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Review and Measurements of SMAKN X5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier

amirm

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#1
This is a Review and Measurements of budget SMAKN X5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier. It is on kind loan from a forum member. It retails for just $25 on Amazon including prime shipping in US!

It is a cute little box with sturdy build:

SMAKN X5 Dac and headphone amplifier review and measurement.png.jpg

It worked plug-and-play in Windows 10 Creators Edition so no driver install was necessary. I tested it using ASIO4ALL wrapper to create an ASIO driver for my Audio Precision APx555 analyzer in bit-exact mode.

Let's see how it measures.

Measurements
As you know, I always start with my Dashboard view and this is sort of what it looked like:
SMAKN X5 Dac and headphone amplifier Dashboard measurement.png


I say sort of because while the scope, output voltage and frequency were stable, the distortion figures were jumping all over, varying by as much as 20 dB! You can't see that in the static display so I put the analyzer in real-time mode and asked it to show the THD+N distortion figure as time marched on:

SMAKN X5 Dac and headphone amplifier THD variation measurement.png


Oh man.... As you see, we have sudden and huge jumps in distortion. This is me doing absolutely nothing to do the unit. Just playing that 1 kHz tone. Lots of noise seemed to be bleeding into the output of the DAC. Never seen anything like this.

I then made an attempt to plug THD+N versus output power but due to the high variations, the analyzer would give up. So I hacked that up to average the readings and this is what I got:

SMAKN X5 Dac and headphone amplifier THD vs output power measurement.png


Hopeless!

Measurements stopped! "No soup for you!"

Subjective Listening
I hooked up my Grado SR60e to it for grins and pulled up some of my electronic tracks I use for headphone testing. At any decent output level bass impulses would get week and distorted. Clearly there is inadequate power supply capacitance and overall juice to drive much here. Likely explaining the distortion spikes.

Listening to the headphone output of my HP laptop was more pleasing, but not nearly loud enough.

It does produce music though. :)

Conclusions
I seem to be on a bad streak now. Or bad mood. Or both. :) But this is a definite DO NOT BUY. Yes it is cheap. Yes it is a nice little box. Yes I like the volume control on it. But the guts are just not there.

As always, questions, comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

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amirm

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#3
@amirm , you are doing lots of reviews these few days!!! :eek::eek::eek:
You tell me! :) Trying to get through all the backlog with so many boxes still unopened. A lot of these are loaned gear and folks want them back or at least some progress on testing.
 
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#4
You tell me! :) Trying to get through all the backlog with so many boxes still unopened. A lot of these are loaned gear and folks want them back or at least some progress on testing.
Thank you for the work!!

(Though I have to say I'm most impressed by the fact that you can keep track of both the "heated debate" and reviewing new stuffs with all the coolheadedness!! :p)
 

Wombat

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#5
You tell me! :) Trying to get through all the backlog with so many boxes still unopened. A lot of these are loaned gear and folks want them back or at least some progress on testing.
Wanted: Test lab intern. No pay but stress breaks provided - weeding. Enquire @amirm. :eek:
 

Blumlein 88

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#6
Wanted: Test lab intern. No pay but stress breaks provided - weeding. Enquire @amirm. :eek:
Does that internship include lodging in the camper van when not in use by Amir????????

Or better yet, maybe Amir needs to arrange a mobile test center from the camper van. Then he can travel the country testing as he goes, and it will provide a moving target for the SBAF's trying to locate him. Just be sure to use only burner phones.

 

Thomas savage

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#7
Does that internship include lodging in the camper van when not in use by Amir????????

Or better yet, maybe Amir needs to arrange a mobile test center from the camper van. Then he can travel the country testing as he goes, and it will provide a moving target for the SBAF's trying to locate him. Just be sure to use only burner phones.

Ha ha, I was going to suggest we go mobile now and then. Getting out to folks in person might help break down walls, we would have to bring @Sal1950 along because I think (hope) he has a carry licence and we might might need robust protection.

@amirm , what about the ASR roadshow?

It would have to be in the winter time as in the summer frankly I have better things to do lol
 

amirm

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#8
@amirm , what about the ASR roadshow?
There is one actually this coming weekend at our audiophile society meeting on Saturday. Members are bringing their gear to measure. So if you are in the Pacific northwest, take advantage of that.
 

Thomas savage

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#9
There is one actually this coming weekend at our audiophile society meeting on Saturday. Members are bringing their gear to measure. So if you are in the Pacific northwest, take advantage of that.
Make provisions for a rowdy mob , maybe reinforce the glass on ya camper van and install riot gear..,

571BE26B-3EFC-428E-8D37-E460E72B5D42.jpeg
 

Blumlein 88

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#10
Ha ha, I was going to suggest we go mobile now and then. Getting out to folks in person might help break down walls, we would have to bring @Sal1950 along because I think (hope) he has a carry licence and we might might need robust protection.

@amirm , what about the ASR roadshow?

It would have to be in the winter time as in the summer frankly I have better things to do lol
Unfortunately Sal's permit isn't honored on the West coast. Honored over half the other states, but not the West Coast.
 

Blumlein 88

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#12
Make provisions for a rowdy mob , maybe reinforce the glass on ya camper van and install riot gear..,

View attachment 13599
To throw people off, he needs this graphic on the sides.




BTW, just clicked there to grab that, and 1st big scrolling notice, SBAF temporarily open to new members. Followed by Amir's measures should not be trusted. ASR Anti-Schiit crusade. Oh, tooooooo pitiful. Accompanied by this pic.
 
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#15
I tried to come up with a silly smack pun but gave up.

I can't say I'm surprised a $25 unit performs this poorly. I know equating price to performance is potentially dangerous but I take a DAC or Amp being priced below the $99 to generally be the manufacturer openly admitting they cut a lot of corners to make a cheap unit.
 

duo8

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#16
I tried to come up with a silly smack pun but gave up.

I can't say I'm surprised a $25 unit performs this poorly. I know equating price to performance is potentially dangerous but I take a DAC or Amp being priced below the $99 to generally be the manufacturer openly admitting they cut a lot of corners to make a cheap unit.
Well the smsl idea is almost good for $80.
 

Jimster480

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#20
Not really sure what that is supposed to mean, but that site is literally a gay pirate website. Its actually how I first found it when I was looking for alternative sites to headfi, it was labeled as "gay pirate audio site" on some link from years ago.
They had a previous domain that mentioned pirates IIRC, I never signed up and looking at their community I am glad I didn't.

http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index-2.html

^This is the original website that became SBAF
 
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