HiFime Sabre 9018 USB DAC

HiFime Sabre 9018 USB DAC
Views: 150053 Brand: HiFime
Product Code: 10000146
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Best portable DAC in Norwegian newspaper VG! 6 stars and best portable DAC of the Year in Lyd og Billede!


The new Hifime Sabre 9018 DAC is a great sounding audiophile DAC at an unbelievable price. We have picked the most important features to create an incredible sounding DAC packaged in a simple, nice-looking case at the lowest cost possible.



The high-end 9018 DAC chip combined with the Sabre headphone driver give a very detailed sound with a great soundstage. The noise is very low and can be used with also the most sensitive headphones. It is tested to work and sound great with Audio Technica ath-m50 (38 ohm, 99dB), Sennheiser hd650 (300 ohm, 103 dB), IEM: JH Audio JH-13 (28 ohm, 116dB).



It works without drivers with all major systems and programs; Windows, MAC, Linux. iTunes, Spotify, and Android see compatibility list). iPhone adaptor available here (lightning to USB).



  • Sabre ES9018k2m DAC chip and SABRE9601 headphone and line out driver, SA9023 USB receiver chip
  • Works and sound great with most headphone (including low impedance IEM and high impedance headphones) and all line-level devices (preamps, amplifiers)
  • Accepts 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz and 96kHz input files @16 and 24 bit.
  • Volume controlled by computer vol +/- keys
  • Ultra-low noise regulator LP5907 with added noise-reducing aluminum solid capacitors (NCC PSF series)
  • Patented Time Domain Jitter Eliminator (by ESS Technologies)
  • Optical output
  • No drivers required! Optional Windows ASIO drivers available


  • 122dB SNR 
  • 110dB THD+N: 2V rms @ 600 ohm load
  • 100dB THD+N: 30mW @ 32 ohm load
  • No DC blocking capacitors on the output
  • Power usage: 40-80 mA depending on sample rate and volume
  • Dimensions:5.5 x 3.5 x 1.8 cm (without cable)
  • Weight 30g


32kHz to 96kHz resolution

The Sabre 9018 DAC can play any format (MP3, AIFF, FLAC etc) from CD quality up to high resolution 96kHz files. It does not support 196k or 384kHz natively, nor does it play DSD files. Why? Most users does not have 192/384/DSD files and do not benefit from a 384kHz capable DAC when playing CD quality (or high resolution 96kHz) files. If you need a 192kHz/384kHz/DSD DAC then we have other options for you. We have intentionally omitted this for all of our customers who don’t play 384kHz/DSD so they can save and get a better sounding CD quality DAC at a lower price. 


But I thought higher resolution is better??

If you have bough high resolution 192kHz/384kHz files then yes it is better to have a DAC capable of decoding 192/384 without down-sampling. However, most users play CD’s, FLAC, Apple lossless, MP3's, iTunes, Spotify, Tidal high resolution etc, and will not benefit from a 192/384kHz capable DAC. 


The benefits of max 96/24 includes:

  • No drivers needed!
  • Responds to system volume level in detailed 64 steps
  • Works with the USB isolator to further reduce noise from the computer and improve clarity and sound quality
  • You don’t pay extra for what you don’t need


More technical background

The most important parts in a DAC are:

  • DAC chip
  • Headphone/output driver (if any) 
  • Power supply
  • Circuit/implementation

We have chosen a great sounding and performing pair (ESS Sabre ES9018k2m DAC+SABRE9601 driver) and added DC noise filtering to improve the DC power quality from the USB port. There are high-performing aluminum solid capacitors together with a new ultra low noise regulator (LP5907). We spent a long time designing and optimizing the 4 layer PCB for the circuit in order to achieve the best performance and low ECM noise.


USB transfer mode

After careful experimentation we have chosen USB adaptive mode for this DAC. You can read more about the difference between synchronous, adaptive and async here:



The Sabre 9018 is also the first DAC to use our new case. We have made a simple case at minimal added cost compared to our existing generic case.

Model: uae23hd
5 ( 5 / 5 )
A wonderful product. Before this one I was a user of 9023 chip variation. The main difference that was obvious right from pluging up was the higher output power - a lot more power than 9023. My audio technica ath m50x headphones sounds wonderful with them. The sound is more vivid, the soundstage is better and there is a little more clarity over the 9023.
4 ( 4 / 5 )
It has great sound in combination with headphones; there is a lot of detail and a good sound stage. On my car radio there is an unbelievable gain in detail, especially in the low end.   However, I am having issues with the iPhone 6s, there is jitter every few seconds making it impossible to enjoy. It works quite well on my Dell E5570, but there still is jitter, though very little. No jitter on my desktop, but the highs are too harsh on my sound system and the sound stage is more compact compared to my Asus Essence STX II + OPA627 as buffer + LT1498 in I/V. It does yield more detail, but I know that is the trade-off by using the LT1498 in I/V; they are very open at cost of a little detail. The most obvious difference however is how voices and string instruments are very soft in comparison, they are blended into the background and therefore more difficult to perceive compared to my current setup.   Overall, I am enjoying it very much in combination with my Sennheiser HD449 headphones!
5 ( 5 / 5 )
This is a great DAC. Used in a Linux system with QED interconnects, Linn amplification and Rogers Floorstanders. No issues with firmware. I played 24/96 masters FLAC, CD quality 16/44 files and radio streams up to 320 Kb/s. I listened to Jazz, Blues, Classical, Rock, Choral, Operas, Folk, Pop music. The experience is wonderful. Badly recorded music are exposed, but this DAC is somewhat more forgiving than other I experienced. Well recorded music is close to perfection: extremely detailed and accurate at all frequencies, Bass have great extension, precision and accuracy. Mids are wonderful, highs detailed, agile and truthful. No harshness nor graininess. Dynamics is outstanding. Pace is superb. Incredibly revealing but beautifully musical. Soundstage truly shines: wide, deep and incredibly precise.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
It works great with my PC (with a $50 motherboard) and android smartphone (OnePlus One). Plug and play. It added a bit of warm to the sound while expanding the soundstage. The clarity is also improve. It is however sounded a bit congested if you have a warmer headphone. The power output is okay, I'm only using like 30-40% of volume most of the time with my 64ohm earbuds and <50ohm IEMs. I usually at 80-90% on my smartphone before so it does have more than enough power to drive sensitive headphones out there. The build quality of the enclosure is okay but the integrated USB cable is somewhat worrying if you use this on the go a lot.
5 ( 5 / 5 )
AMAZING!! I was about to change my Edifier D530 2.1 desktop speaker setup because of it not sounding right! Good that I didn't :D When connected through this little wonderful DAC the sound became so much more musical and dynamic (flat eq before and after)! Accoustic guitars sounded live, bass was tight and much more in sync with the speakers. Lower mids got the much needed emhasis. Treble no more sharp but silky musical. I am amazed! Thank you! OSX El Capitan 10.11.4 recognized the DAC straight away! All music sounds so much more alive! Like it was supposed to sound!

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Tags: Hifime, Sabre, 9018,
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