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Sabaj D4 Review (DAC & Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 8 5.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 95 65.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 43 29.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    146

amirm

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This is a review of the Sabaj D4 DAC and headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. I see it being sold as low as $88.
Sabaj D4 DAC review headphone amplifier.jpg

The box is rather odd looking as you see. The touch buttons are not the most sensitive. And the display is as tiny as you can get. But usable. Here is the rear panel:
Sabaj D4 DAC review back panel headphone amplifier.jpg


Nice to see built-in power supply in such low cost unit.

Sabaj D4 DAC Measurements
Our usual dashboard shows a lot of power supply interference together with rather high distortion levels (compared to competition):
Sabaj D4 DAC.png


This lets the D4 barely squeeze into our "very good category:"
best stereo dac.png


In addition to distortion, noise floor is also not very competitive:
Sabaj D4 DAC DNR Measurements.png


This impacts IMD test:
Sabaj D4 DAC IMD Measurements.png


Jitter reflects the power supply spikes:

Sabaj D4 DAC Jitter Measurements.png


I didn't see the need to run more tests.

Sabaj D4 Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Noise floor impacts these tests as well:
Sabaj D4 DAC Power 32 Measurements.png

Sabaj D4 DAC Power 300 Measurements.png


Power level is low and not competitive with products that I recommend. While it should be able to drive fair bit of headphones, it will struggle on less sensitive ones.

Conclusions
I think the original price for this unit was around $150. At that price point even, I don't think this level of performance is competitive. As noted, I am not a fan of the looks either. This year's Sabaj products perform far better. So I suggest seeking them out if you want to stay with the brand.

I can't recommend the Sabaj D4. Not that it is awful or anything but that the race has left it fair behind the competition.

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

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respice finem

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At this price level, it's a "candidate" for a rather low-to mid-end PC/TV setup, and for this it's good enough IMHO.
What would put me off is the odd design, and the lack of remote control(?)
 
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Cars-N-Cans

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I wonder how safe it is electrically with such a small form factor? Granted, the offline switching supply doesn't have to be very big since its a DAC and headphone amp. But its still sort of unnerving to see an IEC connector right next to low voltage Bluetooth and USB connectors (Edit: Its what's on the inside that would be potentially concerning). Not that it cant be made safe, but always a concern for cost cutting when they go for the integrated unit at a low price point.
 
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DSJR

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Dacs of thirty years ago would be very happy to have performance similar to this I bet (I don't have proof though) and they could be subjectively good. To that end, I'd love it if someone here has a better Theta dac from the 90's they could send for testing - to see how far we've hopefully come and how low costs have now got...

For under $90, I'd say this box was pretty darned good to be honest.. AliExpress sells it as a 'protable' dac but Amazon here only has the later models...
 

respice finem

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I wonder how safe it is electrically with such a small form factor? Granted, the offline switching supply doesn't have to be very big since its a DAC and headphone amp. But its still sort of unnerving to see an IEC connector right next to low voltage Bluetooth and USB connectors (Edit: Its what's on the inside that would be potentially concerning). Not that it cant be made safe, but always a concern for cost cutting when they go for the integrated unit at a low price point.
Here's a picture of the PCB
 

respice finem

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Dacs of thirty years ago would be very happy to have performance similar to this...
This, and regardless of their price point back then. The informed buyer is generally in a very good situation currently.
30 years ago, a hi-fi system consisted of at least (mostly huge and inefficient) speakers and amps, a tape recorder, a turntable, a tuner.
Today, you can have a better performing system with a pair of low-priced active monitors, a DAC like this one and your phone as a streamer :cool:
 

Cars-N-Cans

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For the price it’s not bad, and it has a linear supply which explains the mains noise. Still given how close it is they did a reasonable job keeping the interference from the magnetic field of the transformer core out of the audio.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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Actually the one thing I don't like about it is the use of the 3.5mm headphone jack like you would have with cellphones. On a desk I can see that breaking clean off the PCB if you accidentally pull on the headphone cord or plug-unplug the headphone jack multiple times. I like the chunkier 6.35mm one better for something I constantly bump into on my PC desk. Edit: It is a DAC, though, so that's more likely to be its primary use for a lot of people.
 

Sokel

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Dacs of thirty years ago would be very happy to have performance similar to this I bet (I don't have proof though) and they could be subjectively good. To that end, I'd love it if someone here has a better Theta dac from the 90's they could send for testing - to see how far we've hopefully come and how low costs have now got...

For under $90, I'd say this box was pretty darned good to be honest.. AliExpress sells it as a 'protable' dac but Amazon here only has the later models...
I wouldn't be so sure about that,that's a 15 (or more) yo E-MU 0204 (AKM 4396-AKM 5385) with a cost of 120 euro back then.
(I'm a complete newbie in measurements but @pkane 's Multitone make things easy,nevertheless take it with a grain of salt)

101.PNG


There must have been way better dac's back then.
 

DSJR

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I wouldn't be so sure about that,that's a 15 (or more) yo E-MU 0204 (AKM 4396-AKM 5385) with a cost of 120 euro back then.
(I'm a complete newbie in measurements but @pkane 's Multitone make things easy,nevertheless take it with a grain of salt)

View attachment 222707

There must have been way better dac's back then.
You may well be right, but my take was that late 80's to mid 90's dacs had a performance about the same as say, a Chromecast Audio is today... Jitter levels were quite high until reviewer Paul Miller developed a method of testing it properly (he sold his 'suite' to Arcam amongst others I seem to remember) and so-called high-resolution with multiple sampling rates and higher bit depths wasn't at that time part of the domestic side I recall. Of course, I'd be delighted to be proved wrong and in error here, but those more qualified than I have suggested repeatedly that dacs are a done deal these days, and certainly subjectively they are if not artificially tinkered with to 'get a sound character.' The SINAD race here is really just inaudible fine tuning to the ultimate possible with a given chipset I reckon and obviously, the simpler circuits outside of the chips themselves must help too these days. I for one am amazed how much this bottom end of the market has improved in just three or four years.

Me? I use a CCA a lot here and also the £23 Fiio Taishan dac I bought recently ('cos I'm a real cheapskate) as it also has a perfectly 'adequate' performance and subjectively, they're both just fine. If I ever end up again with 'precision' active monitors with a more 'forensic' playback quality, I may need to update the digital side again, but we'll have to see on that one - I'm talking like an audiophile, but forget my 'now aided' hearing losses, making all this sh*t moot I suspect - sorry...
 

DSJR

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some pro converters were >110SINAD in 2006
What about domestic ones from the 90's? - Only thirty years ago (cough...) I've seen the threads regarding the Arcam Black Box (tested differently, but it wasn't that wonderful i feel) which Martin Colloms may have had a hand in (old memories here, but he became something of a 'consultant' behind his better known reviewing scene back then).

I was thinking Theta DS Pro Gen V and similar... - designed back then I think, by the Schiit guys - at least Jason as I attended a presentation he did at a Heathrow audio show...
 

sarumbear

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Dzhaughn

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Dacs of thirty years ago would be very happy to have performance similar to this I bet (I don't have proof though) and they could be subjectively good. To that end, I'd love it if someone here has a better Theta dac from the 90's they could send for testing - to see how far we've hopefully come and how low costs have now got...

For under $90, I'd say this box was pretty darned good to be honest.. AliExpress sells it as a 'protable' dac but Amazon here only has the later models...
Oh sure, 30 years ago. But when *I* was young, that was LUXURY! I remember my first DAC: it was a large room full of people with abacuses and toggle swithces. Talk about a noisy DAC, you hardly here the music for all the clicking.
 

mglobe

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Oh sure, 30 years ago. But when *I* was young, that was LUXURY! I remember my first DAC: it was a large room full of people with abacuses and toggle swithces. Talk about a noisy DAC, you hardly here the music for all the clicking.
Mine used slide rules. Much quieter.
 

DonR

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Past its Best Before date, I think. Not a disaster if you have one or pick one up cheap though. You could do a lot worse for a lot more money.
 
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