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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. Baten
    Should be, yup. Cayin adopts the pin-definition of PS Audio I2S system. I believe this is I2S INVERTED on Sabaj D5 (anyone confirm?).
    I2S is over hdmi obviously, hdmi input and hdmi output after all.. :) a short cable is recommended.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
    Light - Man and SteveOliver like this.
  2. SteveOliver
    Thank you very much.
  3. florence
    Anyone compared this with idsd micro black?
  4. Baten
    idsd is way more powerful in single ended but d5 comes close in balanced, so do use balanced
    sound wise it is warmer burr brown vs detailed ess sabre, I believe d5 is objectively much more transparent
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
    Light - Man likes this.
  5. florence
    The only thing I care about DAC standalone. Amplifier further purposes. Thinking of combine this with an electrostatic amp via balanced or RCA. Can't go higher than $500 to be honest at the moment. So money must be spent well. Would you still recommend this? People say new d50s is also ok. However, I don't want to upgrade my DAC every year. Thanks!
  6. Baten
    D50s is definitely OK but d5 has 9038Pro instead of mobile version and balanced XLR output. Definitely better of the two, for sure
    florence likes this.
  7. pollyjingjing
  8. pollyjingjing
  9. Alboxing
    in my opinion, having the built-in linear power supply helps a lot sound quality wise.

    From my past experiences with other ess based dacs, they seem to be quite sensitive to the quality of the power supply they get (some implementations more, some less).

    Often, dirty power (for example: straight USB power) can cause the usual dry, "digital", "glarey" sound.
    SteveOliver likes this.
  10. Baten
    Not just linear power. ES9311 power regulator which is perfect match for the ESS9038 DAC chip.
    Alboxing likes this.
  11. Sapientiam
    Common-mode noise is normally the culprit for this and yep, its generally at a much lower level with a 'linear' supply (as opposed to an SMPSU).
    Alboxing likes this.
  12. Alboxing
    I think it depends on your usage scenario and personal preference in sound "type"

    The micro BL has very powerful amp, better than a lot of desktop mains powered amps in fact, BUT most of that power comes from the inner battery (it uses a mix of USB power and battery to achieve it) so even if you use it as a desktop unit you have all that battery management stuff, which I personally find a bit annoying.

    Wish they had put an optional power input to switch to when stationary (maybe powered by their own ipower wall wart).

    DAC wise, the chip IFI likes to use is technically inferior for sure. They use it because it sounds very "analog". They say its distortion profile is similar to tubes distortion.

    I am personally using the nano BL right now, which has the same dac chip as the micro, and I can conferm it does sound very lush and analog.

    However from what I can hear it is not the cleanest or the most resolving dac out there.

    iFi guys are very good at implementing it though, minimizing jitter, power and ground noise, etc.
    florence and Baten like this.
  13. Dadbeh
    Ifi uses the TI chip because it is cheap. it is literally something like 70 cents for them. 9038 pro on the other hand I have read costs north of $50 for most manufactures.
    This actually doesnt mean that the TI chip is not good. it is, it is just not hyped as much as ESS is. I bought this because as a pacjage it is very competitively prices but for many other ESS DACs including fancy expensive ones, I'd personally take the TI chip. specially since I dont care about DSD MQA etc at all. I prefer my dac to just do PCM and if it caps at 48khz it is fine by me.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
    Baten likes this.
  14. Alboxing
    Initially I had fallen in love with that TI/BB chip they use, upon first listening. Later on, however, going back to a older Sabre 9018 I have, I don't know if I can declare a real "winner".

    They each have strengths and weaknesses.

    The sabre sounds more linear, extended, clean (voices sound more intelligible, for example).

    TI/BB sounds lusher and sweeter, more musical but I feel like there is more distortion going on in the background if that makes sense.

    Obviously these impressions have to be taken in the context of the whole device which also consist of that specific amp stage, etc.

    Some people say the micro BL (dual TI/BB) is way more detailed and analytical than my nano BL, so maybe it is all about the implementation at the end of the day.

    The micro and nano do measure basically the same tho, as per audiosciencereview.
    Light - Man likes this.
  15. Alboxing
    by the way, I do not care for high bitrates or that MQA crap either. In fact, I found the new firmwares which implement MQA support change the whole sound quality and hurt it.

    I found a big SQ difference between the 5.2 and 5.3 (and 5.3C).

    5.2 sounds like lush and nice, 5.3 vanilla and C they sound messy and thinner, expecially I did not like the new GTO filter at all.

    To my ear I feel like to implement MQA they had to force oversampling by the XMOS for all formats, pcm included.

    iFi said that PCM sounds the same on the latest firmware, but I am not so sure, my ears disagree, and the difference is not small.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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