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Sabaj A20d Review (Balanced DAC)

Published: 2021-10-08  Views: 162
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Sabaj A20d balanced stereo DAC with Bluetooth support. It was sent to me by the company. Retail price seems to be US $420 but it is on sale on Amazon for $378.

The form factor is a square "brick" rather than the standard horizontal configuration we usually see:

A remote is provided which makes navigation rather easy:


The key debounce timing on the remote is a bit low causing double entry when you are for example changing filter types.

Power is provided through the laptop style external switcher as you see, Wish it was built-in but I see that they are almost out of room on the back.

Sabaj A20d Measurements

Let's get right into it:


This is what I like to see! Distortion is at -130 dB which is way below threshold of audibility. That results in a SINAD of 120 dB, putting the A20d in our top 20 of best DACs tested, ever:



As noted on the dashboard, I had to dial down the output level. Otherwise it goes up to 5.14 volts with better performance still:


In case you want to use the RCA output, here is its performance:


Dynamic range at nominal 4 volts and full output is excellent:


As is multitone performance:


Intermodulation vs level test shows the ESS DAC classic IMD hump as we have called it although it is controlled:



Linearity is superb showing excellent accuracy:

I was a bit disappointed in jitter performance over USB:


Usually it is the one that is good with Coax suffering a bit but it is the other way around here. I played with the digital PLL control but it made no difference as I suspect it is not used with USB anyway. Fortunately levels are well below threshold of audibility so more of a problem for the eye seeing the graph than the ear.

The usual assortment of filters is provided:



Using a couple of them we get these satisfactory THD+N versus frequency (wideband):


Conclusions
I like simple stories like this: great engineering with closed loop of measuring and optimizing. Slight miss is there in USB jitter but that is about it. Since audible impact is below nil, I let it go and designate the A20d as another "instrument grade" DAC.

I am going to recommend the Sabaj A20d.

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