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SMSL DA-6 Stereo Amplifier Review

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 13 5.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 61 26.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 139 60.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 16 7.0%

  • Total voters
    229

Walter

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Wel, i use it's precestor (at least an older model with similar specs with the TPA3118 chip), the "SA-36A Pro" as mobile utility amp (testing and measuring speakers everywhere, sometimes also outside with high sensitive speakers in the garden) and it does a great job. It's very clean sounding untill the volume dial is +90 open. This looks much like an upgraded version of that old SA-36A Pro. Not fully high quality, but relative cheap and very cheap for what it delivers. The SA-36A Pro was half the price of this one altough...
I wish I had bought one of those. Didn't need it at the time. It was widely regarded as the best of the pre-built 3116/3118 amps, and did a lot to put SMSL "on the map" for the budget audiophile and DIY communities.
 

TonyJZX

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for $99 one cant expect that much

one of the reasons why this is cheap is because obviously the manufacturer has been able to amortise the cost of the case psu and remote with their other products... it doesnt need a display but the case they have already has a square hole so they may as well fill it in with a LED display... I'm surprised they didnt press a square blank plate but the injection mould costs would probably work out more than just including a cheap LED display!

But all this is a high price to pay for a 13w x 2 @ 8 ohm amp... I mean... hmmm... should we expect more honesty from manufacturers as far as power ratings go?

You're probably better off spending less on an Aiyima 07 or more on a nicer amp with more headroom?
 

balletboy

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for $99 one cant expect that much

one of the reasons why this is cheap is because obviously the manufacturer has been able to amortise the cost of the case psu and remote with their other products... it doesnt need a display but the case they have already has a square hole so they may as well fill it in with a LED display... I'm surprised they didnt press a square blank plate but the injection mould costs would probably work out more than just including a cheap LED display!

But all this is a high price to pay for a 13w x 2 @ 8 ohm amp... I mean... hmmm... should we expect more honesty from manufacturers as far as power ratings go?

You're probably better off spending less on an Aiyima 07 or more on a nicer amp with more headroom?
I‘d rather spend the money on a nice meal. I thought ASR was the site that calls out manufacturers for false marketing and SMSL and Schenzen Audio promote this as an efficient 70*2W amplifier. It’s seems it doesn’t even come close to that and 36w power consumption seems pretty poor as well. By objective assessment it should be a fail. I suspect the design criteria was to make something that could be sold for under $100 and then lie about its performance.

I only looked at this because the marketing seemed too good to be true, which seems to be the case.
 

sarumbear

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I thought ASR was the site that calls out manufacturers for false marketing and SMSL and Schenzen Audio promote this as an efficient 70*2W amplifier. It’s seems it doesn’t even come close to that…
It’s difficult to argue, don’t you think @amirm


1657463139479.png
 

PeteL

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It’s difficult to argue, don’t you think @amirm


View attachment 217503
Manufacturers can specify output power at pretty much any THD they want. In this case looks like it would reach 70 Watts at 10% THD (-20 dB) Which is not that uncomon. It's a problem with having no standards, not a problem with SMSL. That said there is no arguing that they do that to make the number look bigger, and proper transparency would be to specify in which resistance and at which THD. But unfortunately we can't accuse them of lying.
 

sarumbear

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Manufacturers can specify output power at pretty much any THD they want. In this case looks like it would reach 70 Watts at 10% THD (-20 dB) Which is not that uncomon. It's a problem with having no standards, not a problem with SMSL. That said there is no arguing that they do that to make the number look bigger, and proper transparency would be to specify in which resistance and at which THD. But unfortunately we can't accuse them of lying.
I thought ASR would be the place where we shame those manufacturers but they are instead recommended. Is 10% distortion, a full-on clip, acceptable?

My point is why does ASR allows the wool the manufacturers put in front of our eyes to stick more?
 

mctron

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PeteL

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I thought ASR would be the place where we shame those manufacturers but they are instead recommended. Is 10% distortion, a full-on clip, acceptable?

My point is why does ASR allows the wool the manufacturers put in front of our eyes to stick more?
I don't know if it's acceptable. Topping also specify output power at 10% THD, other manufacturers too. Acceptable or not, to me is a matter of clarity not the number itself.
 

sarumbear

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I don't know if it's acceptable.
Surprised that you wouldn’t know? Will you accept a speaker that has 10% distortion. I’m sure you heard such a speaker during your audio life.
 

balletboy

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Surprised that you wouldn’t know? Will you accept a speaker that has 10% distortion. I’m sure you heard such a speaker during your audio life.
Who would accept a DAC with 0.1% distortion?
Manufacturers can specify output power at pretty much any THD they want. In this case looks like it would reach 70 Watts at 10% THD (-20 dB) Which is not that uncomon. It's a problem with having no standards, not a problem with SMSL. That said there is no arguing that they do that to make the number look bigger, and proper transparency would be to specify in which resistance and at which THD. But unfortunately we can't accuse them of lying.
It's generally accepted that power is taken at 1% THD.

It used to be that it was also assumed to be at 8ohms as well. Class D manufacturers now go to 4ohms, some 2ohms.

This is clearly marketing trickery - really basic dishonesty - from this manufacturer.
 

PeteL

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Surprised that you wouldn’t know? Will you accept a speaker that has 10% distortion. I’m sure you heard such a speaker during your audio life.
No speakers, even the unsensitive ones would pull 70 wats continuously at a reasonable listening level. You can't draw that kind of parralel.. Again I'm not saying it should be specced that way, anyway, how much peak clipping is "acceptable" will vary from people to people. it's not something I'm interested in debating about and specs are not based on "acceptability" It's just a number, some spec it at 1% other at 10, and sure there are marketing reasons to spec it at 10. Beyond that, yes I think it should be standardized.
 

sarumbear

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This is clearly marketing trickery - really basic dishonesty - from this manufacturer.
You seem to be missing my point. If you agree that it’s dishonesty why would ASR review is recommended?
 

balletboy

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You seem to be missing my point. If you agree that it’s dishonesty why would ASR review is recommended?
You will see that I was the one who questioned the positive recommendation in the first place!

Either it's 70w (preferably 8ohms) or it isn't. Some manufacturers often underestimate, for example the Cambridge Audio CXA81 rated at 80w actually measures 93w on Stereophile and 85w here.
 

sarumbear

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You will see that I was the one who questioned the positive recommendation in the first place!

Either it's 70w (preferably 8ohms) or it isn't. Some manufacturers often underestimate, for example the Cambridge Audio CXA81 rated at 80w actually measures 93w on Stereophile and 85w here.
I missed that. Sorry. We are in agreement. :)

However, advertising a 13W amplifier as 70W is taking a grand piss!
 

PeteL

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Who would accept a DAC with 0.1% distortion?

It's generally accepted that power is taken at 1% THD.

It used to be that it was also assumed to be at 8ohms as well. Class D manufacturers now go to 4ohms, some 2ohms.

This is clearly marketing trickery - really basic dishonesty - from this manufacturer.
If 1% was "generally accepted" why don't Amir use that? He specify max Power at lowest THD+N. Or best case scenario.Anyway, as I said, if there was a standard there would be none of that debate. Or then Amir can go and remove recommendations to all manufacturers who spec their stuff that way including Topping, I'm OK with that, If you ask me personally I don't recommend a power amp with that low power to anybody, so there you have it, I don't think it should be recommended. I'll let Amir decide what are his metrics to decide to recommend or not. To be fully frank I have very little interest in Amir's recommendations, I am not interrested in debating that. The measurments speaks for themselves, to me, not to everybody, I don't want to be the guy to decide what is acceptable or not in term of marketing. All I am saying is that if you pull 70W from this amp, your signal will have 10% THD + noise, that's all I wanted to clarify, you can decide if it's acceptable or not.
 
Last edited:

balletboy

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No speakers, even the unsensitive ones would pull 70 wats continuously at a reasonable listening level. You can't draw that kind of parralel.. Again I'm not saying it should be specced that way, anyway, how much peak clipping is "acceptable" will vary from people to people. it's not something I'm interested in debating about and specs are not based on "acceptability" It's just a number, some spec it at 1% other at 10, and sure there are marketing reasons to spec it at 10. Beyond that, yes I think it should be standardized.
There is no need to standardise what is an accepted standard. For example, Stereophile and hifinews (measured by Miller Audio Research) define clipping as 1% THD + N.

a couple of random searches reveal understated specifications. The 80w Supernait clips at 89w and the 500w Michi at 670w. Both define clipping at 1%.


The same for power. As long as I’ve bought audio, over 40 years, a 50w amplifier is measured at 8 ohms.

Stating this is a 70w amplifier, even at 4ohm per the small print, is misleading because all the measurements, including SMSL’s own, shows that it fails to do so. Not even close.
 

AndreaT

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Probably the Loxjie A30 offers more flexibility by having a BT, Digital and RCA inputs all in one box, with a slightly better power measurement at 4 and 8 ohm. You spend some more and have all you need in a small enclosure. I own one and it drives well a pair of B&W 601s3 to satisfactory (and condo-tolerable) levels.
 

hyfynut

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SMSL DA-6 stereo desktop class D amplifier. It was sent to me by Shenzhen Audio and costs US $99.
View attachment 217150
Ah, what a pleasure it was to unpack the DA-6 and see this nice thin packaging! That niceness extends to the back, fixing one of my main complaints with compact amplifiers:
View attachment 217151

Instead of stacking the binding posts on top of each other and thereby making it very difficult to put large binding posts, they are lined up horizontally. This allowed me to connect my locking banana plugs into them with relative ease. Of course we are saddled with large laptop power supply running at 24 volts at nearly 7 amps.

A remote control is provided to navigate through the menus to change bass/treble settings, volume control, etc. Same can be done with the front panel and rotary control.

A new Infineon class D amplifier IC is used here (didn't see the model number).

SMSL DA-6 Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard:
View attachment 217152
Relative sum of noise+distortion as expressed in SINAD lands the unit above average of some 350 amplifiers tested:

View attachment 217153

I am assuming volume is controlled digitally given the perfect channel balanced. Noise performance by itself is good for the class:
View attachment 217154

Frequency response in EQ bypass mode still has a bit of low frequency roll off:
View attachment 217155

Type of speaker you drive with this little amp could benefit from being pushed to play those low frequencies. I thought I could fix that by boosting the bass setting one notch. That tool though brings a sledgehammer to a nail being put on the wall to hang a picture:
View attachment 217156

Oh, I forgot to mention that there is no load dependency which is something we often can't find even in expensive class D amplifiers. Not only that, the response is quite extended, going beyond 100 kHz! I guess this is what they mean by "high-resolution."

There is no warm up requirement as the unit is stable out of the box, running quite cool:
View attachment 217157

Multitone performance is again good for the class:
View attachment 217158

Output power is more modest than I wanted to see but I guess you can't have miracles:
View attachment 217159
View attachment 217160

The response though seems dependent on level and keeps changing at micro level. We see the same when we sweep with different frequencies:
View attachment 217161

There is no headroom as expected:
View attachment 217162

Conclusions
SMSL nails the industrial design and usability of a super compact desktop amplifier offered in attractive aluminum case. A clear white display shows the volume control and inclusion of remote control lets you place it out of the way and still change its volume. I don't usually take price into account but in this class I must. For $99 this is a lot of performance and good lucks/design.

I am happy to recommend SMSL DA-6.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Can't wait for your review of the SMSL da-9 that we discussed.
 

TonyJZX

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The Loxjie does look a lot nicer for $60... that one does 18w x 2 @ 8 ohm so if you've got some sensitive speakers its a decent way to go.

I had the impression Class D had more power per kg (so to speak)... so something like the Aiyima A07 sounds like an outlier.
 

mctron

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The Loxjie does look a lot nicer for $60... that one does 18w x 2 @ 8 ohm so if you've got some sensitive speakers its a decent way to go.

It's $186 (amazon).

I had the impression Class D had more power per kg (so to speak)... so something like the Aiyima A07 sounds like an outlier.

That is just true. Check out NC2k from Hypex...
 
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