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Review and Measurements of SMSL Sanskrit 10th DAC

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the SMSL Sanskrit 10th budget DAC. It retails for USD $100 on Amazon including shipping. I purchased mine (I think) from Massdrop at discount.

From pictures posted by SMSL, the unit looks like large plastic Lego pieces. Fortunately in person it looks quite a bit better:

SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC Review.jpg

Remarkably at this price, the unit comes with a remote control. It also has three inputs: USB, S/PDIF and Toslink optical.

There is also a cute gimmick of the display rotating depending on whether you put it horizontal or vertical.

There are separate USB power inputs depending on whether you want to just use USB or S/PDIF. All my testing was done with the USB input jack.

If the performance is there, this would be quite a nice DAC to have. Let's see what the measurements show.

Measurements
I powered the unit and hooked it up via USB and was greeted with this disappointing dashboard:
SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC Measurement.png


It was so unusual that I created a quiz to see if anyone could guess what it was. We have pretty elevated low frequency noise below our 1 kHz tone and lots and lots of spurious tones, dragging the SINAD (signal over distortion and noise) to a very poor 80 dB.

Switching inputs to S/PDIF though, substantially improved the situation:
SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC SPDIF Measurement.png


Gone is the low frequency noise. We still have the spike at 500 Hz but overall, we are doing well with a SINAD of 101 dB on the average.

What is strange is that the output level changes depending on which digital input is used (2.04 volts versus 2.1).

Overall this how the distortion and noise compared to other DACs tested:

1544907528439.png


All the rest of the tests showed similar differential in performance. Here is jitter for example:

SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC Jitter Measurement.png


I like to see spikes below 120 dB and here we are way up at -80 with USB.

This is how the noise and distortion distribute at different frequencies:
SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC THD versus Frequency Measurement.png


So something is up at lower frequencies.

Multitone signal shows the same story:

SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC Multitone Measurement.png


The gap in linearity is smaller though (and mimics that if Topping DX3 Pro to some extent):
SMSL Sanskrit 10th SK10 DAC Linearity Measurement.png


Do we need to keep running tests? No. :)

Conclusions
The SMSL Sanskrit 10th set out to change the game in budget DACs with different looks and inclusion of remote control. Alas, with the all common USB input, it completely fails the performance test. If you have S/PDIF output somehow, then it makes a good choice but otherwise, I highly recommend looking elsewhere for your budget DAC needs.

EDIT: with input from SMSL engineers, the USB port is under powered. Using an external power supply restores full performance. See: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ts-of-smsl-sanskrit-10th-dac.5702/post-127278. Assuming that you use an external power supply with Sanskrit 10th, I can now recommend it.
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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

If you like this review, or even if you don't but wish for me to have wagyu steak tomorrow, please consider donating funds using:
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#2
This device looked pretty promising but the performance is just average with SPDIF and bad with USB. I really hope the M3 does is better.
 
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#7
Thanks very much for testing this one, Amir! I was hoping it would have better performance as I thought the dark pink (they say it's red, but all the pics look pink to me) one was cute and different haha! I'll probably just wait and get the RME DAC some day.
 

bravomail

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#11
sad. One of my main sources is PC with optical SPDIF. USB is not so hot in PC - some DACs just cannot adapt to it. Schiit Wyrd to rescue?
 

SMSL-Mandy

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#14
Always the data of USB is similar to the S/PDIF.Or better than the S/pdif. Whether the power supply device of usb is the same as S/pdif?
 
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amirm

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#15
Always the data of USB is similar to the S/PDIF.Or better than the S/pdif. Whether the power supply device of usb is the same as S/pdif?
Power supply is the same in both cases. I just left the USB plug in, and then switched input to S/PDIF and retested. I did not connect any other power supply to the secondary port.
 

Wombat

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#16
What source are you using that still has a digital coax output?

I recently purchased one of these for half price($AU100, free shipping) from a Sony online deal: BDP-s6700 BD/DVD 4K upscaler. It has digital co-ax, HDMI, LAN and wifi.
I got it as a back-up for SACD. It is still in its box. It has 3D - maybe good as a back-up for that.
 
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#17
that's quite a fumble by smsl after the d1, m8 and su-8 success!
 

yue

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#18
seems a power issue. the USB does not provides sufficient power. Probably you can plug in a USB-charger to the second USB port to increase the power, and see if the measurements get better.
 

helloworld

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#19
seems a power issue. the USB does not provides sufficient power. Probably you can plug in a USB-charger to the second USB port to increase the power, and see if the measurements get better.
Probably that's why smsl provides separate USB power inputs......
 
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#20
Hopefully this review insires SMSL to make a revision, especially since they've proven they can make better. I've been looking for a cheap well performing DAC that I can use with my video game consoles and this was almost it
 
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