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Sabaj D5: the DAC that is unquestionably a digital to analog converter

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by Dadbeh, Apr 6, 2019.
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  1. Dadbeh
    Sabaj DA3 was a very successful implementation of 9018Q2M and it put this brand on the map. It was the only Sabre DAC whose sound I liked. now there is a full on balanced 9038 pro DAC out from this brand:



    • The top performance D/A chip ES9038PRO from ESS Technology. and high-performance power supply chip ES9311, the noise of ES9311 is lower than 1uVrms, to pushed ES9038PRO to the limit.
    • XMOS XU-208, true 32bit audio processing, support DoP and Native DSD, and reaches 32bit/768kHz and DSD512.
    • Ultra-low phase noise NDK Japan crystal oscillator and high-speed CPLD is used for clock processing, to achieve very low Clock jitter. All inputs support DSD streaming, including coaxial and optical (DoP64).
    • Special design of discrete components high current headphones amplifier for higher damping factor.Built-in high efficiency and low vibration transformer provides sufficient and low noise power supply. Special design of discrete components linear regulator for analog circuit.
    • 4 high-end dual op-amps OPA1612 and a lot of audio grade components are used.JAS Hi-Res certification.
    this thread is meant for impression reviews and information on this DAC.

    The title is a half joke half serious take on the fact that we dont yet know how it sounds until we get some credible impression and reviews up in here :)
    Light - Man and FastAndClean like this.
  2. Dadbeh
    for the freakin' life of me, I cant seem to find any info on a remote control for the unit. it is possible that it does work with a remote but it might not be included. sabaj sells the same plastic remote that topping and smsl also use for 7 bucks though. no guarantee that it is supported until we find more info,
  3. PolloLoco
    I took a chance and bought one during the recent AliExpress sales because I loved my DA3 so much. The last audiophile purchase I took a chance on at release, an Ibasso Boa DAC/amp, I regretted, so I was nervous.

    I dont want to give a detailed review because I'm unqualified I feel, and I've only had it for a week. I can only say that I love the sound with my Modhouse Argons using XLR output. I feel in Audio heaven for now.

    The remote comes with the D5. At least mine did. I haven't even used it.

    My only "concern" is that using xlr balanced line out, volume is not fixed? I'm confused by this since I briefly owned a Topping Dx7s, and using it as a DAC fixed the volume as expected.

    I'm waiting on a pair of massdrop xlr to 2.5mm balanced adapters to try it with my Sennheiser hd660s and Custom IEMS.
    MarCo7, Baten and Dadbeh like this.
  4. Dadbeh
    Anyone else has some light to shed on this #$%@ing matter? :d
  5. Baten
    It is a DAC that is indeed unquestionably a digital to analog converter
  6. PolloLoco
    I still love mine ... the only thing I wouldn't recommend it for is really sensitive IEMs. I connected my triple fi custom quads, 2.5mm balanced cable to a Massdrop XLR adapter, and got some hiss. Same thing with my Tenhz P4 Pro. I suspect an impedance above 1, since I have zero hiss connecting these IEMs to my Shanling m3s.

    I love this DAC/AMP with all of my full sized headphones.
    Light - Man and Dadbeh like this.
  7. Dadbeh
    what other dacs or amps have you compared it to? with which headphones does it pair best/worst?
  8. PolloLoco
    The only recent dacs or amps I've compared it to are the following which I owned or still own:

    Topping DX7S, Sabaj DA3, Monolith USB DAC, Creative Audio Dac Magic Plus.

    It's the best I've used so far. I returned the DX7S when I got the D5 in.

    The only headphones I would not recommend are sensitive iems per my comment above about hiss. Though this only happened with balanced cables. I would guess the XLR output impedance may be as high as 10 ohms. I used an iematch balanced impedance adapter and hiss went away. Still disappointing.

    I've used the following headphones and they all sound good or great.

    Modhouse Argons (balanced)
    Koss esp95x (single ended line out)
    Sennheiser hd660s (balanced)
    Sony Mdr7520 (single ended)
    Sony mdr V6 (balanced)

    The Argons seemed to benefit the most despite having lower impedance than the senns. They got more extended at both ends, though stayed smooth. I used to think I was a treble head, but these are the best headphones I've heard.

    My Koss electrostatics are too new to comment on. My HD660S are not burned in yet, but I'm not too impressed.
    Dadbeh and Baten like this.
  9. Dadbeh
    just placed order for one.
    Baten likes this.
  10. sandman2575
    I'm wondering how the Sabaj D5 may compare to a couple of other options in the similar $500 range -- (1) Monolith Desktop Headphone Amplifier and DAC with THX AAA Technology (Dual AKM 4493 DACs & Dual AAA-788 Modules), and (2) Topping Full Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier DX7S 2ES9038Q2M 32Bit/768K DSD512 DSD USB Full Balanced DAC Headphone Amplifier

    I see PolloLoco returned the Topping in favor of the Sabaj. Anyway, curious to hear if the Sabaj D5 has obvious benefits over these 2 -- or obvious deficiencies. Thanks!
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    MarCo7 likes this.
  11. Dadbeh
    Well I have heard the topping DX7S and while a good product, i didnt love the sound
    so I'm counting on the sabaj sounding different.
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    sandman2575 likes this.
  12. Baten
    The monolith is a good compromise to have a good AKM dac with built-in thx amp (although not as clean as the THX AAA, I'm sure it's a great all-in-one). But only really worth it when on sale!
    sandman2575 likes this.
  13. Dadbeh
    it arrived so fast and it is excellent, the volume knob is loose and a little cheap feeling but since it is digital (it is just an encoder) it doesn't matter. the remote works well enough.for headphones sounds better than my RME ADI and as a dac only it sounds almost as good. I think I will keep it.
  14. sandman2575
    @Dadbeh -- curious, what headphones are you using with it? And are you using the balanced or the single-ended output?
  15. Dadbeh
    Hd650 and Atticus so only high impedance. No planar
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