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

185 Comments

  1. Thu yein says:

    Hi Andy, thanks for the reviews.
    Question: How is Abigail response when sub bass and bass are boosted by equalizer (I use PowerAmp player app).

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Unfortunately I never use EQ so I have no idea how any of the dongles react to EQ. I am totally clueless with EQ

      Like

  2. Emmwar says:

    I found your kz zex setup in comment section. Can I know any better setup like that?(Kz zex+ misodiko mix460 + Abigail)

    Like

  3. Ville Haapalo says:

    Hey Andy thanks so much for your detailed reviews of all these different dongle DACs! I recently bought a Conexant CX-Pro 31993 from AliExpress for only 8€ (blue colour with box version) and I noticed it has a different looking build than on the older CX-Pro in a sense that my unit is made of matte plastics, vs the more metal reflective looking build I see that some people have, also the inside of the 3.5mm and USB-C is coloured black and I’ve heard people say online that this is a new model with worse performance than the originals. The sound quality is decent but not that great as I read from your description on the review, could I have a fake or some poor model of a CX-Pro instead?

    I’m thinking of buying an Abigail since it seems to have better QC and build and no chance to get a fake one if I buy from Veclan Store at AliExpress and I’m hoping it will sound better than my CX-Pro, but the Abigail costs 20€ vs 8€ for the Conexant one in my country so it’s a shame. I’ve had the old SoundBlaster E3 with 135mw of max power DAC/Amp before but it has a constant hiss / backround noise so it’s unusable for me and even my phone (Huawei P20 Lite) sounds better, though the E3 has strong bass and loud volume output, but the hiss and also a narrow small soundstage width makes it not good for my uses, which is why I looked for a new dongle DAC in the first place to use with my easy to drive IEMs and MX500 styled flathead earbuds, I’m hesitant to get the Abigail for 20€ though since I’m not impressed by the CX-Pro I got, still if it will sound even slightly better then I will buy one, thanks again for your reviews and any advice! Also sorry for the long post!

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      You have to factor one thing as well, bad batches variants which affects almost all audio gears especially the budget range due to lack of QCs. So perhaps it may be possible you have a bad apple among many, it happens. To me Abigail and Avani is worth the money. But if they are expensive to you then consider getting JCally JA3 which is also running on CX31993. I would also recommend Xumee if you can buy from Amazon. Good luck

      Like

      1. Ville Haapalo says:

        Hey Andy and thanks for your fast reply! Yeah I guess the QC and build quality with these cheap CX-Pros and similar dongle DACs from AliExpress is not that great and I just have a bad pair with my Conexant one. I couldn’t find the JCALLY JA3 on AliExpress or the Xumee (from Europe’s Amazon DE site) but found the JM04Pro and JM6 instead for 15€ on AliExpress, but at that price I will just buy the better built Abigail instead on VE’s own official store (Veclan store) on AliExpress, it costs 20€ but I just found out that it comes with a pair of VE-Monk earbuds either Monk Lite or Plus so it’s like 10€ cost for the Abigail and 10€ for the earbuds so it’s not that expensive. I ordered one just today and the Abigail should work perfectly for my uses, thanks again for the reviews and your advice!

        Like

      2. Andy.EF says:

        My pleasure

        Like

      3. carliber123 says:

        JCALLY JA3 Black (3rd from last item, 29 pieces avail., $6.99 free ship’g):
        https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003255834940.html?spm=a2g0o.order_list.0.0.21ef1802aCERrv
        Hope that helps someone.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. VieeCat says:

    Hi!
    Avani and Abigail support Window 7?
    I want to buy but not sure about driver for Win7. Thank!

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      No idea. Both are UAC2 and unless Windows 7 works with UAC2, then probably not

      Like

    2. F IAaP n says:

      They don’t. My Abigail is unrecognized in Device Manager on Windows 8.1, but it works just fine on Windows 10.
      I don’t think there are any drivers you can download, though…

      Like

  5. Zilch says:

    Hi, do you feel like with more bassy stuff Abigail melts/eats up or ruins/alters the bass in any way, thanks

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      No, being neutral it means the presentation is faithful to the intended mastering of the recording

      Like

      1. Zilch says:

        Thanks although I meant like the bass response out of headphones for example, I had a 15$ soundblaster before, feels like it made the sound way worse and dry so that is why I asked

        Like

  6. andreas says:

    i checked abigail and avani i think is bundling cannot buy separately

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      It depends where you buy it from. Shopee usually can choose separate unit. Even with bundles, VE still sells at very affordable price

      Like

    2. Andreas says:

      Is good with low impedance iem like kz edx pro?

      Like

      1. Andy.EF says:

        Yes absolutely

        Like

  7. andreas says:

    what amazon version name of abigail?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      It doesn’t exist. Abigail is an improved version of CX-PRO CX31993 which is widely available in Aliexpress

      Like

  8. Redwan Ahmed says:

    Hey Andy! I have the CX-Pro 31993, will the Abigail be a meaningful upgrade from it?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      They are quite closely matched. So if you want to upgrade get something from the 4.5 ranked dongles

      Like

  9. Joel says:

    Hi Andy I just tried this. I find the soundstage a bit narrow. Can you recommend something with a larger soundstage and maybe a tab brighter?
    Thanks

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Then the issue could be your IEM/Headphone. If you find Abigail narrow then perhaps the rest will be narrower. But if you need brighter, then it is JCally JM20

      Like

      1. Joel says:

        HI Andy thanks for your input will try the jcally.
        Not sure why I’m getting such a narrow soundstage the iems are fine on my MacBook headphone port and other amps.

        Like

      2. Joel says:

        Could be a power issue or a defective Abigail.

        Like

  10. Riz says:

    can it support 64 ohms for my SUPERLUX and which one would be better for story games bass and impressiveness ?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Yes it can. You can also consider Avani

      Like

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