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SMSL D-6s Balanced DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 9 2.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 4 1.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 24 6.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 322 89.7%

  • Total voters
    359

somebodyelse

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None that you can link to then. Specifically the 'sounds better' part given that we have measurements of multiple DACs using the 'old series' that suggest they're audibly transparent already.
 

vrobec

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Just compared the D6s and the DL200 DAC's. DL200 has 1dB better specs. :D

SMSL D6s
Dynamic range: XLR 129dB, RCA 126dB
SNR: XLR 129dB, RCA 126dB
THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)

SMSL DL200
Dynamic range: XLR 130dB, RCA 127dB
SNR: XLR 130dB, RCA 127dB
THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)

So the logical decesion is SMSL DL200, having HP out and costs 10 USD less. Only thing bother me is not finding detailed reviews for DL200.
 
Last edited:

nanook

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@Amir: According to the diagrams in your review, the D-6s was measured with "vol 96" for all distortion related measurements.
- Was this chosen in order to meet a certain output level, or was this the corner before distortion starts to increase?
- What does Vol 96 mean for this DAC? Is there some metric that connects the volume number to the digital attenuation?

Output level with Vol 96 was ca. 4.22V and max. output level is stated as 5V for the XLR. This would mean distortion measurements have been taken at ca. -1.5dBFS
 

nanook

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ESS has made significant changes.
I'd be really interested if there are details regarding differences between ES9038 (Hyperstream II) and ES9039 (Hyperstream IV).
The only thing I found about ESS Sabre DACs innards is this paper: https://6moons.com/audioreviews/wyred4/sabre.pdf
No idea however when and if this has been published and to which hyperstream technology it refers.
 

MBO

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I'd be really interested if there are details regarding differences between ES9038 (Hyperstream II) and ES9039 (Hyperstream IV).
The only thing I found about ESS Sabre DACs innards is this paper: https://6moons.com/audioreviews/wyred4/sabre.pdf
No idea however when and if this has been published and to which hyperstream technology it refers.
Hyperstream 4, as I have read, is practically redesigned, they had Hyperstream 3 in between, which supposedly wasn't perfect either. I would say the success story of DACs from ESS only starts with 9039. It's best to listen for yourself. The new DACs sound really high-end and very natural and relaxed, the problem is that the reputable manufacturers still bring the new DACs with old DACs like TI or Even 9018s that sound really terrible instead of quickly using the new generation like CS43198 or ES9039... It's very tragic..
 

Eddie_Vanjovi

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Just compared the D6s and the DL200 DAC's. DL200 has 1dB better specs. :D

SMSL D6s
Dynamic range: XLR 129dB, RCA 126dB
SNR: XLR 129dB, RCA 126dB
THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)

SMSL DL200
Dynamic range: XLR 130dB, RCA 127dB
SNR: XLR 130dB, RCA 127dB
THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)

So the logical decesion is SMSL DL200, having HP out and costs 10 USD less. Only thing bother me is not finding detailed reviews for DL200.

Imo, it looks better too.

But the headphone out might be crummy - we don't know any details on that. Plus, it lacks balanced XLR outputs.
 

Grooved

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Just compared the D6s and the DL200 DAC's. DL200 has 1dB better specs. :D

SMSL D6s
Dynamic range: XLR 129dB, RCA 126dB
SNR: XLR 129dB, RCA 126dB
THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)

SMSL DL200
Dynamic range: XLR 130dB, RCA 127dB
SNR: XLR 130dB, RCA 127dB
THD+N: 0.00006% (-123dB)

So the logical decesion is SMSL DL200, having HP out and costs 10 USD less. Only thing bother me is not finding detailed reviews for DL200.
There are indeed several reasons to pick the DL200 over the D-6s, and I thought the only one in favor of the D-6s was the form factor for people wanting this kind, but I also found (if I read it correctly) that the DL200 doesn't have a pre mode on line outputs (SE and balanced)

@Amir: According to the diagrams in your review, the D-6s was measured with "vol 96" for all distortion related measurements.
- Was this chosen in order to meet a certain output level, or was this the corner before distortion starts to increase?
- What does Vol 96 mean for this DAC? Is there some metric that connects the volume number to the digital attenuation?

Output level with Vol 96 was ca. 4.22V and max. output level is stated as 5V for the XLR. This would mean distortion measurements have been taken at ca. -1.5dBFS
To be fair with all DACs, they are measured with 4.2V, because some won't reach 5V (like on the other side, some audio interfaces will reach far more than 5V)
Yes, if measured at 5V, SINAD would be around 1db better, but it would be a biased result

None that you can link to then. Specifically the 'sounds better' part given that we have measurements of multiple DACs using the 'old series' that suggest they're audibly transparent already.
Not saying at all that the DAC with new ESS chipsets sounds better, as I didn't even listen to one yet, but it's possible they sound a little bit different, mainly if they have new filter.
Yes, most DAC are "audibly transparent" now, but while using the same filter. If you change the filter, you may get the same main measurements results, but the difference in the time domain will change a bit the sound you perceived.
 
Last edited:

vrobec

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Apr 18, 2020
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@Amir: According to the diagrams in your review, the D-6s was measured with "vol 96" for all distortion related measurements.
- Was this chosen in order to meet a certain output level, or was this the corner before distortion starts to increase?
- What does Vol 96 mean for this DAC? Is there some metric that connects the volume number to the digital attenuation?

Output level with Vol 96 was ca. 4.22V and max. output level is stated as 5V for the XLR. This would mean distortion measurements have been taken at ca. -1.5dBFS
Interesting ...waiting for Amir's answer :)
 

delta76

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It's hilarious to me that with all the money audiophiles spend on sound systems, if you're in a small-medium sized room, you can basically buy this $200 box, a pair of Neumann KH120-II or KH150s (depending on room size), a pair of standard XLR cables, plug your laptop in via USB, and you're done, for $2000-$3000 total. You have effectively perfect performance -zero noise, zero distortion, zero jitter, flat frequency response from ~50Hz-20khz. Add a sub if you want to fill out the bottom octave.
when you are in an echo chamber for long enough, it's very likely you become the chamber yourself. that happens to most of the audiophiles, grew in, participated in such communities, and can't believe otherwise.
I have a friend who swears for the sound signatures of DACs, or how he can hear the differences in IEM with "burn in". I'm too tired to try to convince otherwise, so I let him be.
 

Esprit

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@Amir: According to the diagrams in your review, the D-6s was measured with "vol 96" for all distortion related measurements.
- Was this chosen in order to meet a certain output level, or was this the corner before distortion starts to increase?
- What does Vol 96 mean for this DAC? Is there some metric that connects the volume number to the digital attenuation?

Output level with Vol 96 was ca. 4.22V and max. output level is stated as 5V for the XLR. This would mean distortion measurements have been taken at ca. -1.5dBFS
At volume 30 my Adam monitors are already at a very high level.
 

Toku

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the driver does not work, do you have any idea of the problem please?
The driver does not work just by installing it on your PC.
You need to specify the installed driver for the output destination of your PC audio player.
 

Angelilo

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yes I know thank you very much, I have to select the DAC on the player, the problem is that the driver is not taken into account on the PC and the DAC does not work, apparently I think the driver is not compatible with Windows 7...
 

nanook

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I have a friend who swears for the sound signatures of DACs, or how he can hear the differences in IEM with "burn in". I'm too tired to try to convince otherwise, so I let him be.
I have a friend who sells small wedge-shaped small stands made from ebony wood. They look and feel really nice - he`s a perfectionist! You put several of these under your speaker cables such that the cables are separated ca. 1.5 inches from the floor. This way the electromagnetic fields around the cable do not interact with the floor anymore and the sound is more refined, dynamic etc.
Pointless to disagree, pointless to argue - the best I can do is keep my mouth shut. Doesn't do the friendship any good either.
 

Toku

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I have a friend who sells small wedge-shaped small stands made from ebony wood. They look and feel really nice - he`s a perfectionist! You put several of these under your speaker cables such that the cables are separated ca. 1.5 inches from the floor. This way the electromagnetic fields around the cable do not interact with the floor anymore and the sound is more refined, dynamic etc.
Pointless to disagree, pointless to argue - the best I can do is keep my mouth shut. Doesn't do the friendship any good either.
I think your friend is a religious person and has been completely brainwashed. It is impossible for others to break the brainwashing, so let's hope that the person himself or herself realizes this.
 

delta76

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I have a friend who sells small wedge-shaped small stands made from ebony wood. They look and feel really nice - he`s a perfectionist! You put several of these under your speaker cables such that the cables are separated ca. 1.5 inches from the floor. This way the electromagnetic fields around the cable do not interact with the floor anymore and the sound is more refined, dynamic etc.
Pointless to disagree, pointless to argue - the best I can do is keep my mouth shut. Doesn't do the friendship any good either.
I learned to not bring any audio topic up, it's usually him who does. at least we are long distance and we only chat so, easier to ignore some messages
sometimes it's painful to be ASR member when we have a friend who believe in snake oil stuffs. but well, as most things in life, I have learned to let go...It's not worth it to be stressed or to loose friends over contradicting beliefs.
 

Catsmeow

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A+ to Apos for lowering the price $30 and refunding my early order. If you ordered early, send them a price match request.
 
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