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Sabaj D5 vs RME Adi Dac 2

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#1
Hi all,

Couldn't find any specific versus between these two on the forum.

Since I've been reading Amir's measurements, a part of me says that this is not only SINAD or other parameters makes a dac better than others as you know. If so, a lot of people are paying much more for a couple of extra features (not always using) on a dac which makes them irrational in my book. So I don't think that people purchase expensive dacs for hobby, there must be a reason for this. Say that RME Adi or Qutest is worse than D5 in graphs but in the real world does it make sense, really? Another example, could su8 be better or on par with RME or Qutest (as pure dac section). I don't think so. However measurements seems opposite most of the time.

I've been using for a year idsd micro black label with a sr007+kgsshv, I'm on the market to upgrade its dac but since being sonically better is subjective how can I upgrade it if I don't have any chance to try it before purchase?

There should be some categories if you agree with me:

Most detailed/dark background/lowest distortion etc. dac between $250-500, $500-750, $750-1000+

People may make decisions easier in this way.

Jds Atom seems no brainer if we look at its measurements but it's just at a regular cable price approximately, so there should be much more info on this or on that to distinguish.

Well, I have no idea whether choosing D5 to Adi 2 sensible. Sigh.

Thanks in advance for suggestions.
 
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Veri

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#2
I've been using for a year idsd micro black label with a sr007+kgsshv, I'm on the market to upgrade its dac but since being sonically better is subjective how can I upgrade it if I don't have any chance to try it before purchase?
Buy on amazon, return if you don't find it worth upgrading to :D

I think the Sabaj D5 is definitely tremendous value if you want an all in one with XLR output. Topping DX3 is even better value for single ended.
If DX3 reliability issues are a concern, JDS Atom + Topping D50s or other good DAC in the blue range of the master list is also a great option.
 

SIY

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#4
There should be some categories if you agree with me:

Most detailed/dark background/lowest distortion etc. dac between $250-500, $500-750, $750-1000+
Ignore price and price categories. Any engineered* DAC will sound the same; the differences are in feature sets, build quality, and ergonomics. And that's what you should base your choice on.

*"engineered" meaning "designed by actual competent engineers to accurately reproduce the input waveform, with flat frequency response, low distortion, and low noise, and not invoking loony ideas that lie outside of known and well-established signal processing technology."

A $9 Apple dongle will sound identical to a $2000 high quality DAC assuming you are ONLY comparing using your ears in a blind and level-matched listening test.

Identical "detailed/dark background/lowest distortion etc"
 

Willem

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#5
Unless the $2000 DAC was designed by audiophiles, in which case the Apple dongle may be better. Yes, once audio quality is assured (and that should be easy) it is about quality of construction, support, and features. Those were the criteria that made me choose the RME ADI-2 for my main system. My desktop system has an equally transparent ODAC that cost about 15% of the ADI-2.
 

SIY

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#6
Unless the $2000 DAC was designed by audiophiles, in which case the Apple dongle may be better.
Yeah, that's why I qualified my statement about "engineered" DACs. Once you leave engineering and get into the loony-toon world, all bets are off.

I had an ADI-2 Pro in for review last year and, despite it not sounding any different than the other DACs I have on hand, given its feature set and ergonomics, it was painful to have to send it back!
 
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#8
Thank you for all your responses. I've read all posts but still there is no answer why people in here tell me that rme sounds a lot better than idsd micro black if a well engineered dac is roughly identical to other. According to your words, "being a lot better than other (as dac only)" idea is completely fake and may cause lots of money wasted.
 

SIY

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#10
According to your words, "being a lot better than other (as dac only)" idea is completely fake and may cause lots of money wasted.
In the case of sonic superiority, yes. Once measurements get to a certain point (and the $9 Apple dongle is at that point!), the differences lie elsewhere. If someone tells you that DAC A sounds much better than DAC B, I will almost guarantee you that their evaluation was not done blind and level matched, and is hence worthless. And yes, there is much money wasted chasing fairy tales, and that's the value of independent measurement rather than relying on unsupported but confidently stated opinions.

There's often some differences in the headphone amplifier portion, though, and here we might want to explore a bit more deeply.
 

Markx

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#11
The RME ADI-2 DAC is one of a kind, it has a timeless and a beautiful design, a capable DSP and it is “Made in Germany”. That is all I can say about it, before getting the RME I did a long search and looked at many other devices and came to the conclusion that the RME ADI-2 DAC has the most beautiful and elegant design out there and for that reason only I got mine and so far I am happy with it. My only advice should you get one is to be gentle with it and avoid putting sharp objects on the top plate.
 

Oukkidoukki

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#12
+1 for RME. I bought original RME Adi 2 2004. It’s still my main dac, works like a charm. There was a time when it didn’t start everytime, but wierdly now it has been fine for a long time. 15 years and after I got my cables right there’s really no fault in the sound. High respect for rme. However, Smsl su 8 is now on the way so I am really exited to hear if there is a difference.
 

VintageFlanker

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#13
still there is no answer why people in here tell me that rme sounds a lot better than idsd micro black if a well engineered dac is roughly identical to other.
I can't assure you that difference will be audible...but did you read the measurements of the BL? It is NOT a well engineered DAC in my book. SINAD is not good, with higher distortion at - 95db. Intermodulation distortion is much higher than the RME. There is also a channel mismatch by 0.3db etc etc.
 

VintageFlanker

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#14
Back to ADI-2 DAC vs SABAJ D5. I think the QC of RME is way ahead, as is the support long term.

You should read this D5's review on Amazon:

DAC sounds fantastic, reliability may be an issue though.

I purchased this DAC out of sheer curiosity in the ESS 9038 Pro DAC chip it incorporates. I level matched the D5 to my RME ADI-2 DAC and I could discern no difference between the two when feed to the same headphone amp. Yes, the D5 sounded just the same as the more than twice as expensive, German made, RME ADI-2 DAC. That was using the balanced line outputs of both DACs into a Gustard H10. Some may quibble that the Gustard is not a good candidate for this kind of comparison. I don't think I'd agree with that as I was looking for a baseline to compare the two outside of their own built in headphone amps.

When comparing them out of their built-in headphone outputs I believe that I could make out some subtle differences. The RME may have displayed a bit more clarity and transparency while the Sabaj was a slightly more warm and smooth especially out of the balance output. Again, these differences were quite miniscule. The ADI RME-2 has far more output power through it’s single ended output than the Sabaj D5 does. Way more. In any event, both amps provide plenty of power for most headphones under 80 ohms impedance. The D5 provided a significantly higher output through it's balanced headphone jack, as opposed to it's single ended output, but it is still not a match for the ADI RME-2’s output in terms of RAW drive power.

Now the down side is that after about three days with the D5 in the middle of a listening session the music just quit playing and the DAC became unresponsive. While trying to diagnose the issue I noticed that the Sabaj was very warm to the touch on the left side of the unit around the built-in linear power supply. Then the smell of burning electronics. The unit just shutdown never to wake again. Ultimately I decided to return the unit for a refund as my RME sounds just as good and it has a significantly more powerful amp and tons of EQ and sound customization features anyway. The Sabaj was no better in any significant way. Hopefully my unit was just a rare lemon. I'd not want to dissuade anyone from purchasing the D5 especially if there is a no hassle return policy as with Amazon. It sounds great and costs much less than a DAC like the RME. Just make sure you put a significant number of operational hours on the unit before the return period ends. BTW... the headphones I used in comparison of the DACs were Hifiman Sundara, Sennheiser HD600, Oppo PM2, Audeze EL-8 Open among others.
 

bwcgrx

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#15
florence, I wrote the Sabaj D5 review from Amazon that is posted in VintageFlanker's response above.

If you are just looking for DAC that sounds fantastic and has the measurements to back it up you should consider the D5. Level matched into the same headphone amp I could not tell any significant difference between the Sabaj and RME. That headphone amp was a Gustard H10, which is a fine amp but perhaps not THX 789 territory.

The Sabaj had less apparent output power through its balanced headphone outputs than the RME seems to have from its single ended headphone output. I did feel like the headphone out of the D5 itself was a tad warmer than the RME however it was probably just confirmation bias on my part. The Sabaj also has additional digital inputs not found on the RME which give it some extra flexibility. Beyond that the RME has way more EQ/Sound options and tons of configurability, albeit the interface take some getting used to.

Sound quality wise its imposible to justify the RME over the D5. Reliability of the Sabaj, as I experienced, may be an issue however I've heard no other reports of failures thus far on these and other forums. I'd definitely give Sabaj the benefit of the doubt unless more reports of failures surface. The reasons to own the RME beyond its technical merits, are configuration/features, relatively small form factor for a DAC and powerful AMP combined, and maybe to an extent reliability.

Either way you can't go wrong if you absolutely feel like you need to spend more to upgrade beyond the idsd. I think a Sabaj D5 paired with the THX 789 would be a good option at slightly less than the RME ADI-2 DAC. As for me, I'm keeping my RME as it is the best piece of gear I've ever purchased in the pursuit of better sound.
 

solderdude

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#19
the choice will be between price, connectivity, format support, service, FW updates, reliability, functionality, looks, ease of use and use case.
Measured performance differs somewhat.
Audible differences are not there (depending on used filters/DSP/EQ) so is not a decision factor here.

Fortunately for me I don't have so spend as much money on a DAC/amp nor do I need the extra functionality.
If I wanted to spend that much money on a DAC and could afford the ADI2 DAC that would be my choice.
When money is a factor the Sabaj could come out on top (when you don't need the functionality of the RME)

Consider the fact that next month a new model from some manufacturer hits the street that exceeds specs and/or is lower in price.
This too is something I don't worry about at all.
 

Oukkidoukki

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#20
Only thing I would have added to Adi dac is room calibration via microphone. Input for mic and so on. Why not Rme, put it to next one...
 
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