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SMSL M500 DAC and HP Amp Review

reddeath

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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

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FYI, XMOS USB driver 5.30 is available, seems to be working fine, not that I had any issues with 5.12.

 

tlr125

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does anyone know which is the latest HW version of the device? HW 1.3 or something newer?
 

Dmaumau

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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.
 

Allank

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Well I just got one from SMSL directly on Ali Express - they have few units left... (the high voltage output was of particular interest to me, if it ends up being used as the DAC for an Analog mastering chain. For the moment it will be my monitoring DAC).

They were happy to test the unit had the fix applied and send video evidence of the fix for the 3rd harmonic issue... Very impressive service..

Haven't put it in the studio yet - but the headphone amp and DAC Combined are far better than my console.. I've never heard my Q-701's sound so good. Although theoretically they shouldn't take much to drive, they seem to be very picky about headphone amps.

On my A&H console they sound pretty damn good, on my Behringer X18 they sound like utter rubbish, on focusrite a saffire pro 24 they weren't great either...

I'm not pushing them really hard, but the power on the low end seems far more pronounced.. (nothing like my studio speakers - but usable) ..
 

Dunring

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Well I just got one from SMSL directly on Ali Express - they have few units left... (the high voltage output was of particular interest to me, if it ends up being used as the DAC for an Analog mastering chain. For the moment it will be my monitoring DAC).

They were happy to test the unit had the fix applied and send video evidence of the fix for the 3rd harmonic issue... Very impressive service..

Haven't put it in the studio yet - but the headphone amp and DAC Combined are far better than my console.. I've never heard my Q-701's sound so good. Although theoretically they shouldn't take much to drive, they seem to be very picky about headphone amps.

On my A&H console they sound pretty damn good, on my Behringer X18 they sound like utter rubbish, on focusrite a saffire pro 24 they weren't great either...

I'm not pushing them really hard, but the power on the low end seems far more pronounced.. (nothing like my studio speakers - but usable) ..
Do you have the name of the store you got that one from? I've been trying to find one on eBay but they're so far all the original ones with the issue. I had one of the updated ones with high voltage output, but didn't know it at the time or I would have kept it as my perma-DAC :)
 

Jimster480

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Do you have the name of the store you got that one from? I've been trying to find one on eBay but they're so far all the original ones with the issue. I had one of the updated ones with high voltage output, but didn't know it at the time or I would have kept it as my perma-DAC :)
Every year they make new versions of this though; why don't you just buy the newest version?
 

Allank

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Every year they make new versions of this though; why don't you just buy the newest version?
Because these are half price of the mk3 and from my understanding of the review are the only one with 7v output. That puts them at near 18dbU so usable for an analog mastering chain
 

Allank

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Screenshot_20230405_195451.jpg

Here's a pic of the store....

Yes, I've used it in the studio for a month now and there's a noticeable difference. Room measurements show a flatter response in the upper mids and lower distortion but very marginal
 

Veri

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Here's a pic of the store....

Yes, I've used it in the studio for a month now and there's a noticeable difference. Room measurements show a flatter response in the upper mids and lower distortion but very marginal
So noticeable but very marginal, is what you're saying?
 

HubertM500

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Just a little note from a happy SMSL M500 owner in Australia

I had an issue that Apple Music on my macOS 13.3 desktop was not outputting Hi-Res Lossless audio (the M500 display still said 44.1 kHz)

The solution was the free app LosslessSwitcher https://github.com/vincentneo/LosslessSwitcher

My M500 display now shows the Hi-Res Audio logo and 96 kHz when playing Hi-Res content in Apple Music and it sounds great.

Just thought I would mention that here since this does not seem well documented.

PS my System Version is SW:1.6 HW:1.3 2020-3-2. Is there any point updating the firmware? Everything is currently working fine.
 

Eugeny

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Hello! I'm going to buy hifiman edition xs for my SMSL m500. From the report it follows that the output impedance of the amplifier is 2 ohms. And the impedance of EDXS is 14 ohms. This does not comply with the rule, the impedance of the headphones should be 8 times the output impedance of the amplifier. So these headphones are not the best choice?
 
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Toku

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Hello! I'm going to buy hifiman edition xs for my SMSL m500. From the report it follows that the output impedance of the amplifier is 2 ohms. And the impedance of EDXS is 14 ohms. This does not comply with the rule, the impedance of the headphones should be 8 times the output impedance of the amplifier. So these headphones are not the best choice?
The minimum impedance of the M500 headphones is 16Ω, but you should be able to use 14Ω headphones as well by lowering the maximum output of 2W a little.
 

artismo

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TLDR; M500 MKI, with the DAC chip heat issues and single channel only output distortion problem, is it a waste of money to sell this and buy another DAC/amp?

It’s been years since I’ve posted. Still been lurking.

Quick question, I bought this DAC/amp back when it was first recommended before the DAC chip heat issue and singable channel only output distortion information was discovered.

Are the issues significant enough that I should just sell this unit and purchase a MK2, MK3, or something else?

I currently use the HP output on my He400se and HD58x, and the XLR outputs to my JBL LSR305.
 

Allank

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So noticeable but very marginal, is what you're saying?
noticeable to my hearing, - the overall flatter response.
The lower distortion is marginal... If I push the listening level beyond 85dba (where I would expect to notice a difference) then due to the room itself.. some things in the room start reacting more and hence increase the distortion...

I'll have a new studio later this year. I may A/B the older interface (although that will live a in a different room altogether)
 
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