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Is Sabre ES9018 the best DAC chip right now?

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  1. oculus
    The difference between correctly implemented chips is so subtle, its hard to really tell the difference.  I have an low end wolfson chip based DAC (nfb 12) and a mid priced R2R (audio gd ref 10.32) and the difference is there but its minor.  Yes the 10.32 is better but so is the amping on that dac.
     
    Is the difference worth the 1500 dollar difference probably not but we all want to believe there is something better.   I am at my end game now after upgrading to HD800 (balanced) with ref 10.32.  I really dont think spending more money will/can make a hearable difference.
     
    jodgey4 likes this.
  2. jusbe
     
    Interesting. This has reliably been my response to ESS DACs.
     
    The last time I compared one (Vega) to another (Accustic Arts, whose design - R2R, 1704 - was not revealed to me until I googled it), the French horns on a track from Kathleen Battle's 'Bel Canto' sounded plain wrong. The ESS seemed to be having difficulty recombining all of the harmonics correctly and continuously, making the high frequency tones seemingly undulate and shift while notes were played. This was especially apparent on long, sustained tones.
     
    By comparison, my brain had to interpret far less (if at all) that the sounds I was hearing were from a French horn - when listening to the 1704 DAC (or one of my 1704K or 1541A DACs at home). Tones swelled and filled the room convincingly. Speakers were ceramic dome affairs from Marten, and cruel to incompetent sound.
     
  3. isquirrel

    That is what I was hearing, the interesting thing is that I had Macintosh D100 & an Invicta Mirus here which have the same Sabre 9018 chip, I didn't like those either, and they were lacking when compared to a Chord Hugo (FPGA) when I heard the Gryphon it had that same sound that the D100 & Mirus had albeit it was far more refined. 
     
    I understand that you can't hear DAC chips only there implementation but I don't think that's true as all three of the Sabre 9018 DAC's I have had similar characteristics. 
     
    I bought a DAC based on R2R tech, it sounded the best by fair degree to my ears.
     
    The caveat here is that everyone has their preferences. I went with mine.
     
    jusbe likes this.
  4. jodgey4
    From what I understand, R2R should almost always be superior, the chips are just very expensive. Though, for the Sigma-Delta chips, you probably put in enough stuff to make them sound decent that you might end up not saving that much :D.
     
    THIS WAS MY 1000th post WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have no life!
     
  5. isquirrel

    Congrats on your 1000th post !
     
  6. jusbe
     
    Watch out, I think your keyboard has jitter... 
     
     
     
     
    [​IMG]
     
  7. jusbe
     
    I agree with you, and realise there is a limit to that argument. My experience suggests that the surrounding circuits will clearly make a difference, and depending on your hearing and preferences, the filter/clock/psu/output stage can sway listeners one way or another. That said, it will still be the same decoding engine or mathematics at the centre of it all, as the surrounding components can really only enhance (at best) or mask (at worst/best?) the core expression of the DAC at hand.
     
    I wish Ti or BB, or even Philips would make nice R2Rs again. It seems a few, bold designers are hanging on to well-known older designs - or even bolder (like Metrum and others) branching off into new parts bins which service other markets in the hope of finding fresh R2R gold. I'm with these new (NOS?) pioneers.
     
  8. fidelia91
  9. fidelia91
    Have you guys been keeping up with the Pono reviews? Doesn't seem to be a difference on a consistent basis. Could it be related to the DAC or the implementation of the DAC?
     
  10. money4me247 Contributor

    well, higher sampling bit rates does not cause an audible difference... soooo..... the whole product is based on kinda iffy principles imo.
     
  11. fidelia91

    I mean, it's hard to tell the difference between 256/320 kbps and CD Quality (16/44), but 256/320 vs High Res (24/96) should be obvious on a pair of above avg. headphones or speakers. 
     
  12. jodgey4
    If you can't hear the difference between 256 and 320... there's no way on earth you could hear anything 'better' than Redbook. That means you can't hear noise floor and high frequencies... neither of which are even helped by higher sampling rates given what we know about the human ear. Hearing a difference with hi-res is literally impossible unless your DAC handles these things all differently (AKA bad DAC), or the hi-res files are mastered differently.
     
  13. money4me247 Contributor

    other way around i think. can maybe tell a difference going from mp3 to cd... but after that not really. so cd to hi resolution difference more d.t different master than sample or bit rate. samplin rate at 44 already is perfect. no additional info added by uping the sampling rate to 96.

    http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
     
    jodgey4 likes this.
  14. nephilim32

    I have. I smell a marketing gimmick indeed!
     
  15. Clemmaster
    What about temporal aspect?
     
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