DAC Chip: ESS Sabre 9023 (Single)
PCM 24bit – 96khz, SNR: Undisclosed, Power: Undisclosed, Type-A Male, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: Yes)
LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING
- Neutral crisp timbre, bright native ESS tuning
- Good dynamics, well controlled vibrancy
- Great clarity and transparency
- Neutral Mids, crisp and clean vocals
- Slightly bright Treble, good extension and textures
- Mild Mid-Bass responses, short decay
- Mild Sub-Bass presence
- Good details handling
- Crisp guitar, piano, cello, and bass guitar tones
- Good speed and transients handling
- Clean background with zero floor noises
- Good battery draw on the host
- Commendable soundstage size and depth
- Usable driving power
- No hardware volume adjuster
- Strong ESS Sabre bright signature
- Slightly dry timbre
- USB A only options, require adapter for mobile usage
XtremPro X1. It is not frequent that we see the use of ESS Sabre 9023. In fact this is the only Dongle that I have known to use this DAC.
X1 exhibited strong native ESS trait being crispy bright and with the unmistakable ESS Treble shimmer. Perfect for those enjoying this type of modern sound presentation. However for someone preferring a more analogue, organic timbre, then X1 will not be suitable.
Paired with my FOSTEX T40RP MK3 played via HiBy Music (USB Exclusive Mode), the driving power is actually quite good, requiring only 50% of overall loudness for normal listening level. However as noted above, that native ESS Sabre signature being prominent, the sound decidedly sounding slightly lean and lacking density with more pronounced Treble. The good thing was, it remained crisp and smooth enough not to be sibilant or offensive. Soundstage was good as well, devoid of any sense being boxed in like some other ESS implementations. Similar results can be observed with Etymotic ER4SR, which actually sounding even more metallic compared to T40RP MK3.
Switched to less demanding partners, TForce Yuan Li and SeeAudio Bravery exhibited better balance overall. Thanks to the warm-ish natural nature of those two IEMs. It even edged closer to analogue timbre as it can ever be. Dynamic range sounded less metallic and now with better smoothness on the higher frequencies.
Overall, there’s nothing much to say about this X1. It is very usable especially when paired with natively warm sounding partners. The biggest appeal of X1 being super clean and tidy with no hint of background noises. Perfect for very sensitive stuffs.
Best Pairing: Preferably warm neutral partners
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