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Sabaj A20d 2022 Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 34 13.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 218 85.2%

  • Total voters
    256

BHazard

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Feb 7, 2021
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That I agree on. If USB-C to USB-A is required for operation, it should have been, and should be made more clear going forward.
 
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Robbo99999

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I would love a "gaming" centered dac/amp around a 9038 pro with a powerful amp surround sound etc even if it ends up being a little pricey. That would never happen since creative makes more money selling cheapo units to the masses
I've got the Creative SoundblasterX G6 that was reviewed here on ASR - it's good quality in all that it does (except you have to run it at -2dBFS to ensure no clipping as Amir found in his review), but I would like some in-built PEQ available with it, which would be able to work alongside the Virtual 7.1 Surround that is included within that DAC. I'd like an at least 10 band PEQ to be included in it, but ideally 20 band PEQ, and actually if that was 10 or 20 band PEQ for each channel, then that means you could do seperate EQ for left & right channels and would be able to channel match them - but that is very niche usage........so that's probably asking for too much, but for sure I'd like to see PEQ included within gaming DACS.
 

Zenek73

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In what what way? Please be specific.
Good quality measurements and price. RME is great and I think with top support not achievable for Chinese products. But it's a bit too expensive and as Roon user I don't need dsp etc.
I'm against buying made in China and Chinese brands. I know it's cheap and very often top quality but: support, politics. So for me it's more important than price. I need product for many years not a toy for 1-2 years without support and from such kind of country. I hope Im not alone :)
 

Snoopy

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Good quality measurements and price. RME is great and I think with top support not achievable for Chinese products. But it's a bit too expensive and as Roon user I don't need dsp etc.
I'm against buying made in China and Chinese brands. I know it's cheap and very often top quality but: support, politics. So for me it's more important than price. I need product for many years not a toy for 1-2 years without support and from such kind of country. I hope Im not alone :)
Just buy the Chinese stuff local. In Europe audiophonics is great.
And you get 2 years warranty.

Amazon (shipped and sold by them) is a good option as well.

I got all my Chinese DACs and headphone amps by local retailers.
 

Trell

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One that is still working and playing music through your HiFi.
That’s one definition but I doubt that’s what he had in mind. Price seemed to play an important part as well.
 
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djgras

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Jun 9, 2022
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Musical means quality of treble, medium, bass, uncompressed dynamics, black background, effortless resolution etc for me. So I will trust my ears when comparing to the Sotm and an Aqua Hifi Dac. On 2 systems, one Dynaudio, one Raidho. Will definitely be subjective and my own perception. Somewhat surprised at so much sniggering on this forum.
 
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DonR

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Musical means quality of treble, medium, bass, uncompressed dynamics, black background, effortless resolution etc for me. So I will trust my ears when comparing to the Sotm and an Aqua Hifi Dac. On 2 systems, one Dynaudio, one Raidho. Will definitely be subjective and my own perception. Somewhat surprised at so much sniggering on this forum.
Cognitive bias. This is Audio SCIENCE Review.
 

Trell

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Musical means quality of treble, medium, bass, uncompressed dynamics, black background, effortless resolution etc for me. So I will trust my ears when comparing to the Sotm and an Aqua Hifi Dac. On 2 systems, one Dynaudio, one Raidho. Will definitely be subjective and my own perception.
Well measuring DACs have no sound on their own and faithfully reproduce the input signal. They may have some DSP like EQ, tone controls or Dynamic Loudness to adjust for taste, which I use.
 

Robbo99999

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Musical means quality of treble, medium, bass, uncompressed dynamics, black background, effortless resolution etc for me. So I will trust my ears when comparing to the Sotm and an Aqua Hifi Dac. On 2 systems, one Dynaudio, one Raidho. Will definitely be subjective and my own perception. Somewhat surprised at so much sniggering on this forum.
We can't help it with stuff like that, thanks for the chortle, no I mean it. It's fine though
 

MAB

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Musical means quality of treble, medium, bass, uncompressed dynamics, black background, effortless resolution etc for me. So I will trust my ears when comparing to the Sotm and an Aqua Hifi Dac. On 2 systems, one Dynaudio, one Raidho. Will definitely be subjective and my own perception. Somewhat surprised at so much sniggering on this forum.
Welcome!
Yeah, sorry that terms like 'musical' get thrashed so badly here. But to be clear they are not scientific, repeatable, and are typically misleading. And parts of the HiFi industry have used this type of electronics-mysticism to mislead and are deserving of a thrashing, even if the people using the terms are not deserving of getting thrashed:)!
Feel free to review some of the background information about this site and community, in case you haven't seen these:
 

Mobster

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Jul 22, 2022
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@Mobster ... yeah feel the pain totally. DAC should just stay with a USB-B plug. Strong/Stable and works every time; tons of great quality cable available too.
Hopefully SMSL/Sabaj can come up with a firmware fix too; but not holding my breath for it.
If you really like the DAC just use an A-C adaptor and kiss all the USB-C nonsense goodbye. Good luck.

May be there is a reason Topping has not gone to USB-C plug for any DAC yet?? Doing more harm than good possibly.

I like the sound and look of it so I´m not going to return it because it doesn't support USB-C to USB-C. However I'm not sure I would have bought it if I knew that before purchase. Not a very future proof USB-C input. It works well with a USB-A to USB-C OTG adapter, but since this isn't a dongle it´s weird it's needed. It's a poorly designed USB-C input I would say. On the other hand it makes using an iPhone as a source a breeze if you already got the lightning to USB-A camera adapter.

It you compare it to the USB-C input on the Mojo 2 for instance it do not work connected to an iPhone without the USB camera adaptor either, but it's not a problem connecting it to a MacBook, newer USB-C iPads, Laptops or other USB-C sources with its own power supply. The USB-C input on this item seems like a USB-A design with a USB-C port for convenience, which it's not convenient at all when using USB-C sources as you would need this USB-A to USB-C OTG adaptor. This product is the first product I've owned with a USB-C input that doesn't connect/support devices with a USB-C output, like at all. It's not very future proof if you're looking to keep it for a few years when even more devices will be USB-C only.

At the price I would rate this 5/5 for sound and looks and 3/5 for functionality as an desktop headphone amp.

I didn't suspect it to be a defective device as I saw a 1 star review of the A10d 2022 on Amazon beforehand and this person apparently returned it because the USB connection didn't work. I thought he had been unlucky and got a defective device, but he probably only tried USB-C to USB-C.

I still like this unit as the pros outweigh the cons, but it feels a bit like it's a prototype/preproduction model because of the poor USB-C port functionality and the 4.4mm being unbalanced. Like they ran out of time at the end had to enter production with only 93% of the engineering done. If this had a proper functioning USB-C input compatible with sources with USB-C outputs and a balanced 4.4mm headphone output as advertised, plus a Bluetooth sender in addition too, or instead of, a Bluetooth receiver only as a bonus so it would work with wireless headphones as well it would have been an endgame desktop headphone amp. Now it still leaves a bit left to be desired in regards to functionality. Maybe they're saving it for a 2023 edition ;)
 

BHazard

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Joined
Feb 7, 2021
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I like the sound and look of it so I´m not going to return it because it doesn't support USB-C to USB-C. However I'm not sure I would have bought it if I knew that before purchase. Not a very future proof USB-C input. It works well with a USB-A to USB-C OTG adapter, but since this isn't a dongle it´s weird it's needed. It's a poorly designed USB-C input I would say. On the other hand it makes using an iPhone as a source a breeze if you already got the lightning to USB-A camera adapter.

It you compare it to the USB-C input on the Mojo 2 for instance it do not work connected to an iPhone without the USB camera adaptor either, but it's not a problem connecting it to a MacBook, newer USB-C iPads, Laptops or other USB-C sources with its own power supply. The USB-C input on this item seems like a USB-A design with a USB-C port for convenience, which it's not convenient at all when using USB-C sources as you would need this USB-A to USB-C OTG adaptor. This product is the first product I've owned with a USB-C input that doesn't connect/support devices with a USB-C output, like at all. It's not very future proof if you're looking to keep it for a few years when even more devices will be USB-C only.

At the price I would rate this 5/5 for sound and looks and 3/5 for functionality as an desktop headphone amp.

I didn't suspect it to be a defective device as I saw a 1 star review of the A10d 2022 on Amazon beforehand and this person apparently returned it because the USB connection didn't work. I thought he had been unlucky and got a defective device, but he probably only tried USB-C to USB-C.

I still like this unit as the pros outweigh the cons, but it feels a bit like it's a prototype/preproduction model because of the poor USB-C port functionality and the 4.4mm being unbalanced. Like they ran out of time at the end had to enter production with only 93% of the engineering done. If this had a proper functioning USB-C input compatible with sources with USB-C outputs and a balanced 4.4mm headphone output as advertised, plus a Bluetooth sender in addition too, or instead of, a Bluetooth receiver only as a bonus so it would work with wireless headphones as well it would have been an endgame desktop headphone amp. Now it still leaves a bit left to be desired in regards to functionality. Maybe they're saving it for a 2023 edition ;)
Considering the price, I think these choices could have been some cost cutting measures to get the price where it is.... unless it's not supposed to be this way and a firmware upgrade comes along and magically fixes things (USB-C, not the amp). One can dream.

I'm all for an OLED, Fully Balanced, True USB-C premium model for 2023.
 
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