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S.M.S.L. SD-9 Set-Up and Basic Review

0mega0

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Jul 9, 2021
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Hmmm - First I tried the cut you asked about: https://tidal.com/track/3650032 . It has the same clarity from the beginning and specifically 1:19 into the song, the whisper, percussion, and second voice coming in is spectacular. The stats mconnect is showing: 1058 kbps; FLAC; 44.1; 16 bit.

Second, when I am streaming, my TIDAL stream plays via DLNA. I agree - there is NO GAPLESS PLAY. It is like using the TIDAL app from 3 years ago. I suspect this is a limitation of HIBY mconnect, rather than a limitation of the SD-9.

I will say the gap is minimized when I turn on "Gapless to renderer" and leave "Gapless by app" turned off. Regardless - the gap is still at least 1/2 second on my equipment. (See I pic of mconnect interface, below.)

Just to check that the MQA, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Cuts 1 and 2 (album title cut and a Little Help...), I tried them via the iOS TIDAL APP and Airplay direct to my amp, and yep - still gapless when playing directly from TIDAL Connect. View attachment 142271


Thank You for checking that for me, there must just be a problem with my particular unit that causes the distortion then.

I did not try Airplay, but I think that the lack of gapless support is a limitation of the SD-9. I am able to play gapless over any DLNA source when streaming from mconnect to my Yamaha WXC-50.
 

PDAMan

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Regarding #1, I never lost my personal settings and have not had spontaneous reboots in the past 7-9 days.
#2. YES - my I2S output to DAC reverses L/R channels. The "invert" switch in SD-9 (or via mconnect) settings corrects the L/R channel reversal.
#3. After the first two hours of using the SD-9, with free mconnect lite, I have streamed using ONLY the mconnect paid (US $6.99) app. My clicks and pops came with changing inputs on my amp from anything to XLR (my DAC output goes into the amp's XLR) OR when switching the SD-9 on or off. I have now gotten used to turning amp volume down to less than -80dB. No clicks and pops since practicing this "safe switching."

Thank you Oldschool.

The occasional involuntary factory reset on reboot is less frequent now that I can live with it.

The channel reversing is annoying with IIS, but if you are not playing DSD/DSF files, then all that is required is to flick the inverse option for IIS on on the SD-9. However, I do not see an option to reverse channels on mconnect ( I am using it on iso, full paid version), though.

I can never leave audio equipment on at all times. I know there are reasons that you do this but I can never bring myself to do this.

Regards
 
OP
0ldSchool

0ldSchool

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Thank you Oldschool.

The occasional involuntary factory reset on reboot is less frequent now that I can live with it.

The channel reversing is annoying with IIS, but if you are not playing DSD/DSF files, then all that is required is to flick the inverse option for IIS on on the SD-9. However, I do not see an option to reverse channels on mconnect ( I am using it on iso, full paid version), though.

I can never leave audio equipment on at all times. I know there are reasons that you do this but I can never bring myself to do this.

Regards
Glad your reboots are less frequent. For me too, the irritating operating characteristics upon my first three hours of use have almost disappeared. I would almost be tempted to say it is EFM (electronic effing magic), but I don't believe that.

You are correct - mconnect does not offer the "inverse" switch via the app interface. That is only an SD-9 menu option accessed by down arrow on remote, and then a toggle over to settings (gear icon) and then turning
"inverse" on.

I use a Furman Sound Elite linear power conditioner (DMi 15), so I feel comfortable leaving my equipment on, as any over voltage immediately shuts down all and leaves a tattle-tale LED on to alert me to the reason for shutdown.

My physics training says keep components at a steady temperature and the silicon lasts longer. Over 30 years of doing it both ways, my top end Yamaha amps last much longer when they are left on, but the longevity of all components got infinitely better (knock on wood) with the Furman unit. [NOTE ADDED: I do turn off my OLED TV, and would likely turn off tube components if I owned any - I also turn off my OPPO BluRay, so there are exceptions. All sound equipment, routers, cable modem, streamers stay on, though many of them go to sleep.]

Interestingly, after I added the Furman unit, without telling my wife, upon hearing the first song she exclaimed, "What did you change to make it sound so good!"
 
Last edited:
OP
0ldSchool

0ldSchool

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[QUOTE="0mega0, post: 852078, member: 34232"
I did not try Airplay, but I think that the lack of gapless support is a limitation of the SD-9. I am able to play gapless over any DLNA source when streaming from mconnect to my Yamaha WXC-50.[/QUOTE]
Since TIDAL has offered gapless playback for a year (or maybe more, you know how time flies), I am hopeful mconnect/SD-9 might follow with gapless. Not sure where the fault lies, hardware,!software, or firmware. Being able to feed my DAC via a wired source for MQA supersedes my need to hear gapless playback of a handful of albums.
 

Fluty

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As a noob, if I posted to the wrong place, let me know and I will delete and repost.

All I wanted from the SD-9 was to be able to stream bit-perfect music from TIDAL (over Ethernet) with control similar to what I have enjoyed via TIDAL Connect, BUT NOT using WiFi or Airplay2!

I ordered this unit from APOS Audio because I could not find it on Amazon at the time I knew the units had begun shipping from China. It turns out that S.M.S.L. equipment is usually listed with the periods on Amazon (NOT as "SMSL").

Ordered June 21, 2021. Delivered July 6, 2021. Fifteen days with APOS customer suppprt giving me three updates on expected delivery. DHL International gave detailed updates as soon as the unit was in their hands in Shenzhen China. Normally, I suspect the unit would have been delivered in 7-9 days, but it went on back order just as I ordered it. APOS has been a wonderful vendor. I would order from them again.

Since I was so concerned that everything come via Ethernet to be sent to my Gustard X-16 I turned off Bluetooth before I began the setup.

I won't make a long story longer by detailing my mistakes during setup. Instead I will list step by step how I would set up the SD-9 IF I had a do over.

[Nota bene: after two days spent with the unit, I am beginning to search for how to play songs from my phone via the unit to my DAC. At 258kbps (Apple Music File) versus generally 1700kbps HiFi or MQA, I doubt I will be playing anything from Apple Music. But I want to know all the interoperability of this unit - in the meantime, this initial review is for my TIDAL music, via Internet direct, over I2S to Gustard X16 DAC, via XLR into Yamaha RX-A 3080 integrated amplifier.]

BEFORE the S.M.S.L. SD-9 comes in you will need:
  • 2 AAA batteries for remote
  • Ethernet patch cable, Cat. 5e or better speed
  • The cabling to run from the SD-9 to your DAC (I ordered a 1 foot 8K HDMI cable for the I2S interface)
  • Access to 120 or 240 Volt AC
  • The full paid "mconnect Player" App by ConversDigital Co. Ltd., installed on your Android or iPhone. DO NOT install the "Lite" version. You don't want vestiges of the free program to interfere with the paid app which is what you will use for full functionality.
STEPS to take getting ready:
  • Update your phone to the latest operating system.
  • Cold boot your phone and then install "mconnect Player."
  • Flip SD-9 switch to select 120 or 240 Volts
  • Hook up cabling to the SD-9: I2S (or USB), Ethernet, and AC power.
  • Put batteries into the remote
  • FIRST (before pressing any other buttons) PRESS THE "B" button on the remote control.
  • Press the remote ON button to turn the SD-9 on.
  • Press the remote DOWN button and go to Settings (You MAY have to EXIT DLNA mode first to get to the GEAR icon.) The DOWN arrow functions as the "BACK" button, or LEFT pointing "RETURN" button on US remote controls. When you are finally in the "MENU" function on the screen, use the right or left cursor remote buttons to page through Settings (NET, NOW PLAYING, MY MUSIC, EXPLORER, PLAY SETTINGS, SYSTEM SETTINGS) and choose "System Settings." Press the center cursor control button and then the down cursor control button 12 times. You should now be at "RESTORE FACTORY SETTINGS," so press center button to SELECT it. Confirm your choice, and it will perform a factory reset, which clears any settings set up for unit testing before it left the factory!
  • Power cycle the SD-9.
  • Go back into SYSTEM "SETTINGS" and begin to go down the choices. You are looking for 1) Change I2S/SPDIF to whatever output you will use, back out and 2) turn "Fix Sample Rate OFF, 3) DSD Output Mode "Native," 4) USB mode "DAC," 5) EQ "close."
  • Turn the SD-9 off and use the I2S or USB cable to connect to your DAC
  • TO AVOID SPEAKER POP, turn amp off or volume all the way down. NOTE - MUTE on my Yamaha amp did not stop speaker pop while turning the SD-9 on or off while XLR input was selected on the amp.
  • Turn the SD-9 back on. IF you are using WiFi, check and setup the "NET" Settings on the SD-9 to insure you are connected to your network.
  • With the SD-9 on, take your phone and load the "mconnect Player."
  • Bottom far right of the app, press "Play through" and select the SD-9.
  • Go to "Browser" and put in your credentials for TIDAL, Qobuz, etc. Or select your NAS, SD Card, etc.
  • Adjust your "Settings" on your streaming service(s) for "Master" or "HiFi."
  • Select and play music, slowly turn up your amp volume, look at your DAC display and confirm that MQA, the green dot, and the bit rate show you are playing high res music.
  • Congratulate yourself!
PROS: outstanding soundstage, depth, dynamic range, price for a clean clear sounding streamer. NO USB Cable running across the floor to my DAC (FINALLY!!). Compared to the Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra at US $849, this S.M.S.L. SD-9 streamer running mconnect and not needing Roon or Volumio is a bargain.

CONS: Speaker POP; 4 out of now about 150 songs exhibited a half-second digital noise burst as a song began to play; crude interface with mconnect. The mconnect queue is terrible - hard to set it up and make songs "stick." When they do "stick" in the queue, they don't play in the expected order. TIDAL now supports Folders in the Playlists - mconnect doesn't see folders. Mconnect has crashed at least four times on my iPhone 11 running iOS 14.6. Crashing apps on this phone NEVER happen. I leave my equipment ON. The SD-9 screen will probably burn-in as there is no screen auto-off feature, and even the dimmest setting (#1) is still VERY BRIGHT. I sometimes still get digital noise between cuts of music and mconnect can't yet do gapless playback. The R/L Channels are reversed when using the I2S interface to my DAC. This is corrected by using the I2S "inverse" switch in the SD-9 settings. This error is reported by other users. Some might consider US $400 too expensive for a bleeding edge box which is essentially just a streamer, USB drive, and NAS manager. The RPi I was considering building would have been $200-250 (with touchscreen interface), no remote, and no mconnect! Just a few years ago NAS setups were $800-1600+. This SD-9 offered reasonable value for me.

Thank you for this detailed description of your connection process, which helped me to connect exactly the same units as yourself. However, even though I'm getting excellent quality from Tidal's MQA files they're being received at the DAC as HiFi quality only, not MQA. There is no indication on the SD9 or X16 that quality is any higher than 44.1 kHz. Also, in the SD9 manual on the final page is this comment, copied & pasted here: "Only the USB interface of SD-9 supports MQA decoding, other interfaces do not!"
Can you please clarify how you've achieved MQA output, or if there's anything I've missed here? As far as I can tell I'll need a direct usb connection from my iPhone to the SD9 to achieve MQA playback.
Thanks again for your help above, without which I would not have made any connection at all!
Michael (Fluty)
 

Fluty

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Adding to the above, my iPhone is connected to the SD9 using airplay. I don't know if this is correct as I haven't found any other way to connect the pair! I have connected the SD9 by cable to the router, still at a loss how to get the MQA files to the DAC. Any advice gratefully received!
 

raysay

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As a noob, if I posted to the wrong place, let me know and I will delete and repost.

All I wanted from the SD-9 was to be able to stream bit-perfect music from TIDAL (over Ethernet) with control similar to what I have enjoyed via TIDAL Connect, BUT NOT using WiFi or Airplay2!

I ordered this unit from APOS Audio because I could not find it on Amazon at the time I knew the units had begun shipping from China. It turns out that S.M.S.L. equipment is usually listed with the periods on Amazon (NOT as "SMSL").

Ordered June 21, 2021. Delivered July 6, 2021. Fifteen days with APOS customer suppprt giving me three updates on expected delivery. DHL International gave detailed updates as soon as the unit was in their hands in Shenzhen China. Normally, I suspect the unit would have been delivered in 7-9 days, but it went on back order just as I ordered it. APOS has been a wonderful vendor. I would order from them again.

Since I was so concerned that everything come via Ethernet to be sent to my Gustard X-16 I turned off Bluetooth before I began the setup.

I won't make a long story longer by detailing my mistakes during setup. Instead I will list step by step how I would set up the SD-9 IF I had a do over.

[Nota bene: after two days spent with the unit, I am beginning to search for how to play songs from my phone via the unit to my DAC. At 258kbps (Apple Music File) versus generally 1700kbps HiFi or MQA, I doubt I will be playing anything from Apple Music. But I want to know all the interoperability of this unit - in the meantime, this initial review is for my TIDAL music, via Internet direct, over I2S to Gustard X16 DAC, via XLR into Yamaha RX-A 3080 integrated amplifier.]

BEFORE the S.M.S.L. SD-9 comes in you will need:
  • 2 AAA batteries for remote
  • Ethernet patch cable, Cat. 5e or better speed
  • The cabling to run from the SD-9 to your DAC (I ordered a 1 foot 8K HDMI cable for the I2S interface)
  • Access to 120 or 240 Volt AC
  • The full paid "mconnect Player" App by ConversDigital Co. Ltd., installed on your Android or iPhone. DO NOT install the "Lite" version. You don't want vestiges of the free program to interfere with the paid app which is what you will use for full functionality.
STEPS to take getting ready:
  • Update your phone to the latest operating system.
  • Cold boot your phone and then install "mconnect Player."
  • Flip SD-9 switch to select 120 or 240 Volts
  • Hook up cabling to the SD-9: I2S (or USB), Ethernet, and AC power.
  • Put batteries into the remote
  • FIRST (before pressing any other buttons) PRESS THE "B" button on the remote control.
  • Press the remote ON button to turn the SD-9 on.
  • Press the remote DOWN button and go to Settings (You MAY have to EXIT DLNA mode first to get to the GEAR icon.) The DOWN arrow functions as the "BACK" button, or LEFT pointing "RETURN" button on US remote controls. When you are finally in the "MENU" function on the screen, use the right or left cursor remote buttons to page through Settings (NET, NOW PLAYING, MY MUSIC, EXPLORER, PLAY SETTINGS, SYSTEM SETTINGS) and choose "System Settings." Press the center cursor control button and then the down cursor control button 12 times. You should now be at "RESTORE FACTORY SETTINGS," so press center button to SELECT it. Confirm your choice, and it will perform a factory reset, which clears any settings set up for unit testing before it left the factory!
  • Power cycle the SD-9.
  • Go back into SYSTEM "SETTINGS" and begin to go down the choices. You are looking for 1) Change I2S/SPDIF to whatever output you will use, back out and 2) turn "Fix Sample Rate OFF, 3) DSD Output Mode "Native," 4) USB mode "DAC," 5) EQ "close."
  • Turn the SD-9 off and use the I2S or USB cable to connect to your DAC
  • TO AVOID SPEAKER POP, turn amp off or volume all the way down. NOTE - MUTE on my Yamaha amp did not stop speaker pop while turning the SD-9 on or off while XLR input was selected on the amp.
  • Turn the SD-9 back on. IF you are using WiFi, check and setup the "NET" Settings on the SD-9 to insure you are connected to your network.
  • With the SD-9 on, take your phone and load the "mconnect Player."
  • Bottom far right of the app, press "Play through" and select the SD-9.
  • Go to "Browser" and put in your credentials for TIDAL, Qobuz, etc. Or select your NAS, SD Card, etc.
  • Adjust your "Settings" on your streaming service(s) for "Master" or "HiFi."
  • Select and play music, slowly turn up your amp volume, look at your DAC display and confirm that MQA, the green dot, and the bit rate show you are playing high res music.
  • Congratulate yourself!
PROS: outstanding soundstage, depth, dynamic range, price for a clean clear sounding streamer. NO USB Cable running across the floor to my DAC (FINALLY!!). Compared to the Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra at US $849, this S.M.S.L. SD-9 streamer running mconnect and not needing Roon or Volumio is a bargain.

CONS: Speaker POP; 4 out of now about 150 songs exhibited a half-second digital noise burst as a song began to play; crude interface with mconnect. The mconnect queue is terrible - hard to set it up and make songs "stick." When they do "stick" in the queue, they don't play in the expected order. TIDAL now supports Folders in the Playlists - mconnect doesn't see folders. Mconnect has crashed at least four times on my iPhone 11 running iOS 14.6. Crashing apps on this phone NEVER happen. I leave my equipment ON. The SD-9 screen will probably burn-in as there is no screen auto-off feature, and even the dimmest setting (#1) is still VERY BRIGHT. I sometimes still get digital noise between cuts of music and mconnect can't yet do gapless playback. The R/L Channels are reversed when using the I2S interface to my DAC. This is corrected by using the I2S "inverse" switch in the SD-9 settings. This error is reported by other users. Some might consider US $400 too expensive for a bleeding edge box which is essentially just a streamer, USB drive, and NAS manager. The RPi I was considering building would have been $200-250 (with touchscreen interface), no remote, and no mconnect! Just a few years ago NAS setups were $800-1600+. This SD-9 offered reasonable value for me.


Are you sure that Mconnect Player app can do DLNA...? Because I cannot connect to Raspberry Pi / Volumio player... :-(
 

Fluty

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Thanks for commenting raysay, I thought my post was being completely ignored! You're correct, that mconnect cannot do DLNA on an iPhone. DLNA will not work on an iPhone or any Apple app as that company wants you to use their own airplay app. Unfortunately airplay can't do high res files such as MQA.
My wife says I've been obsessing, but I say that I'm persevering - and am now using an (inexpensive) Android tablet which has no resolution limits and easily connects MQA.
I wonder if anyone else, other than OldSchool here (to whom I'm grateful for opening this thread & getting me started) has managed to get MQA to work using an iPhone? I'd be pleased to have confirmation that it actually works, & to maybe learn what steps I've missed in getting it to connect?
 
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Manjeshgpai

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I can confirm that MQA over UPnP works (first unfold) with mConnect lite app on an iPod 5th gen (iOS 9.5.3) and a UPnP renderer (Moode Audio). I was able to play 96khz recording at 48khz. AFAIK, rendering MQA or any audio format for that matter from mConnect or similar apps only works with UPnP endpoints though they can access content from DLNA servers. If SMSL SD9 doesnt support UPnP, then that might be the problem or it could be that later versions of iOS are preventing mConnect from using the protocol.
 

Manjeshgpai

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Are you sure that Mconnect Player app can do DLNA...? Because I cannot connect to Raspberry Pi / Volumio player... :-(

mConnect access DLNA servers to fetch audio files but can render only to UPnP endpoints. I have used Volumio and it worked for me. Make sure you have DAC or output device properly set in playback device section. DLNA server for Volumio needs to be installed as a plugin. But even if you do that mConnect willbstream music only if Upnp service in Volumio is running. BTW can you see Volumio listed under Upnp in 'Play to' tab?
 
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Fluty

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Thanks for commenting raysay, I thought my post was being completely ignored! You're correct, that mconnect cannot do DLNA on an iPhone. DLNA will not work on an iPhone or any Apple app as that company wants you to use their own airplay app. Unfortunately airplay can't do high res files such as MQA.
My wife says I've been obsessing, but I say that I'm persevering - and am now using an (inexpensive) Android tablet which has no resolution limits and easily connects MQA.
I wonder if anyone else, other than OldSchool here (to whom I'm grateful for opening this thread & getting me started) has managed to get MQA to work using an iPhone? I'd be pleased to have confirmation that it actually works, & to maybe learn what steps I've missed in getting it to connect?
Apologies to OldSchool who posted his connection methodology here, of course what he wrote is correct and my difficulties were caused by a simple mistake / misunderstanding. I didn't even realise that there was an internal browser, and it seemed logical to first open the TIDAL app followed by mconnect. so I was running TIDAL external to mconnect. Did not realise, and no-one mentioned it because it's so obvious, that TIDAL should be opened in the Browser window within mconnect. Setting the SD9 to DNLA and not to Airplay - works a treat, just as described by OldSchool at the top of this thread. My wife says I was obsessing, but to me I was simply persevering after my rookie mistake..
 

Fluty

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Apologies to OldSchool who posted his connection methodology here, of course what he wrote is correct and my difficulties were caused by a simple mistake / misunderstanding. I didn't even realise that there was an internal browser, and it seemed logical to first open the TIDAL app followed by mconnect. so I was running TIDAL external to mconnect. Did not realise, and no-one mentioned it because it's so obvious, that TIDAL should be opened in the Browser window within mconnect. Setting the SD9 to DNLA and not to Airplay - works a treat, just as described by OldSchool at the top of this thread. My wife says I was obsessing, but to me I was simply persevering after my rookie mistake..
Well, I spoke (wrote) too soon. Neither mconnect nor BubbleUPnP is satisfactory with either iPhone or Android tablet. With a piece of Classical music that should run seamlessly they both stop the sound every time there's a new track, even though the tracks are within a movement that should be continuous. They sometimes cut off before the track is finished and start late at the beginning of the next one. Also they both make occasional frightening glitches (cracking noises) between tracks. I've spent a couple of weeks trying to get this to work, contacted both Tidal and SMSL, nether of whom were able to help, so sadly I'm sending the SD9 back to the distributor, who is very understanding and helpful.
 

Fluty

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To clarify - the SD9 streams fantastic sound quality & is super easy to use. I doubt that many users will notice the issue with track separation that bothered me, certainly not those who listen to individual tracks.
 

Fluty

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This has become a monologue - I hope somebody is interested! I've continued investigating the issues I had with the now departed SD9 and asked for comment from an owner of an $8,000 NAIM streamer. He found the same problem with track separation that I did on the recordings I asked him to check. His advice was to choose other recordings of the same piece, which play normally and correctly. So the SD9 was not responsible for the gaps after all. As for the glitches, my ever helpful dealer believes this to be an earthing problem as it only occurs (occasionally) between tracks when connection with the signal may be momentarily lost and re-established. Would be cured by earthing the streamer to the dac. This being the case, I have unfairly maligned the SD9 and wish I still had it! Is there any other SD9 owner who would care to comment?
 

muslhead

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This has become a monologue - I hope somebody is interested! I've continued investigating the issues I had with the now departed SD9 and asked for comment from an owner of an $8,000 NAIM streamer. He found the same problem with track separation that I did on the recordings I asked him to check. His advice was to choose other recordings of the same piece, which play normally and correctly. So the SD9 was not responsible for the gaps after all. As for the glitches, my ever helpful dealer believes this to be an earthing problem as it only occurs (occasionally) between tracks when connection with the signal may be momentarily lost and re-established. Would be cured by earthing the streamer to the dac. This being the case, I have unfairly maligned the SD9 and wish I still had it! Is there any other SD9 owner who would care to comment?
While i dont have the SD9, if you spend sometime here and do some searching you will see that SMSL has had some real issues regarding different technical and build problems across a multitude of products. I have had 3 different products and all were defective and had to be sent back. The biggest issue IMHO is that their (lack of ) support makes their other problems seem infantile.
I think you did the right thing long term. I would not have buyers remorse. I would look for other solutions as there are like some that are just as good and priced similarly that dont come with all the SMSL baggage.
 

Fluty

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Thanks for the reassurance muslhead!
In the absence of a streamer, and while waiting for my dealer to send me a different one, I've discovered that I can stream mqa files via usb from my mobile phone directly to the X16, which does mqa conversion, and can stream non-mqa but all others directly from the Tidal app in my laptop via Bluetooth. So why do I even need a dedicated Streamer, what is the advantage?
 

JoaoPedro

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Does anyone know what is the DAC inside the SD-9?

How audible will be the diference between using only the SD-9 or coupling it with the SU-9?
 

Victor BR

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Anyone here using this S.M.S.L. SD-9 network streamer with TOPPING D90SE DAC?
Any tip how to connect and set up this combo getting most of them?
Is there a way to use Tidal/Qobuz + Roon with SD-9?
USB is the way to get MQA master right? I2S/HDMI won`t ?
I will connect them to a dedicated pre amp + power amp + speakers. I don`t use headphones.
 
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