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

MrC

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Jan 5, 2019
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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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Jan 5, 2019
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Location
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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

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
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12
Location
Spain
#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
 

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