DAC Comparison / Buyers Guide

Posted by HiFimeDIY 08/05/2015 9 Comment(s) DAC's,

HIFIME(DIY) DAC comparison, Buyers guide

Here is a guide to help you decide what DAC to chose.

Some general info:

  • All of our DACs can be connected to line level devices like an preamp or amplifier.
  • Android support varies between phone brands and OS versions. Help us build the Android compatibilty database here.
  • If you need to connet to RCA on your amplifier you can still use a DAC with a 3.5mm output connector. Use a 3.5mm to RCA cable like this link
  • All the dac's except Tiny and Android have an "bonus" optical output.

Here are our 4 most popular DACs:

Hifimediy Sabre DAC $42
  • Our most selling USB DAC. 96/24 Sabre sound at a great price.
  • No drivers needed in Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Works with many Android 5.0+ and 6.0+ devices, and some 4.4+ devices
  • Headphones requirements: Min 30 ohm. Higher ohm prefered. 
  • Input: USB
  • Output 3.5mm analog + optical SPDIF (only one can be used at the same time)

Hifime SABRE 9018 DAC $69
  • Upgraded DAC chip, very detailed sound, very low noise
  • No drivers needed in Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Works with many Android 5.0+ and 6.0+ devices, and some 4.4+ devices
  • Headphones requirements: Support almost all headphones, incl. very high efficient IEM
  • Input: USB
  • Output 3.5mm analog + optical SPDIF (only one can be used at the same time)

  • Built in USB Isolator chip that isolates the dac from noisy USB ports.
  • Analog volume control (controls headphone output only)
  • Requires external power supply
  • Input: USB
  • Outputs: RCA direct out, 3.5mm headphone output, coaxial and digital optical outputs

  • Optical DAC connects to TVs, routers, Playstation etc.
  • Detailed sounding DAC chip and output stage chip can drive any headphone and preamp/amplifiers
  • Requires external power from any USB port, USB charger etc.
  • Input: Digital SPDIF optical signal through 3.5mm connector (SPDIF adaptor included)
  • Output: Analog audio through 3.5mm connector

Here follows main info of all other DAC models:
Hifimediy Tiny Dac $28.99
  • Sabre sound at a very low price.
  • Max 48kHz/16bit.
  • Does not respond to volume up/down hotkeys on computer (you can use volume level slider in the program instead)

Hifimediy Android Dac 28.99
  • Same as Tiny model with microUSB plug instead of regular USB plug.
  • ​Sabre sound from a compact dac that connects directly to Android phones/tablets
  • Does respond to volume level up/down keys on most Android phones.
  • Doesn't work with all phones.

Hifimediy U2 $59
  • Similar to "Sabre DAC" with asynchronous USB transfer mode

Hifime UX1 $69
  • Similar to Sabre dac with added dedicated headphone amp and output
  • Optical to USB function (for recording DATs etc to computer).
  • Volume knob and LED lights showing sample rate.
  • Powered from USB port (doesn't require additional power supply)

Hifime UH1 $139
  • Upgraded USB transfer: Asynchronous USB clocked by two TCXO's.
  • Plays high resolution files up to 384kHz/32bit (doesn't play DSD)
  • i2S/DSD digital outputs, can be used as USB to i2S, or USB to optical 
  • Line out and headphone out

Hifime 9018 $89
  • Plays high resolution files up to 384kHz/32bit
  • High output level and only 8 steps volume control (not suitable for all headphones)
  • Requires drivers in Windows.

Hifime 9018D $119
  • Same as 9018 with higher output gain, added MCU controlled 255-step volume control, display showing sample rate and volume level, all in a nice looking compact case.
  • Can be used with all headphones from the most sensitive to the ones requiring a lot of power.
  • High Speed/Full speed switch: can be used without drivers in Windows (up to 96/24) when switch is set to FS ("Full Speed").

Hifime SPDIF DAC $89
  • Optical and coaxial input ES9023
  • Built in power supply
  • Up to 192kHz/24bit
  • Headphone output volume controlled by analog volume control
Tags: dac comparison

9 Comment(s)

01/08/2015, 10:58:16 AM

Does the 9018D has a built in battery? And what are its the external dimensions.

30/11/2015, 03:55:04 PM

How about a guide or instructions on how to get the ES9023 DIY board to actually work on the Raspberry Pi model B? So far, mine has been unable to do anything except sit cockeyed (due to a jack pin on the board contacting a Pi capacitor) on top of the Pi.

07/12/2015, 02:00:09 PM

Hi, loving the Android DAC. I'm probably going to get a new phone with a USB C adapter though - the Nexus 6P. Do you think you guys could release basically the same one as the Android DAC but instead with a USB C connector? Or would it be possible to get one for myself custom from you guys? Keep up the good work, guys!

Edwin Gomez:
20/01/2016, 05:20:02 AM

You could just buy a micro-usb-b to usb-c adapter if you can find one.

HiFimeDIY Web:
15/07/2016, 03:05:29 AM

We have the Sabre 9018 dac with type C available now. This DAC is an upgrade from the Android DAC that you have. A micro-usb to type C adaptor as Edwin suggest might work, however some of those adaptors only work for charging and doesn't pass any data signal through.

21/12/2015, 09:30:28 PM

Is the UH1 compatible with the Audio-Gd Master 11 HDMI i2s input? also what specific TCXO's are used in the UH1? thank you!

31/03/2016, 05:16:09 PM

Does the standard SABRE DAC definitely not work with an android phone over OTG then? If so, how come the Android and the 9018 DACs can?

15/07/2016, 03:01:46 AM

Sorry about the delayed reply.. The Sabre DAC should work with the same phones as the Sabre 9018 dac does, that is mainly Android 5 and 6 and some Android 4. The $29 Android DAC works with more phones, but recently there have been some reported issues with Android 6. Check the compatibility forum thread for more info: https://support.hifimediy.com/support/discussions/topics/8000000641

25/05/2016, 11:36:05 PM

I wan't to get the most from my equipmnet, listening to 44.1 khz 16-bit flac files, connecting a DAC between the computer and the amp. PC <optical or usb cable> DAC <rca cable> AMP -> Speakers Which one would be the cheapest dac that offers the same audio quality as the most expensive? thanks!

21/07/2016, 05:57:33 PM

Are there any plans to make the Tiny DAC with the presumably power-saving ES9023 available for USB Type-C, as an increasing number of smartphones is implementing this connector? Love what your company is doing btw. Thanks

22/07/2016, 03:01:22 AM

Hi, no we don't have any plans for that. The ES9018K2M chip in the new 9018 DAC is also power-saving. The Sabre 9018 type-C is using a bit more power than the Tiny, but not that much more, and it plays louder and accept higher sample rate. So if you use it a lower sample rates and lower volume then the difference in power consumption is small.

19/09/2017, 06:57:54 AM

Do you have any DAC that is made for Iphone 6 ?

02/04/2020, 09:57:26 AM

Bonjour je recherche un dac USB pour mon smartphone Android oneplus 5T pour me brancher en otg usb et en jack sur mon enceinte amplifiée quelle modèle vous me conseillez merci

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