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SMSL M500 MKII Review (DAC & HP Amp)

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 2.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 4 1.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 31 13.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 198 83.2%

  • Total voters
    238

Toku

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Good day, thanks for the awesome review. newbie question can you use the RCA output as a subwoofer out? currently looking for a DAC that has a subout. My setup is Tannoy gold 5, possibly this DAC and svs sb1000 pro.Thanks in advance
As you can see from the Topping and SMSL DACs, there are no DACs with SW output.
Normally, the SW output is created on the amplifier unit side connected to the DAC.
 

MalinYamato

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how much is the amp section on this improved relative to the previous V2 M500? I own that and like the dac but not the amp in it.
 

RandomEar

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how much is the amp section on this improved relative to the previous V2 M500? I own that and like the dac but not the amp in it.
 

jani80k

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how much is the amp section on this improved relative to the previous V2 M500? I own that and like the dac but not the amp in it.
I have a Dx3 Pro Plus and a M500v2 (fixed 2rd harmonic issue).
Both sound indistinguishable in DAC mode.
I would expect the M500MK2 will also sound the same.

Hardware MQA is a hoax. You can also use software MQA. So if you just want a DAC in DAC mode, no need for the M500 MK2. The cheapest well measuring DAC will do, sadly.
 

MalinYamato

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I have a Dx3 Pro Plus and a M500v2 (fixed 2rd harmonic issue).
Both sound indistinguishable in DAC mode.
I would expect the M500MK2 will also sound the same.

Hardware MQA is a hoax. You can also use software MQA. So if you just want a DAC in DAC mode, no need for the M500 MK2. The cheapest well measuring DAC will do, sadly.
okay, I feed my Volumiio3 outs to a DAC and since Volumio3 only sends it as it is without the first MQA unfolding the DAC has to do all decoding -- just a render won't be enough. MKII is basically an M500v2 with BT.
 

Ugo Ruffini

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Feb 21, 2022
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Buongiorno in realtà sia sul mio vecchio smsl m300 mkii che su questo m500mkii utilizzo le xlr per i diffusori e rca y così che posso sommare le correnti di ogni singolo canale per SW.
 

jani80k

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okay, I feed my Volumiio3 outs to a DAC and since Volumio3 only sends it as it is without the first MQA unfolding the DAC has to do all decoding -- just a render won't be enough. MKII is basically an M500v2 with BT.
my m500 does some weird things in hardware mqa, it becomes louder
 

ChadRy

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As you can see from the Topping and SMSL DACs, there are no DACs with SW output.
Normally, the SW output is created on the amplifier unit side connected to the DAC.
Thanks a lot for the reply
 

Roland68

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my m500 does some weird things in hardware mqa, it becomes louder
There is no hardware MQA at all, e.g. as an additional chip.
At first I also thought, mainly because of the licenses, that it would be hardware decoding, like HDCD back then.
I was very surprised and disillusioned that it was only software.
However, ESS seems to have implemented a real hardware MQA renderer in the ES9068AS.
 

MalinYamato

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There is no hardware MQA at all, e.g. as an additional chip.
At first I also thought, mainly because of the licenses, that it would be hardware decoding, like HDCD back then.
I was very surprised and disillusioned that it was only software.
However, ESS seems to have implemented a real hardware MQA renderer in the ES9068AS.
so if it's implemented there therer should be no need for a special XMOS USB circuit anymore to do MQA decoding, right?
That is, the total cost of this must be less.
 

Roland68

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If es also dort implementiert IST, sollte keine spezielle XMOS-USB-Schaltung mehr erforderlich sein, um die MQA-Decodierung durchzuführen, oder?
Das heißt, die Gesamtkosten dafür müssen geringer sein.
It doesn't need an XMOS chip anyway, it can run on other processors, all of which only cost a few dollars.
It's just easier to implement with the XU216, since you need a USB interface anyway. In my personal experience, the XU216 (even without MQA material) seems to be slightly better than the 208, but only a touch.
The costs for MQA are usually wrongly estimated anyway. Additional hardware costs for MQA, if any, are in the small single digits. The license costs are also very small.
What is really expensive is the implementation from the development and programming side, possibly there are also costs for the help of MQA.

But the ES9068AS is only a hardware MQA renderer. If the first unfolding does not take place externally (Roon, Audirvana or similar) then additional software is required in the DAC for MQA full decoding.
It's also noticeable that every new DAC with ES9068AS and MQA also has an XMOS XU216 (at least all the ones I've seen). Either software is still required for MQA, or the manufacturers are currently switching to the XU216 for new devices.
 

jani80k

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There is no hardware MQA at all, e.g. as an additional chip.
At first I also thought, mainly because of the licenses, that it would be hardware decoding, like HDCD back then.
I was very surprised and disillusioned that it was only software.
However, ESS seems to have implemented a real hardware MQA renderer in the ES9068AS.
result wise, there shouldn't be a difference should there?
 

Roland68

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result wise, there shouldn't be a difference should there?
In my experience and my personal opinion, no.
I didn't notice anything with the M500 V2. I compared the X16 with the ES9068AS chips and the A18 here and with each other at the same time. The marginal differences between the devices were the same for me, both for audio material with and without MQA.
 

Ceez

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Jan 13, 2021
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Saludos! I've been playing with my new SMSL M500 II for about a month now, and wanted to chime in with some feedback (and contribute to the RCA vs. XLR discussion).

I am VERY thankful the M500 II comes with many outputs (RCA ,XLR, and Headphone) because my amp has a brutal input impedance. The amp is nothing more than a x10 interstage transformer driving a single-ended KT150. In theory, the circuit topology of the M500 XLR output driving the interstage transformer would be perfect, and I would benefit from the 3db boost. However, the relatively high output impedance of the M500's XLR output cannot cope with my amp's input impedance past 12KHz and is 3dB down. The RCA output does better because it's output impedance is half that of the XLR. The headphone output drives this nasty amp without any problems.

You can see the frequency rolloff at higher output impedance by looking at the grid voltage of the KT150 when the MK500 is fed via USB a 500Hz square wave. The high amplitude (but lowpassed) curve is when driving the amp wit XLR, the low amplitude (and less lowpassed) curve is when using RCA, and the curve with overshoots is when using the headphone output.

I plan to rewire the interstage transformer to x5 because I really do not need so much gain, and the KT150's impedance reflected to the MK500 would be even easier. But even then, I might stick with the headphone output even if it costs me a few dB in THD w.r.t. XLR and RCA.
 

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Kfcsanders

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Apr 23, 2022
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Hey ASR I’m new to Hifi and I’m looking to purchase my first amp/dac. I have narrowed it down to m500 mkII or the topping DX5. I plan to run a Hifi man edition XS through the dac/amp. Is it possible for someone to help me a compare the two dac/amps based on the reviews on ASR?
Thanks In advance.
 

adam12345

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Apr 27, 2022
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my burson playmate just died (im using sundara, hd6xx and meze 99 noir ),
i just ordered this , how do they compare?

thanks in advanced
 

E-Lint

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Apr 20, 2022
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I pulled the trigger on the M500MkII today and expecting delivery Monday. If you have received yours I'd appreciate being able to compare experience.
 

adam12345

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most likely you will receive it before me , mine is an international shipment
so vice versa maybe :)
 

E-Lint

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I will be trying it initially with my elac Navis powered speakers and hoping for the best. I can't find the input power/impedance needs of the Navis speakers so ... one step at a time to see if the preamp section can serve. Thank you for your reply, I will report back. Cheers.
 
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