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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 13.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 195 83.0%

  • Total voters
    235

E-Lint

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Apr 20, 2022
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Well Adam, my DAC/amp arrived today from the *SMSL Store* on Amazon. Unfortunately it's not what I ordered! They sent an early Mk I version with no explanation. I noticed when they billed my account that the amount ($391 or so) did not match the order ($439). Very annoying so I'll have to get back to you with future results.
 

adam12345

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Apr 27, 2022
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Well Adam, my DAC/amp arrived today from the *SMSL Store* on Amazon. Unfortunately it's not what I ordered! They sent an early Mk I version with no explanation. I noticed when they billed my account that the amount ($391 or so) did not match the order ($439). Very annoying so I'll have to get back to you with future results.
:oops: sorry the hear.
i'm supposed to receive mine sunday ill update...
 

adam12345

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well the dacamp is working pretty good.
very good job on my sundara but then the playmate.
on the 6xx less so, the burson gave it more life imo.

that's my opionon so far at least
haven't tried my meze 99 yet (i dont use em frequently with amp/dac gear).
 

E-Lint

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well the dacamp is working pretty good.
very good job on my sundara but then the playmate.
on the 6xx less so, the burson gave it more life imo.

that's my opionon so far at least
haven't tried my meze 99 yet (i dont use em frequently with amp/dac gear).
I reordered one from hifigo and am now in dreaded wait mode. It's my first experience with them so we'll see. If I may ask where did you get yours? There has been *some* discussion about amp, or in this case dac/amp, breakin from various sources but I have no way to validate that to help you. So play the dickens out of it for 2-3 weeks and maybe you can tell me by the time the slow boat arrives with mine (I paid for express). It always makes me edgy when a company charges the card before they even send me an invoice or shipping notice but I have faith.....
 

hellointhere

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May 11, 2022
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Hi everyone. Has anyone experienced audio cutouts using the M500Mkii ? I get cutouts on tracks from 2 cds I have ripped flacs from. They are Teatro (Willie Nelson) and Circus Animals (Cold Chisel). Pretty sure it's not the flac encoding or the laptop (Windows, wasapi, usb) because cutouts occur playing the actual cd (Teatro) on a bluray player using spdif. It affects rca output only (to speaker amp or external headphone amp), not internal headphone amp output. Issue only occurs when HPA gain is set to High, but that seems illogical to me because that should only affect headphone socket output and not the rca output. I have no such issues with any other dac of mine including E30 and Zen Dac using the same setup. I notice in Amazon reviews that some owners experienced cutouts with the previous version of the M500. This all creates doubt in me about reliability so I'm currently trying to negotiate a return but the seller doesn't understand the issue.
 

Kelims

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Feb 7, 2021
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Hello, does SMSL use hardware volume control or only software ? If SW is it 64 bits?
 

adam12345

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i did notice i have clicking issues with dsd (i use foobar )
i tried several tracks from different sources
 

gonzoznog

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Oct 14, 2020
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I was thinking about getting one of these. Is it worth spending a bit more for this over the Sabaj D5? [$440 vs $370] I see the D5 seems to have a bit of the ESS IMD Hump while this does not. I plan to use this almost exclusively as a Pure DAC. I am a bit concerned by the commenter that said they heard audible clicks while playing DSD through foobar. Overall, this seems to check a lot of boxes for a reasonable price.
 

hellointhere

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@gonzoznog the dsd clicks notuced by adam12345 and my flac file cutouts (only on a few tracks I've identified so far) might suggest something is not quite right with the dac section. I hope there is a firmware fix but someone mentioned earlier that isn't technically possible. I would wait for more info before buying.
 

hellointhere

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I should add that my flac cutout issue may not affect all units. I originally posted to see if anyone else had the same issue with the tracks from the specific cds I mentioned, or if anyone identified other tracks that caused the same issue.
 

E-Lint

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Apr 20, 2022
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I actually received and set up the M500-II today but have only streamed through it via my Fire tablet. So rar no problems. I've run through the menus changing filters/colors etc. but have not found any real benefit there. I also hooked it up to a set of Elac Navis which are newly arrived and it's a great combination. Comparing directly with Elac UB52's, the Navis sound "bigger, warmer, more complete". As well they should. I only mention it because I had some system matching worries. But no, they're fine. I am very pleased with the sound and, for the first time in a long time, I have imaging suffcient to having the speakers *disappear*. Oh yeah, I'm happy.
 

E-Lint

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Apr 20, 2022
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i ordered from amazon
so far seems high quality for 400$ dac\amp
Adam

I hope you saw that report of mine. I will still have to put it through all the paces but I'm happy with it so far. BTW I have only streamed directly using the DAC as a PRE feeding the Navis. Using Amazon Ultra HD/LDAC. Going for more hardware hookups tomorrow.
 
Last edited:

Toku

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Apr 4, 2018
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i did notice i have clicking issues with dsd (i use foobar )
i tried several tracks from different sources
I have collected various information about M500 MKll, but I have not seen such trouble reports yet.
Is your M500 MKll the same symptom for everything from DSD64 to DSD512?
It is a promise when playing DSD, but you should not control the volume on the PC side. It is fixed at 100% and used.
I'm not sure how your Foober2000 is set up, but some settings may cause such problems.
 

adam12345

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I have collected various information about M500 MKll, but I have not seen such trouble reports yet.
Is your M500 MKll the same symptom for everything from DSD64 to DSD512?
It is a promise when playing DSD, but you should not control the volume on the PC side. It is fixed at 100% and used.
I'm not sure how your Foober2000 is set up, but some settings may cause such problems.
i only have DSD128 but it happened in a couple of diffrent sources
and it is not exacly clicking but more like background noise , maybe it's just coincidence and those are bad rips
anyways, you cannot control volume while using the dac to decode so the pc volume is irreverent
there isnt much to configure on the foobar plugin it either works or it doesn't , atleast nothing that i have seen.
 

adam12345

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Adam

I hope you saw that report of mine. I will still have to put it through all the paces but I'm happy with it so far. BTW I have only streamed directly using the DAC as a PRE feeding the Navis. Using Amazon Ultra HD/LDAC. Going for more hardware hookups tomorrow.
I did, Thanks, i heard it complacence speakers better then headphones ( i currently only use HP) i plan to buy some active speakers in a couple of month , not something fancy, i still prefer using HP, around 300$, any suggestions ?
 

Toku

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i only have DSD128 but it happened in a couple of diffrent sources
and it is not exacly clicking but more like background noise , maybe it's just coincidence and those are bad rips
anyways, you cannot control volume while using the dac to decode so the pc volume is irreverent
there isnt much to configure on the foobar plugin it either works or it doesn't , atleast nothing that i have seen.
The symptom that noise is mixed and played in DSD playback is a typical failure pattern of DSD. In the initial model M500, there was a problem that such a symptom occurred when playing DSD512, but it was solved by improving FW. I haven't heard of any problems with DSD playback on the current M500 MKll, so I think there are probably other problems. Especially for the trouble with DSD128, I checked many of the DACs of SMSL / Topping, but I have never experienced it. You need to test files other than DSD128 to find the cause. You can download sample music from DSD64 to DSD256 from the following, so please test it.
I also think that audio players need to be tested with other things. The Japanese audio player TuneBrowser that I use for evaluation with FB2K is also an excellent audio player with good sound. It's easy to set up and free.


 

E-Lint

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Apr 20, 2022
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I wish I could give you a recommendation but I just don't have the experience necessary to do so. The JBL's get generally good reviews. I would check thecheapaudioman on youtube to see if he has tested them. Also Audio Science Review. There are likely others but remember the only opinion that is important is yours. If you like them then that's all there is. Buy them from someone who will let you try them, Crutchfield comes to mind, try them and then decide. Powered speakers takes me out of my comfort zone but it is a means of keeping wires and boxes to a minimum and it seems all good so far. For the moment I am only using the M500/2 as the preamp for all inputs and it also seems to be working well. I'll look foorward to hearing how you do!
 
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