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Review and Measurements of SMSL M8 DAC

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#41
The SMSL M8A with ES9038qm2 was delivered about 5 hours ago (as of posting), so about as many hours use so far...

Installation was straight forward. Downloaded & installed the new v4.47 XMOS drivers, plugged in the M8A DAC. Selected it in Foobar2K and started listening to music... easy! The new software says its the M8A v3...

Audio chain: Windows 10 Home 64bit (1803) > Foobar2K > SMSL M8A (USB) > "The Wire" SE-SE headphone amp > Sennheiser HD650

Filters: Minimum phase slow roll off & Standard

First impressions:

I'll start by saying that I've got well over 4000hrs use out of the ODAC > The Wire > HD650 combo, so am quite familiar with that sound. The thought of replacing the ODAC with the SMSL M8A v3 (or any other DAC) had me a little worried initially. The Objective DAC is supposed to perform at the threshold of what we can realistically perceive audibly, so would I be able to hear any difference with the M8A ... Yes and No.

No, but in a good way ... with the selected filters, the overall tone is the same as the ODAC. For me, all I'm hearing is the tonal signature of the HD650 headphones.

Yes ... No night and day difference, however, the M8A is definitely presenting more detail from my 'ripped from CD' collection of 16/44.1 WAV files. The sound stage and imaging have improved, it's easier to follow instruments and hear their individual voicing. Overall, just cleaner and clearer all the way through, from the low lows to sparkly highs...

Quantifying it as a percentage - 15%, maybe 20% improvement from the ODAC.

My initial worried thoughts of getting another, more expensive DAC, have been firmly laid to rest in a very short time. The M8A is about double the price the ODAC, but I think it's worth it...

Next will be a new set of Headphones ... some MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed :)
 

amirm

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#42
The SMSL M8A with ES9038qm2 was delivered about 5 hours ago (as of posting), so about as many hours use so far...
Thanks for the subjective feedback Paul. Mine is still sealed in the box. I guess I should review it one of these days before they obsolete it and go to the B version. :)
 

frogmeat69

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#43
Thanks for the subjective feedback Paul. Mine is still sealed in the box. I guess I should review it one of these days before they obsolete it and go to the B version. :)
I mentioned something similar on the Massdrop comment page, shouldn't this be called the M8b instead of M8a, since it's the 3rd Dac chip used in the series?? 9018-9028-9038 = M8-M8a-M8b??
 
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#46
Thanks for the subjective feedback Paul. Mine is still sealed in the box. I guess I should review it one of these days before they obsolete it and go to the B version. :)
It'd be good to see how the new M8A measures up against the older M8. See it shares the same mid-range hump as the others utilising the ESS DAC.
 

amirm

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#47
It'd be good to see how the new M8A measures up against the older M8. See it shares the same mid-range hump as the others utilising the ESS DAC.
Good point. Remind me next week and I will see if I can get it out.
 

pos

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#49
I own a pair of these DAC and I am very satisfied with them, very well behaved little units.
The only thing that bothers me is the fact that the oled screen will fade out when let on for a long time.
There has been a new revision of this DAC and new firmware updates that included, among others things, a screen saver function that turn the screen off when not in use.
Unfortunately this functionality was never brought to the first generation M8...

@SMSL-Mandy, could you make this happen? A new firmware revision for the first generation M8 with screensaver functionality.
That would be a good sign that you are following your products after sale, which is something your customer will want if you push high end products on the market, like the D1 :)
 

SMSL-Mandy

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#50
I own a pair of these DAC and I am very satisfied with them, very well behaved little units.
The only thing that bothers me is the fact that the oled screen will fade out when let on for a long time.
There has been a new revision of this DAC and new firmware updates that included, among others things, a screen saver function that turn the screen off when not in use.
Unfortunately this functionality was never brought to the first generation M8...

@SMSL-Mandy, could you make this happen? A new firmware revision for the first generation M8 with screensaver functionality.
That would be a good sign that you are following your products after sale, which is something your customer will want if you push high end products on the market, like the D1 :)
Hello, the first generation M8 has to be send back to factory and we will fix it for you. But it may cost a few dozen dollars to ship it.
 

pos

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#52
Hello, the first generation M8 has to be send back to factory and we will fix it for you. But it may cost a few dozen dollars to ship it.
Thank you :)
By fixing it you mean replacing the oled screen, or changing the innards so it can take the new firmware?
 

Jimster480

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#56
! :) Yes please. // My laptop does not have serial port, but i could organise something.
You can get a serial adapter cheap if that is all you need to flash the firmware!
I think mine has the firmware (my M8), I plan to set the M8 up again for my second workstation now.
 
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#59
Me too :) i will send message now.

...PS: I had to put my email address as namavadhuta [at] gmail.com , it would not send when i used the proper form email address.
 
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