• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

SMSL M500 MKIII DAC & Amp Review

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 6 2.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 5 1.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 53 18.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 221 77.5%

  • Total voters
    285
Hi. I use an rpi4 with a Moode audio player connected via a USB cable to a dac SMSL M500 mk3. I have such a problem that after some time of playback via USB it stops playing with the message "MPD error Failed to open audio output" and I have to select the USB input again with the remote control and it works for a while and so on. Do you know where the error could be?
 
Has anyone actually listened to the 500mk2 vs the 500mk3? I am wondering if any real difference can be heard?
 
Already the difference between a DX3 pro+ and an M500MKIII is so small...really.
I have the 2 in exams with autoswitcher and audio selector 1/2 on a DT 990 Edition 250 Ohm using the repeat A/B
I wanted to test ES 9038 Pro which has 8 channels connected
(unlike the M500KII but I think that ultimately it shouldn't change anything audible) in order to realize the difference with an ES9038 Q2M
I wanted to be sure before deciding whether or not to return the DX3 Pro+.

The 2 DACs are set the same at 32bits/384Kz with the ASIO drivers
I just spent the afternoon listening to a short sequence of several works.
Then I told my wife I have good news and bad news.
The bad thing is that you'll make an appointment for me at the ENT and the good thing is that we'll save money by sending the M500MKIII back.

History of saying and nitpicking, the topping seems to me limited a little more airy in the high frequencies, a little clearer with the filter on Fast Rool off by default (which I like more than the other filters)
....the other filters seem to cut the high frequencies and give a slightly more muffled sound and become equal to the M500MKIII
By playing on the SMSL filter I can't get this.
The M500MKIII seems to have a slight coloring in the lower midrange but really ridiculous the difference has the limit of a parametric equalizer to catch up with it and still no need it's so identical, barely a hair of difference.

The topping and the SMSL are very transparent dacs, I will listen again but I think I will send the M500MKIII back.

EDIT: I have not yet tested XLR / RCA output or balanced headphone output.
 
Last edited:
Hello,

I can buy the mkii for 300, and the mkiii for 580€.
I have a fiio k5 Pro ess that I can still return.

It is for a Neumann ndh30...
Maybe mkii is a wise choice ?
Anything 'wrong' with your current Fiio k5? But yes in theory the m500 mkiii is a class higher..
 
I still have on my desk 500MKIII/Fiio K5 Pro ESS/DX3 Pro+/Sabaj A20 2022

I like the DX3 because with the F-7 Filter and this curve I can assure you that after spending hours adjusting the difference against the M500MKIII the difference is negligible even for trained ears.
I practice a lot of blind tests and my ear is really not bad with 100% success where many no longer make a difference.
I hear very well the difference also filters.
The DX3 pro + if we do not correct 2 small bumps, the sound will seem a little tiring because it is too bright at the base and caused the depth to be lost because the frequencies are not balanced and sometimes it overlapped in the instruments and voices.
The DX3 pro+ becomes as warm and dark as the M500MKIII
For DX3 Pro+ owners try this curve and F-7

Hate to try AKM/Mojo2 and EF400 to compare.
 

Attachments

  • Capt.JPG
    Capt.JPG
    151.7 KB · Views: 146
Friend of mine is interested in getting the SMSL M500.
Is there an owner of the M500 MKIII dac who konows if the device volume can be changed via USB?
I want to run it with Roon but I need the chance to control volume of the device And not by DSP volume.
If yes: Did this USB volume control also work if the Toslink instead of the USB input got selected?

Thanks
DrCWO
 
I was hoping this would be a one and done for me as a single solution, but I'm not sure.

Sounds great and drives everything decent, but I feel like the detail is a touch off with the harder to drive headphones.
Would rate it very high as a DAC. It's nearly the perfect solution for IEMs and easy to drive headphones, but still wishing the amp packed a little more punch, but it is what it is.

Also mentioned in another thread that you can hear in the headphones when the XMOS streaming mode puts the chip into stand by due to lack of audio being sent. It's very subtle but does also lead to a short 1 second delay when playing a song, or starting a video before you actually hear the audio. Editing the XML files for the XMOS control panel and setting the streaming mode to "Always On" totally fixes these issues. I don't know why it's not set that way from the factory for a "desktop dac/amp" design.

MQA is irrelevant to me, so I honestly might just use toslink - sounds great with either input.
 
I have to tell you guys that there is a design issue with SMSL M500 MK2. I bought it almost 2 years ago and I had been using it on and off as I own other DACs. Recently for about a month ago, my Mk2 started having some weird pops and cracks and also a loud noise started after the unit heats up. Also when I connect it through BT the sound cuts off. I contacted SMSL and they advised me to contact where I bought it! What is funny another SMSK M500 MK2 which is owned by my friend started having the exact same issues around the same time. No wonder they actually put MK3 in the market just 6 months after the MK2's lunch!
 
As a follow up, nothing really wrong with the Mk3 - it's probably close to perfect for a high end mid-fi all in one desk solution, but I found the digital steps of the volume via the knob to be a bit frustrating and wished the amp had bit more overhead.

Personally, I'm going to go a different route.
 
Maximum power output at 300 ohm (not mentioned) is likely to be similar to a Dx3 pro +?
The THD+N vs output voltage shows max output voltage of 6.33V for both 600 and 300 ohm loads.
High gain is +9dB or 2.82x.

Power is simply voltage^2/resistance, so with a 2V RMS source you will get (2*2.82)^2/300 = 106 mW.
For the max output voltage (which you can only reach if your source has a slightly higher voltage) the result is 134 mW.

DX3 Pro+ max output voltage is closer to 9V or ~270 mW into 300 ohm. But that's only a 3 dB difference between the two devices.
 
The THD+N vs output voltage shows max output voltage of 6.33V for both 600 and 300 ohm loads.
High gain is +9dB or 2.82x.

Power is simply voltage^2/resistance, so with a 2V RMS source you will get (2*2.82)^2/300 = 106 mW.
For the max output voltage (which you can only reach if your source has a slightly higher voltage) the result is 134 mW.

DX3 Pro+ max output voltage is closer to 9V or ~270 mW into 300 ohm. But that's only a 3 dB difference between the two devices.
I see, a little on the low for my DT 880 Pro 250 ohm, might be enough for my Amiron.
I don't understand how a smaller and cheaper Fiio K7 can output 560mW at 300 ohm.
 
I see, a little on the low for my DT 880 Pro 250 ohm, might be enough for my Amiron.
I don't understand how a smaller and cheaper Fiio K7 can output 560mW at 300 ohm.
Where are you getting the k7 spec from? I've just looked it up and it says 140 mw for 300 ohm and that's at 1‰ thd . Need to ensure you don't try and compare amir's output stats with manufs 1‰ thd specs . He quotes the point where the output starts to clip /heavily distort .

Edit , I was looking at single ended output . 560 is for the balanced . Point around the thd measure stands though
 
I see, a little on the low for my DT 880 Pro 250 ohm, might be enough for my Amiron.
I don't understand how a smaller and cheaper Fiio K7 can output 560mW at 300 ohm.

Low? Certainly not in power, because this headphone is spec'd at 100 mW power handling capability. Most headphones are spec'd lower.
At a nominal SPL of 96 dB at 1 mW the max "safe" (for the headphones, not your hearing!) SPL is 116 dB. Turn up the volume beyond that point (100 mW or 116 dB SPL) and you risk permanently damaging the drivers anyway.

As usual power is not the issue. The 32 ohm version is much harder to drive, for example, as it needs 3x the current for the same SPL.
People keep confusing power with lack of gain, which typically is the actual issue.

In my listening level spreadsheet I calculated that in the worst case with completely uncompressed high dynamic range classical music you only need ~24 mW for "safe" (depending on your listening time) average listening levels. And this is not continuous power but will only be required in very rare peaks in the music.
If you listen to modern pop/rock then you only need ~1 mW for the same average listening level.
 
Last edited:
Back
Top Bottom