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SMSL D-6s Balanced DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 9 2.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 5 1.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 24 6.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 339 89.9%

  • Total voters
    377

Tangband

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Amirm said: there is no trembling in all three interfaces". And that's the main thing. I take his word for it .
Amirm uses lab gear with the measurements of spdif - with probably lower noise than a WiiM pro or similar, and no ground loops . The absence of a transformer at spdif is all about cutting cost.

The correct way to use rca spdif is to have a transformer either at the sending side or at the receiver .

There are no issues using toslink ofcourse
 

Toku

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Only some DAC products, such as Topping's D70s D70Pro DX7Pro D90, are equipped with a pulse transformer for S/PDIF galvanic isolation. DDC products D10S/D10B are properly equipped with a pulse transformer as the responsibility of the transmitter.

Since it is an inexpensive component, I think it would be a good idea to actively install it on the S/PDIF receiving side.
I have yet to see any SMSL product equipped with a pulse transformer for S/PDIF galvanic isolation.
 

woof!

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thank you! Then it's Topping E50 for me, I think.
yeah, whichever dac you pick most likely will get you the same sound quality. so, picking the one that have the most feature you want/need and have the lowest price is probably the best decision.
 

Spocko

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SMSL D-6s balanced stereo DAC with Bluetooth support. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $199.
View attachment 319853
I was pleasantly surprised with the new industrial design which while minimalistic, manages to impress with its modern style. Love the matt diffuser in front of the white LEDs. And the elevated panel gives a distinct and dare I say, luxury feel. A remote control is provided which makes navigation very easy.

Very nice to have built-in power supply in such a small package:
View attachment 319854

SMSL D-6s DAC Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard with level adjusted to near 4 volts using XLR output first:
View attachment 319855
Distortion products are at -140 dB! Incredible. SINAD as a result is dominated by noise, and landing the D-6s in our top 20 chart of all DACs tested:
View attachment 319856

Even RCA output is impressive and fully audibly transparent:
View attachment 319857

Output can go to 5 volts using XLR giving us a bit more performance still:
View attachment 319859

As noted, SINAD is determined by noise since distortion component is so low:
View attachment 319858

For compatibility with stereophile magazine measurements, here is the 60 Hz performance:
View attachment 319860

Despite having a "punishing" load of 600 ohm as JA calls it there, D-6s sails with distortion at whopping -120 which I am confident bests anything stereophile has ever tested.

Back to our own tests, linearity is nailed:
View attachment 319861

As is jitter across all three interfaces:
View attachment 319862

Multitone performance makes the company proud:
View attachment 319863

We are some -135 dB in some of the frequency range!

EDIT: Forgot to post the IMD test:
View attachment 319869

Here are the usual filter and frequency response tests:
View attachment 319864
View attachment 319865

Using default F2 filter, we get excellent performance in our wideband THD+N with a slight rise at the upper end:
View attachment 319866

Conclusions
I pride myself in always finding something to complain about in a review but I have nothing for you here. Price is right. The look is right. And performance is top notch regardless of price. I always recommend balanced DACs and here is your chance to get one without any compromise.

I am happy to recommend the SMSL D-6s DAC.

Manufacturer Specifications:

  • Inputs: USB, optical, coaxial, Bluetooth
  • Outputs: RCA, XLR
  • THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)
  • Line output amplitude:
    • XLR: 5Vrms
    • RCA: 2.5Vrms (1.13Vrms)
  • Output impedance: XLR: 100Ω
  • Dynamic range:
    • XLR: 129dB
    • RCA: 126dB
  • SNR:
    • XLR: 129dB
    • RCA: 126dB
  • USB transmission: Asynchronization
  • USB compatibility: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11 (needs driver); Mac OS X 10.6 or later, Linux (driverless)
  • Sampling rate and bit depth:
    • USB:
      • PCM: 44.1-768kHz (32bit)
      • DSD: 2.8224-22.5792MHz (1bit)
      • DoP: DOP256
    • Optical/coaxial: 44.1-192kHz (24bit); DoP64
  • Bluetooth version: 5.1
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
  • Power consumption: <10W
  • Standby power: <0.5W
  • Size: 150x42x128.5mm (WxHxD)
  • Weight: 1.57lbs (0.71kg)
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Unbelievable price for balanced XLR DAC, I'm frankly stunned! Where will we be in 18 months at this rate?
 

brunes

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Does the dial on the front act as a volume control and is there a good reason why I can't go straight into a power amp without a preamp with this DAC?
 

Catsmeow

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Does the dial on the front act as a volume control and is there a good reason why I can't go straight into a power amp without a preamp with this DAC?
I never run any setup that doesn't have a physical attenuation prior to being amplified. The risk of blowing speakers, headphones, etc is a thing.
 

Abrise

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Does the dial on the front act as a volume control and is there a good reason why I can't go straight into a power amp without a preamp with this DAC?
You need a passive volume knob in between your DAC with digital volume and an amplifier without volume. @amirm has tested a few. Before I got this knob, I had expensive loudspeakers destroyed by teenagers. Set this knob so that when your digital volume is maximum your loudspeakers are safe.
 

PyramidElectric

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As long as the DAC works properly, i.e. it remembers the volume setting (and given that in other SMSL DACs like the DO100 this works flawlessly, i'm going to assume they know what they're doing here), then the DAC works exactly like a passive volume control/pre-amp, meaning you absolutely do not need one. Sure, the DAC could fail, but so can a pre amp...
 

PyramidElectric

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Not sure.... Have you ever had women or teenagers at home ? A passive knob adds a level of security.
Yeah I'm not sure you're understanding this, but if you set the DAC volume at (for example) 50% it stays at 50% no matter if you turn it off, switch inputs, whatever, it only moves from 50% if someone turns the volume control, exactly the same as with a passive pre amp.
 
Last edited:

staticV3

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Yeah I'm not sure you're understanding this, but if you set the DAC volume at (for example) 50% it stays at 50% no matter if you turn it off, switch inputs, whatever
Or not:
 

ampguy

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Looks good. I have an earlier version, the d6, which uses TRS, has AKM, and I think earlier usb controller. But I don’t have any issues with the old one.
 

ampguy

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You need a passive volume knob in between your DAC with digital volume and an amplifier without volume. @amirm has tested a few. Before I got this knob, I had expensive loudspeakers destroyed by teenagers. Set this knob so that when your digital volume is maximum your loudspeakers are safe.
I always keep my dacs on full. Just feels safer to me. I’ve never had a preamp volume fail.
 

Toku

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Looks good. I have an earlier version, the d6, which uses TRS, has AKM, and I think earlier usb controller. But I don’t have any issues with the old one.
D-6S has a similar model number to D-6, but is completely unrelated to D-6. D-6S is rather a model planned and sold by Shenzhen Audio, which originated from the DO100 planned and sold by Aosida.
 

Esprit

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Same measurements?
I can't find them here on the forum.
 
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