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Sabaj A10d 2022 Version Review (DAC & Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 2 1.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 21 11.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 159 85.9%

  • Total voters
    185

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the 2022 revision of Sabaj A10d, balanced DAC and headphone amplifier. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $299.
Sabaj A10d 2022 Review Bluetooth balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.jpg

As you see this is a very nice departure from typical look of a desktop DAC. A large and nicely visible white 7-segment display does a nice job of conveying menu options despite its limitations. Volume control is a bit too shallow for my taste but otherwise is very responsive. There is a 4.4 "balanced" headphone jack but it has the same power as the unbalanced 1/4. So it is more for convenience.

Back panel has the usual connection with the exception of using USB-C for that connector:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Review Bluetooth back panel balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.jpg

As usual, I love in-built power supplies.

Overall Sabaj nails the design of this new unit with fresh and old ides brought together.

Note that there is an older product with the same 10d designation which is confusing. That unit doesn't have headphone amp and doesn't look anything like this upgrade.

Sabaj A10d 2022 Version Measurements
One look at the dashboard and you can tell extreme attention was put into the design:

Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


This lands A10d into our top 20 lowest noise+distortion DACs:
Best desktop sterep DAC review 2022.png


Distortion is incredibly low at -140 dB (25 dB below threshold of hearing). Similar performance remains with RCA outs:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Unbalanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


DAC dynamic range is excellent:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements DNR Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


As is jitter over USB:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Jitter Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Toslink and Coax though don't do as well:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Toslink Coax Jitter Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


As secondary ports, I am OK with this although I always wish for parity here.

IMD performance is excellent:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements IMD Distortion Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Linearity is perfect:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Linearity Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Multitone distortion is near best there ever is:

Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Multitone Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Filter response is typical but I am please with F1 being the default:



Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Filter Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


When I first ran my THD+N vs frequency I sow high levels at higher frequencies. I traced that to reconstruction filter not being active or being slow. Changing filters above made no difference. Power cycled the unit and problem went away and got this excellent performance:

Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements THD+N vs Frequency Balanced Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Sabaj A10d 2022 Version Headphone Amplifier Measurements
I love combo DAC and headphone amps. It not only reduces clutter on your desk but also gives you perfect volume control channel match. Sometimes though the headphone amp does not keep up with the DAC so let's test that starting with 300 ohm load:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Power into 300 ohm Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


This is excellent performance and nicely passes my 100 milliwatt threshold. Switching to 32 ohm, we get similar performance:
Sabaj A10d 2022 Measurements Power into 32 ohm Stereo DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Notice how in neither case the amp clips. This means if you hear any distortion, it is in the headphone itself! SNR though at 50mv was not as good as I expected (tested in low gain):


most quiet headphone amplifier review.png


Sabaj A10d 2022 Version Listening Tests
The new A10d had no trouble producing superb loudness and dynamics in Sennheiser HD650 and Drop Ether CX. Resolution, detail, fidelity, you name it and it was amazing. It even managed to drive my difficult Dan Clark Ether CX headphones to very satisfactory volume.

Conclusions
Kudos to Sabaj for a job well done across so many areas from design to performance. Yes, there is a bit of room left for products even higher in performance but that gap is incredibly small while cost savings are significant. I am so glad I am not in desktop audio business to compete with products like this! :)

It is my pleasure to recommend Sabaj A10d 2022 version. My only wish is that they should have given it a new model number give the step up that it is from that older product.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Astoneroad

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Thanks for another informative review Amir. Looks like a lot of transparent bang for the buck.
 

Slayer

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Yes, test measurements were excellent. However, having to power cycle the unit to make a problem go away, gives concern for reliability.
We see so much great measuring gear these days, yet it seems so many companies are focused on the numbers and not quality control or reliability.
But thanks anyway Amir for the review.
 

cheapmessiah

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So a product that aims at topping EX5, beats it, and pairs in performance to the much more expensive DX5 that should have been at the same price this unit is. Granted, DX5 looks much better.
 

Doodski

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The designers managed to make the font look OK, the front panel is nice and simple and the fake rack handles are a great addition. Amazon.ca does not have it in stock yet as it is a new model.
 
Last edited:

Garrincha

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Damn, and I ordered a Topping Dx3Pro+ three weeks ago. I love the design of this unit and it has built in power supply, I would have spend $100 more. I saw it announced on Aliexpress, but didn´t want to risk an order without having seen (independent) measurements. Also the specs said 1W at 32Ohm, so I thought the headphone amp might be a bit weak. What kind of understatement specs are these?
 

Joel

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Strange question (but very important for the friend who might find this perfect) but paired with a Mac over USB-C, does the computers volume control the output volume of the device?
 

Garrincha

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So a product that aims at topping EX5, beats it, and pairs in performance to the much more expensive DX5 that should have been at the same price this unit is. Granted, DX5 looks much better.
Well, this is really a matter of taste, but I prefer the look of this unit by far.
 

_theLaughingman

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Strange question (but very important for the friend who might find this perfect) but paired with a Mac over USB-C, does the computers volume control the output volume of the device?
Umm, the computer volume control set to 100 would mean that the DAC is turned up all the way. Hopefully that helps answer the question.
 

Joel

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Umm, the computer volume control set to 100 would mean that the DAC is turned up all the way. Hopefully that helps answer the question.
Not really, but thanks. I think the D10 balanced is better fit. This just popped up while I was looking for that review and seems nice for the price but not really what they need.
 

Somafunk

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but paired with a Mac over USB-C, does the computers volume control the output volume of the device?

If it’s like any other outboard dac I’ve used on my macs over the years then you select the output audio device in audio settings then you have volume control on the external device
 

LaL

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Is this a new trend,
it's Balanced - but the 4.4mm headphone output is still only a lower powered single ended Amp stage.
Surely a good percentage of consumers are going to be tricked by this.
 

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Matias

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Congrats, Sabaj. Impressive device.
 

Doodski

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Is this a new trend,
it's Balanced - but the 4.4mm headphone output is still only a lower powered single ended Amp stage.
Surely a good percentage of consumers are going to be tricked by this.
It's a convenience jack and yes some peeps have been confused by this.
 

BHazard

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Any chance on a review of the Sabaj A20d 2022? (The step up to this model with the ES9038Pro and MQA)
I own the A20d 2022 and I love it. If the A10d measures this well, I believe the A20d is going to get very close to Topping's best at a much lower price.
 

kchap

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Is this a new trend,
it's Balanced - but the 4.4mm headphone output is still only a lower powered single ended Amp stage.
Surely a good percentage of consumers are going to be tricked by this.
The Topping L50 is the same. Balanced is not really required. Bridged mode is balanced but that is not the main objective. Bridge mode gives a 6dB increase in power for the same rail voltage; a big deal for a dongle but not for a HPA with it's own PSU.
 
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