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Poll for SMSL ES9039 DAC Owners

Is your SMSL ES9039 Series DAC defective?


  • Total voters
    18

Rhamnetin

Active Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2023
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Inspired by this thread, I wanted to start this poll after having conversations with numerous owners of SMSL DACs featuring one of the ESS Sabre ES9039 series DACs that died very premature deaths. The applicable SMSL DACs are:
  • SMSL D-6s
  • SMSL DL200
  • SMSL SU-9 Pro
  • SMSL DO400
  • SMSL D400ES
  • SMSL SU-X
Please provide a photo or some kind of proof with your submission. This can't be enforced, but I've made the poll as transparent as possible for this reason.

My SMSL SU-X lasted about 20 days before refusing to power on fully (can't go beyond standby mode). Note that I'm not blaming the ES9039 chip, I just wonder if there's a pattern here.

hvebHR0.jpg
 

sarieri

Senior Member
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Mar 1, 2023
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I have my D6s for few months by now. I used it as a signal generator to measure stuff. Never had a problem except the IMD Hump that AP can't measure (below its noise floor).
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
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SU-X no longer appears on the SMSL shop site.
 

gjm

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2018
Messages
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28
I did specifically mention the (official) SMSL 'shop' site: https://smsl.shop/collections/dac.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2023
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My SMSL D400ES was returned for severe hearing noise issues when using certain filters.
 

DeepSpace57

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
316
Likes
125
Inspired by this thread, I wanted to start this poll after having conversations with numerous owners of SMSL DACs featuring one of the ESS Sabre ES9039 series DACs that died very premature deaths. The applicable SMSL DACs are:
  • SMSL D-6s
  • SMSL DL200
  • SMSL SU-9 Pro
  • SMSL DO400
  • SMSL D400ES
  • SMSL SU-X
Please provide a photo or some kind of proof with your submission. This can't be enforced, but I've made the poll as transparent as possible for this reason.

My SMSL SU-X lasted about 20 days before refusing to power on fully (can't go beyond standby mode). Note that I'm not blaming the ES9039 chip, I just wonder if there's a pattern here.

hvebHR0.jpg
do300 uses a single es3039 as well.
 

nanook

Active Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
158
Likes
137
Location
Berlin, Germany
This is a very interesting thread for me. I would be really interested in what the actual failure is - i.e. if it is really related to the ES9039q2m or ES9039pro. If someone has changed a failed DAC chip with success, this would be a clear hint.

One manufacturer applies a higher supply voltage AVCC for the analog output stages in at least some of their products. This results in 0.9dB higher output voltage using the same gain in the I/V-stage. They use 3.67V instead of the 3.3V +/-5% stated in the datasheet.
The "absolute maximum rating" for AVCC is stated as 3.7V for the ES9039xxx.

I did modify the AVCC divider in my units and traded a tiny bit of SINAD for a good conscience.
I have been designing mixed signal ICs in CMOS technologies and I do not feel comfortable operating an IC close to its max rating supply voltage specification. Doing this will reduce the lifetime of the IC; how much strongly depends on the individual technology and even on the individual design.

This is why I'm not getting tired blaming the "SINAD race" (that is also being fueled by this forum) for being responsible for technically bad or risky design decisions.
A fraction of a dB will make a huge first glance difference in the position within the SINAD chart, so manufacturers are tempted to push the limits.

To make it very clear:
In case this poll should suggest an ES9039xxx related issue in the end, ESS is very, very likely not to blame. I'm fully convinced, they have made sure that their chips will survive the nominal supply voltages +5% in 24/7 "forever".
 
Last edited:

nanook

Active Member
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Mar 31, 2019
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Location
Berlin, Germany
For those not familiar with this term. The Absolute Maximum Ratings are not meant to be used for operation.
 
Last edited:

Dunring

Major Contributor
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Feb 7, 2021
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Florida
I've had several of all of them except the SU-X, and never had a problem. No customers reported issues either. It's a small sample of maybe 18 DACs with that chipset, but nothing of note about them. Electronics have a 1 percent failure rate and it's a numbers game sometimes about how many people complain on the Internet factored by sales volume. They don't seem to run as hot as the 9038Pro (especially when run in current mode like Gustard likes to do, since they claim it sounds better). The DL200 and D-6S have that tick/pop when changing bit rates. The higher end ones fixed the problem though, so maybe we might see an update/fix.
 

Mikig

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Joined
Jan 12, 2024
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596
Location
Italia
Just the other day I was listening to music. At the end of a song, silence.
The signal no longer came out of the DAC, SMSL DO300 with 9039 chip.
This had never happened to me; the display indicated the correct frequency but Roon no longer locked it. I didn't see it among the exit options.
I changed the DAC on the fly and everything worked correctly.
I had to turn it off and on again. The DAC started working again.
I hope it's just an isolated case, if it happens again, I'll change the Dac possibly also looking at other brands.
 
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