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NEW SMSL Headphone AMP HO200: It looks like the SH-8s on steroids

c3pored

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Measurements: Measurements of SMSL HO200 HeadphoneAmp | L7Audiolab

SMSL: HO200 (smsl-audio.com)
094a11f897.jpg
XQ2HO20033.jpg
XQ2HO20032.jpg
XQ1HO20021.jpg
 

Zim

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It is above the SH9 but below the SP400.


Buuut the A30Pro is still much more powerful for 50 dollars less


Looks more like an A90 competitor. Wonder how these measure as well as the Sabaj A20H. What a nice time to be in the market for one.
 

Human Bass

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Looks more like an A90 competitor. Wonder how these measure as well as the Sabaj A20H. What a nice time to be in the market for one.
It claims 3 watts at 32ohm. That is way below the A90 and even the A30Pro. It is super clean, but the A30pro is already super clean with 2.5 watts more power. It can make a difference with some hard to drive planars.
 
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c3pored

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The A30 pro is single ended (with balanced output).
The HO200 is Fully Balanced, I like the 3 HeadPhone outputs on the Front (like A90).
Close inspection of the specs suggest it’s aiming at the A90 (where you don’t need as much power as the A90) but for a lot less cash
 
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c3pored

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Looks more like an A90 competitor. Wonder how these measure as well as the Sabaj A20H. What a nice time to be in the market for one.

Sabaj has all its Headphone outputs on the back!!! Bit of a pain that if you own more than one pair of headphones
 

JohnYang1997

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The A30 pro is single ended (with balanced output).
The HO200 is Fully Balanced, I like the 3 HeadPhone outputs on the Front (like A90).
Close inspection of the specs suggest it’s aiming at the A90 (where you don’t need as much power as the A90) but for a lot less cash
A30pro has balanced input and single ended output. Only real world benefit of balanced output in general is more power. But A30pro is more powerful with just single ended output.
 

jae

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Frankly tired of seeing the same product 30 times with not much improvement or innovation, and in some cases, worse performance/functionality and QC. The Chinese market contributed so much to this hobby in recent years but it seems to be stagnating. I know a few of these companies are trying to branch out into other devices like power amps, streamers, etc but they should at least not let the products for their largest niche suffer for it, especially if they are going to pump out refreshes every year already.

I feel like 90+% of people do not need a separates when it comes to setups with both head amps and DACs. Almost everyone is using these things at a desk with a computer and USB. For those that have other use cases (essentially those that need more in/out, prefer to drive power amp with the dac directly, or the rare cases where someone needs to have them connected at two different locations in a room) there's already the fairly good top of the line Topping stuff, OKTO, RME etc.

They need to start making more combo units with things like analogue inputs and maybe even digital outputs in the top end products. Yulong DA1 is the only one I've seen recently (no idea how it measures), and its $2500 and still lacking some premium features I would expect at that price. Topping EX5 as an introductory device is good and fairly priced, sadly lacking balanced head out but does well with the budget, but is only available from one retailer. What ever happened to $600-800+ and higher price points? Where's the stuff that's both premium (remote, machined chassis, quality knob/robust switches, multi input/output etc) and also measures well?
 

JohnYang1997

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Frankly tired of seeing the same product 30 times with not much improvement or innovation, and in some cases, worse performance/functionality and QC. The Chinese market contributed so much to this hobby in recent years but it seems to be stagnating. I know a few of these companies are trying to branch out into other devices like power amps, streamers, etc but they should at least not let the products for their largest niche suffer for it, especially if they are going to pump out refreshes every year already.

I feel like 90+% of people do not need a separates when it comes to setups with both head amps and DACs. Almost everyone is using these things at a desk with a computer and USB. For those that have other use cases (essentially those that need more in/out, prefer to drive power amp with the dac directly, or the rare cases where someone needs to have them connected at two different locations in a room) there's already the fairly good top of the line Topping stuff, OKTO, RME etc.

They need to start making more combo units with things like analogue inputs and maybe even digital outputs in the top end products. Yulong DA1 is the only one I've seen recently (no idea how it measures), and its $2500 and still lacking some premium features I would expect at that price. Topping EX5 as an introductory device is good and fairly priced, sadly lacking balanced head out but does well with the budget, but is only available from one retailer. What ever happened to $600-800+ and higher price points? Where's the stuff that's both premium (remote, machined chassis, quality knob/robust switches, multi input/output etc) and also measures well?
Answer is pretty simple and straightforward if you actually tried to fine one.

Firstly the headphone amplifiers. It's 2018 the THX 789 and JDS Atom came out. It's only 2020 the A90 and L30 came out. Every single headphone amplifier from Topping has its unique feature and is trying to occupy the whole price range with best performance possible. There aren't many of them, are they? SMSL's SP200 came out a bit earlier in 2019. It's a big step up from Atom and much cheaper than THX 789/887 at the time. Of SP200 SU8s SU9 SP400 and HO200. Some of these are price at same price bracket. There is a detail that THX does have a lowest allowed retail price for a product. So in order to compete with us they have to make something a bit different. Hence you see many headphone amplifiers. Sabaj/Loxjie are the same company as SMSL but sold through their own channel. A10h is shown to copy the circuit from L30. So.... Anyway that's why there are so many headamps.

The DAC is a different situation. It is heavily crowded and we certainly don't need that many. There's a perception that we release a product every month. That's not what happened this year. We definitely have not released many products. We planned to release many more but the shortage of components caused redesigns. That affected timing a lot. But anyway.

Combos are more difficult to make than separates. Always expect some compromises comapred to separates. But more combos are coming that's for sure.

Speaker amplifiers. We have not released any since I'm in Topping. There were planning for high-performance class AB amps. And there are one/two/some in the work. But mainly the delay because of the size/heatsinking, the chassis. Class D amps are also coming. We certainly want something impressive and beneficial to the user. We want some meaningful changes to the devices otherwise why release them. SMSL has released many speaker amps this year. Some cheaper, some exclusive deals for the distributors, some new Axign based designs. They have been doing quite well. But people really want something better something that they want to buy immediately after seeing the reviews.

To answer your questions. Basically you can think of, there's only so much time a small team can do. It's not that do you need separates, sepatates can be both cheaper and better. It's not that we don't want to make higher end combos. Making them takes time. When we do that some people will again complain too expensive. It's a never ending game.

There's competition between companies. There's limited time and effort someone can put in. There's only so much that you can see that are working under the hood.
 
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Music1969

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I prefer higher input impedance and perfect channel balance (not vol pot) of my SP400
 
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Zim

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It claims 3 watts at 32ohm. That is way below the A90 and even the A30Pro. It is super clean, but the A30pro is already super clean with 2.5 watts more power. It can make a difference with some hard to drive planars.

Power-wise, sure. They're different. But functionality-wise (input/output, switches), I'd say they're competing with each other. I'd imagine this amp would be ideal for those who need those functions but don't necessarily need the power offered by the A90.


Sabaj has all its Headphone outputs on the back!!! Bit of a pain that if you own more than one pair of headphones

I personally prefer outputs in the back to keep my desk neater and more organised. But I admit I'm probably in the minority.
 

Lupin

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It claims 3 watts at 32ohm. That is way below the A90 and even the A30Pro. It is super clean, but the A30pro is already super clean with 2.5 watts more power. It can make a difference with some hard to drive planars.
Power and measurements don't tell the whole story.

The A30Pro for example has coil whine, spongy volume pot, rather small/thin volume knob, small slippery feet and for some the SE output is too close to the volume knob.

Sure it has tons of power.. But how many of us really needs all that power. As a trade off the unit runs very hot all the time even when you don't need the power.

All those things you don't see back in measurements or the spec sheets but they do count for the overall user experience.

I bought the D30Pro/A30Pro stack and I'm happy with it. But at the same time I can understand that people look at other devices due the above mentioned quirks with the A30Pro.

I think the A30Pro is a great headphones amplifier with performance that was simply unheard of just over a year ago. At the same time I also understand and accept that the A30Pro is not the "be all and end all" for everyone.
 

kiyu

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It is above the SH9 but below the SP400.


Buuut the A30Pro is still much more powerful for 50 dollars less
A30 pro no preamp, and can passthru only from balance to balance.. (or RCA to RCA).

"Pre-out function, can be used as Hi-End pre-amp "
 

Mansinthe86

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Answer is pretty simple and straightforward if you actually tried to fine one.

Firstly the headphone amplifiers. It's 2018 the THX 789 and JDS Atom came out. It's only 2020 the A90 and L30 came out. Every single headphone amplifier from Topping has its unique feature and is trying to occupy the whole price range with best performance possible. There aren't many of them, are they? SMSL's SP200 came out a bit earlier in 2019. It's a big step up from Atom and much cheaper than THX 789/887 at the time. Of SP200 SU8s SU9 SP400 and HO200. Some of these are price at same price bracket. There is a detail that THX does have a lowest allowed retail price for a product. So in order to compete with us they have to make something a bit different. Hence you see many headphone amplifiers. Sabaj/Loxjie are the same company as SMSL but sold through their own channel. A10h is shown to copy the circuit from L30. So.... Anyway that's why there are so many headamps.

The DAC is a different situation. It is heavily crowded and we certainly don't need that many. There's a perception that we release a product every month. That's not what happened this year. We definitely have not released many products. We planned to release many more but the shortage of components caused redesigns. That affected timing a lot. But anyway.

Combos are more difficult to make than separates. Always expect some compromises comapred to separates. But more combos are coming that's for sure.

Speaker amplifiers. We have not released any since I'm in Topping. There were planning for high-performance class AB amps. And there are one/two/some in the work. But mainly the delay because of the size/heatsinking, the chassis. Class D amps are also coming. We certainly want something impressive and beneficial to the user. We want some meaningful changes to the devices otherwise why release them. SMSL has released many speaker amps this year. Some cheaper, some exclusive deals for the distributors, some new Axign based designs. They have been doing quite well. But people really want something better something that they want to buy immediately after seeing the reviews.

To answer your questions. Basically you can think of, there's only so much time a small team can do. It's not that do you need separates, sepatates can be both cheaper and better. It's not that we don't want to make higher end combos. Making them takes time. When we do that some people will again complain too expensive. It's a never ending game.

There's competition between companies. There's limited time and effort someone can put in. There's only so much that you can see that are working under the hood.

Do you have more information about Chinese companies? Had no idea that Sabaj/Loxjie and Smsl are the same company. What about douk, nobsound , Gustard, Singxer ?

Most western stuff is manufactured in China anyway.. let's take my Cambridge Cxa81/Cxn V2 or wharfedale Evo 4.2.
British brands made in china.

But I wouldn't expect to get the same QC from a S.M.S.L device.

Or fakes.. aren't there already fake versions of the Topping D10 .?
 

avoidwork

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I received mine this afternoon, and I've been listening to it for about 5 hours now. It's something, I just can't figure out if it's good or not? It's very clean, maybe too clean. It sounds different than my other amps; currently got an SP400 & A90 in the same room, and I think I like the sound of the HO200 the most... if I'm not using certain headphones.

My grado white sound nassal. The rad-0 was just not as good as it could be. My fostex seem to vibe very well with it (th909 / th900 / t60rp).

Did I mention that it's very clean? I love the dimensions and that the switches feel as good as the A90's. I like that it doesn't sound like the A90. I have more amps than I need, but this seems like a very solid option at the price point. It's nice to see a 4.4mm on an smsl amp.

Power wise... I have no idea why anyone needs more power? I have it plugged into an ifi neo via xlr / fixed output with flac streamed via roon, and it's more power than any headphone I have needs. It's unusable with iem using the 4.4mm jack, just too much power; you have to use rca connections if you're using iem and want balanced output. My ikko oh7 clearly get signal when on the 4.4mm/xlr when the pots is at 'zero' position, it's like background convo loudness.

IMG_0323.jpg IMG_0324.jpg
 

kion

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Answer is pretty simple and straightforward if you actually tried to fine one.

Firstly the headphone amplifiers. It's 2018 the THX 789 and JDS Atom came out. It's only 2020 the A90 and L30 came out. Every single headphone amplifier from Topping has its unique feature and is trying to occupy the whole price range with best performance possible. There aren't many of them, are they? SMSL's SP200 came out a bit earlier in 2019. It's a big step up from Atom and much cheaper than THX 789/887 at the time. Of SP200 SU8s SU9 SP400 and HO200. Some of these are price at same price bracket. There is a detail that THX does have a lowest allowed retail price for a product. So in order to compete with us they have to make something a bit different. Hence you see many headphone amplifiers. Sabaj/Loxjie are the same company as SMSL but sold through their own channel. A10h is shown to copy the circuit from L30. So.... Anyway that's why there are so many headamps.

The DAC is a different situation. It is heavily crowded and we certainly don't need that many. There's a perception that we release a product every month. That's not what happened this year. We definitely have not released many products. We planned to release many more but the shortage of components caused redesigns. That affected timing a lot. But anyway.

Combos are more difficult to make than separates. Always expect some compromises comapred to separates. But more combos are coming that's for sure.

Speaker amplifiers. We have not released any since I'm in Topping. There were planning for high-performance class AB amps. And there are one/two/some in the work. But mainly the delay because of the size/heatsinking, the chassis. Class D amps are also coming. We certainly want something impressive and beneficial to the user. We want some meaningful changes to the devices otherwise why release them. SMSL has released many speaker amps this year. Some cheaper, some exclusive deals for the distributors, some new Axign based designs. They have been doing quite well. But people really want something better something that they want to buy immediately after seeing the reviews.

To answer your questions. Basically you can think of, there's only so much time a small team can do. It's not that do you need separates, sepatates can be both cheaper and better. It's not that we don't want to make higher end combos. Making them takes time. When we do that some people will again complain too expensive. It's a never ending game.

There's competition between companies. There's limited time and effort someone can put in. There's only so much that you can see that are working under the hood.


As you mentioned class AB amps (and sorry if it is slightly off-topic), can I get your honest opinion on Bakoon AMP-13R / Enleum AMP-23R from a designer’s perspective? If you prefer maybe we could chat over pm. Cheers
 

JohnYang1997

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As you mentioned class AB amps (and sorry if it is slightly off-topic), can I get your honest opinion on Bakoon AMP-13R / Enleum AMP-23R from a designer’s perspective? If you prefer maybe we could chat over pm. Cheers
IMHO the two have too little power to be a serious amp. Considering the price point, you would be getting something a lot better. From a designer point of view, they can do better, a lot better.
 

kion

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IMHO the two have too little power to be a serious amp. Considering the price point, you would be getting something a lot better. From a designer point of view, they can do better, a lot better.

Look forward to you and Topping disrupting this market then. Good luck!
 

nakanock

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I'm sorry for my poor English, but can someone please help me?

I had a hard time deciding between the "A90" and the "HO200", but in the end I bought the new HO200.

When I received the product, I turned the gain switch to MID and was very satisfied with the clear sound that came out of it.
However, when I switch the gain to HIGH, there is always an obtrusive noise coming through.

By the way, when it is on HIGH, the noise continues to flow even when no song is being output.

Is my unit the only one that is malfunctioning?
 
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