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9i-92SA III(Third Generation) DAC/headphone Amp/Pre Amp
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9i-92SA III(Third Generation) DAC/headphone Amp/Pre Amp

Due to success of 9i-92SA " golden thrush" second and first generation the third generation was born but it's DAC chip was changed from AK4497 to ESS9038Pro .

As a general rule the performance of ESS DAC chip is highly analytical and dynamic but it's sound is a little hard, so there are many special adjustment have applied to the Third Generation and got good effort .

It already has many users and has very good comments. In this level of product it has strong competitiveness
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Product description

9i-92SA III "Golden Thrush" DAC / headphone amplifier / preamplifier is a desktop hifi product for headphone user. It integrates a variety of advanced technologies and solutions  such as USB isolation technology, dual ESS 9039Pro  DAC chip, etc..  The audio quality is excellent  especially the quality of its headphone amplifier .  It can get very good effect in driving the mainstream headphones such as HD800S and T1-II.

"Golden Thrush"  has many functions and performs well on the adaptability of the headphones. There are not only four types of output mode for adapting many kinds of headphones but also different output circuits for high and low impedance headphones.  As a headphone hifi product, "Golden Thrush" is excellent both in performance and function.

The 9i-92SA "Golden Thrush" consists of the following parts:

1: USB interface. XMOS second generation XU208 + FPGA digital processing module is used, and isolation technology is used to isolate noise from the computer. Support for NativeDSD512  and PCM384 input.

2: AK4118+ dual ESS 9038Pro DAC chip. The SPDIF receiver has three interfaces: coaxial, optical, and AES, support  PCM 24bit/192KHz and DOP (DSD64) inputs.

3: Headphone amplifier. It has 6.35 unbalanced interface and 4-pin XLR balanced interface. It has four output mode: Normal, BTL, Active Ground and Parallel.

4: Pre-Amp consisting of discrete components. "Golden Thrush" can be used as a pre-amp, the input interface is RCA and XLR, with infrared remote control.

5: Power supply and display system.



Two ESS 9038Pro DAC chip are used and one for each channel.  There are 8 internal DAC in each 9038Pro chip. Most of DAC which used 9038Pro chip only use one or two of them. The others are idle.  Multiple parallel DACs have many advantages but it is not easy to get good sound and the heating is serious.  The 9i-92SA III is different. With careful design and adjustment,  it got very good sound depend on the structure of 8 internal DAC parallel.

There are 4 mode for connecting the headphone . The sound of each mode has its own characteristics, and the difference is very obvious. This is a very useful  for the user to selecting the most suitable mode. Under normal conditions high-impedance and high-quality headphones are suitable for Blanced(BTL) mode, in this mode  the headphones can fully be driven by powerful Amp. Some headphones that are easier to be driven , you can use parallel or virtual ground mode  to drive them. Here, I would like to introduce what is the "virtual ground(Active G)" mode.

Usually  the positive terminal of the headphone cable should be connected to the positive output, and the negative terminal should be connected to the GND. If we connect the input terminal of  amplifier to GND, the output will get 0 level, which is the same level as GND. At this time the negative terminal of the headphone is connected to this 0 level which is equal to GND. However, this is not the real GND, but the simulated GND, that is to say "virtual GND"(Active Gnd). This kind of connection can get a more unique sound, the listening experience is warmer and softer, more suitable for listening to human voice or string. In short, the "virtual GND" mode provides users with an effective tuning method that increases adaptability and entertainment.

The second generation of XMOS is the latest XMOS solution which is faster. Isolation technology enables blocking between the computer and 9i-92SA.  The ground wire is not connected so noise was completely isolating from the computer. This feature is very effective because there are a large number of switching power supplies inside the computer that generate a lot of noise which can interfere with the analog circuit and degrade its performance. Isolating these noises can significantly improve the purity of the sound.

The code inside the FPGA has several functions: data isolation management, clock distribution, and DOP decode.



The LPF is a balanced structure and a high performance OP Amp OPA2604  was used . The analog output section is composed of a discrete device architecture which has been carefully tuned to correct the sound. The volume control chip is PGA2311 which controlled by MCU and the volume range is -70db~0db. Its common volume has been optimized, volume adjustment and listening habits are more coordinated and there are reliable protection measures.

The headphone amplifier uses a current feedback circuit. The technology of headphone amplifier is actually simple and the key is adjustment. Drawing on extensive experience in hifi  systems  we have achieved very good results in designing of  the "Golden Thrush" headphone amplifier. It not only has strong driving ability  but also sound balance, clear and delicate, strong sense of space. You can listen for a long time as well as forget the existence of headphones just like listening to the big system.

The display use a customized VFD。 The information displayed  complete,  the color matching is stable and beautiful.



Use of 9i-92SA

9i-92SA is a DAC which with coaxial, optical, AES and other digital input interfaces.  It can be used  to upgrade CD player, or as an external DAC for digital players in your audio system. It has a volume adjustment function.

It is a fully balanced pre-amp with one RCA/XLR input interface and one RCA/XLR output interface. Active speakers can be connected to it for building desktop hifi systems. You can also use it as a preamp to connect to your power amplifier to build a large hifi system.


It is a pure headphone amplifier . It drives both high-impedance and low-impedance headphones with good musical expression.


It is an advanced USB DAC with the second generation of XMOS. The driver is a customized version and is a good choice for pchifi players.


The most common use of the 9i-92SA  : Connect this unit to your computer via a USB cable,the music data is transferred to the unit. USB supports DSD512/PCM384. The computer player is very compatible and powerful so it can play music in any format. 


The 9i-92SA's headphone amplifier has good quality and can drive mainstream high-end headphones. Its two  output circuits enables it to adapt to both high-impedance and low-impedance headphones.  Four output modes make the 9i-92SA has good adaptability to various headphones. Whether  600 ohm high-impedance headphone or 30-ohm  it can be well adapted.                          


Performance parameter

Maximum audio support specifications: Spdif input ----- PCM192

USB input ----- DSD512 PCM384

Dynamic range: 115dB

Signal to noise ratio: 115dB (A weighting)

Frequency response: ±0.4 dB (20-20KHz A weighting)

THD+N: -102dB (fs=96KHz /10KHz A weighting)

Pre-level gain: 4db (volume is 0db)

Output power: 2.1W (33 ohms distortion 0.9%) 0.5W (600 ohms distortion 0.027%)

Dimensions: 320mm * 100mm * 310mm (WHD)

Power supply: AC 220V-230V 50-60HZ (Fuse specification: 6.3A)

Net Weight: 6.2kg

Gross Weight: 7.3kg



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