Is the $56 Sabaj Da2 even worth a look?

Good evening everyone!
Let me just get this out of the way, I have Remy Martin XO tastes on a PBR budget. Normally I wouldn’t even look at this DAC, but when I looked at the internals…

the DAC chipset is the SABRE9018Q2C which is also used in the SMSL DSD512, Sabaj Da3 and the SMSL M100. The product description usually paints a really pretty picture and it’s no different here with s/n ratio, sampling rates and THD and such, but when the internals are used in highly rated equipment, I have to wonder.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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As a broad rule the budget stuff coming out of China measures extremely well, and tends to have a clean, analytical tone profile. The ESS Sabre DAC family can be too bright/harsh for some people. Many people happily own Sabaj, FiiO, Topping, SMSL, etc. products. I was content with my FiiO Q5 for a while, with its dual AKM 4490 implementation.

DSD512…nice in theory but there’s not a ton of content in DSD, let alone content that one may care about [What genres interest you?]. Also, even plain old CD Redbook 16/44.1 sounds quite good on decent hardware. You may well fail a double blind test.

Many are lured by technical measurements, but don’t tie yourself up in them. I used to look at charts more than I do now. This changed following (1) me liking the sound of something that didn’t measure well, and (2) me not liking the sound of something that did measure well. Tubed products often measure poorly, but have a rabid following too. Your personal experience must be your guide.

The biggest issue with discount brands or new brands is poor resale value. Some of these products can be resold for 25% to 50% of retail (if they can be resold at all), whereas an established brand with a solid reputation might be sold for 75% to 90% of new prices (e.g., Schiit, Chord, Woo, SPL, RME, etc.).


@generic hit all the nails on the head and drove them in straight. All the 4 external DACs ( No-name “Recycled Philips”, Signstek, Nuforce uDac 5, FX-Audio Dac X3 Pro ) I have cost nearly the same or less than the Sabaj when I bought them.

They all work well and produce pleasing quality sound. Not perfect, but then for what I paid I had no expectation of perfection and I got much better performance than what I did expect.

The Sabaj Da2 has good “bones” and likely will do at least a competent job. At that price it won’t be the end of the world if it isn’t as good as you like. I’d say give it a try in my experience you will likely be surprised.

Mark Gosdin


The Sabre dac glare/hump has been solved but I don’t know how to verify if an individual product has the fix or not.

Of course, some people might prefer a different chip even when Sabre is implemented properly.