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SMSL D-6 DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 6 2.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 77 32.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 155 64.3%

  • Total voters
    241

Music1969

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Feb 19, 2018
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Hi!
To avoid electrical connection I prefer a Toslink over USB to feed a DAC from digital source (a workstation). Are there some reasons why USB can be better at D-6 use case?
Only higher sample rate.
 

nsfgp

Active Member
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Dec 27, 2020
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Hi!
To avoid electrical connection I prefer a Toslink over USB to feed a DAC from digital source (a workstation). Are there some reasons why USB can be better at D-6 use case?
Other than > 24/192PCM; you get > DSD64 DOP (+DSD Native) with USB. This is true for most if not all DAC not just the D-6.
 

anli

Member
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Oct 20, 2021
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Is it possible to use a remote control to toggle paly/pause at the case Bluetooth source is selected?
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
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I'm loving this DAC. I can't believe the price to performance ratio.
 

jagane

New Member
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Sep 16, 2022
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SMSL D-6: Success with DSD over PCM (DoP) using the USB interface on Linux
I wanted to write up a quick summary of playing DSD over PCM (DoP) through the USB Interface from a computer running Ubuntu 20.04 Linux. After much futzing around, here's the formula that works for me:
  • Pre process the DSD ISO into .flac files that have DoP encoded content. I used the dsd2flac version published by this person at this github source tree - https://github.com/dhalsimax/dsf2flac (kudos to this person - the software has worked flawlessly so far)
  • I used the Strawberry music player and configured it to use the backend ALSA SMSL USB Audio, USB Audio. If you run the command 'aplay -L', it lists the interface as follows:
    • hw:CARD=AUDIO,DEV=0
      • SMSL USB AUDIO, USB Audio
      • Direct hardware device without any conversions
  • The exact commands I used for the file conversion are:
    • sacd_extract -i YOUR_FILENAME.iso -2 -e -C
    • dsf2flac -d -i 'YOUR_EXTRACTED_FILE.dff'
      • The above command creates a number of flac files with DSD over PCM encoding *and* the track information
  • Now, when I start Strawberry music player, the track information is accurate and it often downloads cover art. Moreover, when I play songs, the SMSL D-6 displays '64' which, according to the SMSL manual, indicates DSD64!
I realize that this is a somewhat technical, what with having to compile and install software, etc. Also, I apologize to Windows users in this forum - I don't really know how to make it all work on Windows.

Final note - this is a really wonderful sounding DAC. I cannot believe that it only costs $170.

Happy music listening, folks.
 

Music1969

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Final note - this is a really wonderful sounding DAC. I cannot believe that it only costs $170.
It's the best bargain, USB-C in and balanced out!

Also why not use a music player that can output DoP automatically for you?

I guess the options are limited on Linux compared with macOS and Wndows?

HQPlayer is available on Linux and mac and Windows and can do this
 

jagane

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Sep 16, 2022
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I had never heard of HQPlayer. I went over and looked at their website - looks interesting. I would consider purchasing it, except there are some red flags along the way. For example, the 'Buy Now' and all prior webpage don't tell you how much it costs. Once you click on the button, it brings up the price (150 Euro), which is OK, but then it starts talking about hardware key, etc. The heck with that. I'd rather happily muck about with partial or non functional Linux open source and create my ideal setup..

And yes, I have two monoprice TRS to Balanced cables connecting the DAC to my pre-amp (I don't really believe in paying more that ten bucks for an audio cable). This is an awesome setup.
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
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I had never heard of HQPlayer. I went over and looked at their website - looks interesting. I would consider purchasing it, except there are some red flags along the way. For example, the 'Buy Now' and all prior webpage don't tell you how much it costs. Once you click on the button, it brings up the price (150 Euro), which is OK, but then it starts talking about hardware key, etc. The heck with that. I'd rather happily muck about with partial or non functional Linux open source and create my ideal setup..
Firstly you can do free fully featured trial. It just stops playing after 30mins, so you just need to re-open every 30mins.

But the trial is fully featured which is nice.

Secondly the hardware key is not that complicated - after you install it will generate a unique hardware ID for your machine. You simply use this to get your license for that machine. With Desktop you can move the license to different hardware (even between macOS and Windows for the HQPlayer Desktop license) but you can't use it on multiple machines at one time

I would guess its an easy way to stop people simply sharing the license with others for free. Some other big software works like this too

HQPlayer is a one man band - the developer Jussi Laako has contributed a lot to Linux kernel over the years, including DSD playback.


He was on ASR forum as @Miska but I think Amir banned him for his strong technical opinions on DSD :D

There's a lot of HQPlayer users including myself. Nothing to be scared of. No red flags.
 

anli

Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2021
Messages
47
Likes
11
SMSL D-6: Success with DSD over PCM (DoP) using the USB interface on Linux
I wanted to write up a quick summary of playing DSD over PCM (DoP) through the USB Interface from a computer running Ubuntu 20.04 Linux. After much futzing around, here's the formula that works for me:
  • Pre process the DSD ISO into .flac files that have DoP encoded content. I used the dsd2flac version published by this person at this github source tree - https://github.com/dhalsimax/dsf2flac (kudos to this person - the software has worked flawlessly so far)
  • I used the Strawberry music player and configured it to use the backend ALSA SMSL USB Audio, USB Audio. If you run the command 'aplay -L', it lists the interface as follows:
    • hw:CARD=AUDIO,DEV=0
      • SMSL USB AUDIO, USB Audio
      • Direct hardware device without any conversions
  • The exact commands I used for the file conversion are:
    • sacd_extract -i YOUR_FILENAME.iso -2 -e -C
    • dsf2flac -d -i 'YOUR_EXTRACTED_FILE.dff'
      • The above command creates a number of flac files with DSD over PCM encoding *and* the track information
  • Now, when I start Strawberry music player, the track information is accurate and it often downloads cover art. Moreover, when I play songs, the SMSL D-6 displays '64' which, according to the SMSL manual, indicates DSD64!
I realize that this is a somewhat technical, what with having to compile and install software, etc. Also, I apologize to Windows users in this forum - I don't really know how to make it all work on Windows.

Final note - this is a really wonderful sounding DAC. I cannot believe that it only costs $170.

Happy music listening, folks.
Is it possible to use Strawberry level mixer for such files?
 

anli

Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2021
Messages
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I guess the options are limited on Linux compared with macOS and Wndows?
MPD (Music Player Daemon) deals with SACD iso and DSD natively. Have tried with D-6. The only problem - I can not use sotware mixer and am forced to use D-6 remote with Pr1 mode.
 
Last edited:

Music1969

Major Contributor
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MPD (Music Player Daemon) deals with SACD iso and DSD natively. Have tried with D-6. The only problem - I can not use sotware mixer and am forced to use D-6 remote with P1 mode.

HQPlayer features built-in volume control (really high quality).

I can run D-6 in 'PrD' mode - DSD Direct mode of the AK4493S chips
 

anli

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'PrD' mode - DSD Direct mode of the AK4493S chips
Have tried to find it in the chip's datasheet but was not lucky. I have thought PrX из D-6 config option rather than DAC chip itself.
 
Last edited:

Music1969

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Have tried to find it in the chip's datasheet but was not lucky. I have thought PrX из D-6 config option rather than DAC chip itself.

D-6 'PrD' is DSD pass through (as per D-6 manual) and this activates DSDD mode of the DAC chip, shown below from AK4493S block diagram.

DSD Direct mode passes the DAC chip DSP (volume control and modulator) and goes straight to switched capacitor filters and through to analogue output.

I actually use HQPlayer to upsample all my music (from hard drive, Qobuz, Apple Music Hi-Res, Spotify) to DSD512 - so all my DSP is done before the D-6.

D-6 just converts DSD direct to analogue.

'All my DSP' includes room correction and headphones EQ', all done in HQPlayer before the DAC.

1663580779306.png
 

anli

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DSD Direct mode passes the DAC chip DSP (volume control and modulator) and goes straight to switched capacitor filters and through to analogue output.
Thanks for the clarification! But I still don't understand what is the difference between Pr0 and Prd? With Pr0 D-6's mixer is also turned off.
 

Music1969

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Thanks for the clarification! But I still don't understand what is the difference between Pr0 and Prd? With Pr0 D-6's mixer is also turned off.
Pr0 still goes through the AK4493 modulator - you can see the path in block diagram - even though volume control is disabled.

PrD by-passes BOTH DAC chip volume control AND modulator, as per block diagram (as per path I highlighted). This enables me to do ALL DSP (not just most) before the DAC.
 
Last edited:

jagane

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Is it possible to use Strawberry level mixer for such files?
My understanding is the strawberry level mixer would mess with the DoP encoding and probably not work. I don't use it
 

jagane

New Member
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MPD (Music Player Daemon) deals with SACD iso and DSD natively. Have tried with D-6. The only problem - I can not use sotware mixer and am forced to use D-6 remote with Pr1 mode.
This is an interesting alternative, something I will try this weekend.

When you use MPD and play SACD isos, does the D-6 say '64' or some other higher number? My understanding is that a lot of linux software is eager to transcode, and if the D-6 displays a higher number than 64, that indicates mpd has transcoded DSD to some high sample rate PCM.
 

anli

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This is an interesting alternative, something I will try this weekend.

When you use MPD and play SACD isos, does the D-6 say '64' or some other higher number? My understanding is that a lot of linux software is eager to transcode, and if the D-6 displays a higher number than 64, that indicates mpd has transcoded DSD to some high sample rate PCM.
As for SACD iso, I haven't such one in hands now (don't believe in hires), but as far as I remember - have tried once - MPD understands those iso files accompanied with xml-file containing tags (I guess, something similar to cue). But the behavior is the same as with DSF files. MPD config file contains `dop` option which can be "on" or "off". At both cases D-6 shows "64" (with that DSF I try). At any case, I use USB, so DoP hasn't any sense here.

So, MPD does not convert DSD to PCM.

If you have legal href to iso with xml files with tags, I'm ready to try.
 
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