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Better options than the SMSL AD-18 (functionality over quality)?

MrC

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#1
So, here I am again with a question...

I am wanting to replace my amp in the bedroom with something that offers me the functionality I need. The AD18 offers the functionality I am looking for but it has been said on various ocasions here that the quality leaves a lot to be desired, so I am wondering what other alternatives are out there.

The functions I need from the AD18 are as follows:

- Optical input fed from TV
- Bluetooth reception to receive Spotify from Android phones
- Speaker level output to feed 2x Bose Freespace DS 16S (I know, I know, BOSE! But they do serve the function)
- Headphone output (will only be used with low impedance IEMs or earbuds... usually)
- Small form factor
- Control from both unit and remote control
- Possibility to select speakers or headphoes from remote, not automatically mute when plugged in.

This is how I will be using it and why I need those functions...

The unit will be located within arms reach at my side of the bed, the remote will be located along with the TV remote and Air remote that are held on magnets just above the center of the bed, this will allow me to control the unit itself and my wife to reach the remote when she wants. The unit will be used 90% of the time to listen to the TV either via the speakers (at low levels) or earbuds/IEMs (at low to reasonable levels). The other 10% of the time it will be used to play Spotify or Internet radio in the bedroom at slightly higher levels than the TV, but not loud by any means. The reason I need to be able to select headphone/speaker out from the remote is so I don't have to remember to unplug the 'phones so my wife can use the speakers.

I am not looking for Hi-Res audio as I can use the Topping NX4 DSD in bed if I want to listen to music through headphones, we also don't watch a lot of movies in bed, it is more a case of watching the end of a show or movie in bed rather than waiting for it to finish in the living room. I also sometimes watch sporting events at early hours of the morning (hence listening through IEMs).

My current set up is the headphone out of the TV into an old Lepai 2020 running the same Bose speakers and, just to give you an idea, the volume is never above 10 or 12 (out of 100).

So... looking at the functionality I need and the low level use I will be giving it, is there something that is a better alternative than the AD18??

I haven't mentioned price but we all know the AD18 is under 150€/$. That is not my fixed budget and I am willing to spend more on quality, but I am not sure how much "quality" I really need in this situation.

Thanks in advance for any input and suggestions!
 

MrC

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#2
Just to add, my other thought was a DAC with optical in (and bluetooth if possible) splitting out to a Speaker amp (with remote and bluetooth if the DAC doesn't have it) and a headphone amp. Or even an Optical splitter running into a DAC+Speaker and a DAC+Headphone amp.

I could get the same (or very similar) functionality out of this set up but I think that the price would increase a lot, unless anyone can recommend low cost alternatives for these that would be superior to the AD18 quality.
 

MrC

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#3
Just as an update, I opted for the Topping MX3, mainly because it remembers volume levels for each output.

I'll see if I hate it :D
 

daftcombo

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#4
Hi,

I have a SMSL AD-18 in a small room (6m²) with a pair of floorstanding broad band speakers. It is nice.
Do you have measurements?

It has good reviews. For instance: https://www.xtenik.com/smsl-ad18-bluetooth-amplifier-80w-review/
I see THD 10% but can't hear it. Or is it 0,04%?

I tried a FX-Audio D802C and a Alientek D8 before, but both made noise in the speakers even at low volume.
The AD-18 is very quiet in that regard.
 
Last edited:

BillG

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#5
Even though you've already purchased the Topping, another favorite in DIY audio community (they like to modify it) is this:

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32594...5-Support-APTX-HD-Full-Digital-Amplifier-150W

I happen to own it myself, and it's a fine, low cost amp for a desktop/bedroom/average sized living room based system.

I've seen independent performance measurements of it, and they're very good for the price: ~90dB SNR, ~0.016% THD, and a rather flat, full range frequency response. This is, of course, until driven to clipping, and then, all bets are off.

It'll drive 65 watts into 8 ohms. And, with the speakers I use with it (rated at 89dB SPL at 1 watt at 1 meter), I rarely run over 2/3 of its full volume. If I did run it at full, the combination would pump out something like 104dB from 6 feet away - that's as loud as a jackhammer... o_O
 

daftcombo

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#6
Even though you've already purchased the Topping, another favorite in DIY audio community (they like to modify it) is this:

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32594...5-Support-APTX-HD-Full-Digital-Amplifier-150W

I happen to own it myself, and it's a fine, low cost amp for a desktop/bedroom/average sized living room based system.

I've seen independent performance measurements of it, and they're very good for the price: ~90dB SNR, ~0.016% THD, and a rather flat, full range frequency response. This is, of course, until driven to clipping, and then, all bets are off.

It'll drive 65 watts into 8 ohms. And, with the speakers I use with it (rated at 89dB SPL at 1 watt at 1 meter), I rarely run over 2/3 of its full volume. If I did run it at full, the combination would pump out something like 104dB from 6 feet away - that's as loud as a jackhammer... o_O
Thank you. Is it really quiet in the speakers? No buzz audible?
 

MrC

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#7
I must get around to writing a short review (no measurements I'm afraid) of the MX3, it has some.good.things going for it and also some very annoying ones!
 

BillG

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#8
Thank you. Is it really quiet in the speakers? No buzz audible?
I've heard absolutely no noise from the amp when I'm not running audio through it. And, I have checked, several times, by turning the volume 2/3 of the way up and placing my ear very close to the speakers - nothing, nada, zip, zero, quiet... :cool:
 

bravomail

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#9
I have Alientek D8. I gave up on such devices after realizing, that my over-the-air TV has 5.1 audio, which is not reproduced with said small and cheerful devices (I hear silence). Plus not many have subwoofer out and/or crossover. No room EQ, no speaker EQ, etc etc. If u go just slightly higher in price to ~200 dol u can get AV receiver which will happily decode miriads of multichannel formats, have EQ, subwoofer crossover etc. AVRs r huge though.
 
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