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Neutral and transparent DAC – SMSL VMV D1 or Oppo Sonica?

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#1
Hey Folks,

sorry for hijacking the Topping D50 thread. I need your expertise, opinions, suggestions. I have to choose between these two DACs: SMSL VMV D1 and Oppo Sonica. Neutrality and transparency are my only criteria.

The SMSL VMV D1 was reviewed and measured here. Fine and excellent. The Oppo hasn't been reviewed or measured here yet. But the Oppo UDP-205. Also with excellent results.

I've asked the oppo support if they can confirm that the audio/dac section of the Sonica and the UDP-205 are the same. The answer was yes it is.

These two products are nearly identical because the analog audio stage and torodial power supply on the Sonica DAC are based on the UDP-205. The benefit of the UDP-205 is that it can support more file formats and physical disc media formats. But raw DAC performance will be identical between the two.
Here can one find some measurements of the Sonica. Maybe Amir can tell us about it whether they are good (on the same level like the UDP-205) or not.

I'm still unsure which one should I buy.
 

yue

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#2
oppo sonica as it's super good and offers more functionality (such as bluetooth). It's also much cheaper (800 vs 1300 USD).
But it's hard to buy one as oppo already stop selling them.
 

gvl

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#3
Sounds like you want the Sonica. IMO Oppo is in a different league than SMSL. If you must have one or the other I'd bet on the Oppo engineering competency and get the Sonica if you can find it.
 

amirm

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#4
Here can one find some measurements of the Sonica. Maybe Amir can tell us about it whether they are good (on the same level like the UDP-205) or not.
His measurements are not comparable to mine so very hard to do that. One that is close is jitter and that one looks clean.
 
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#5
Are you looking to output to powered monitors or headphones? I believe later this year SMSL is releasing the P1 which is a headphone dac/amp.
 

restorer-john

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#6
...Neutrality and transparency are my only criteria...
Perhaps you should start by defining those somewhat nebulous terms for us?

I am seeing 'transparent' as being the latest, un-defined, unmeasureable, and meaningless adjective infecting audio ramblings. Clearly, it is a kissing cousin of 'veiled', another of my personal favourites...

'Neutrality' is no better and basically says nothing of use.

D/A converters do not possess these magical qualities.
 
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#7
Perhaps you should start by defining those somewhat nebulous terms for us?

I am seeing 'transparent' as being the latest, un-defined, unmeasureable, and meaningless adjective infecting audio ramblings. Clearly, it is a kissing cousin of 'veiled', another of my personal favourites...

'Neutrality' is no better and basically says nothing of use.

D/A converters do not possess these magical qualities.
giphy.gif
 
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#8
His measurements are not comparable to mine so very hard to do that. One that is close is jitter and that one looks clean.
I was afraid of that :(

Are you looking to output to powered monitors or headphones? I believe later this year SMSL is releasing the P1 which is a headphone dac/amp.
I want to use the DAC with my headphone-amp (Funk LAP-2.V4-S – n.b. the site is in German). So there is no need for an amp ;)

Perhaps you should start by defining those somewhat nebulous terms for us?

I am seeing 'transparent' as being the latest, un-defined, unmeasureable, and meaningless adjective infecting audio ramblings. Clearly, it is a kissing cousin of 'veiled', another of my personal favourites...

'Neutrality' is no better and basically says nothing of use.

D/A converters do not possess these magical qualities.
I know neutral and transparent is a question of taste and subjective hearing experience. But I mean neutral and transparent in a technical way. I mean noise, distortion, linearity, and jitter. Maybe neutral and transparent aren't the right termini for what I'm looking for. A well build and engineered DAC with excellent measured values relating to noise, distortion, linearity, and jitter. To feed my amp ;) I hope I could express myself more precisely. Please do not hesitate to ask me if something is unclear.
 

Wombat

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#10
Those terms beg to a previous comparative source. As we cannot hear what is on the recorded media there needs to be an accurate, definitive. reproducing system to extract such content for later analysis. I am not aware of such a standard system.

Audiophil(e)ism has feet(ears) of clay.
 
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#11
Those terms beg to a previous comparative source. As we cannot hear what is on the recorded media there needs to be an accurate, definitive. reproducing system to extract such content for later analysis. I am not aware of such a standard system.

Audiophil(e)ism has feet(ears) of clay.
That's right, Sir. But things like noise, distortion, linearity, and jitter are measurable. And they have impact on the sound and listening. As I said before neutral and transparent aren't the right terms. I know that now. Sorry for that.
 

Veri

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#12
That's right, Sir. But things like noise, distortion, linearity, and jitter are measurable. And they have impact on the sound and listening. As I said before neutral and transparent aren't the right terms. I know that now. Sorry for that.
I don't think you can go wrong with either DAC. I'd personally go for the Sonica, since I feel like it will remain solid, whilst SMSL will come up with a D2, D3... in the years to come. I wouldn't want to deal with the future upgrade-itis :facepalm: At a certain point (which is probably MUCH earlier than we think) we can't hear the "clearer" signal anyway. $600+ for a DAC is probably already ridiculous.
 
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Wombat

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#13
That's right, Sir. But things like noise, distortion, linearity, and jitter are measurable. And they have impact on the sound and listening. As I said before neutral and transparent aren't the right terms. I know that now. Sorry for that.
Don't be sorry, keep exploring and learning. ;)
 
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#18
Good news. After another inquiry the Oppo support confirms:

The DAC performance [of the Sonica and the UDP-205] is identical.
The Sonica will be delivered on monday or tuesday. My MDR 7520 is already looking forward to the Sonica :p
 
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#19
The Oppo is here :) It looks so great. But the case is really big. Bigger than my headphone amp :p

I would like to stack both. Is that wise? Any impact on the sound maybe because of the toroidal power transformers?
 

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