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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 6.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 342 90.0%

  • Total voters
    380

Toku

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I have a D-6s connectes to computer by optical and XLR to actives.
I have come across this, when i power down my computer the dac goes into stand by mode, which is what i want but displays these 3 dashes, which is very annoyinhg,
Is there any way for DAC to remain in standby mode without those 3 dashes displaying.
Thanking you very much :)
7Heb656.jpg
Unfortunately, I don't think SMSL has the behavior you want.
I'm currently using Topping's E30ll and E50 connected to my PC, but with these products, when the PC is shut down and there is no input signal, it goes into sleep mode after a certain period of time and the display turns off.
If you restart your PC, it will return to normal operation.
 

Dunring

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Just got another D-6s and it's the perfect size for the Drop SMSL HO150X amplifier. They sound amazing and going to keep this pair as a daily driver. Using a Youkamoo 4.4mm to XLR adapter, and has all the inputs and outputs I need for when new stuff arrives and have to test for functionality.

SMSL D6S HO150x.jpg
 

redjr

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I don’t know why I ever noticed the D6s. With such impressive specs I had to order one. The price was insane as well. I’ll have to put it up against some DACs I’ve diy’ed that are outstanding in their own right. Seeing how they are using the same chip, I doubt I’ll hear much difference - if at all.
 

redjr

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Thanks, but this does not really answer if the preamp and the amplifier should be balanced as well as the balanced DAC. I am asking because I wonder if I should change all my gear to balanced equipment in order to take advantage of the performance of these balanced DACs. If so, so cheap after all! :)
Thanks, but this does not really answer if the preamp and the amplifier should be balanced as well as the balanced DAC. I am asking because I wonder if I should change all my gear to balanced equipment in order to take advantage of the performance of these balanced DACs. If so, so cheap after all! :)
Personally, I think balanced is overrated. Especially, if you don’t have long cable runs. All my gear has balanced I/O, but I still prefer the sound using RCA. Maybe it’s just me. I do have my FiiO K9 Pro connected to my pre using XLR, but RCA going to my Navis active speakers. Sound is wonderful. I do have a D-6s on the way, that I intend to hook up via XLR for the whole chain to the Navis. Maybe, directly to the Navis too, just to hear how that sounds.
 

redjr

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Just a heads up, as of May 26th, the SMSL D-6S is now back in stock at APOS. It still ships from China though.
 

redjr

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Do you need additional features this DAC has that your SU1 does not?

Or are you concerned about sound quality?

Because the SU1 is audibly transparent and lowering your noise and distortion from "audibly transparent" to "audibly transparent" will make no difference.
I use the SU-1 in my shop area, and you can't beat the performance for it's diminutive size and $79 price point. Sure I have other DACs in the house, and it competes very well.
 

redjr

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No one has pointed it out, but I feel very uncomfortable with the model D-6s. D-6 and D-6s are both models planned and sold by Shenzhen Audio.
Looking at the contents of the D-6s, the DAC chip is new, but the rest is the same as the DO100 planned and sold by Aoshida. Is the D-6s the Shenzhen Audio version of the DO100?
Unfortunately, there have been many reports of problems with the DO100, where it suddenly makes a cracking noise and stops working after a certain period of time. Is the D-6s the improved version of that model? I have many things to think about regarding the birth of D-6s.

postscript
The display design of this DA-6S reminds me of SMSL's older model M9.
The DA-6S has a toy-like design that I don't like.
Do SMS design staff like this kind of design?
I've always thought the general design of the outward appearance of SMSL stuff is cheap and plasticky looking. Plus, those flat..ish plastic volume/encoder knobs they use really cheap'n the look - and feel. The D-6S looks better from a fit and finish aspect (I don't have mine yet.) It looks to have an aluminum chassis(I hope so), but I can't tell from the pictures. Personally, I don't mind the bumped out and up display area on the front. Gives it a distinctive look, and contrast the unit from the hundreds of little square boxes we so often see from the Chinese market.
 

redjr

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I always keep my dacs on full. Just feels safer to me. I’ve never had a preamp volume fail.
An external preamp should be used for volume control - if you're using one. DAC/HP amps are different. Otherwise DAC should be used wide open. With all my roon end-points I build, I always config as fixed volume.
 

redjr

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For a moment I forgot where I am - of course they all sound the same! ... :facepalm:;)

But yeah, apart from the preamp thing, a remote, the dual chip design, a very different PSU setup, the bluetooth and balanced output options (I could well do without) ... wait...
Actually, the SU-1 is a terrible deal these days.

I got the Smsl C100 for 100€ shipped, and still wished the Topping E30 II and Topping E30 II Lite had sounded a little more mellow/forgiving on my system, after comparing those units.
Topping just gets the UI done far better.

But the SU-1, I can't imagine why anyone would buy that thing, it's not cheap enough to chose it over say a Topping E30 II Lite.
To upgrade your tunes in the garage for peanuts. :)
 

nanook

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I think balanced may be a real advantage when you have hooked up a lot of gear and Ground-loops start to get unavoidable and create hum. This is essentially where balanced connections in Audio were established. I don't think that you will notice the little bit smaller dynamic range when using RCA

The RCA outputs actually have an advantage too. Usually the stage subtracting the XLR+ and XLR- has an additional LP-filter and the implementation e.g. in the D-6s is built quite well (good resistors and OPA1612). The XLR output in many DACs is taken directly behind the individual I/V stages with some LP- filtering. Since many I/V stages (eg. D-6s) do not reference to the output Common-Mode signal but to a voltage divided from AVCC, the CM-noise and artefacts at the DAC chip outputs will show up at the XLR outputs and your differential pre-amp has to handle this small CM-portion in the signal. The AP analyzer will still measure perfectly fine having an excellent input stage, but I doubt my active speakers can compete... At the RCA output this subtraction is already done inside the DAC.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is audible, but from a system point of view it would be nice to remove the CM-portion already in the I/V stage and keep it from getting to the XLR output. Last not least - I'm a perfectionist.
The circuits shown in the datasheets of the ES9039q2m and the ES9039pro do this as far as I understood the circuit. They eliminate most of the CM-portion present in the chip- outputs, they do not require offset adjustment in manufacturing, but they might have a tiny bit more noise.

The "SINAD race" (also being fueled by this forum) again and again leads to technically disadvantageous design decisions to my opinion.
But this is going to be another thread.
 

redjr

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I think balanced may be a real advantage when you have hooked up a lot of gear and Ground-loops start to get unavoidable and create hum. This is essentially where balanced connections in Audio were established. I don't think that you will notice the little bit smaller dynamic range when using RCA

The RCA outputs actually have an advantage too. Usually the stage subtracting the XLR+ and XLR- has an additional LP-filter and the implementation e.g. in the D-6s is built quite well (good resistors and OPA1612). The XLR output in many DACs is taken directly behind the individual I/V stages with some LP- filtering. Since many I/V stages (eg. D-6s) do not reference to the output Common-Mode signal but to a voltage divided from AVCC, the CM-noise and artefacts at the DAC chip outputs will show up at the XLR outputs and your differential pre-amp has to handle this small CM-portion in the signal. The AP analyzer will still measure perfectly fine having an excellent input stage, but I doubt my active speakers can compete... At the RCA output this subtraction is already done inside the DAC.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is audible, but from a system point of view it would be nice to remove the CM-portion already in the I/V stage and keep it from getting to the XLR output. Last not least - I'm a perfectionist.
The circuits shown in the datasheets of the ES9039q2m and the ES9039pro do this as far as I understood the circuit. They eliminate most of the CM-portion present in the chip- outputs, they do not require offset adjustment in manufacturing, but they might have a tiny bit more noise.

The "SINAD race" (also being fueled by this forum) again and again leads to technically disadvantageous design decisions to my opinion.
But this is going to be another thread.
Thanks for the technical info on the CM noise and how it's dealt with. With regard to the SINAD race...how true. Diehards here are chasing an ever-diminishing SINAD ghost. :) I'll admit I have my moments of wanting to chase the numbers for numbers sake. At some point, we have to say to ourselves, we've arrived with anything over 122dB. Of course, when that happens we'll have to turn our upgrade attention to other pieces of gear in our audio chain. :p As I sit and write this today, I'm actually listening to a 'lowly' DAC that Amir measured a balanced SINAD of 118dB. And that was 4 years ago! From where I sit, it can't get much better. At least from my little shop listening area.
 

Spocko

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Thanks for the technical info on the CM noise and how it's dealt with. With regard to the SINAD race...how true. Diehards here are chasing an ever-diminishing SINAD ghost. :) I'll admit I have my moments of wanting to chase the numbers for numbers sake. At some point, we have to say to ourselves, we've arrived with anything over 122dB. Of course, when that happens we'll have to turn our upgrade attention to other pieces of gear in our audio chain. :p As I sit and write this today, I'm actually listening to a 'lowly' DAC that Amir measured a balanced SINAD of 118dB. And that was 4 years ago! From where I sit, it can't get much better. At least from my little shop listening area.
At this point, audio device makers like SMSL should focus their resources on (1) good GUI, OS for internet streaming and control (2) convenient physical layout with tangible knobs/dials (3) a comprehensive set of I/Os (4) and some form of DSP/EQ that integrates directly with REW for uploading multiple profiles or frequency curves. They've clearly spent good money on SINAD refinement, but they can stop that now and focus on the stuff that makes for a great ownership experience day to day.
 

p-we

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Recent D6s acquiree. Sounds great but...
  1. People here are talking about pop's etc. when changes sources, etc. which I have and is acceptable, but does anyone else have rather massive repetitive 1/sec woofer thrusting 'Bump" sounds when switching to USB audio input? You have to switch to another input first, then back to get it to stop.
  2. Poor XMOS integration when connected to linux based Roonbridge. (Arch minimal, 6.6 kernel) There is no internal volume available so to use Roon you must either use the D6s's volume or use Roon's DSP volume control. On Topping DX3 pro there is an internal volume available in Roon
I guess to some degree you pay for the low price in some way. Is there a solution for this?
 

Spocko

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Recent D6s acquiree. Sounds great but...
  1. People here are talking about pop's etc. when changes sources, etc. which I have and is acceptable, but does anyone else have rather massive repetitive 1/sec woofer thrusting 'Bump" sounds when switching to USB audio input? You have to switch to another input first, then back to get it to stop.
  2. Poor XMOS integration when connected to linux based Roonbridge. (Arch minimal, 6.6 kernel) There is no internal volume available so to use Roon you must either use the D6s's volume or use Roon's DSP volume control. On Topping DX3 pro there is an internal volume available in Roon
I guess to some degree you pay for the low price in some way. Is there a solution for this?
Or put another way, using Jenga as a metaphor, where each Jenga block represents $20, if $189 adds up to a bare bones structure - the baseline of where quality balanced DACs begin because anything less and it simply doesn't work, how much more are you willing to pay to solve all the problems that are important to you - how many blocks must you add to get the features you need? $500, $1000, $7,000? Or you can start from the very top of the food chain with Auralic Vega G2.2 which is considered one of the most polished DAC user experiences out there addressing all your concerns with the highest level of workmanship that doesn't break $10,000. Then strip away at it like Jenga by doing away with things that aren't important to you (design, tactile knobs, software, parts, features, etc.) until you reach a point of execution that you can tolerate in terms of both price and function.

Somewhere between $189 and $7889 there is a DAC for you. Personally, I'd pay $500 more and get the $699 Eversolo Z8 DAC, check out the review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/eversolo-z8-dac-amp-review.41512/
 

redjr

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Recent D6s acquiree. Sounds great but...
  1. People here are talking about pop's etc. when changes sources, etc. which I have and is acceptable, but does anyone else have rather massive repetitive 1/sec woofer thrusting 'Bump" sounds when switching to USB audio input? You have to switch to another input first, then back to get it to stop.
  2. Poor XMOS integration when connected to linux based Roonbridge. (Arch minimal, 6.6 kernel) There is no internal volume available so to use Roon you must either use the D6s's volume or use Roon's DSP volume control. On Topping DX3 pro there is an internal volume available in Roon
I guess to some degree you pay for the low price in some way. Is there a solution for this?
Good information to know. Mine arrives tomorrow, so I will test. Normally, I only use one input on these type of DACs - USB. For now I intend to use the D6 vc, so will see how it behaves in roon. It may be device dependent too. I wonder how it will work with Ropieee? I'll reserve any more comments till I have it in my hot little hands and test my typical connections. :)
 

nanook

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People here are talking about pop's etc. when changes sources, etc. which I have and is acceptable, but does anyone else have rather massive repetitive 1/sec woofer thrusting 'Bump" sounds when switching to USB audio input? You have to switch to another input first, then back to get it to stop.
I have the slight pops between titles as well, but have never experienced the hefty repetitive (!) bumps that you describe.

The D-6s does not do "auto-mute" (i.e. disconnect the output and connect it to Gnd via analog switch) when no stream is on. (I observed this auto-mute at the DO300EX). The D-6s does have the muting switches implemented, but for some reason it is not used for muting potentially unwanted "data".

Did you try a different operating system, a different computer, a different application - just to find out what influences it.
Does this also happen, when USB is not plugged in?

I would really appreciate if SMSL, Topping,, etc. would invest more time in fixing issues that can be fixed via FW updates rather than pushing out one product after the other.
Also I would appreciate a more evolutionary approach - improve HW/SW weaknesses from generation to generation instead of making "everything" different.
Every time you change something you have the chance to "implement" new issues.
Reminds to a nice old cartoon: The secretary comes to the boss with the new telephone list. The boss asks "What's new with this list?". The secretary shrugged and said "New errors?"
 
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