• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

SMSL D400ES and SMSL D400Ex

Snoopy

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
1,614
Likes
1,190
Amir tells me that the Review report is almost done and will probably be updated on the ASR forum in the next couple of days regarding the results of the D400es and D400ex. You can share your usage realities there then. Thanks:D

Maybe U could have a look at this comment (or someone else More knowledgeable about these things and there importance than me)

Post in thread 'SMSL SP400 Review (headphone amp)' https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...sp400-review-headphone-amp.19346/post-1411023

I'm wondering now if we as customers need to look out for even more stuff like that where a amplifier, DAC etc is made to look better than it technically really is.

There are some other points I would like to touch on like
- how good is the integration of new USB chips (clicks and pops on the D300 for example)l
- firmware updates seem often to be pushed out as beta version, if there are any at all.
- why do new DAC chip features like DSD1024 not get integrated in such a pricey DAC.

Personally I have no issues with my SMSL D300 and SP400 but I'm just curious about this stuff. :)

Money wise it's interesting that we are all over the place with these new DAC chips..
Let's take the topping E70 velvet for around 500€ , SMSL D400Ex for 1100€ and the Gustard A26 at 1300-1500€..
 

ceausuc

Active Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Messages
156
Likes
112
I wish SMSL and Topping would unify their naming scheme: how about D400 Velvet? :)

PS:
both of them needed a few years to master ESS chips, I believe should be the same for these new AKM's. I would wait for a while...
 

Lsc

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
406
Likes
377
That can't be used, the D400es and D400ex is not be same. Can you Describe more about your machine problem? Please contact my email: [email protected]
I will email you. It’s the same problem that I read about the D400EX where the volume output changes even though it’s fixed in the DAC.
 

Lsc

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
406
Likes
377
Successfully uploaded the firmware update SMSL provided. The low volume issue appears to be fixed. Well I’m 10 min into it but so far so good.

This is a great DAC. I may just keep it and write off the $300 to convenience. The 2 inputs I’ll never use and the silver case is nice decoration:).
 

srkbear

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
1,006
Likes
1,403
Location
Dallas, TX
After reading all this I’m still unclear on what the purpose would be of “upgrading” to this from my d90se. The primary differences between it and the d400es for instance is the use of the ES9039pro vs the 9038pro, and the XMOS XU316 over the XU216–neither of which would be expected to have any significant impact on the net result.

Until there is some groundbreaking innovation to digital audio technology (such as these units supporting some new holographic multichannel or spatial audio technology that is compatible with existing amplifiers and headphones, to speculate for instance), this market is simply sustaining itself by releasing new chipsets that can be marketed in such a way to capitalize on cognitive bias, no different than Pfizer releasing an enantiomer of Prilosec once its patent expired and calling it Nexium. The technology might be more advanced but the results are the same.

Saw a lot of newbie comments on here making the usual mistake of invoking analog subjective audio terms to describe a digital device—that’s evidence of cognitive bias fueling the market in a nutshell. For those who asked rhetorically why we bother to measure and comment when these new devices come to market if they all sound the same, there is still some scientific merit to monitoring technological advances moving the SINAD goalposts forward, audible or not, particularly when they do so at lower price points. Given that the cost of these DACs has dropped precipitously over the past few years, that itself is a valid scientific breakthrough.

If I were to play devil’s advocate to myself, the fact that the new AKM chip is capable of doubling the DSD and PCM bit rates, even if not currently implemented in the firmware, does future-proof these devices for a possible era with media being released in these formats. But again, there’s no evidence that this would offer any audible advantages either (it’s arguably been proven that it won’t). We’ve had DSD 512 and PCM 768-capable XMOS/DAC chip combinations for quite awhile now, and the mastering industry still hasn’t responded by releasing any media in these formats to speak of. We’re already a niche market anyway, and if the difference is inaudible there’s no financial incentive for it.

The digital audio era is already in its fifth decade, and the vast majority of media is still limited to Red Book 44.1/16. And as the recording industry moves more and more to digital recording, the sampling rates they choose cap the limit on their playback resolution forever anyway. At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, we really might have reached the technological limit of our ears. I think that’s why Apple has focused their energies on Spatial Audio over lossless—the audio industry needs something transformative for our listening experiences to take the SOTA to the next century.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom