Singxer SDA-2

General Information

AK4497EQ chip
4-way fully balanced design
Independent discrete Class A amp section
Includes standard USB 2.0 input, SPDIF coaxial and AES balanced inputs, analog XLR balanced output, analog RCA output.
PCM 384Khz, DSD512

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Pros: Musical yet detailed sound
powerful amp section
ease to use
Cons: not suitable for IEM usage
Firsty I would like to thank Singxer for sending me this sample for review.

*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings

Gear Used:

PC > SDA-2 > HiFiMAN HE500 / multiple IEM’s / Final D8000 and more.
TV > SDA-2 > Rotel RB-06 > B&W 606

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Tech Specs:
Sample rate supported by each input interface:
PCM: 44.1KHz,48KHz,88.2KHz,96KHz,176.4KHz,192KHz,352.8KHz,384KHz
DSD: 2.8 MHz (DSD64) – DoP,native
5.6 MHz (DSD128) – DoP,native
11.2 MHz (DSD256) – DoP,native
22.5792 MHz (DSD512) – native
Bit width: Up to 32 bit over I2S output
Up to 24 bit over S/PDIF

Output level (0dBFS):
PCM: RCA single-ended output is 2V RMS, XLR balanced output is 4V RMS
DSD: RCA single-ended output is 1.8V RMS, XLR balanced output is 3.6V RMS
Output impedance: 22 ohms (RCA single ended) / 44 ohms (XLR balanced)
Frequency response: 20-20kHz +/-0.2dB
Signal to noise ratio: 125dB
Distortion characteristics:
THD+N (1kHz, 0dBFS) 0.00025% at fs=44.1Khz (PCM)
THD+N (1kHz, 0dBFS) 0.00030% at DSD256
Dynamic response (1kHz, -60dBFS) 125dB
Left and right channel separation >125dB

Balanced output noise floor: 2.2uv RMS

Amp balance maximum output power 3480mW@30Ω, 0dBFS
Load power
30Ω 3480mW
75Ω 1640mW
150Ω 920mW
300Ω 440mW
600Ω 220mW

Distortion of the amp balanced output, 0dBFS, fs=44.1Khz (PCM)
75Ω load THD+N -105dB
600Ω load THD+N -110dB

Singxer SDA-2 DAC NOS Native decoding DSD512, AK4497 Decoder Headphone Amplifier

Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The SDA-2 comes in a pretty plain brown cardboard box with the branding on the outside, but open this up and you’ll find the SDA-2 very well held in place with foam inserts and the accessories tightly packaged around the edge. The item is very well protected during shipping, but the packaging is quite plain and simple, not an issue in my opinion though.

The build quality is excellent, it is hefty and feels solid. The inputs feel great, the outputs too and everything just feels built to last on it. I honestly cannot fault a single bit of the build quality, it is quite industrial looking which I actually like.

Accessory wise you get a high quality USB cable and a power cable, along with the remote control. Enough to keep most happy and everything you need is included.

Usage:
The SDA-2 is a DAC/Amp/Pre-Amp, it has digital only inputs (coax, optical, USB, I2S and AES) which should cover most peoples bases. It has a 4-pin balanced XLR headphone output on the front, along with a 6.3mm unbalanced headphone socket. On the back you have both XLR and RCA outputs for using it as a pure DAC or as a DAC/Pre-Amp. There are 3 buttons on the front that control the digital filters (SHARP, SLOW, S‐sharp, S‐slow, NOS or Low‐dispersion), Pre or Fixed output from the rear outputs, and the input.

It’s pretty easy to figure out how all of it works, and I have found it to be very “plug and play” with everything I use. The OLED screen shows the relevant information and is easy to read, the remote works well and is great if you are integrating the SDA-2 into a home hifi system.

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Sound:
The SDA-2 uses the AKM4497EQ DAC chip and most are led to believe this is a smoother sounding DAC chip over the ESS equivalent, but to me it all comes down to implementation. The Topping DX7 Pro is the main competitor in this price range, and it has a slightly more clinical approach to representing your music, whereas the SDA-2 is no-less detailed, but it doesn’t put a focus on making you concentrate on every fine detail as much. The SDA-2 is incredible effortless and refined in its presentation, more in line with products like the Element M, with a tiny hint of smoothness that doesn’t detract from the overall balance, nor does it hinder the detail retrieval.

I would not say the SDA-2 is warm, nor is the DX7 Pro cold, but they are slightly different levels of neutral. The DX7 Pro leaning towards a more analytical sound, and the SDA-2 towards a more natural and expansive sound. One point I will note is that the SDA-2 is not very good with IEM’s, there is some background hiss that can be problematic with sensitive monitors, but plug in some full size headphones and you get incredible performance. It drives the HE500 with ease and grace, offering up a controlled yet refined sound that is effortless and enjoyable whilst still detailed.

It’s equally at home in my hifi setup, bringing the same attributes to the table, with a clean and black background. It doesn’t have as many features as the Element M, but in sound it comes close with a similar presentation, being wide and smooth. Where the Element M succeeds is with higher resolving capabilities that you would expect for the price difference.

The more time I spend with the SDA-2 the more I come to appreciate it’s sound, the DX7 Pro wants to grab your attention with all the detail and super flat sound. The SDA-2 instead wants you to sit back and listen to the music with a certain refinement that enables you to just enjoy the music.

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Conclusion:
Singxer have done a brilliant job at making a technically sound, and musically enjoyable DAC/Amp with a great set of features along with solid build quality. If you are not worried about using it with IEM’s, I can highly recommend this unit for an all-in-one device. It is equally at home in a hifi system being used as the DAC or DAC/Pre-Amp.

Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (not suitable for IEM’s, but a very refined sounding DAC/Amp)
Pros: Brawny, expressive presentation
Price to performance ratio
Input and output options
Headphone driving power
No external power brick
Cons: No auto power-saving mode
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*This review was originally posted on my blog at Prime Audio Reviews.

This DAC is built around the AK4497EQ chip, has native DSD512 support and fully balanced outputs. Let’s see how it performs.

Singxer website: http://singxer.com

This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Singxer SDA-2 Review
Pros
  • Brawny, expressive presentation
  • Price to performance ratio
  • Input and output options
  • Headphone driving power
  • No external power brick
Cons
  • No auto power-saving mode
Package and Accessories
In true Chi-Fi cost-saving fashion, the SDA-2 comes in a generic cardboard box with no labelling or description. However, the unit inside is well-packed with foam to protect it from shock or damage during shipping. Included in the package are the SDA-2, a power cable, a USB cable and a remote.

Build Quality and Design

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After the rather uneventful unboxing experience, I was happy to see the actual device has exceptional build quality. The chassis is CNC crafted aluminium with a matte black finish and smooth edges. It feels very substantial, weighing in at almost 3kg.

The underside of the unit has 4 rubberized feet to prevent it from sliding. There are no vents or heatsinks so the SDA-2 does get warm when in use but it never feels hot to the touch.

On the left of the front panel is an OLED screen, which displays:

  • digital filter mode (Sharp, Slow, S-sharp, S-slow, NOS, Low-Dispersion)
  • analogue output mode (FIX or PRE)
  • volume level
  • currently selected input source
  • current sample rate
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The three buttons in the middle of the front panel are INPUT, D-Filter and PRE-OUT. To the right of the buttons are the 6.35mm and balanced XLR headphone outputs. The aluminium multi-function knob on the right is for adjusting volume, with a press to MUTE function and a 2-second press will put the device into standby mode.

On the rear panel are the RCA and balanced XLR analogue outputs, plus a wide array of digital inputs including AES, COAX, Optical, I2S and USB.

Features and Functionality

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The SDA-2 features an AK4497EQ DAC chip and supports up to PCM 384kHz and DSD512 natively. It features a 4-way fully balanced design, independent discrete class-A headphone output, plus the rear analogue outputs can be used at a fixed or variable rate and thus, the SDA-2 can also be used as a pre-amp.

Setting up the Singxer SDA-2 is easy. For the majority of my testing, I simply connected it to my computer via the included USB cable. It does work right away with Windows 10 but for the best experience, you should install the drivers which are available for download from the official website. Linux and Mac computers do not need additional drivers as they work natively. I also connected it via the optical output to my Shinrico D3S media player.

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Using the remote gives you access to volume controls, digital filter selection, mute and standby functions. The SDA-2 functions like most modern DAPs and is simple and pleasurable to use. The only thing I would like to see added is some kind of automatic power-saving function that puts the device into standby mode when there’s no audio signal detected for a set period of time.

The headphone output has lots of power (220mW @ 600Ω) and should drive anything you can throw at it. THD is extremely low, as is the noise floor; I don’t hear any background noise, even with IEMs.

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    1K FFT with only 2-5 harmonics
  • HTB1zJ78Q4jaK1RjSZFAq6zdLFXaj.jpg
    20-20k frequency response
  • HTB1.J34QVzqK1RjSZFvq6AB7VXak.jpg
    THD below 0.00033%
Images above courtesy of Singxer website.

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Sound

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Gear used for testing:
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro (150 ohms), Thieaudio Phantom, BLON B20, Acoustic Research AR-H1, Hifiman Sundara.
Windows 10 PC > Foobar2000 > SDA-2 / Shinrico D3S > SDA-2
SDA-2 > Feliks Audio Echo > headphones

While the numbers look impressive, it really comes down to the listening experience and this is where the SDA-2 really delivers. The Singxer presents itself with controlled enthusiasm and never fails to convey nuances and emotion.

Hanz Zimmer’s Inception is the perfect testing ground with its dynamic mix of thunderous lows and subtle nuances. The Singxer accepts the challenge and responds with zeal, There is loads of power on tap, coupled with reserve and poise. From the quietest whispers to the roaring crescendos, the SDA-2 handles it with ease.

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The SDA-2 is muscular but nimble, with excellent tonal balance and refinement. What I really appreciate too, is the way it responds with confidence but doesn’t overlook any subtleties nor does it sound exceedingly aggressive.

Firing up Airbag’s “Sleepwalker” we see the SDA-2 step up once again to show its command over rhythm and momentum as it transitions with expertise between the impassioned vocals, the sparser instrumental segments and the electric lead guitar sections.

I’m delighted with its expansive soundstage and instrument layering, Everything is organised and composed with a perfect balance between energy and refinement. The Singxer remains transparent with superb dynamics and a great sense of timing.

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Compared to something like the Sabre-based Topping DX7, the Singxer SDA-2 sounds slightly fuller and richer. That’s not to say it’s colouring the music but rather it just delivers dynamics and detail more effortlessly. It has a resolution and refinement closer to that of the excellent ARCAM irDAC-II but with more vigour in reserve.

Whether used as a standalone DAC or headphone amplifier the SDA-2 consistently delivers and lets the music take control, rather than trying to control the music.

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Conclusion
The Singxer SDA-2 is somewhat of a dark horse. It might easily go unnoticed with its low-key, utilitarian design, but once you have a listen to it you’ll discover that this is one serious device that can outperform many of its direct competitors. Whether you’re after a dedicated DAC or an all-in-one solution the SDA-2 is absolutely worth going for.

Specifications
Analog output performance:

  • Output level (0dBFS):
  • PCM: RCA single-ended output is 2V RMS, XLR balanced output is 4V RMS
  • DSD: RCA single-ended output is 1.8V RMS, XLR balanced output is 3.6V RMS
  • Output impedance: 22 ohms (RCA single-ended) / 44 ohms (XLR balanced)
  • Frequency response: 20-20kHz +/-0.2dB
  • Signal to noise ratio: 125dB
  • Distortion characteristics:
  • THD+N (1kHz, 0dBFS) 0.00025% at fs=44.1Khz (PCM)
  • THD+N (1kHz, 0dBFS) 0.00030% at DSD256
  • Dynamic response (1kHz, -60dBFS) 125dB
  • Left and right channel separation >125dB
  • Balanced output noise floor: 2.2uv RMS
Load power:

  • 30Ω 3480mW
  • 75Ω 1640mW
  • 150Ω 920mW
  • 300Ω 440mW
  • 600Ω 220mW
bidn
bidn
crabdog
crabdog
@bidn didn't know about that, thanks

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