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)

SPDIF output comes directly from the USB receiver chip, the DAC chip is not used in this case. However USB doesn't support above 96/24, so that's why it doesn't work. 

The optical output does support Dolby DTS.

Hi everyone. I have little experience with audio equipments, so I wanted to ask you a question. I have bought the Hifime UAE23HD USB DAC (still on it's way to my house). And I have a good old Phono/tape deck amplifier from the 1980's. What I want to know is if it's possible to use the headphone/optical (of the DAC) out as a Line Out to connect the DAC to the line in on the back of the old amplifier using a simple 3.5mm-to-RCA cable. Should it work without any problem? Thank you!
Yes, just be cautious with volume, you need to set the output volume with a digital mixer, i.e. from your computer you plug it into, adjust the main volume starting low, hearing it, then raising it. It's likely to be good between 70% and 100%, adjust according to your taste.

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