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SMSL M500 - Owners' Thread

Headphonista

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Oct 24, 2021
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Hi,

Has anyone noticed issues with MQA decoding of Tidal tracks that should be 88.2 kHz but play as 44.1 kHz? They show a green MQA indicator, but more importantly they come out sounding noticeably worse than regular CD. Tracks that are 48/96/192 don’t have any issues.

I’m using a Mac and have tried a few different laptops and desktops.

I’ve made sure that exclusive mode, forced volume and pass-through MQA are all enabled. Interestingly, even if I deselect pass-through MQA then the results are the same: the DAC recognizes it as green MQA 44.1 and sounds bad.

If I use a non-MQA DAC then Tidal itself decodes to 88.2 kHz and they sound great.

I contacted Tidal support about this a while back. They asked me to send them the log files, and replied with this:

“It does look like something within the app is having trouble with the DAC sporadically, which would match your description that some tracks it plays fine but when it's on those lower 44.1 kHz it struggles since it does show it does connect and play correctly at times”.

They suggested reinstalling Tidal but it didn’t help.

Any ideas? Has anyone else experienced this?
 

fidgetymo

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Hi,

Has anyone noticed issues with MQA decoding of Tidal tracks that should be 88.2 kHz but play as 44.1 kHz? They show a green MQA indicator, but more importantly they come out sounding noticeably worse than regular CD. Tracks that are 48/96/192 don’t have any issues.

I’m using a Mac and have tried a few different laptops and desktops.

I’ve made sure that exclusive mode, forced volume and pass-through MQA are all enabled. Interestingly, even if I deselect pass-through MQA then the results are the same: the DAC recognizes it as green MQA 44.1 and sounds bad.

If I use a non-MQA DAC then Tidal itself decodes to 88.2 kHz and they sound great.

I contacted Tidal support about this a while back. They asked me to send them the log files, and replied with this:

“It does look like something within the app is having trouble with the DAC sporadically, which would match your description that some tracks it plays fine but when it's on those lower 44.1 kHz it struggles since it does show it does connect and play correctly at times”.

They suggested reinstalling Tidal but it didn’t help.

Any ideas? Has anyone else experienced this?
Hi there,

Is there a song or 2 that you can recommend for testing?
 

Headphonista

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Hi there,

Is there a song or 2 that you can recommend for testing?

For example, the version of "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" by Eagles that is included in "The Studio Albums 1972-1979" compilation is 48/96/192, and sounds great. Whereas the version on the "Eagles (2013 Remaster)" album is 44.1/88.2 and has the problem I described.

As a side note, it's hard to see how both of these can be "authenticated masters" if they have different sample rates, and it's conceivable that the studio has somehow messed up the entire studio album catalog in some way that is handled differently by the ESS chip "full decoder" and the desktop software "decoder"?

If anyone has a non-ESS full decoder, or has a "renderer", then it would be interesting to compare how they handle these tracks.

Thanks
 

fidgetymo

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For example, the version of "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" by Eagles that is included in "The Studio Albums 1972-1979" compilation is 48/96/192, and sounds great. Whereas the version on the "Eagles (2013 Remaster)" album is 44.1/88.2 and has the problem I described.

As a side note, it's hard to see how both of these can be "authenticated masters" if they have different sample rates, and it's conceivable that the studio has somehow messed up the entire studio album catalog in some way that is handled differently by the ESS chip "full decoder" and the desktop software "decoder"?

If anyone has a non-ESS full decoder, or has a "renderer", then it would be interesting to compare how they handle these tracks.

Thanks
I get the same output.

44.1 mqa green on the album version
192 blue mqa on the studio albums compilation version

I'm not sure where to confirm that it's supposed to be 88.2 however.
 

raif71

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Added an IFI amp (Zen Can Singature V2 HFM) to M500, which makes my Sundara sound way better than I expected. After all, M500 ( an excellent dac) is just a DAC with sporadic AMP capabilites that is there until you find an Amp. And yes, I am running Volumio 3 (beta) that now finnlayt is installable on a MVMe... as you know, Volumio 2 can only live on a SSD, HD or Flashj.
View attachment 159257
What is that on the Sundara?
 

Headphonista

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I get the same output.

44.1 mqa green on the album version
192 blue mqa on the studio albums compilation version

I'm not sure where to confirm that it's supposed to be 88.2 however.
Thank you for checking.

If I play the same track through a non-MQA DAC (FOSTEX HP-A8) in exclusive mode, then the output frequency changes to 88.1 kHz. And if I play through my Zorloo Ztella then the light is purple and it sounds great.

So I suspect this is an issue specific to the M500, but was hoping to confirm that before trying to replace it with another desktop MQA decoder.

I have found a lot of tracks that have this same issue unfortunately. It's not an isolated issue.

Will try asking in some of the other forums to see if this affects other SMSL or Topping products.
 

Headphonista

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Thank you for checking.

If I play the same track through a non-MQA DAC (FOSTEX HP-A8) in exclusive mode, then the output frequency changes to 88.1 kHz. And if I play through my Zorloo Ztella then the light is purple and it sounds great.

So I suspect this is an issue specific to the M500, but was hoping to confirm that before trying to replace it with another desktop MQA decoder.

I have found a lot of tracks that have this same issue unfortunately. It's not an isolated issue.

Will try asking in some of the other forums to see if this affects other SMSL or Topping products.
From searching in other forums, it sounds like the Topping D90 has the same issue.

It seems like the MQA decoding is programmed into the XMOS XU216 chip that most of these machines use, so may be a problem somewhere in the chain from Studio -> Tidal -> XMOS. Hopefully the Studio and / or Tidal can fix it ... I think it used to work OK but developed this problem a few months ago.
 

MalinYamato

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What is that on the Sundara?
when I am on the go, I plug the headphone cable to this IFI GO BLU --- it's a Bluetooth DAC/AMP.
 
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seki97

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Hey, I was wondering which settings was the best for DPLL, I only use the dac with my pc via usb and I can't feel any difference between settings at all.
 

Roddy

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Sorry if it's been asked before, but does anyone get a clicking sound when they stand up using headphones?

I have a HD 650. I plugged a 6.35 to 3.5mm adapter into the M500, to preserve its audio jack.

I hear this cracking/clicking sound, like a plastic ratchet. Think of any kind of plastic joint, like an action figure or tripod arm.

I use the speakers most of the time, so I wasn't sure if I was imagining it on the headphone side.

The reason I'm posting now is because, just now, it tripped my monitor. Electrical interference? The only times my PC has bee affected was a lamp that caused my monitor to turn on and off, and a shredder that caused a portable hard drive to disconnect. Funnily enough both were from the same company.

Anyway, I'm plugging it straight into the amp now, 6.35 to 6.35. We'll see if the problem is the headphones themselves, and I've wanted to test other models as well (although I only have cheap IEMs). So far it seems better. I can't tell if the odd click is the same issue, the plastic frame creaking, the movement of the chair as I go from sitting to standing, or my own neck cracking.
 

foxxx0

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There have been reports of the gas spring inside chairs causing small EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) that caused computer monitors/displays to temporarily lose signal and requiring a powercycle. Most often it was the transition from sitting to standing which released such a small EMP.

You might want to order a small pack of 5-10 toroidal/ferrit-core filters that you can clip on to some of your power and signal cables to reduce interference. E.g.: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZQZQ5BQ/

Just as an idea.

I have not experienced such issues myself yet.
 

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Roddy

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^ All jokes aside, I think I might've jumped the gun. A brightness manager I started using, Twinkle Tray, might be responsible for the power cut. Still not 100% sure on the clicking issue, but it's back to being an annoyance rather than a threat.
 

32bit

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For example, the version of "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" by Eagles that is included in "The Studio Albums 1972-1979" compilation is 48/96/192, and sounds great. Whereas the version on the "Eagles (2013 Remaster)" album is 44.1/88.2 and has the problem I described.
Hi there!
Just tested these two songs on SMSL M500 via USB input (as MQA device)
and SMSL M500 via Optical input (using internal PCI Asus Xonar S/PDIF pass through as non-MQA device, Tidal app unfolding).

SMSL M500, USB, "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"The Studio Albums 1972-1979" = MQA 192 blue dot
SMSL M500, USB, "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)" = MQA 44.1 green dot

SMSL M500, Optical, "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"The Studio Albums 1972-1979" = Hi-Res Audio 96kHz
SMSL M500, Optical, "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)" = 44.1kHz

And additionally I've used Marantz PM7000n as DAC (AK4490, optical input, using the same Asus Xonar S/PDIF pass through, no MQA support, so unfolding and rendering via TIDAL app)
PM7000n, Optical, "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"The Studio Albums 1972-1979" = PCM 96kHz (it's the maximum for Tidal app software decoder, as I see)
PM7000n, Optical, "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)" = PCM 44.1kHz

"Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)" sounds not best and pretty same in all three cases.

So I suppose it's not the M500 issue but rather these files itself.

PS. And something strange about these files.
The official app MQATagRestorer has restored MQA Tags sucessfully for "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)"
but gave an error for "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"The Studio Albums 1972-1979"
2021-11-23_135356.png


The "Original sample rate" tag for "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)" is 44100 (not 88200!!!) i.e. it's the target smple rate that should be after unfolding and rendering MQA. So it's curious why some systems plays this track at 88.2 while it shouldn't be.
2021-11-23_135213.png


"Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"Eagles (2013 Remaster)" bitrate is 961kbps vs 926kbps for "Take It Easy (2013 Remaster)" @"The Studio Albums 1972-1979" and the first FRF is tad better than second
but the second sounds obviously more airy even as a plain FLAC w/o MQA decoding (ABX compared in Foobar2000).
2021-11-23_135803.png
2021-11-23_135845.png
 
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reddeath

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Hello All,
I have a SMSL M500 (V2, SW: 1.6, HW: 1.3) for nearly 1 year now.

Just recently, when placebo effect has worn out, I have realized that the built-in headphone AMP produces much thinner bass frequency for a given song than my other amps I have at home. Song tested, among many others, is: Bassotronics - Bass, I Love You.

All the below combinations produce a nice filling bass at the same subjective volume levels, as opposed to SMSL M500 headphone out:
- Logitech Z-2300 headphone out. Sound path: PC USB (Tidal master or foobar) => SMSL M500 RCA out => Logitech Z-2300 headphone out
- Denon AVR-X4500H. Sound path: nVidia Shield TV HDMI (Tidal master or Kodi) => Denon AVR-X4500H headphone out in Direct mode
- Zen Dac V1. Sound path: PC USB (Tidal master) => Zen Dac headhone out (no bass boost)

Headphones tested (all around 50 ohm):
- Bose QC 35 II
- Sennheiser HD 599
- Sennheiser HD 558

SMSL M500 volume levels:
- Headphone out: 10-12. Increasing to 20 does not give more base, and it is too loud.
- RCA out: 20

So far I have not heard a single review mentioning this issue - lack of bass where (presumably) there should be a nice oomph.

Can anyone confirm or deny that their M500 has similar issue, based on comparison with other headphone amps?
 
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Roddy

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Are there any updated drivers? Can I use the M500 Mk 2 drivers? I recently switched from an AMD to an NVIDIA GPU, and now my sound cuts out every now and then to my PC monitor speakers, and back again. Maybe the software I used to clean the old drivers (DDU) took some USB audio ones with it.

On topic, it would be a little disappointing if they've stopped supporting the old product to focus on a new one. Feels like those games they rush out half-finished, support for a year or less, then abandon before moving onto the next one.

Edit: I just went ahead and used the Mk 2 drivers. It's the same Xmos software, just updated to 5.3 from 4.67. Sadly, it hasn't fixed the issue. I can get the 5.12 driver here: https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/product/support, which is the last one aimed at the M500 Mk 1. Will test later.
 
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miguelx74

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Hi guys.
I have a smsl m500.
The remote control doesn't work anymore.

xmos version 2.06
driver 5.30
sw: 1.7
hw: 1.3
2020-5-30

I tried both the factory reset and replacing the batteries. I also tried pressing the C button on the remote.

The remote control can no longer control the smsl m500
 

George G

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I have the same issue. My M500 has worked flawlessly for several months and suddenly remote not working ? I use it as a pre amp so not very happy right now. Not sure if its the remote or the sensor in M500. Any ideas ?

Well, just unplugged and turned back on, voila, lol.
 
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Laserjock

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I have the same issue. My M500 has worked flawlessly for several months and suddenly remote not working ? I use it as a pre amp so not very happy right now. Not sure if its the remote or the sensor in M500. Any ideas ?

Well, just unplugged and turned back on, voila, lol.
Like computer 101, reboot = :cool:
 
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