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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 1.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 25 6.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 331 89.5%

  • Total voters
    370

dogmamann

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Okay, I'll throw in a complaint. I'm assuming based on the pictures that this unit's display, like all SMSL DAC's, will always revert to the sample rate reading rather than the volume (or some other user-selectable option). Yes, you adjust the volume and the display will show it for a few seconds, but then back to the sample rate. Honestly I love SMSL's stuff (sound and construction quality, looks), but this seems like a no-brainer function to include in all their products.
For me it should be the way it is. Before hitting play button, I need to know how bad is going to be the damage.
 

Lithovox

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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.
@amirm I believe the best performance on Stereophile was the original dCS Vivaldi in 2014 (https://www.stereophile.com/content/dcs-vivaldi-digital-playback-system-measurements) which was around -130dB. Newer dCS products all seem to perform worse in this test.
 

SuicideSquid

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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.
 

Rewind

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Is it recommended to use a balanced preamp and a balanced amplifier, when using a balanced DAC?
 

HighFutility

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Amir, I really hope the SMSL sends in the SMSL AO300. AIOs are always interesting.

 

PyramidElectric

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Is it recommended to use a balanced preamp and a balanced amplifier, when using a balanced DAC?
Assuming you're using short cable runs, you can see exactly the difference in the XLR vs RCA measurements (i.e inaudiable difference, as the noise is at such low level). For very long cable runs (especially in RF/electrically noisy environments like a studio it might be worth going balanced).
 

Zensō

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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.
But that’s no fun! It’s better to make up audio fairytales so we can keep buying upgrades forever…;)
 

Rewind

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Assuming you're using short cable runs, you can see exactly the difference in the XLR vs RCA measurements (i.e inaudiable difference, as the noise is at such low level). For very long cable runs (especially in RF/electrically noisy environments like a studio it might be worth going balanced).
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! :)
 

restorer-john

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SMSL D-6S MQA Audio DAC stereo balanced XLR 60 Hz FFT stereophile measurement.png


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.

The actual first result in my search:

1697758050216.png




1697757962864.png



Much better result I'd say...
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Much better result I'd say.
Much better? How did you reckon that? The noise floor in JA measurements is 10 dB higher than mine so it visually makes things look better.
 

restorer-john

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The D-6s has worse H2 and H4 but H5 and up is worse on the Dave I'd say.
The D-6s just looks worse overall due to the lower noise floor.

Absolutely correct. Amir speaks of distortion in his claim about that particular test, not noise floor. He said this "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."

Distortion in the SMSL D-6S in that test is clearly much higher than the random D/A I picked, which was reviewed by Stereophile 6 years ago. Who knows how many others reviewed by Stereophile are better?

Amir should retract that statement, not double down and attempt to deflect.
 

restorer-john

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GXAlan

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@amirm I believe the best performance on Stereophile was the original dCS Vivaldi in 2014 (https://www.stereophile.com/content/dcs-vivaldi-digital-playback-system-measurements) which was around -130dB. Newer dCS products all seem to perform worse in this test.

The Vivaldi (and Vivaldi Apex) remain the flagships. The “newer” ones are cost “reduced” versions of the ring DAC.

It may very well be that you need the price points of the Vivaldi to beat the chip implementations from AKM and ESS.

I would love to see the Vivaldi tested to the same standards that Amir tests everything else.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Distortion in the SMSL D-6S in that test is clearly much higher than the random D/A I picked, which was reviewed by Stereophile 6 years ago. Who knows how many others reviewed by Stereophile are better?
It wasn't clearly bested. Maybe equaled. And if you don't know, you don't know.

In proper AB test using my measurements, the SMSL easily beats the Chord Dave:

index.php


index.php


SMSL D-6s has distortion that is 15 dB lower.
 
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