• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). 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 M500 DAC and HP Amp Review

USER

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
879
Likes
1,963
Headphones tested (all around 50 ohm):
- Bose QC 35 II
- Sennheiser HD 599
- Sennheiser HD 558
A quick check of online measurements shows that the Sennheisers do not have much bass to begin with--they are roughly like the HD 600s in this way. The Bose QC 35 II does have bass and was reviewed here. I encourage you to take a look at it. Amir notes that impedance changes drastically when powered on and off. This could well affect your sound. See if turning it on and off changes things. Never rely on the single number the manufacturer gives you. It is often intentionally vague. Impedance can change throughout the frequency, especially with lower quality headphones. This is why the reviews here are useful. More, the Bose is less sensitive than you think.

Likely the cause is impedance and power mismatch. Since it is not great power-wise, Amir didn't really provide a thorough review of the M500 headphone section as he does with dedicated units so its hard to definitively see if an impedance mismatch could specifically affect the bass region. However, it was noted that the unit was underpowered. I'd just go with that. This idea of "tuning" a modern headphone amplifier to a specific sound just really isn't a thing. There's plenty of evidence in the reviews.
 
Last edited:

foxxx0

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 6, 2020
Messages
34
Likes
53
Location
Germany
Which version of the M500 do you have (SW, HW, date) ? And how do you connect balanced headphones to 6,3mm headphone port on M500?
HW 1.2
SW 1.5

It's one of the earlier models and likely has the 3rd harmonic issue.
I've collected the flash tools, firmware files and what not, but I simply haven't found the time to open it, do some soldering and upgrade the firmware yet.

My HD660S are currently 6.3mm single ended and not balanced (yet).
I have some silicon wire, paracord and connectors here to make a custom balanced cable, but yet again - no free time yet, work has been crazy the last couple of weeks.
 

SMSL-Mandy

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Aug 31, 2018
Messages
290
Likes
653
HW 1.2
SW 1.5

It's one of the earlier models and likely has the 3rd harmonic issue.
I've collected the flash tools, firmware files and what not, but I simply haven't found the time to open it, do some soldering and upgrade the firmware yet.

My HD660S are currently 6.3mm single ended and not balanced (yet).
I have some silicon wire, paracord and connectors here to make a custom balanced cable, but yet again - no free time yet, work has been crazy the last couple of weeks.
HW 1.2
It needs to send back to china for a HW upgrade to 1.3
not only can be choose by the firmware.
Where you bought it? send me the email of your address.
Thanks
 

reddeath

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2021
Messages
29
Likes
6
HW 1.2
It needs to send back to china for a HW upgrade to 1.3
not only can be choose by the firmware.
Where you bought it? send me the email of your address.
Thanks
Am I reading this correct? SMSL employee asks a random person on the forum, who mentioned he has M500 V1, to send it back for a replacement/upgrade to V2. This is essentially a "recall" request.
Since SMSL has all email addresses of the people who bought the products through their websites at least, why is the recall done selectively, by chance, instead of sending notification to all customers?
 

SMSL-Mandy

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Aug 31, 2018
Messages
290
Likes
653
Am I reading this correct? SMSL employee asks a random person on the forum, who mentioned he has M500 V1, to send it back for a replacement/upgrade to V2. This is essentially a "recall" request.
Since SMSL has all email addresses of the people who bought the products through their websites at least, why is the recall done selectively, by chance, instead of sending notification to all customers?
This is not a recall request, I just find the customer have a upgrade requirement and want to help him for the solve the probelm.

Thanks
 

reddeath

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2021
Messages
29
Likes
6
This is not a recall request, I just find the customer have a upgrade requirement and want to help him for the solve the probelm.

Thanks
Could you please address my request few posts back regarding low frequencies lacking in the headphone amp on M500? Some forum users suggested hardware failure. How can this be verified, preferably without sending the unit anywhere?
 

foxxx0

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 6, 2020
Messages
34
Likes
53
Location
Germany
HW 1.2
It needs to send back to china for a HW upgrade to 1.3
not only can be choose by the firmware.
Where you bought it? send me the email of your address.
Thanks
Hi Mandy, I've sent you a private message with the details. Thanks for reaching out!
 

Veri

Master Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
9,105
Likes
11,300
Could you please address my request few posts back regarding low frequencies lacking in the headphone amp on M500?
I don't think SMSL can verify or help you without sending it in. Unless you can do measurements of your unit.
 

reddeath

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2021
Messages
29
Likes
6
I just saw this video:

He also mentions the "thin" sound of M500 V2 comparing to V1. Although he talks about XLR output.
He asked the question what is the difference exactly between V1 and V2.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
39,922
Likes
184,790
Location
Seattle Area
I just saw this video:

He also mentions the "thin" sound of M500 V2 comparing to V1. Although he talks about XLR output.
He asked the question what is the difference exactly between V1 and V2.
There is no such thing as "slow sound." Veil and such being there/removed is classical biased listening practices. He says the voltage output is different. He should buy a $20 meter and measure that and not speculate from listening tests. Audiophiles routinely report level differences with cables and such that are not there and can't possibly be there.

He is welcome to send me his new M500 and I will measure it.
 

reddeath

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2021
Messages
29
Likes
6
There is no such thing as "slow sound." Veil and such being there/removed is classical biased listening practices. He says the voltage output is different. He should buy a $20 meter and measure that and not speculate from listening tests. Audiophiles routinely report level differences with cables and such that are not there and can't possibly be there.

He is welcome to send me his new M500 and I will measure it.
Wow, nice. I just doubt he will hear about the offer. I just shared his youtube video here.

And on another matter, regarding your review, which of the tests listed measures the frequency response of the headphone amplifier in M500? I have an impression that my M500 V2 has a "thin" low frequency, comparing to other amps I have available and tested with the same headphones. I would like to dig deeper into this area and understand the test results.
 

reddeath

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2021
Messages
29
Likes
6
After having listened to many more sources (different songs on different streaming services and local files), I can tell that the base frequency of the integrated headphone amp is enough. I believe the term sometimes used in this situation is calling the sound "transparent". It would be nice to have an equalizer in the M500 like in the RME DACs.
 

NorthGraves

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
86
Likes
43
FYI, XMOS USB driver 5.30 is available, seems to be working fine, not that I had any issues with 5.12.

 

tlr125

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2022
Messages
35
Likes
11
does anyone know which is the latest HW version of the device? HW 1.3 or something newer?
 

Dmaumau

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2022
Messages
41
Likes
15
Location
Brasil
Yes, it´s 1.3 HW and 1.7 SW.

Just notice that the 3rd harmonic patch do not change either one after beeing applied.
 
Top Bottom