DAC chip differences

Does anyone have experience/knowledge about the following DAC chips?
Wolfson WM 8740 in a Cambridge audio CXN v2
Crystal DSD DAC C4398 in a Primare DAC 30
AKM AK4497 in a Primare I35Prisma
ESS Sabre E 9028Pro in a Primare CD35Prisma

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What sort of thing are you interested in knowing?

Ah😉. Which sounds best. Most resolving, natural, and analog sounding.

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If your willing to spend the extra go for Chord…you can buy good used Chord Hugo’s on eBay for about £600 / $780. I’m really glad I did my research and sound tests because Chord suits my system perfectly and provides a really good analogue sound. Check out Chord’s site at Chord Electronics They develop and use their own proprietary chips!


Ideally, the answer to your question is “nothing; they all perfectly recreate the original analog waveform”.

You know already that I jest. But more importantly the answer is not as simple as “which dad chip does a better job”. The digital implementation – input immunity to jitter, whether the supplied internal filter was used or a ‘better’ external filter implementation and whether it really is better or not, power supply isolation, noise – then analog implementation – linearity, harmonic and intermodular distortion levels and harmonic nature, again power supply isolation and noise – to just scratch the surface … all have significant bearing on the quality and musicality of the output of a dac. To limit any decision to the particular dac chip brand and model used would be a mistake.

I recently learned of this site, and have spent hours and hours reading objective test, reviews, and subjective opinions.

If you do the same you’ll find numerous instances where one implementation vs. another both using the same dac chip have significantly differing results in the realm of dynamic range, jitter rejection, noise level, distortions, etc. It should not be a surprise to hear that it is these imperfections that are the very thing that makes one dac ‘sound better or worse’ than another.

Before this Stereophile was (and still is) my favorite place to go for similar objective and subjective test & reviews.

But there are many others too. Something a good Googling of brand names and model numbers will uncover.

P.s. I have NUMEROUS quality players and DACs – quick count is 13 ignoring older ‘consumer’ goods and I bet I forgot some – but for the reason cited above I won’t touch trying to answer your question even tho I know two maybe three of the dac chips you ask about are in some.


If you have the chance: try it out and compare in your audio setup. Choose what gives you the most satisfaction for the money you’re willing to spend. At the end it’s what you (believe to) hear what counts - not measurements, not hifi-zine recommendations.


I seem to be blessed with cloth ears.

I enjoy the output of AK4376A in my fiio btr3 bluetooth dongly, the ES9218P in my V30 and Shanling M0, the proprietary DAC in my Chord Mojo, and that of the ESS9028PRO in the Fiio X7ii i have also.

I’m tired to go from one to the other, to try and hear differences. They’re all fantastic and make the music sound bloomin’ marvelous :slight_smile:


This is a bit like asking someone else what shoes are the best - the most comfortable to wear, and what’s the best size to get.
Answer: it’s specific to you, your feet, and your preferences…

I can see why you ask, as there are lots of people out there that seemingly know a lot, but it really is as I’ve described. If you’re asking because you want to buy one and have the best experience, there’s absolutely no substitute for listening to them yourself, in your home setup.

This will help you save money and find what brings you joy far more quickly :wink:

Also, in my opinion, the DAC chip (and the whole DAC even) is low down in the food chain of what’s important. Speakers and room are much more so. That is, assuming well designed kit.


I’ve found that the Sabre DAC’s tend to be a little clinical. I’ve just got a Schitt Modi 3, originally for the office, but I tried it with my PS Audio Sprout 100 which had a Sabre, much like the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 I had before. The Schitt Modi 3 use a HK chip and it definitely had more punch. Not sure where it was the chip or the implementation, but it stays in my main system.

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a good implementation of R2R Dacs does this for me. Will never go back to DS Dacs