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Is Sabre ES9018 the best DAC chip right now?

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  1. jodgey4
    I've heard the claims...  I'd have to read into it more...
    If somebody wants to supply me some Redbook and hi-res I could test my own ears and get back to ya :wink:.
  2. Clemmaster
    You only need Hi-Res and down-sample it yourself to guarantee you're comparing the same master.
  3. jodgey4
    Yes, but I have no hi-res. I was just trying for free music :wink:.
  4. money4me247 Contributor
    tidal has a high res vs mp3 test on their website, tho i heard he mp3s may not be he best quality so easier to tell the diff
  5. Currawong Contributor
    The problems with both the pro and anti-high res arguments is that they ignore the real issues that brought them about in the first place: The hardware. 
    Once manufacturers had gotten over the initial problems with CD players and developed very good DA technology including good R2R converters, the market went insane with high-res hype, causing manufacturers to abandon the good technology for cheaper and technologically inferior converters, purely to be able to put that they were 192k capable on their DACs. Customers now show favour towards the more mellow-sounding SACD players, something which is a result of how the digital is converted back to analogue in the players and not the storage method itself, when really they could have found what they were looking for by buying the now cheap, second-hand R2R-DAC players. 
    Paralleling these events were issues with digital mastering, resulting in many CD pressings from back in the day sounding awful compared to their vinyl counterparts. Again, this was a result of the hardware used. Of course using a good ADC now on an original master tape, even converting it to only CD quality will have excellent results, but this hasn't stopped the hype over high-res re-mastering. To a degree, I reckon the problem wouldn't have come about if the CD standard had been 20/48 instead of 16/44.1, since respectively the increase in bit depth and resolution resolves the issues of dithering and audible digital filter artifacts, at least the latter of which is an issue with hardware and not the digital data itself! 
    So while I don't think that the whole hype over high-res remastering doesn't have some merit, I think so not because it is high-res, but because the industry went backwards with their hardware designs, making it relevant as a consequence.
    jusbe and Anda like this.
  6. jusbe

    It's more likely to be a function of indifferent mastering and limited audio amplifier capabilities. DACs, decoding and data-rates are only part of the story for good digital sound.
  7. jusbe
    For an example of what I mean, and the veritable 'dog's dinner' that hi-res digital is threatening to become, look here at this Xivero-based dissection of an hi-res download of a track from Beck's recent album.
    Not good. At all.
  8. jusbe
    Exactly what I and other music-lovers have done - using good R2R DACs, both old and new. We have R2R players in the form of the Cambridge Audio CD3 (4x 1541A) as well as the more recent Lite Audio LT-1 + DAC83 system (4x 1704K).
    Not going to shift anytime soon either, as the whole mastering element (and the related loudness wars) are now a serious impediment to my desire to embrace more recent digital DAC tech.
  9. evillamer
    Is there a thing as R2R Master race? Like how there's a PC Master race
    goobicii likes this.
  10. EscritorJuan
    The LampizatOr Amber DAC Plus, which is tube-based, uses the Sabre ES9018 and runs roughly $2,300, currently.  I pitted it against the Abbingdon Music Research DP-777 DAC and the Hegel HD-12 DSD DAC in A/B comparisons and liked it better.  In fact, I actually wrote a review on it.  
  11. volly
  12. jusbe

  13. dglow
    The Twisted Pear Buffalo IIs and IIIs are excellent 9018 DACs. The Sabre itself is on a board independent from the line stage, which lets you mix and match the latter: e.g. op-amp vs. fully-discrete design. Power is carefully managed throughout, with special regulators feeding the 9018 and independent, shunt-based power supplies for the digitial and analog circuits.
    The analog boards are fully balanced amplifiers. They'll feed line-level into an amp, but can also – by routing around a resistor – drive lower-powered cans directly. My Grados sing off of it. SE output is also available with a summing circuit.
    It's all DIY, of course, but I see completed kits go up for sale now and then. 
  14. aqsw
    I own the HD12, but that Lampi is just calling me!
    Abbington doesnt have a chance!
  15. preproman
    I had the DP-777 and a Lampi L4 G4 in at the same time.  I like the DP-777 over the Lampi by a really large margin.  That particular lampi sounded thick and muddy.  
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