Abigail

Abigail Prototype 00

DAC Chip: Synaptics (Conexant) CX31993 Single
PCM 32bit–384khz, SNR: -128dB, Power: 1 Vrms 65mW x2, USB Type-C Male, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: YES), 12mm, 5g, Powder coated Aluminum Chassis with compact cable


LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING


BACKGROUND

Abigail is a variant of the CX31993 (CX-Pro) which has been widely popular among Audio Enthusiasts ever since its exposure through #donglemadness a few months back. Wild Lee the founder of Venture Electronics (VE) has procured prototype version of a Dongle built on Cirrus Logic (Synaptics) CX31993 DAC from the same factory that produced and tuned Avani/Xumee.

Similar to Avani, Wild Lee have asked me to test the new CX31993 and ascertain if it is a legitimate unit to be introduced to the Audio consumers, focusing on budget segment. VE has sent several samples to others including Yannick Khong and a few people to get better perspective and evaluation.

After undergoing lengthy and extensive tests on my end, I am satisfied that the prototype CX31993 is indeed a very refined unit exhibiting all the adept implementation similarly found on Xumee/ZOOAUX/iNassen/Avani, all from the same manufacturer with their signature tuning. Cross checking with Yannick Khong and several other recipients of the prototype CX31993, the assessment seems to be aligned towards general agreement on the sonic characteristics of this prototype.

Much similar to the situation with Avani, Wild Lee has asked me to name this CX31993, I have chosen Abigail. This is the story of Abigail, the elder sister to Avani.

Despite physically being the same DAC of Synaptics CX31993, here as shown through TTGK App, Abigail has been identified differently to the CX31993 of CX-PRO and JCally JM6. This proved that the CX31993 of Abigail has been extensively implemented and tuned differently from both CX-PRO and JM6

💚PROS

  • Neutral balanced timbre, natural density and texture
  • Polished and crisp airy dynamics, great coherence
  • Crisp smooth Treble with polished decays, deep extensions
  • Naturally balanced Mids/Vocals with rich textures, realistic tonality
  • Punchy, dense Mid-Bass responses, great texture, smooth decays
  • Deep, subtle Sub-Bass responses, smooth decays
  • Realistic guitars and stringed instruments tone, polished edge
  • Great balance between technical and organic musical ability
  • Wide soundstage depth with excellent spatial imaging
  • Great Macro & Micro details retrieval, superbly transparent
  • Amazing speed and transients, zero congestion/compressions
  • Great resistances to sibilance, forgiving to Lo-Fi recordings
  • Drives stubborn IEMs/HPs with satisfying fidelity
  • Black silent background for super sensitive IEMs
  • Very clean and rich output for AUX/Line Out purposes
  • Great resistance to heating even used for long hours
  • Conservative on power draw from the host
  • Synergize great with ALL type of IEMs/HPs/Earbuds
  • PC, Android and iOS compatible (both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0)
  • Great rugged and durable build and construction

💔CONS

  • Driving power maxed out below 100Ω and with no less than 91db sensitivity.
  • Less euphonic compared to Avani/Xumee
  • No volume adjuster

VERDICT

Abigail. It’s simple. Abigail is the natural progression that was started with Avani. As how Yannick put it “Avani nailed the tone. Abigail continues the story, taking more risks at handling more technicalities and succeeds” – and I couldn’t agree more.

So it seems CX31993 has indeed made history in the audio scene, for being highly affordable yet delivering values beyond the asking price. There are several CX31993 variants already released out there to cater for varying needs. Shamelessly I would say Abigail can shine brighter than most of them, simply because the dongle itself has been built to impress. From the physical rugged build quality to DAC chip implementation, not just solder-on solution and hope for the best OEM approach like the others.

Abigail, Avani & JM6 Compared

IEM Test: TForce Yuan Li + TACables Obsidian
STRICTLY HiBy Player USB Exclusive Mode, Samsung Galaxy S20 USB 3.0 Power Delivery, EQ: Always Off, FLAC

  1. Alison Krauss “Goodbye is All We Have”
  2. Diana Krall “Don’t Dream it’s Over”
  3. Hoff Ensemble “Polarity”

Avani (Vol: 14/100), Abigail (Vol: 14/100), JM6 (Vol 14/100)

  • Deep, crisp Sub-Bass extension for Avani vs Abigail & JM6 deep, smoother responses
  • Smoother vocal decays on Abigail vs crisper & bold presentation of Avani. JM6 in between.
  • Mids 1 step more intimate on Avani & JM6 vs Abigail
  • JM6 has the thickest sounding Mids vs both Abigail & Avani
  • Soundstage 1 step wider for Abigail vs Avani & JM6
  • Abigail & JM6 has more air between notes vs Avani

Driving Power Test: FOSTEX T40RP MK3 50Ω 91db Magnetic Planar + VE Standard DIC OFC Cable

  • Avani, great timbre density, texture, dynamic range and coherence. Amazingly crisp and smooth sound with volume of 20/100
  • Abigail, similar drive as Avani, with better headroom and sense of space. Less crispy but smoother instead
  • JM6 equally adept to Abigail on this test. Practically no difference that my ears can pick up

Among the three, what is apparent to my ears how spacious the headroom and spatial staging is with Abigail. What is common between Avani and Abigail, very marginal superiority on timbre coherence over JM6 (this is extreme nitpicking), transients sounded more polished on the two sisters. If I am to draw my own conclusions, I will always pick Avani for Mids centric intimacy, sharp imaging and overall crispiness, and I will use Abigail when I need a bit more of airy neutrality, space, headroom and smoothness to the sound. Either way, it is great to have options especially considering how insanely cheap these Dongles are. The two of them at $10, 😆

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ($5.00)

Best Pairing: Flexible for anything less demanding under 100Ω

Back to #donglemadness

With Moondrop Aria & VE Black Litz
Abigail & HZSOUND Heart Mirror

8 responses to “Abigail”

  1. Hello! I’m searching a budget, but still decent USB DAC for my Raspberry Pi (with Volumio) and would like to ask your opinion, if this Abigail dongle would be a good choice also for a pair of active speakers (“line-out” usage)? Also that, what would you recommend better for some “casual” music listening, like mostly retro and newer pop, (retro) French chansons, but also for some classical and opera, the Abigail or the Avani? Thank you!

    Like

      • Thanks, and what about my second question regarding the sound characteristic fit for these genres? I read all the “pros” of both dongles, and there comes out, that they’re on quite the same sound quality level but there are also some meaningful differences in the sound signature, so I still can’t decide between them just by the reviews.

        Like

      • No worries. The thing about these great dongles, they are relatively neutral and what makes them different from each other being the technical aspects and timbre temperament, of which Abigail would appear flatter neutral and Avani being denser (read warmer). For the sort of need you mentioned, I would hover the preference towards Abigail more

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  2. Thanks so far for the opinion, but before deciding between the Abigail and the Avani, I would have some few more clarification questions. This “music taste preference” I have mentioned before would be mostly listened in the kitchen/hall environment. But for more “personal” listening I’m mostly in to metal/rock and also some folky/world music. So what would you suggest mostly for the later preference more from the Abigail/Avani duo? Also, you have mentioned that the Avani has some more “warmer” character, and tho’ by other described aspect I would lean also towards the Abigail, but I would say, I prefer the “warmer” sound signature in general. So it is making for me a bit harder to decide. And for last, could you please explain a more detailed, what you meant by: “Less euphonic compared to Avani/Xumee” in the Abigail’s evaluation?
    And thank you!

    Like

    • Then Avani would suit you better. Euphonic basically refers to energy level of the sound presentation, of how energetic the dynamics. Too much energy however can be fatiguing or offensive. Hope this helps

      Like

      • Thanks, but I guess I still will think a bit regarding which to choose finally… BTW, there’s a new “PRO” version of Abigail available at the Venture’s website: https://www.veclan.com/engappliance_sel_one?eng_ApplianceVo.eac_id=65
        I don’t think it’s only juts a “cosmetical” update on the original version, but there’s no info available of what are the differences between the two versions and in what could be this new Pro version any better. Maybe it’s something for you to worth to check out?

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