Best value SABRE DACs?

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by nickwin, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. Spectral1212

    Spectral1212 Rando

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    Just my 2 cents: Almost every Sabre chip based Dac I’ve heard including ones with the 9038pro chips, sound extremely bright and are very forward in their presentations. I’m not saying they sound bad, but compared to my Berkeley Alpha 2 and Ayre QB-9DSD, they sound a bit harsh especially in the upper mids/lower treble. I reluctantly bought a LKS 004 and sold it on EBay 2 weeks after using it. The Oppo stuff , at least BD -105D, has the same fingerprint. For the money, the Ayre is one of the best USB Dacs I’ve heard. My only beef with it is it only has one Input and it’s USB. The Berkeley is the best I’ve heard under 5K for Redbook CD, HDCD and 24/192 streams. It will not decode DSD, hence the addition of the Ayre. I also found playing files out my Bryston BDP-2 are light years better than my MacBook Pro using Vox. I believe the Bryston uses a Linux based software. I think the delivery system is sometimes more important streaming files than the dac itself. As a side note, I had a chance to hear a Cocktail Audio X50 playing through Mytek Manhattan II dac. Absolutely stunning and I believe the Manhattan uses Sabre 9038 chips so there is hope for that chipset..
     
  2. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Key word here is "almost" There are some mellower ess implementations out there including your QB-9dsd which uses an ess chip. I understand what you are saying about some dacs, when I heard the Brooklyn at rmaf, I literally had to stop listening after about a minute or two, even trying different tracks. Piercing is a word, I would use.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  3. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I think I remember reading that Ayre tends to default to some kind of minimum phase or apodizing filters, which might account for the comparatively less piercing, or mellower sound of the ESS implementation in the qb-9dsd. Then again, I might be full of shit.
     
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  4. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    It should probably be called an “appetizing” filter then, because it sounds like the only thing that can make a Sabre DAC palatable...
     
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  5. Collusion

    Collusion Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    How about the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital? It has a dual mono 9038. I haven't demoed one at home, but based on two separate instances of headphone listening it does not sound like an ass. Also probably not as detailed as the more "hyper-detailed" ESS converters, but certainly adequate in it's price class.

    I demoed Ayre Codex at home a while a go and I found it to be somewhat better than the RME ADI-2 DAC on timbre and "musicality" / sweetness front. However, ultimately I also found it to be slightly more fatiguing after prolonged listening. The treble was a bit more lively/loose than I prefer.
     
  6. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I guess a filter can only go so far, huh? Iirc, Torq had a generally positive opinion of the Project, fwiw.
     
  7. Sonorus

    Sonorus Facebook Friend

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    The Ideon Audio Ayazi Dac (v1) is on the mellower side of ess based dacs.
    A friend of mine bought it used and we have been listening to it at my home with speakers A/B ing with Gungnir Multibit
    and i dare to say that i like it.
    It's quite engaging , organic sounding without any harshness or annoying digital glare.
     
  8. Spectral1212

    Spectral1212 Rando

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    Interestingly the Manhattan II sounds nothing like the Brooklyn or more like my Ayre. Ayre has always been very good at “voicing” their equipment regardless of what chips they use. Using the ESS 9016 was infinitely better than the BB1796 I’ll agree but this is the exception to what I’ve experienced with ESS chips. Other than the QB-9DSD, my experience with Oppo 105, AURALiC Vega and recently the LKS 004 has been ear bleeding bad.
     

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