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Review and Measurements of Sabaj D5 DAC & Amp

Rollaven

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man.... really tempted to try one of these out....
Talk about temptation, right? The offer on AliExpress for the D5 now is tempting. Can't decide to go for the D5 or wait for the DX7 pro...I think for this price level it will be a tough one to beat.
 

pacman

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Have a DX3Pro V1 which is a pretty good DAC/amp, but I'm tempted for this D5 since balanced XLR line out is desirable for my active speakers. Don't use bluetooth features of DX3Pro, so it'll be a fair trade.

Amp wise, will this drive HD 660S reasonably well?
 

wadec22

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Amp wise, will this drive HD 660S reasonably well?

yes, amir gives some subjective impressions at the end of the review driving his 650 set reasonably well and those are 300 ohm. your 660s are half that, so you should be fine.
 

REK2575

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Amp wise, will this drive HD 660S reasonably well?

As someone who uses the D5 with Senn 660S, I can vouch for the fact that the D5 amp has plenty of power to drive these. I listen to plenty of big orchestral music and I never go above 26-28 (out of max volume of 40) with the 660S -- it's *plenty* loud. Using lower impedance Audeze LCD-X , I stay in the lower 20s volume-wise.
 

pacman

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yes, amir gives some subjective impressions at the end of the review driving his 650 set reasonably well and those are 300 ohm. your 660s are half that, so you should be fine.

As someone who uses the D5 with Senn 660S, I can vouch for the fact that the D5 amp has plenty of power to drive these. I listen to plenty of big orchestral music and I never go above 26-28 (out of max volume of 40) with the 660S -- it's *plenty* loud. Using lower impedance Audeze LCD-X , I stay in the lower 20s volume-wise.
Thanks for the info, gonna pick it right now!

@REK2575 what cable are you using with your 660S? The balanced cable provided by Sennheiser is strange, 3.5mm TRS which don't fit on D5.

I'm considering buy this cable on Ali: US $50.40 16%OFF | Amazing Handcrafted Balanced 2.5M Upgrade Hifi Headphone Cable For Sennheiser HD545 HD565 HD580 HD600 HD650 XLR 4 Pins CANNON
https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/5BtIqCo0
 
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wadec22

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Thanks for the info, gonna pick it right now!

@REK2575 what cable are you using with your 660S? The balanced cable provided by Sennheiser is strange, 3.5mm TRS which don't fit on D5.

I'm considering buy this cable on Ali: US $50.40 16%OFF | Amazing Handcrafted Balanced 2.5M Upgrade Hifi Headphone Cable For Sennheiser HD545 HD565 HD580 HD600 HD650 XLR 4 Pins CANNON
https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/5BtIqCo0

My thoughts on cables after trying a number of them;
  • Make sure to buy your ideal length - this to me is crucial. If at your desk, you don't want it in the way on your chest, legs, under your chair, etc.
  • Avoid cloth cover types as they frey over time
  • only use XLR for the actual headphone cable if you need more power. while XLR from DAC to amp is great for eliminating hum, XLR to headphone is good for more power but usually comes with more distortion as well. With 150ohm headphones, my educated guess would be it's not necssecary here but someone else who owns them can chime in.
 

August

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SMSL's self-operated website ‘hifi-express‘ offers a $110 discount code, just ask @smsl_mandy in the forum:D
 

REK2575

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Thanks for the info, gonna pick it right now!

@REK2575 what cable are you using with your 660S? The balanced cable provided by Sennheiser is strange, 3.5mm TRS which don't fit on D5.

I'm considering buy this cable on Ali: US $50.40 16%OFF | Amazing Handcrafted Balanced 2.5M Upgrade Hifi Headphone Cable For Sennheiser HD545 HD565 HD580 HD600 HD650 XLR 4 Pins CANNON
https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/5BtIqCo0


I don't think you'll regret getting the D5!

I've only ever used Single Ended cables, so unfortunately can't speak to how balanced sounds. I haven't really felt a need to try XLR cable, to be honest, because SE has always seemed perfectly sufficient for my listening tastes. The 660S do come with a balanced cable but it's 4.4mm if I recall -- but you're right the D5 doesn't have a jack for it.

I know particularly with longer cables the balanced XLR is supposed to be preferable to SE 1/4" but I bought a 10' Mogami extension cable and it's terrific, absolutely no degradation of sound that I can detect. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001J9BQP4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )

and I completely agree with wadec22 about the importance of headphone cable length for listening comfort, hence my purchasing the Mogami extension!
 

jruser

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So, I have discovered a worse firmware bug in this thing. This bug happens in foobar with both the XMOS driver and the built in Windows driver. It also happens in Tidal desktop app with the XMOS driver. Tidal with the built in Windows driver doesn't seem like it properly goes into exclusive mode.

First, make sure the Sabaj is not your default sound device in Windows. Next, play a track using WASAPI exclusive in 96khz. Close the playback software, and then hold the button on the front of the Sabaj to put it in standby. Once it is in standby, press the button to turn it back on. Open playback software and play a 44.1khz track in WASAPI exclusive. The track will be playing fast, in a higher pitch. I then had to use the power switch on the back to get things back to normal.

Did the same test only reversed the order of the tracks. After using the power switch on the back, I played a 44.1khz track, then standby, then 96khz track. The 96khz played slow, with a lower pitch.

The thing that always triggers it is using the button to go into standby. For now, I'll either use the switch on the back or just leave it on all the time.

Edit: it's like going into standby causes it to get stuck on the last clock it used before going into standby. The screen displays the correct sample rate, but it isn't played back using the right speed. I didn't try ASIO.

Edit2: If you only play one sample rate, it wouldn't affect you. Also, some people may not notice if it isn't music they have listened to a lot.
 
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Patrick1958

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Well, if I were you I will try with other better soft player in windows. And Kernel Streaming better than Wasapi or ASIO4ALL.

I do not use any streaming service like Tidal, Spotify...
Trying to learn : why is Kernel Streaming better than Wasapi, what are the advantages?
JRmc has the ability to use kernel streaming.
 

maty

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https://www.google.com/search?q=Kernel+Streaming+better+than+Wasapi+or+ASIO4ALL

-> http://jplay.eu/forum/index.php?/topic/1143-why-kernel-streaming/#entry18613

Kernel Streaming is lowest 'audio' layer in Windows: Why go through more layers (=WASAPI) if direct access is possible? In audio, less is usually more. (unlike WASAPI, ASIO _can_ be direct although it's not a given: there are 'ASIO' drivers out there which are using KS internally…) KS also allows for things that WASAPI does not: whereas both ASIO & WASAPI require memory copy operation per design, KS does not. Again, less is more. ASIO usually has _fixed_ Buffer size – it has been established from experience that various Buffer sizes can have sonic impact with smaller values sounding 'better' for most. Not being able to manipulate Buffer size is a clear restriction for ASIO. In addition, ASIO may require even more memory copy operations then WASAPI as it expects left & right channel to be 'separated' (WAV format has samples interleaved). WASAPI allows for different Buffer sizes but requires certain 'minimal' size – Usually this is 192/256 samples for CD and 512+ for HiRez. One cannot go below that minimum. Kernel streaming, on the other had, has no such restrictions: one can even use Buffer of a single sample! ('DirectLink' as unique feature of JPLAY) Hopefully this makes it clear now why we recommend KS: Lowest layer, no restrictions on Buffer size, zero-copy scenarios possible. Again, we believe 'less is more': not everyone agrees this makes a sonic difference and that is ok – but it does not change the facts
smile.png
Why JRiver (=Matt) does not recommend KS is something you will have to ask him: links you posted do not have a single reason mentioned.

-> https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-wasapi-and-music-players-foobar-jriver.7412/

foobar2000 needs: https://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_out_ks 1.2.2, released on 2006-08-04

I have been using foobar2000 since its inception. As a tool it is very good but I have detected that JRMC sounds much better in my windows, since v20 or v21. A few months ago, in a test, I wanted to do it fast, I used foobar2000 with ASIO4ALL and I failed loudly. It was the drop that filled the glass.

Now we have JRMC 64-bit version available. I also use the JRMC WDM driver.

https://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/WDM_Driver

In JRMC, Options/Audio -> Memory playback - Load full file (not decoded) to memory.
And buffer 50 ms (same in foobar2000).
JRMC-Options-Audio-Memory-playback.png



Thanks to JRMC WDM I can choose:

JRMC-WDM.png
- End off topic -
 
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zym1010

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This thing as a standalone DAC at 300 USD would be CRAZY.

I bought this at 417 USD using a newly applied Amex Card of 200 USD cash bonus. So I can convince myself that I only spent 217 USD on this.
 

KingFiercer

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Does D5 have ASIO drivers?
 

Veri

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Trying to learn : why is Kernel Streaming better than Wasapi, what are the advantages?
JRmc has the ability to use kernel streaming.
Don't take everything maty says at face value. Most of his claims are entirely anecdotal ...
 

jruser

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Also, the issue where the knob stops responding seemed to be caused by putting the unit into standby. Didn't have enough time to fully investigate.
 
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