pc/JRMC anyway. In fact, it has played every format/bit depth/sample rate I have thrown at it w/o a hiccough. The only issues I have had with it relate to the size and power output, which is marginal without assistance for 300 ohm full size hps. For me this isn't an issue, as I have no need of a portable to play hd6xx/600s.

    Drives all of my iems and lower impedance cans with plenty of headroom on low gain. My issue with the size is really more of an issue with big hands and fat-fingering the controls on the screen. The extreme portability makes this a good trade off for me. I have also used it as a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver without issue, although the former is silly for me, as it is smaller than my existing Bluetooth receiver, so why not just wire it up? I am too cheap (broke?) to be really up on the world of the latest and greatest in daps, and I have always felt like chasing the last nth of sq for portable use was a fool's errand anyway, but this little $109 dap is very pleasant to listen to. I would rather use it than my og fiio x5 on sq alone, and the form factor cinches it. Still use the x5 as kind of a mini server plugged into Gungnir Multibit via coax, but I doubt it will go out again.
     
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  19. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    The portability thing would do nicely if it had a wrist-watch adapter.

    I sense a good pairing with the PortaPros and Skullcandy Jibs. If it can marginally drive HD6xx then it is really awesome.

    The bluetooth is great if the car supports it. My craptastic 2009 Ford Fusion supports bluetooth connectivity. Though my iPhone is taking it over. Still, maybe the new cars will support more than one bluetooth device. Then there is a bunch of bluetooth speakers as well.
     
  20. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Hd600/6xx are driven to about 7/8 of my maximum listening volume on high gain at max volume, but of course no headroom at all, and a little thin sounding. Has no problem driving anything else I have ( see below). Not the last word in resolution or detail retrieval, but tonally a little thick and kind of "primary color"ish, which I like in a portable situation with the concommitant high noise floor especially.

    Sounds fabulous with the Comets actually, which surprised me as their tonal characteristics are similar, but they seem to play to each other's strengths rather being too much of a good thing. Great on a bike or (with my ciems for isolation and comfort under a helmet) a m/c. Kind of funny that my sd card (256gb) cost half the price of the dap itself. I only use it as a bt receiver watching TV late at night on my fire box. No car with bt, though it is also craptastic, but I don't mind using lo setting and a cable to the aux input. Probably sounds better than bt to boot.
     
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