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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: 320 89.6%

  • Total voters
    357

dsnyder0cnn

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@dsnyder0cnn is there any specific reason to say this " if you don't care deeply about DSD or PCM above 192 kHz. "

I'm looking for a DAC to pair with my WiiM PRO and considering this DAC but your recommendation is bit disturbing as I have DSD files too and love to listen it

TIA
Although the D-6s supports DSD64 over DoP perfectly well via its S/PDIF inputs (both TOSLINK and COAX), the WiiM Pro will not output DSD64 over DoP.
 

wgh52

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Hi folks,

this D-6s DAC seems "magic" in data while being extremely affordable! For my application it is largely overloaded with features, though, which makes me wonder: I just need DAC boards with coax SPDIF and/or Toslink input (coming from the DSP xover) and cinch outputs going to the (box internal) power amps of my active speaker systems. I don't need MQA, blue tooth, remote level control and all that! Tearing such a lovely device apart for my (embedded) application just feels strange... In light of the given technical data: Will you folks encourage or discourage me to use of the D-6s? ...any alternatives?

Thanks and Greetings,
Winfried
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
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Aug 29, 2019
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Hi folks,

this D-6s DAC seems "magic" in data while being extremely affordable! For my application it is largely overloaded with features, though, which makes me wonder: I just need DAC boards with coax SPDIF and/or Toslink input (coming from the DSP xover) and cinch outputs going to the (box internal) power amps of my active speaker systems. I don't need MQA, blue tooth, remote level control and all that! Tearing such a lovely device apart for my (embedded) application just feels strange... In light of the given technical data: Will you folks encourage or discourage me to use of the D-6s? ...any alternatives?

Thanks and Greetings,
Winfried
Here you go: https://www.khadas.com/product-page/tone-board
4ed71d_3be30109b7c3413da4ea6ef38cdc6987~mv2_d_2678_2678_s_4_2.jpg

Coax Spdif in and Cinch out for $70.
 

PyramidElectric

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
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169
Hi folks,

this D-6s DAC seems "magic" in data while being extremely affordable! For my application it is largely overloaded with features, though, which makes me wonder: I just need DAC boards with coax SPDIF and/or Toslink input (coming from the DSP xover) and cinch outputs going to the (box internal) power amps of my active speaker systems. I don't need MQA, blue tooth, remote level control and all that! Tearing such a lovely device apart for my (embedded) application just feels strange... In light of the given technical data: Will you folks encourage or discourage me to use of the D-6s? ...any alternatives?

Thanks and Greetings,
Winfried
Do you need a rotary volume control? If so, options are a bit limited at the simple/budget end.
 

dsnyder0cnn

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Dec 14, 2019
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Wait what? The manual shows WIfi and Chromecast + Spotify Connect?
This wasn't in the review at all.... so does it have these features or not?
That attachment was specifications for the WiiM Pro streamer. Not the SMSL D-6s DAC. :)
 

Jimster480

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That attachment was specifications for the WiiM Pro streamer. Not the SMSL D-6s DAC. :)
oohhhhhhhh okay. That makes sense. I went to go look this DAC up on the website and didn't see anything about wifi and started to wonder. I was about to order one if it worked with Wifi! Then I could stop using BT in my bedroom haha
 

dsnyder0cnn

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I was about to order one if it worked with Wifi! Then I could stop using BT in my bedroom haha
I think the SMSL D-6s + WiiM Pro are still a cost-effective combo at less than $350 for the pair.
 

Jimster480

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I think the SMSL D-6s + WiiM Pro are still a cost-effective combo at less than $350 for the pair.
Probably not a bad pair overall. Right now I use a BT LDAC DAC for my bedroom and play music from my LG G7 that I leave in the bedroom at all times.
 

natna

Member
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Apr 27, 2021
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I got the last unit from the usual French shop on Monday.
I got it under 48h

Checked with coax/optical and Bluetooth (LDAC)
The volume via optical is a bit lower than coax.
It's early, but as far as I can taste, the sound is balanced.
Treble is not sibilant, though my speakers feature titanium domes and can be fatiquing with low quality music.
Bass is there, too.
Sound is overall transparent, without strange colorations.
The remote is very handy
 

Tangband

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Sep 3, 2019
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gersones

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Oct 25, 2023
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I always like to spend a few weeks listening to a new DAC before taking measurements so that my subjective impressions are not swayed by objective data. After playing with the seven filter settings, I settled on FL3 as sounding the most "right" to my ears. I finally got around to taking some measurements today to see what's what.

TL; DR - avoid filters FL1 and FL6 because of distortion at ~14 kHz and excessive attenuation in the highs. FL3 and FL7 are the most useful. Choose FL3 for most listening, but FL7 may be beneficial with some music, depending on your tastes.


F2 is the default filter. Here's what I see for Amplitude and Impulse response, and Distortion.

View attachment 327860

You'll have to mentally compensate for the inverted horseshoe shared amplitude response. I don't have a great way to compensate for the ADC response of my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, and the vertical scale is only 1 dB, so pretend that this is flat. :)

Impulse response shows extended pre-ringing ripples and exaggerated post-ringing with this filter. No obvious issues with distortion.

With the FL1 and FL6 filters, I'm seeing early attenuation in the high frequencies and a sharp increase in 2nd order distortion at around 14 kHz:

View attachment 327863

I'm not sure how audible this is, but I would avoid FL1 and FL6 for this reason.

After looking at response of all seven filters, FL3 and FL7 are the most useful. FL3 has a little more pre-ringing than I would like, but it's under 5% from -500 to -140 microseconds and zero before -500 microseconds.

View attachment 327865

In contrast, FL7 has more extended pre-ringing ripples, although very low in level. It also has a much longer and more exaggerated post-ringing, which can be a useful effect with some music.

The default FL2 and FL7 have virtually identical amplitude and impulse response, but FL7 had lower distortion in my measurements. YMMV.

View attachment 327866

I may do some sampling rate comparisons to see if there's a rate that works best with the D-6s. So far, I've not seen much difference, though. In particular, impulse response for 44.1 and 48 kHz look virtually identical. That's not been the case with all ESS DACs I've measured.

Edit: there's a slight time-domain benefit to upsampling 44.1 kHz to 88.2 and 48 kHz to 96 kHz.

View attachment 327894

If you're using Roon, you can use Sample rate conversion to do this easily enough. No need to bother with frequencies above 96 kHz.

View attachment 327893

I don't know if this is useful information for new buyers or not, but it's an issue I've been noting and wanted to share with you:

Everytime I was listening to music while SMSL D-6s connected as my laptop's DAC, after some while the audio starts to glitch (seems like some kind of interference) and just disconnects itself from the laptop (the D-6s interface disappears from Windows' audio interfaces list). Then I had to use the remote and roll the modes again (bt, Opt, Coa, USB) to make it connect and continue using it.

Today I change the original cable (USB Type C to USB Type A) connected in a "USB 3.2 Gen1" (my laptop's manual/guide) - 5Gbps - to a USB Type C to Type C cable and connected it to my laptop's USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) port.

I'm listening to, maybe, 20th song in a row without any issues.

I'm no audio expert/pro but I note a difference in the audio coming out of my speakers while connected via Opt (from my TV/monitor) or USB, so I just wanted to share this with you.

Regards
 

dsnyder0cnn

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
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796
I don't know if this is useful information for new buyers or not, but it's an issue I've been noting and wanted to share with you:

Everytime I was listening to music while SMSL D-6s connected as my laptop's DAC, after some while the audio starts to glitch (seems like some kind of interference) and just disconnects itself from the laptop (the D-6s interface disappears from Windows' audio interfaces list). Then I had to use the remote and roll the modes again (bt, Opt, Coa, USB) to make it connect and continue using it.

Today I change the original cable (USB Type C to USB Type A) connected in a "USB 3.2 Gen1" (my laptop's manual/guide) - 5Gbps - to a USB Type C to Type C cable and connected it to my laptop's USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) port.

I'm listening to, maybe, 20th song in a row without any issues.

I'm no audio expert/pro but I note a difference in the audio coming out of my speakers while connected via Opt (from my TV/monitor) or USB, so I just wanted to share this with you.

Regards
I wonder if you would have better luck with a more relaxed DPLL setting. I believe 1 is the default. Either way, it sounds like this was an issue with your particular laptop and USB port. It's true that some ports work better than others.

I've not tried connecting my D-6s to a laptop. My use cases all involve dedicated streaming transports, like the WiiM Pro or a Raspberry Pi running AudioLinux.
 

PyramidElectric

Active Member
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Mar 17, 2018
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I wonder if you would have better luck with a more relaxed DPLL setting. I believe 1 is the default. Either way, it sounds like this was an issue with your particular laptop and USB port. It's true that some ports work better than others.

I've not tried connecting my D-6s to a laptop. My use cases all involve dedicated streaming transports, like the WiiM Pro or a Raspberry Pi running AudioLinux.
Usually the DPLL setting is just for the optical/coax inputs, not the USB.
 

Esprit

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Apr 11, 2023
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TL; DR - avoid filters FL1 and FL6 because of distortion at ~14 kHz and excessive attenuation in the highs. FL3 and FL7 are the most useful. Choose FL3 for most listening, but FL7 may be beneficial with some music, depending on your tastes
Wanting to use just one filter and then forget about it, which one do you recommend?
 
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