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SMSL AO100 Amplifier Class D "Subjective review"

Joe Smith

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Well, small bummer...after only 4 months, the Bluetooth on the AO100 seems to have crapped out. Connection was always a little flakey from time to time (connection was prone to some drop outs unless you had the sending device pretty close to the receiver in the unit). I tried an alternate antenna, no change. Have written to the Amazon seller (SMSL distribution in the US) to see if at four months, they will send me a replacement unit if I return this one. Disappointing; I have ten year old Jambox BT speakers that are still working just fine. I wonder if this is a general chip issue or if I just got a lemon? Amp still works, but hoping that at four months they will swap me... Anyone else having BT issues with this model?
 

Joe Smith

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Hi guys. Just wanted to say thank you for the discussions and reviews and to give my thumbs up to this little beauty. This is my first foray in mini budget d class amp and I can't believe how compact and amazing it is. It is a full integrated with volume+tone control, a remote and at half the size of my peachtree dac itx!
the ao100 is replacing arcam solo mini.
The Bluetooth is ok but does not compare to the quality from the line out. My signal chain is Yt music hq, Chromecast tv, cheap HDMI audio converter, peachtree dac itx, smsl ao100 and Sony ss-csd1 2way 12cm woofer 6ohm mini Sys bookshelf. Plenty of power and punch for the Sony bookshelf, it really sings, brining out the golden Sony syrup prat.

Rediculous price, absolutely ridiculous! Black magic stuff.
Is your Bluetooth input holding up? Mine just crapped out after 4 months of infrequent use. Connection/hook to device was always a bit iffy compared to other wireless receivers I use. I'm wondering if the receiver chip they used was a crappy one?
 

Taoster

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Is your Bluetooth input holding up? Mine just crapped out after 4 months of infrequent use. Connection/hook to device was always a bit iffy compared to other wireless receivers I use. I'm wondering if the receiver chip they used was a crappy one?
I don't use Bluetooth but just tried for 30min with no drop out. Disappointing with the warranty policy when it is a clear defect
 

TonyJZX

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I would imagine these amps with the bluetooth permanently disabled would be a good thing.

I have never used nor even switched the BT on with my A300.

BUT since these cheaper units are just "always on".... kind of annoying. They should just wire in a i/o switch on the back or put it in the menu.
 

Joe Smith

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Well, surprise, surprise. After a night off/powered down, BT came back on and sends connection signal, and so far is doing better with maintaining good reception. Aoshida HiFi US also responded and was willing to honor the warranty, which was good to hear. I told them to hold and I'd test it off and on more next couple of days. I'm glad, because the main draw for me with this unit was the combo line/BT capability. It is perfect for one of my more "background" systems downstairs, where my wife prefers music at a softer level.
 

Joe Smith

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I hope Amir tests one of these eventually...I think it's a really good value in the near-$100 amps available.
 

yodog

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I hope Amir tests one of these eventually...I think it's a really good value in the near-$100 amps available.
Me too! I also want to know if the da-9 is better on the bench and if the sa300 in mono mode actually delivers it’s advertised output specs.
 

Joe Smith

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Hey, question - I borrowed a Sony subwoofer from a friend to try with my AO100, that SW only has a mono line in RCA. Am I correct that I should be able to connect the L out of the AO100 via RCA to the mono line in of the Sony? I tried that but was not getting anything out of the SW...?
 

Taoster

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Is that a active or passive sw? For active sw the RCA connects to the SW out, pre amplification.
 

almosely

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Hi,

I currently have the Loxjie A30, SMSL A300 and SMSL AO100 at home for comparison. I already said what I think of the A300 in the relevant A300 thread.

The AO100 - like the A300 - plays a little quieter than the Loxjie A30 (tested up to 35/60 volume). BTW: An e-mail inquiry to SMSL as to why the A300 plays quieter than the Loxjie resulted in the reply that human hearing is deceptive and sometimes it takes 100 watts for the same volume as just 1 watt. The gain curve would also be relevant - but they didn't want to explain to me why the gain curve is lower up to 35/60 than on the Loxjie A30, which is half as powerful, and how it continues after that. So, here again nonsense ...

Likewise, the resolution of the AO100 is worse than that of the Loxjie A30. It sounds quite cramped compared to the A30 and less powerful in the bass range. The AO100 has three switchable surround modes, of which 1 and 2 sound quite usable and impressive, but unfortunately also alienate the sound too much. Mode 3 is not usable with my seat distance (3m). I think you have to sit closer or further away for that. In any case, the Loxjie A30 creates a wider stage than the AO100, despite the switched on surround modes 1 or 2, and it also sounds more powerful and detailed.

I used a FiiO D03K DAC, which didn't really sound audibly different to me than the DAC integrated in the Loxjie, as far as I could tell, because I couldn't compare ABX directly. I also tested the FiiO D03K on the Loxjie A30 at the AUX input to be able to assess the quality.

In any case, I find the AO100 too narrow without surround and too fake with surround. And it plays quieter than the Loxjie A30. What is nice about the AO100 is that - in contrast to the A300 - it can switch off the display completely.

When it comes to Bluetooth, the AO100 is a bit vulnerable. I only had to turn my smartphone a bit at a distance of 3m and the sound cracked. That doesn't interest the Loxjie at all.

In short, SMSL cannot keep up with Loxjie in this comparison either. I wouldn't recommend either the A300 or the AO100 if you can buy the Loxjie A30.
 

Zek

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@almosely I don't want to be rude, but your way of comparing different amplifiers is not authoritative at all.
In order to be able to compare different amplifiers, you need to have a quality SPL meter and bring each of the amplifiers to the same volume level.
Only then can you compare the sound quality of individual amplifiers.
 

almosely

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Just ongoing criticism ... Yes, you are rude. Fanboy. What about being happy to not be able to hear all that instead? Saves you a lot of money. I am outta here, again
 
Last edited:

linuxfan

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almosely, thanks for your listening impressions, I find them very useful. And yes, they are impressions, not measurements. For additional context, your speakers are Wharfedale Diamond 12.2, right?

"Authoritative"? Heck, what a terrible metric for choosing an audio component. It's like making a food or recipe choice based on some scientific measure of enzymes.
Measurements are certainly useful for the engineers who develop products for we hifi music lovers, and also indicators of potential audio quality, but nothing more.
Anyone is welcome to disagree, but if so, in my opinion your motivation for even getting involved in hifi is misplaced. Choose another hobby, and be much happier.
 

cyclops

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Well I would like to chime in if I may. I had a really inexpensive Fosi amp to power my Yamaha deck speakers, Probably through my fault the Fosi fried my Yamaha's. So starting over this summer I will now have some Klipsch speakers and needed a new amp as well. I wanted to stay away from the Fosi TB10D and the Aiyima a07, I am sure they are great, but they both seem to have some minor issues developing. I wanted an Internal power supply, but keep the $$ low. I wanted something that didn't appear to have any heat issues. And as much hype the Texas Instrument chip gets, I had a feeling, right or wrong, that the Infineon chip was superior sound wise, for me at least.
For what ever reason there is very little info on the SMSL AO100 out there, A sale came up and I took a chance.
Even though this is for my outdoor system, I hooked it up to my indoor system to check things out, Nothing fancy >>Yamaha Rx 397, and I have Totem Rainmakers and/or Wharfedale Diamond 12,2>> I am more or less pretty new to the Class D amp thing. I do have Golden Years, (NOT golden ears) Well I am very happy with this purchase. To a a casual listener you would never know the difference. When you pay attention I find some tracks , yes there seems to be a bit of a thinness to the sound, other tracks I feel it outshines the Yamaha.
To me the strength is the midrange, so clean and pure, like really really good
If and when My Yamaha dies I would almost certainly go Class D
I am not an electrical engineer of any type., A lot of the stuff on this forum is over my head, I try and pick up a few things here and there, just a guy who really enjoys his tunes for the last 40 - 50 years.
SO if you are like me and on a budget and was a little hesitant about Class D , don't be ,
so right now the only places I know of to buy the SMSL AO100 is ali and Amazon Canada where it is on sale for $143 CDN

 
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