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SMSL M500 - Owners' Thread

newtoSMSL

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Hi Guys, I just received my SMSL M500 today. I set the output to headphone which connects to my DT 990 Pro. Also set the input to be USB and have tried connecting M500 to my iphone and iMAC Pro using USB respectively, and streaming Apple Music. M500 screen shows headphone volume, USB connection, PCM and 44.1kHZ, but no sound coming out of my DT 990 Pro headphone. I'm new to this, don't know what I have done incorrectly or missed any thing. Can someone please help me?
 
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Hi!
Which player do you use? If you use a player you have to set the audio output nel player.
In Windows , check the audio output correct.
 
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Has anyone here from North America with HW 1.2 SW 1.5 sent their unit back to China to be reflashed? How long did it take and how much was it?

I was really dumb and tried updating the firmware when I knew there were issues and I am beyond the 1 year warranty so SMSL wants me to send it back to their factory on my own dollar.
Hello @Crohnic and all. Sorry for this late follow up but have been quite busy with assorted projects. We ended up purchasing a bricked SMSL M500 unit out of Australia and did manage to disassemble the unit for a review. Our unit was quite tight to remove the wedged stacked circuit boards but others have reported that the same pair of boards slid out fine. Perhaps just bad luck that almost needed soap to slide the boards out.

The 2 x flex ribbon cables are quite short and will be impossible to use again as supplied by the factory after the unit is disassembled. Others have reported the same concern - the ribbon cables must be replaced with a longer set.

We have studied the surface mount flash memory device which is a 8 pin SOIC package that is common to the industry. Initially thought to build a personal reflashing tool that the end user can clip onto the existing surface mount flash device. This piggy back tool is common in the electronics industry. This clip on + ground + another wire to force the circuit board into RESET mode (ie. RESET line = GROUND will allow for the onboard XMOS CPU to release the lines that are linked to the flash memory device). After this setup, the external flash programmer can erase / program & verify the new firmware. The same tool could be used to restore the flash memory anytime in the future..no more bricking.

Technically, the firmware is held inside a SPI flash memory device that is very common and from Winbond Semiconductor. Using the above setup, an external SPI bus master can come along and communicate with the SPI flash memory device to erase / program / verify the contents - just like the factory did. They performed the same task out-of-circuit and soldered in the ready to use flash memory during the pcb assembly process. We had hoped that some contacts / connectors would be exposed to quickly perform this hardware fix. None have been found.

However, believe the above is not practical since it may be a one-time use tool. While we can build such a device, it may not have much value and can be difficult to use with the spring clips + ground wire + RESET probe wire. Too many contacts to correct the firmware while the flash memory chip that is bricked onboard. There is also an AC to DC power supply which we wish to not have the end user be exposed to due to risk of a shock.

Plan B is what a number of other SMSL M500 owners have already done - believe they have been mainly in Europe and Russia. That is, to use a hot air tool to carefully desolder the same flash memory -> insert the flash memory device into an external programmer (about $20 on Amazon USA; about $10 USD on Aliexpress) -> reflash the contents -> solder the chip back. Rebuild the unit using longer flex cables as the original ones are far too short.

This method is confirmed to be working.

We have invested a number of hours to see if we can communicate with the box over the USB and what is left of the DFU interface and Windows programming. So far, no luck on this approach to fix the box. Ideally would have been the best solution. Still not done with this research but not looking very positive.

Plan C may be worth a consideration and that is for us to ship to you a kit of a pre-programmed surface mount device (2.06 firmware) + the longer flex cables. Then you can take your unit to a local cell phone repair shop - just ask in advance if they are confident to "remove a surface mount 8 pin SOIC device and replace with another" - estimating that the procedure to dismantle the unit and perform this task and put back together is 1-2 hours at most. You may even wish to carefully dismantle the unit yourself and bring in the stacked board to the shop and respectively, you can rebuild the unit after this operation. A quality cell phone / computer repair shop will find this to be a breeze to replace the single component. We perform low level repairs on macbooks / ipads, etc. daily on much much smaller components.

Plan D is to send the unit to us and we can do the same -> perform the above task and return back to you. We are in Windsor, Ontario so it may make sense to those who are nearby. Best solution is to apply the new smd flash device locally for the least downtime.

To readers who are outside of North America, you may want to consider to purchase the programmer tool that a few have done already. We can document this procedure but highly recommend that the removal and resoldering of the flash memory be handled by a qualified repair shop.

The firmware is encrypted and respectively took a bit to have the SMSL factory release the binary dump to us of the flash memory. In summary, the corrupt memory device needs to be erased -> programmed -> verified or replace with the same device but with the 2.06 firmware.

Moving forward, this issue should not surface again since you will be on the working firmware and the factory has stated that they will not have this quirk on future releases of the firmware.

Feel free to share your feedback and we can gather up more details on the unit and post here for public access. Need to review a fair cost to both parties for the kit and if you would like for us to perform this service. We do have very good ship rates from us in Canada to the USA with 2-day Fedex delivery but unfortunately not the same relationship for incoming parcels. Believe that all together, the costs have to be lower than shipping back to China.

Thanks.
 
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I just realized that m500 only has line-outs. So the outputs of RCAs and XLRs are controlled the same way as headphone out. What is the best way to apply volume control on m500 as pure DAC?

Set the software/USB volume to 100%. And then set the hardware volume to the maximum without clipping the downstream amplifier?
 
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I recently purchased M500 and when it finally arrived yesterday, the version is: SW 1.6 and HW: 1.3.
As I understand 1.6 is not the latest, because other users reported having 1.7 some months ago already. I don't understand why I got an older version. I ordered from hifi-express and the unit, despite choosing delivery from EU, arrived from China.
I don't see the DPLL setting in the menu. Was it added in SW 1.7?
Is it possible to update 1.6 to 1.7? I have not encountered any updated files for download that can do it.
 
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@reddeath - cannot answer on the features that are available on 1.7 but highly recommend for you to wait for a direct respond from the SMSL factory. Only they can confirm if your box can support the next upgrade or not.

The contact details for Kelly are shared below - please email her your details of the purchased box.

Sales Manager
Kelly Dong
shenzhen shuangmusanlin Electronics Co., Ltd.
Tel: +86075527444178
Mob:+8615999605180
E-mail: kelly [a t] smsl-audio.com
http://smsl-audio.com

The Chinese New Year holidays ends this weekend and most should return to work on Monday.

If your box is at a risk of being bricked to the first firmware image then only a reflashing of a surface mount chip is the proper fix. This procedure requires the opening of the box -> desoldering an 8 pin memory chip and replacing or reflashing (with an external programmer) of this removed chip -> solder the chip back. From our knowledge, the latest version is 2.06 for the SMSL 500 firmware.

If you are with the board with the firmware issue, post back. Respectively, please review my earlier post and scout around for a local cell phone / macbook repair shop to ask if they are comfortable to replace this '8 pin SOIC chip'. If the shop can truly repair such equipment, this task is trivial and the desoldering / soldering can be performed in a few minutes.

Hope this helps.
 
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@reddeath - cannot answer on the features that are available on 1.7 but highly recommend for you to wait for a direct respond from the SMSL factory. Only they can confirm if your box can support the next upgrade or not.

The contact details for Kelly are shared below - please email her your details of the purchased box.

Sales Manager
Kelly Dong
shenzhen shuangmusanlin Electronics Co., Ltd.
Tel: +86075527444178
Mob:+8615999605180
E-mail: kelly [a t] smsl-audio.com
http://smsl-audio.com

The Chinese New Year holidays ends this weekend and most should return to work on Monday.

If your box is at a risk of being bricked to the first firmware image then only a reflashing of a surface mount chip is the proper fix. This procedure requires the opening of the box -> desoldering an 8 pin memory chip and replacing or reflashing (with an external programmer) of this removed chip -> solder the chip back. From our knowledge, the latest version is 2.06 for the SMSL 500 firmware.

If you are with the board with the firmware issue, post back. Respectively, please review my earlier post and scout around for a local cell phone / macbook repair shop to ask if they are comfortable to replace this '8 pin SOIC chip'. If the shop can truly repair such equipment, this task is trivial and the desoldering / soldering can be performed in a few minutes.

Hope this helps.
I am a bit confused by your reply. The SW version is 1.6. The usb interface firmware is 2.06, which is the latest, AFAIK. I was asking if it is possible to update the software from 1.6 to 1.7 and what the difference is between the two.
 
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There are 2 physical processors inside this design.

One from XMOS (has multicore virtual-CPUs inside) and one from ST Semiconductor (STM32 series).

Each micro contains their own firmware. The latest USB firmware which is linked to the XMOS CPU is 2.06.

Assuming that the other SW version you are referencing is 1.6 and now perhaps 1.7 is for the STM32. Not sure. Best to ask the factory for the full details. To reflash the STM32 CPU will require a SWD (aka JTAG style) of a programmer. Please post your feedback from the factory. Your original post did not note the 2.06 firmware version which we understand to be the latest for the XMOS USB firmware so that is very positive.
 
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I wonder why SMSL is not selling pre-programmed 8-pin-soic chips separately, this approach is much easier for the end user to fix device (no need to search for the external programmer tool).
 
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I just realized that m500 only has line-outs. So the outputs of RCAs and XLRs are controlled the same way as headphone out. What is the best way to apply volume control on m500 as pure DAC?

Set the software/USB volume to 100%. And then set the hardware volume to the maximum without clipping the downstream amplifier?
That's unfortunate. Are you saying the xlr is just a glorified rca? One of the usp's that pushed me to it was connecting it directly to my speakers via xlr. It also needs a higher volume output to wake up my speakers than rca, which would turn on by itself sometimes. So I guessed that signal integrity was better.

As a 2nd hand buyer, all this talk of flashing and resoldering is news to me. Can't take the risk as the factory, assuming it was even economical to ship to China, wouldn't take it if it got bricked.
 

Kolster

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That's unfortunate. Are you saying the xlr is just a glorified rca? One of the usp's that pushed me to it was connecting it directly to my speakers via xlr. It also needs a higher volume output to wake up my speakers than rca, which would turn on by itself sometimes. So I guessed that signal integrity was better.

As a 2nd hand buyer, all this talk of flashing and resoldering is news to me. Can't take the risk as the factory, assuming it was even economical to ship to China, wouldn't take it if it got bricked.
The product page claims "true balanced output" regarding the XLR connection, so it shouldn't just be glorified RCA.
 
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If you download the driver from the product-driver page instead of the real product page you get a 5.00 instead of 4.67.

Product-driver page: https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/product/downlist/id/11.html

Direct link to file: https://www.smsl-audio.com/upload/portal/20210225/202102251113351739.rar
Does Xmos 5 have any improvements? I read a Medium article saying 4.67 was required to update the DAC, but I'm not sure I can risk it in my position. https://todayamerican.medium.com/how-to-upgrade-the-firmware-on-your-smsl-m500-mqa-dac-63fba12c6ace.

But I'm getting the odd audio crack in long videos, and I heard it might be down to a Ryzen system and the USB issues AMD was having. 1st post. https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/mdpx2i Funny enough my webcam mic had some issues a few months ago too. I didn't notice the audio cracking until I switched to headphone out.

I updated my drivers/bios and I'm fairly sure it's an AMD problem, but I'm wondering if I should try Xmos 5. I barely notice it with speakers, but my HD 650 doesn't sound as spectacular as usual. I'm wondering if it's them, their age, the DAC not having enough power to drive them, a dac firmware issue or nostalgia. I haven't used them in ages, relying mostly on my speakers. Although I'm tempted to get a some HD 660s as they're easier to drive.
 

Jimbob54

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That's unfortunate. Are you saying the xlr is just a glorified rca? One of the usp's that pushed me to it was connecting it directly to my speakers via xlr. It also needs a higher volume output to wake up my speakers than rca, which would turn on by itself sometimes. So I guessed that signal integrity was better.

As a 2nd hand buyer, all this talk of flashing and resoldering is news to me. Can't take the risk as the factory, assuming it was even economical to ship to China, wouldn't take it if it got bricked.
I'm not sure what the post you reply to is on about if I am honest. The xlr output a higher voltage than the rca for any given volume on the device. That is controlled separately from the headphone output. It's a good dac.

Use at full vol (40) for the "pure" dac experience.
 
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I'm not sure what the post you reply to is on about if I am honest. The xlr output a higher voltage than the rca for any given volume on the device. That is controlled separately from the headphone output. It's a good dac.

Use at full vol (40) for the "pure" dac experience.
Thanks for clarifying that it's better to control volume through Windows than the DAC. Guess it increases the dial's lifespan too. Is that the same for the headphone out? Should I set speakers to max too, or will they distort?

I stumbled upon an M500 MKII from this driver https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oD1_M-zbto6PHPPCYEHBVT85n3CqCRN1/view, but the only thing I can find on it is an unrelated Red Dragon M500. Is there an SMSL M500 MKII, or is it maybe referring to the newer revisions? I remember researching this, the Topping DX7pro and Sabaj D5, and one of them having an overheating problem that was fixed in later revisions.
 

Jimbob54

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Thanks for clarifying that it's better to control volume through Windows than the DAC. Guess it increases the dial's lifespan too. Is that the same for the headphone out? Should I set speakers to max too, or will they distort?
Not sure how you got that from what I said?
 
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