Today I am going to be reviewing the HiFiMEDIY Sabre Android USB DAC. This will form part of another 2 reviews, one covering the Cayin C5 portable headphone amp (live tomorrow) and another post blowing apart the myths on high end audio fidelity.
The HSAUD has DIY in its title for a reason. It has high end components inside, but housed in a cheap DIY plastic box thing to reduce the price down as low as possible. The Sabre ES9023 dac chip that is located inside this plastic box is found in more expensive DAC’s costing hundreds and even thousands of pounds.
-Sabre DAC Technology, Sabre ES9023 dac chip
– Connects directly to microUSB connector on Android phones
– Works with some phones only! USB OTG support required and Android 4.2+
– No external power needed. Dac draws minimal power (30mA)
– Output using a 3.5mm headphone jack
As android phone vary so much in terms of their internal specifications there is a warning about which android phones will work with this DAC. HiFiMe has tested it and confirmed it works with the following models include: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 running newest software update, Samsung Galaxy Mega running Android 4.2.2, Samsung galaxy S3 with newest software Samsung Galaxy S4 with Android 4.2.2 LG Optimus G Pro 4.1.2+ Possibly works with most Android phones running android 4.2.2 Does not seem to work with Cyanogenmod software. I have tested it with the Samsung Note 4, Honor 6 and Yotaphone. All work with this device using an app called USB Audio Player Pro.
So what is special about the DAC used. The Sabre ES9023 dac chip allows the sound to go straight out of the DAC chip and into your headphones or amplifier. It is not needed that the sound signal go through a capacitor to remove a DC voltage, there is no DC voltage to remove! This omits the need of a colouring cap which adds costs and reduces sound quality. – Jitter Eliminator! The ES9023 utilised patented HyperstreamTM architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator. – 112db DNR USB (receiver) PCM2706: – Accepts up to 48Khz/16bit Output levels: Open 2.2Vrms 4.7Kohm 2.1Vrms 1.8Kohm 1.9Vrms 510ohm 1.5Vrms 330ohm 1.3Vrms 30ohm 1Vrms Note: Normally amplifier inputs are from 10K to 100K ohm. Normal headphones are from 32 ohm to 300ohm. Sound alien to you.
Don’t panic. This DAC is an upgrade to what your phone is using. It helps alot to have mp3 or similar at 320mp3 bitrate. The higher the bitrate the better and FLAC files help again. If you play mp3 or FLAC files straight from your android phone into the HiFiMeDIY DAC without using a proper app like USB Audio Player Pro, then there is no point even bothering to go down this route.
What is the difference using this method. You lose the convenience of just plugging your headphones into your phone and listening to anything via any app. You need the music stored on your phone and use a dedicated app. You gain huge improvements in everything to do with your music. It is like cobwebs are blown off the tracks. It really will make that much of a difference unless the actual recording is crap. Crap in and crap out.
The other beauty of this DAC is it can power many portable type headphones without the need of a portable headphone amplifier.
All in all I highly recommend this USB DAC.