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AOSHIDA SMSL C200 Review (DAC & Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 6 2.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 44 18.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 185 78.4%

  • Total voters
    236

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the AOSHIDA SMSL C200 balanced DAC and headphone amplifier. It costs US $210.
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review.jpg

The unit looks attractive enough for a desktop product. The LED is function but sadly displays the sample rate rather than volume (until you change that). Navigating the menus is a bit hard but the included remote helps some. It is very nice to see built-in power supply:

SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Back Panel Review.jpg


As well as balanced output in the form of TRS outputs.

SMSL C200 DAC Measurements
I expect excellent performance from SMSL and it delivers:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Measurements.png


SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier TRRS Measurements.png


This easily lands the C200 in the upper section of our "excellent" category:
best dac review 2022.png


best dac review 2022 zoomed.png


Sum of distortion and noise is well below transparency.

Dynamic is naturally excellent:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier DNR Measurements.png


Multitone is naturally so as well:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Multitone Measurements.png


And IMD:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier IMD Measurements.png


Linearity is textbook perfect:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Linearity Measurements.png


Jitter falls in the same excellent category:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Jitter Measurements.png


We have the usual choice of filters:

SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Filter Measurements.png


Each naturally impacts ultrasonic noise so varies performance in our wideband distortion+noise sweep:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier THD+N vs frequency Measurements.png


SMSL C200 Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Let's start with noise performance:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier 50 mv Measurements.png


This is well above average:
Best headphone amp noise review.png


Power is most important so let's see how well the C200 performs:
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power 300 Measurements.png

SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power 32 Measurements.png


Both of these indicate available juice to drive 90% of the headphones out there to very satisfactory levels with superbly low noise and distortion. If your headphone has a different impedance, you can compute it using the following measurement (power = V*V/R):
SMSL C200 Balanced DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power vs impedance vs distortion Measurements.png


SMSL C200 Headphone Listening Tests
I started with the Dan Clark Stealth headphone. Fidelity was excellent but power output was average. Switching to Sennheiser HD-650 fixed that with plenty of dynamics now and detail. You get a bit more power still with Drop Ether CX. I could not get the unit to distort with either one of these headphones.

Conclusions
You get a superb DAC in the C200. The headphone amplifier is also quite clean and competent but just shy of the power in the highest tier products. I suspect the price will justify this (will update the review if not). Really, not much else to say.

I am happy to recommend the AOSHIDA SMSL C200.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:

Palladium

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Hopefully the Bluetooth doesn't have the same starting lag problems of the DO100/D-6.
 

Jarrett

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What makes these DACs so well engineered? I'd be curious if @amirm could put it into words or even an article. If you were looking at a teardown of something 120 db SINAD vs 100 (although not bad) or 80 or 60. It can't all be about the components on the board - we're talking a lot of cheapy DACs on here. What are these engineers doing to attain such measurements? :D
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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What makes these DACs so well engineered? I'd be curious if @amirm could put it into words or even an article. If you were looking at a teardown of something 120 db SINAD vs 100 (although not bad) or 80 or 60. It can't all be about the components on the board - we're talking a lot of cheapy DACs on here. What are these engineers doing to attain such measurements? :D
Circuit design and layout becomes hugely important. As is choice of a very high performance DAC to begin with.
 

Tangband

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Circuit design and layout becomes hugely important. As is choice of a very high performance DAC to begin with.
Inbuilt linear power supplies with transformer seems to measure less good than inbuilt switching supplies or outboard supplies , or maybe Im wrong ?

There are many audiophiles who believe switched power supplies are noisy. So the manufacturer puts in an even worse magnetic polution linear supply ( to big ) with a humming transformer.
 
Last edited:

DonR

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Inbuilt linear power supplies with transformer seems to measure less good than inbuilt switching supplies or outboard supplies , or maybe Im wrong ?

Theres many audiophile who believe switched power supply are noisy.
Old myths are slow to die. New switching PSUs have excellent noise specs.
 

Merkurio

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If rumour is true USD129, this is insane value

Better value than Topping

I also trust SMSL QA/QC more

For that price I would blindly buy it and immediately rule out other Topping options I've in mind, plus it would be a big step forward bringing the best performance to even more people, but I think it's unrealistic to expect that yet (unless SMSL wanted to break the market).
 

solderdude

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@amirm the 4.4mm Pentaconn is just for convenience ? (so not balanced)
 

holbob

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Well done Topping, what a treat to see a dac or headphone amplifier released! It's so rare of you. Sorry I meant SMSL!
 
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