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Sabaj A20d 2023 DAC & HP Amp Review

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 9 3.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 1.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 44 18.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 181 76.4%

  • Total voters
    237
Joined
Mar 17, 2023
Messages
15
Likes
29
Location
France
J'ai reçu le mien il y a trois semaines. Fonctionne très bien sur un ropieee PI3 alimenté par roon. Aucun problème. Un plaisir à utiliser avec le HE1000 furtif.

Pouvez-vous partager des détails sur l'ordinateur, le système d'exploitation, etc.

S'il est cassé, pourquoi ne pas le retourner.

I use a Mac mini M1 2020, with Mac os 13.5.2 operating system. I tried restarting the Mac, but that didn't solve the problem.

The only method to recover the sound is to electrically unplug the dac for a few minutes, then plug it back in.
No problem with the other DACs of the brand, I really think that the problem comes from the DAC.

I requested an exchange or refund, but support (https://hifi-express.com) no longer takes the trouble to answer me, unreliable product & absent support, I don't dare tell you what I think of them.

I will try to open a dispute with Paypal, or block a piece of furniture with this DAC.
 
Joined
Mar 17, 2023
Messages
15
Likes
29
Location
France
Jeromeaudi, I had the same problems with Topping DX3 pro+ (its headphones jack broke down the first day) and SMSL C200 (arrived with a broken headphones jack). Their quality control is questionable. So far Sabaj A20d 2023 has worked for two days without issues. I recommend you buy a tiny and powerfull Sound Blaster X1 usb dac - it costs about $50 and has an AKM chip of a previous generation with the same velvet sound technology and Ti/Burr-brown amplifier. It sounds much more natural than Topping DX3 pro+ and almost as good as Sabaj A20d 2023 (tested on planar headphones Arya Stealth and HE1000 Stealth). So unless you need a balanced output for some reason Sound Blaster X1 will do nicely.

Joachim Herbert, did you try changing sound colors with HE1000 Stealth? I guess by default A20d uses Sound Color 1?
To my taste Sound Color 2 and 4 sound more pleasant on HE1000 Stealth on balanced output and the following EQ settings:
Preamp: -3.45 dB
Filter: ON PK Fc 25 Hz Gain 3.4 dB Q 0.5
Filter: ON PK Fc 1800 Hz Gain 3.4 dB Q 2.0

Without EQ the unbalanced output sounds more pleasant on HE1000 Stealth. I wonder why.
Thanks for the ideas !

I'm going to save money to buy a more reliable brand DAC... this 2023 sabaj is not reliable, just 1 day, bad quality, probably sent to market too quickly, and SABAJ customer support is also bad (absent), so disappointed.
 
Last edited:

Music1969

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
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This thing is pretty incredible.

If you can do EQ/DSP on Mac/PC, it is cheaper and better than RME ADI-2
 

sonci99

Active Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
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76
Thanks for the ideas !

I'm going to save money to buy a more reliable brand DAC... this 2023 sabaj is not reliable, just 1 day, bad quality, probably sent to market too quickly, and SABAJ customer support is also bad (absent), so disappointed.
Mine seems ok.
I wonder what brands are more reliable, it's a lottery I guess. If there is some kind of warranty then all brands are the same.
It has a nice neutral sound, with a lot of detail. It wont make you listen for hours like vinyl do, but on good mastered albums it sings.
I also tried some MQA files, dont know if they sound better but is nice to see the logo shine on the screen.
 

AryaStealth

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2023
Messages
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15
The default one (sharp roll-off). You may try others, but I guess only one in million can hear the difference.
You may hear the difference if you change sound color settings (it changes an operating frequency of the built-in resampler in the dac)
 

AryaStealth

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2023
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Is it possible that the Sabaj A20d amp in High Gain doesn't give enough current through balanced output to drive 32 Ohm planar headphones that have 93 dB sensitivity (HE1000 Stealth)?
It seems to me that when I add -6db preamp in EqualizerAPO I can feel more bass turning Sabaj volume knob higher. ‎Is it a psychoaccoustic illusion due to more flexible volume control via Sabaj volume knob or it really can be the case?
 

Joachim Herbert

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
447
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658
Location
Munich, Germany
Is it possible that the Sabaj A20d amp in High Gain doesn't give enough current through balanced output to drive 32 Ohm planar headphones that have 93 dB sensitivity (HE1000 Stealth)?
I do not think so. 4.4 and 6.3 mm sockets provide the same (unbalanced) signal. Balanced out on the rear of the unit is meant to drive active speakers or a preamp. I use the 6.3 mm socket to drive a HE1000 Stealth with absolutely no issues in high and low gain mode.
 

AryaStealth

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2023
Messages
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Hi, i received this DAC Tuesday 07/09, it no longer worked on 08/09, it only produces noise in my headphones.

I tried rebooting my computer, putting the dac to sleep, turning it on again, nothing works.
I unplugged it one night, the next day it was working. Last night, same situation, only breath... not reliable this dac? Or did I get the wrong number?
Finaly, i wrote to SABAJ support, they asked me for a video, I don't know how to film the silence coming out of this DAC... joke !

Have other members of this forum purchased/noticed this problem?
I received my unit in the middle of September (I bought it on hifi-express_com. It worked fine until today. I have the same problem - noise instead of music with the sample rates 44100 and 88200. The sample rates 48000, 96000, 192000, 384000 continue to work normally.
This is really sad, that quality control is so bad with chi-fi and Amir never mentions it (the headphone output of my Topping DX3 pro+ broke down the same day and SMSL C200 arrived with a broken headphone output). I grew to like a lot the sound of Sabaj A20d 2023.

Is it possible to replace this unit directly with Sabaj or I should try to get a refund from hifi-express via paypal?
 

Bmoze

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
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I had a weird issue with my Sabaj 20d 2023, which I had purchased through Amazon. I contacted Sabaj, explained the problem and sent them screenshots. They sent me a new unit. I had originally bought two units for two bedroom systems. One original unit stills works fine and the replaced unit works well so far. The issue I had with the unit was something I do not understand and cannot explain. When I first got it, I used it to take REW measurements. The channel responses looked normal. Six months later I moved some furniture and retook measurements. The left channel responses were now reduced by 10-20 dbs below 300hz. I swapped in my second Sabaj 20d and the channel measurements were normal. I also swapped in my RME DAC and the measurements were normal. So, I sent Sabaj the screenshots of the measurements from the three DACs, pointing out the problem. They were responsive and replaced it.

Also, I dislike the Sabaj remote because you often must reclick it to get it to respond. I took a gamble and bought a $30 learning remote off Ali Express, my first purchase from that site. It's a nice, responsive aluminum remote and works great so far.

I think the Chinese units are a great value but can be a headache. It's tradeoff that I don't want to go through very often.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 17, 2023
Messages
15
Likes
29
Location
France
I received my unit in the middle of September (I bought it on hifi-express_com. It worked fine until today. I have the same problem - noise instead of music with the sample rates 44100 and 88200. The sample rates 48000, 96000, 192000, 384000 continue to work normally.
This is really sad, that quality control is so bad with chi-fi and Amir never mentions it (the headphone output of my Topping DX3 pro+ broke down the same day and SMSL C200 arrived with a broken headphone output). I grew to like a lot the sound of Sabaj A20d 2023.

Is it possible to replace this unit directly with Sabaj or I should try to get a refund from hifi-express via paypal?
I'm sorry about your dac. I finally lent mine to a friend, who uses it with the Windows operating system (Mac OS for me), and he has no problem ?
So was the problem with my Mac? Or as for you the problem was only present on certain frequencies ?
I won't be able to answer, because I haven't analyzed it further.

I contacted Hifi support, they asked me for a video of the problem ? I replied that I didn't know what to film ? There, they took 10 days to respond to me, and therefore the 7-day period during which the return is free had passed... they asked me to return the dac for analysis, with the shipping costs at my expense (then that I had submitted the issue well before the 7 days).

I no longer trust this brand, the prices are amazing, but the service is bad.

In short, you can try to contact them, be patient... but I think you will have to pay the shipping costs to send it to support, in order to obtain a repair under warranty, or its replacement if not repairable. The delay may take several weeks.

As for me, I gave up, and gave it to my friend, who continues to use it and is very happy!
It's doubly annoying, because in fact, when it worked... I really liked the sound too.

Have courage, good luck.
 

AryaStealth

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2023
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I use it on Windows, and so far the horrible noise problem is only with 44100 and 88200 sample rates. I suppose Sabaj or AKM used separate microchips to process 44100 (x2, x4) and 48000 (x2, x4) sample rates and the one that is responsible for 44100 broke down for some reasone, perhaps because I used it most of the time since most of the music is 44100. Now I use SoX in foobar to upsample 44100 files (94.5% passband and linear phase response) to 96000.
I had a weird issue with my Sabaj 20d 2023, which I had purchased through Amazon. I contacted Sabaj, explained the problem and sent them screenshots. They sent me a new unit.
Did you contact them via email info[at]sabaj.com.cn or via Amazon Ask a question feature? I believe their store on US Amazon is called Hifi Booster Store and on UK Amazon it is Hifi-Booster Shop.
 

Bmoze

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Sep 23, 2019
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I messaged them on US Amazon through their Hifi Booster Store.
 

driblo

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2023
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3
I looked at Sabaj a20 as perfect DAC/HP amp for my setup (streaming mostly HiRes tracks, some dsf files, from desktop and mobile to headphones/active speakers), and almost pulled the trigger and bought it on on HiFi Express.
Really liked specs, integrated power supply, looks, and price.
But then all this horror stories about bad quality control came - are the problems really that pronounced?
Is Linux support at OK level (USB/digital connection)?
What would be good alternative (also considered Topping E50/L50 combo)?
 

AryaStealth

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2023
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On Windows 10 it works fine with a built-in USB Audio 2.0 driver, so it should work on modern Linux versions as well without any issues (just make sure your Linux version supports USB Audio 2.0).
It also works on Windows 7 with Sabaj XMOS driver 5.0 which can be obtained via opening Sabaj website in archive.org (Latest Sabaj XMOS driver 5.5 gives an installation error on Windows 7).
I looked at a few support pages on up to date official Sabaj website and you can find there things like "dirver" instead of drivers and lack of previous 5.0 driver version. So Sabaj states that Windows 7 is supported (and it is supported) yet they forget to add a compatible older XMOS driver on their website after updating their drivers to version 5.5.

I would suggest buying chi-fi from Amazon (fullfiled by Amazon). There at least you can easily get a refund if you receive a faulty unit.
I don't think that Topping is better in terms of quality control.
 

driblo

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2023
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3
On Windows 10 it works fine with a built-in USB Audio 2.0 driver, so it should work on modern Linux versions as well without any issues (just make sure your Linux version supports USB Audio 2.0).
It also works on Windows 7 with Sabaj XMOS driver 5.0 which can be obtained via opening Sabaj website in archive.org (Latest Sabaj XMOS driver 5.5 gives an installation error on Windows 7).
I looked at a few support pages on up to date official Sabaj website and you can find there things like "dirver" instead of drivers and lack of previous 5.0 driver version. So Sabaj states that Windows 7 is supported (and it is supported) yet they forget to add a compatible older XMOS driver on their website after updating their drivers to version 5.5.

I would suggest buying chi-fi from Amazon (fullfiled by Amazon). There at least you can easily get a refund if you receive a faulty unit.
I don't think that Topping is better in terms of quality control.
It is Arch Linux with Pipewire, so it should support USB Audio 2.0.

On EU Amazon sites it is 100 euros more expensive than on HiFi Express.
I think I will wait to clarify some things, maybe price will drop on Amazon too for the holidays.
 

Barry_Sound

Active Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2022
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Did anyone compare the 2022 and 2023 units? The look absolutely same. What´s inside?
 

sonci99

Active Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
123
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76
It also works on Windows 7 with Sabaj XMOS driver 5.0 which can be obtained via opening Sabaj website in archive.org (Latest Sabaj XMOS driver 5.5 gives an installation error on Windows 7).
I looked at a few support pages on up to date official Sabaj website and you can find there things like "dirver" instead of drivers and lack of previous 5.0 driver version. So Sabaj states that Windows 7 is supported (and it is supported) yet they forget to add a compatible older XMOS driver on their website after updating their drivers to version 5.
Can you be more specific how to download the old driver. I tried archive.org but I can't find the download link.
 
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