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SMSL iDEA portable dac+amp

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by Matias, May 27, 2017.
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  1. hakuzen
    mojo has nice low (near zero) output impedance.. till 6kHz. it starts growing then, 0.5ohms at 10kHz, 1ohm at ~15kHz, 1.5ohms at 20kHz.
    so expect some tonal alterations in top highs (lower than 2dB, though) with BA iems like andromeda
  2. harry501501
    I have the Sabaj DA3 and it's excellent. It's a thick sound but with good detail and it's quite organic sounding. Bass is pretty big but doesn't dominate. I have it as my laptop DAC going in to the SMSL T2 vacuum Tube and the two of them work perfectly together. The T2 combined with my other USB Dacs which are Cambridge Audio DACMAGIC V2 and Topping NX2 sounded very crisp and very detailed but a bit thin (which did give it an open sound). Connected to the Sabaj DA3 it's a different ball game. It's the best setup I've used yet and it's getting some super results out of my headphones and earphones and put life in to sets I'd pretty much discarded. the smoothness of the DA3 and the slightly bright SMSL T2 combine perfectly to give a smooth but very detailed sound, very open and lovely extension both ways. Very organic and soundstage def slightly wider. I've used it with DSD streams and I can def hear a slight difference the higher you go.

    This setup drives all my IEMs and headphones well. Will it drive sets like HD650... yes, but maybe at the highest volume setting on both.
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  3. harry501501
    The Sabaj DA3 uses two SABRE 9018Q2C chips as opposed to the DACMAGIC's SABRE ES9023. There is a definite upgrade to sound which has much more body and detail.
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  4. koziakauzu
    Just got a S.M.S.L IQ, I don't know how similar to the iDEA it is, but I am impressed.

    The sound was a bit cold at first but after a while the thing warmed up and took me by surprise with a huge soundstage (at least compared to my phone using the HTC usb-c to 3.5 with built-in DAC or what I remember of my Onkyo DP-X1 or Granbeat I owned a while ago. Or maybe I just don't remember well).

    Sound is full of details, lows are heavy but not overwhelming, mids are detailed, highs too without being harsh. Not Mojo warm but not as clinical as I was expecting. (I have sold my Mojo a long time ago too)

    I have only used it in balanced mode so far and I'm pairing it with a Xperia XZ1 compact + SE846 (+ Onkyo HF player).

    The thing is light, thin and quite tiny (95mm x 56mm x 9mm). I was expecting something roughly the size of my phone (which is only 5") but it is still smaller. Both devices attached together are still pocketable in my front pants pocket.
    I was a bit disappointed to find no accessories except the necessary short cables though.
    The included micro-usb to usb-c cable works but having straights connectors and being in white color, I have ordered a black angled one.
    I wasn't convinced by the product photos showing the flat horizontal volume wheel, but it is a multifunction selector with pushing function, a bit like some old MD walkman, I like it.


    1 or 2 things I don't like though:
    - the tiny OLED screen is always on. Not sure if it affects the battery but I dont see it when stacked anyway.
    - the power button is on top... weird decision... luckily I am using a repositionnable double-sided sticky pad for stacking so it is fine with its thickness. That could be an issue if you attach it directly to your device with silicone bands.

    I was considering an iDEA or even a Dragonfly black/red, but having something hanging, sucking my phone battery and possibly having a chain of cable adapters lead me to get something stackable instead.
    I have paid around USD125 (HKD 1000) and I am very pleased.
    DjBobby, PlantsmanTX and maxxevv like this.
  5. PlantsmanTX
    The IQ is very similar to the Sabaj Da3.
    koziakauzu likes this.
  6. udd3n
    Anyone compared the iDEA or Sabaj DA2 with the uDac 3? Planning on using it as a dac only to my Arcam rHead.
  7. FastAndClean
    i am thinking of getting the Sabaj Da3, i have dragonfly 1.2, i hope that it will have some improvement
  8. Chein
    It should be. I've heard some prefering it over the DFR which is way better than the 1.2.

    If you guys want to compare the insides of the DA3 and the IQ I've found some pics.

    Sabaj DA3 :

    SMSL IQ :
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  9. FastAndClean
    i pulled the trigger, i hope the drivers will work well on my windows 8 laptop, i will report when the dac is here
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  10. koziakauzu
    Interesting, I didn't know this device.
    It seems that they didn't intend for the DA3 to be used with a mobile device (according to their CS replies on Amazon) although it looks like it can be.
    It has no built-in battery though, unlike the IQ :p
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  11. tomscy2000
    The DA3 and IQ don't look all that different. The DA3 is a linear design, running straight from the input to output. The IQ runs a U-turn.

    The pictures are blurry for the DA3 so I might be wrong but the DA3's board and solder quality looks a little worse than the IQ's. However, the IQ's PCB traces run longer for both digital supply side and analog output traces.

    I won't pretend to know which board layout/quality is better. Seems like a wash to me.
    Chein and PlantsmanTX like this.
  12. SounDenthusias
    I have been looking for a portable solution that will give me the possibility to hear balanced and I came across this. Cant find anything on youtube or the forums about it, I think its the perfect solution. My only question is do you think that even the most discernible listener would admit that its high quality. Like ODAC or even HA 2. I know the power isnt like some but I have easy to drive hp? Thoughts?
    koziakauzu and PlantsmanTX like this.
  13. PlantsmanTX
    Well, the IQ is a very recent introduction.
  14. dc655321
    Anyone know the output impedance(s) of the IQ?
    Have not been able to find that any where...
  15. PlantsmanTX
    Someone asked that question about the Sabaj DA3 on Amazon, and the Sabaj rep answered:

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