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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

PyramidElectric

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
129
Likes
169
I ordered one of these from SHENZHENAUDIO on Nov 10th, it turned up today (Nov 28th) (UK), no customs fees so it ended up being £135 all in.
Couple of things that may be useful for others to know: Using both my Sony TV and Sony Bluray player via Optical and Coax connections, stable signal even using 1 on the DPLL setting. The DAC appears to be properly earthed/grounded and passes this via the output RCAs, which suits my Naim amplifier just great (they require grounded source, something they do to reduce ground loop problems). Sounds great, so far I'm happy.
 
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alecm

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2019
Messages
7
Likes
11
It's unbelievable that this DAC is priced at only 150 dollars, considering the amazing sound quality it delivers.

The most remarkable feature for me is its ability to play DSD, which sounds even much more!! better than PCM 44.

I'm genuinely impressed with its performance, i used to a regular MacBook Air (M1) (30-40% CPU load ) and Audirvana Studio (with a free one-month trial) with DSD upsample and customized settings.

Check it out!


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1701370334080.jpeg
 

KrafKloot

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2023
Messages
9
Likes
3
Hi,
i am currently messing around with a pi4 running pi os.
The d6s is never listed as a audio device when connected via usb. Is there a linux driver i would need to install?

Great DAC by the way. I am currently using it with a 48V Fosi V3 into my NS1000s and the quality of the electronics is just crazy in comparison to other way more expensive stuff i have used in the past.
 

wgh52

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
61
Likes
25
Location
Germany

dsnyder0cnn

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
539
Likes
796
Hi,
i am currently messing around with a pi4 running pi os.
The d6s is never listed as a audio device when connected via usb. Is there a linux driver i would need to install?

Great DAC by the way. I am currently using it with a 48V Fosi V3 into my NS1000s and the quality of the electronics is just crazy in comparison to other way more expensive stuff i have used in the past.
You probably need to install libasound2 and alsa-utils. After you do, make sure that the D-6s is powered on and the USB input is selected. You should then be able to see the DAC by running "aplay -l"

If you add these two lines to /etc/asound.conf, it should work:

defaults.pcm.card 1 defaults.ctl.card 1

For example:

$ cat <<EOT | sudo tee /etc/asound.conf defaults.pcm.card 1 defaults.ctl.card 1 EOT
 

KrafKloot

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2023
Messages
9
Likes
3
@dsnyder0cnn thanks! i fell victim to the usb-c cable standart. It was smooth sailing with a different cable. I learned to use card by name instead of index, because index might change over time (happened to me aswell)
 

gersones

Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2023
Messages
22
Likes
16
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.
After some while, the issue didn't go away.
Instead of disconnecting completely, it "disconnects" and reconnects (Windows sound when a usb device is connected/disconnected). It doesn't stop playing through the D-6s though. Only the sound that gets annoying from time to time. I already tried to change buffer size, enable/disable buffer "safe mode", lower the 32bit 384kHz to 24 or 16bit 48kHz with no success (the only things that I can mess with the D-6s Windows driver).
My "solution" was to disable the usb disconnect/connect alert sound =(
 

natna

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
41
Likes
35
A few hours ago, I tested the usb input with my win11 laptop. I used the issued cable from the box, and the display went to "384" as I plugged it in. No drivers needed.
I set it to 24/96 and played a few flacs of the same quality. Sounded nice.
System sounds, Youtube videos were ok.
 

paulg1

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2023
Messages
30
Likes
6
The SMSL D6s and the SMSL DL200 are priced the same on Amazon, ($200) very low cost for the performance. I don't need the headphone amp, but it's nice to have. They both use ES9039Q2M IC, XMOS XU316 USB interface and Qualcomm Bluetooth receiver IC. There may be some other circuitry differences between the two.

There is one thing about the SMSL D6S, and that is Michael Fidler's and other member's review of the power supply. I'm not sure if the same potential issues exist in the SMSL DL200. For sure the layout is more spacious in the DL200, in particular the power supply is more physically separated on the PC board. A good thing? All the other observations from members on this unit are also important.
index.php


smsl-dl200-dac-es9039q2m-headphone-amplifier-xmos-xu316-bluetooth-51-ldac-32bit-768khz-dsd512-mqa-cd.jpg

I hope Amir can review the SMSL DL200 soon. His measurements, as well as the valuable inputs from other members are really important to me. It's the reason why I became a member in the first place.
 

PyramidElectric

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
129
Likes
169
Not sure what exactly what Michael meant re the D6s power supply, but the device is definitely properly grounded, and passes ground via the outputs.
And whilst putting the PS further away from all the other stuff won't hurt - you can see from Amir's measurements that the PS noise is basically a non-issue.
 

paulg1

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2023
Messages
30
Likes
6
I agree with you PyramidElectirc. The big brother DACs, the SU-10 and VMV D2R both have gorgeous, dual linear power supplies and are priced accordingly. I can appreciate such designs, but at close to 5 time the price, they seem not to make much audible performance difference,
 

paulg1

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2023
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6
I forgot to mention, on SMSL's own website, the D-6s isn't even acknowledged as a product, while the SMSL DL200 is prominently displayed. Strange.
 

nanook

Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
61
Likes
60
Location
Berlin, Germany
There is one thing about the SMSL D6S, and that is Michael Fidler's and other member's review of the power supply.
I have received my D-6s in the meantime, yet I did not have time to listen to it extensively.

About the SMPS:
On one hand it's quite handy to have the power supply inside the unit (no bulky wall-wart that blocks several positions in the mains stripe), on the other hand this always raises issues with "noise" - and yes, this applies to SMPS as well as old fashion transformer based power supplies:

Transformers suffer from:
- stray magnetic field (especially these nice flat molded transformers need a lot of distance or magnetic screening inside the unit and schottky diodes in the rectifier and maybe even snubbering)
- leakage current that generates I*R-drop in the signal cables downstream and thus "hum" (ideally they should have a foil- shield between the primary and the secondary windings)

SMPS suffer from:
- relatively high leakage current with a lot of harmonics of the mains frequency (I*R-drop just like above)
- high frequency content that usually is beyond the audio spectrum (might get mixed down in case it finds its way into clocks)

You can get rid of the leakage current by connecting the audio- ground to PE (protective earth). This is done in the D-6s as PyramidElectric just mentioned above: RCA- shield and XLR pin1 are connected to PE.
This however gives rise to ground-loops (e.g. if the amplifier is grounded as well) and when magnetic fields are around (big transformers) this will very likely cause audible hum when using an asymmetric connection (RCA). With XLR you will still be fine because the induced voltage shows up common-mode and thus gets subtracted; this is why the pro-stuff uses differential signalling.

In my system the D-6s is the only grounded unit so I'm fine and the D-6s is dead quiet indeed.

My preference would always be an external power supply, ideally transformer based with shield:
- even if it's an SMPS I can replace it by a good transformer based one
- the SMPS is usually the first thing that breaks down (usually caps dry out due to ripple current -> temperature)

I like the solution that Topping has chosen on the L30II. This unit has a (bulky) transformer as wall-wart (such that the stray magnetic fields are away from the unit) and the unit is fed by AC voltage. The leakage current is small compared to an SMPS and the harmonic content is less audible. When the wiring of rectifier and caps is done properly inside the unit, there will not be much to complain about.
Even better, rectifier and first set of caps would be in the transformer (such that the current spikes that recharge the caps generate their magnetic field outside the unit), but you'd need a 3-wire connection then, which adds cost.
 

PyramidElectric

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
129
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169
I forgot to mention, on SMSL's own website, the D-6s isn't even acknowledged as a product, while the SMSL DL200 is prominently displayed. Strange.
I think that maybe the D-6s is exclusive to (and possibly designed to spec with?) a particular retailer, it seems it's available in far fewer channels than their other stuff... In which case it would make sense that they leave it off their site.
 

Toku

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 4, 2018
Messages
2,367
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2,755
Location
Japan
I forgot to mention, on SMSL's own website, the D-6s isn't even acknowledged as a product, while the SMSL DL200 is prominently displayed. Strange.
SMSL products are divided by sales channel. D-6s is an exclusive product of Shenzhen Audio. Since it is a proprietary product, it is not listed on the HP. DL200 is a product whose sales channel is HiFiExpress. There are other products that use AOSHIDA as a sales channel.
 

jayapple

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2022
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20
I forgot to mention, on SMSL's own website, the D-6s isn't even acknowledged as a product, while the SMSL DL200 is prominently displayed. Strange.
The DL200 is more cost-effective than any other product.
 

paulg1

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2023
Messages
30
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6
Really good stuff, Nanook. Very clear. This reinforces Mike Fidler's observations about unbalanced lines, even with short lengths. But a lot of audio gear is unbalanced.
I find it ironic that most all the mid/higher priced DAC designs (and audio equipment in general) employ built-in power supplies. You only see wall warts on low priced gear. But then, some still higher-priced gear features separate power supplies, and they use it as a selling point. You make it quite clear that the separate power supplies are the better choice for audio equipment in general. Wall warts could be considered both cheaper and better. I think the larger part of this is marketing influenced, consumers tend to think of products with wall warts as cheap stuff. Really a shame. A separate power supply with a short cord might change the perception.
 

Jim Anderson

Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2023
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Got mine several days ago, does not connect with my iMac, tried 3 USB cables... other DACs had no issues, what can be done ? It works ok with the Bluetooth, but the results are not spectacular...It looks like some other folks had issues too.
 
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