Hifime Sabre 9018 USB DAC

New Hifime Sabre 9018 DAC!



The new Hifime Sabre 9018 DAC is a great sounding audiophile DAC at an unbelievable price. We have picked the most important features to include in this DAC be able to make a incredible sounding DAC at this low price. It comes in a new nice looking case which is still simple and keeps cost down.



The sound from the Sabre 9018 is very detailed with a great soundstage. The 9018 DAC chip is a high end chip and combined with the Sabre headphone driver makes a great sounding combo. The noise is very low and can be used with also the most sensitive headphones. It is tested to work and sound great with Audio Technica ath-m50 (38 ohm, 99dB), Sennheiser hd650 (300 ohm, 103 dB), IEM: JH Audio JH-13 (28 ohm, 116dB).



The Sabre 9018 works without drivers with all major systems and programs; Windows, MAC, Linux. iTunes, Spotify, and Android see compatibility list).


First USB type C DAC ! (optional)

The Sabre 9018 might also be available with USB type C plug if there is enough interest for this. It connects and works without adaptors with the new Macbook, the newest Google Nexus phones and other computers using the new USB type C plug. Go here to contribute to the type C plug crowdfunding campaign: 




Sabre ES9018k2m DAC chip and SABRE9601 headphone and line out driverWorks and sound great with most headphone (including low impedance IEM and high impedance headphones) and all line level devices (preamps, amplifiers)Accepts 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz and 96kHz inputs files @16 and 24 bit.Volume controlled by computer vol +/- keysUltra low noise regulator LP5907 with added noise reducing aluminium solid capacitors (NCC PSF series)Patented Time Domain Jitter Eliminator (by ESS Technologies)Optical outputNo drivers required! Optional Windows ASIO drivers available



122dB SNR 110dB THD+N: 2V rms @ 600 ohm load100dB THD+N: 30mW @ 32 ohm loadNo DC blocking capacitors on the outputPower usage: 40-80 mA depending on sample rate and volumeDimensions:5.5 x 3.5 x 1.8 cm (without cable)Weight 30g


32kHz to 96kHz resolution

The Sabre 9018 DAC can play any format (MP3, AIFF, FLAC etc) from CD quality up to high resolution 96kHz files. It does not support 196k or 384kHz natively, nor does it play DSD files. Why? Most people does not have 192/384/DSD files. You do not benefit from a 384kHz capable DAC when playing CD quality (or high resolution 96kHz) files. If you need a 192kHz/384kHz/DSD DAC then we have other options for you. We have intentionally omitted this for all of our customers that don’t play 384kHz/DSD so you can save and get a better sounding CD quality DAC. 


But I thought higher resolution is better??

If you have bough high resolution 192kHz/384kHz files then yes it is better to have a DAC capable of decoding 192/384 without downsampling. If you like most people play CD’s, FLAC, Apple lossless, MP3's, iTunes, Spotify, Tidal high resolution etc then you will not benefit from a 192/384kHz capable DAC. 


The benefits of max 96/24 includes:

No drivers needed!Responds to system volume level in detailed 64 stepsIt works with the USB isolator to further reduce noise from the computer and improve clarity and sound qualityYou don’t pay extra for what you don’t need


More technical background

The most important parts in a DAC is:

DAC chipHeadphone/output driver (if any) Power supplyCircuit/implementation

We have chosen a great sounding and performing pair (ESS Sabre ES9018k2m DAC+SABRE9601 driver) and added DC noise filtering to improve the DC power quality from the USB port. There are great performing aluminum solid capacitors together with a new ultra low noise regulator (LP5907). We spent a long time designed and optimised the 4 layer PCB for the circuit in order to achieve the best performance and low ECM noise.


USB transfer mode

After careful experimentation we have chosen USB adaptive mode for this DAC. You can read more about the difference between synchronous, adaptive and async here: http://hifimediy.com/news/asynchronous-usb-audio--asynchronous-digital-to-analog-converters



The Sabre 9018 is also our first DAC to use our new case. We have made a simple case at minimal added cost compared to the generic case we have been using before. 

Questions moved from reviews:


Nice... But, es9018 or 9018 k2m??

Hifime: This is ES9018k2m chip.


Looks good for such price! But when will it be available?

It will be available in January. We will have the electronics ready in mid December, but the new cases are still in production, and will be ready in January.

Please add further comments to this thread (below)

It seems the volume is controlled in the dac : 


Hi dear HIFIME,

pleas could you check your link to „Foobar plugin files for DSD playback here “ becouse allways redirect me to 404 page („The page you requested cannot be found.“).



Best regards



thanks for letting us know we have fixed this now.

(note that that is regarding the other 9018 DAC, not the Sabre 9018 that this thread is about.)

"Responds to system volume level in detailed 64 steps" : Could you please share more details on implementation ? Is this happening in the USB receiver and what receiver the DAC Uses ?

Also I do not seem to find any information about the output impedance of the sabre headphone amplifier. I just bought Asus Conar U7 and it seems to have somewhat hight output impedance of 15 Ohm which causes un optimal performance with 32 Ohm headphones.

Have you measured the stereo  crosstalk under load (32Ohm) figures ?  That is another parameter which seems to change under load.


yes the volume control happens on USB level, the USB receiver is Savitech SA9023 (same as in our U2 dac). On mac you can use shift-alt-volume up/down to fine tune volume level if needed.

The output impedance is 4.7ohm

Just receive the DAC. My MAC with El Capitan 10.11.4 cannot recognise the DAC.

It works fine with my android phone.

Please advice.

Do I need to have a driver?

I cannot find any driver in the web site.


we think this is connected to the beta Mac OS X you're running. We'll assist you with this on private email. 

After disconnect my other DAC's USB, it works now. That means I cannot 2 DAC at the same time even the DAC's power is off.

Hello, I was a little confused by the Apple devices compatibility post. Does this work with iOS devices with only the CCK (no hub required)? I am using an iPhone 6S. Can you comment on battery drain? Thank you much.


I use a Hifime Sabre 9018 and Windows 7 and I can't play short audio clips. It sounds like popping instead of playing the audio. Occurs the same when opening a folder, starting or ending playback, etc

It's there any solution?


Do you use the ASIO driver? Try with native driver for those kind of sounds.

thank you for your quick reply.

It happends when using Windows 7 native drivers.

When installing the drivers supplied by Hifime for the Sabre 9018 (SaviAudioBravoHDSwPkg_HsDriverASIOiAP_20150703_v2p0p0p5.zip), the Savi Audio Bravo panel doesn't detect the Hifime 9018 USB DAC nor any other device.

So I have 2 problems:

- Can't play short audio clips nor windows brief sounds

- Savi Audio Bravo drivers doesn't detect the DAC (and maybe the DAC couldn't be used as an ASIO device)

What are the technical specifications for used toslink transmitter? Transmitting power (dBm), pulse width distortion (ns). Planning to use Sabre with a POF toslink cable 5m length. Have torx143 on the receiving side. Will I get a jitter?

@ Alexander, here are specs for the toslink:


When the S/PDIF output used instead of 3'5mm jack, does this DAC act just as passthrough? When I'm playing music (3'5mm and WASAPI exclusive mode in computer) and the file is multichannel or more than 24 bits or 96kHz I receive a message saying that the content couldn't be played. Will it still happen when a S/PDIF cable is connected or will it let me play everything S/PDIF standard supports?
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