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SMSL M500 Teardown & ESS ES9038Pro DAC Thermal Analysis

headwhacker

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After having read all these posts re V2 and thermal design deficiencies, I must be listening to a completely different device:).

M500 1.08 firmware and absolutely zero issues, pops, clicks, or anything I can mention, while listening to 24/352.8 MQA, or DXD (24/352.8), or DSD256, or DSD512.

Have been listening for more than 2 weeks, since Nov.29. Used as a DAC, balanced connection to SMSL SP200.

One crazy idea though - it's connected to the "higher quality" USB port on Gigabyte Aorus Master motherboard, could that matter?
Their "USB DAC-UP 2" cleaner power technology.
The issue uncovered is a most likely inaudible. Hence, with the latest FW (1.08) anyone can still enjoy the M500 as you do now.
 

trl

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Ben6520

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When you touch the chip, you introduce EMI into the chip thus upsetting pretty much everything in the chip. Likely has little to do with temperature.
 
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amirm

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@amirm Actually, my D5 does not have heatsink, as with some other members'. So probably the retail version of D5 suffers this M500 problem as well?
Hmmm. I don't know if mine does either. I just noted the instructions they provided in this regard.
 

zym1010

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Hmmm. I don't know if mine does either. I just noted the instructions they provided in this regard.

Sure. I just wonder if results here you show invalidates the great SINAD scores D5 got in your previous test... but in any case, D5 sounds good enough to me.
 

TC!!

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After having read all these posts re V2 and thermal design deficiencies, I must be listening to a completely different device:).

M500 1.08 firmware and absolutely zero issues, pops, clicks, or anything I can mention, while listening to 24/352.8 MQA, or DXD (24/352.8), or DSD256, or DSD512.

Have been listening for more than 2 weeks, since Nov.29. Used as a DAC, balanced connection to SMSL SP200.

One crazy idea though - it's connected to the "higher quality" USB port on Gigabyte Aorus Master motherboard, could that matter?
Their "USB DAC-UP 2" cleaner power technology.

The 'quality' of your USB connection can definitely make a difference. My old DAC was terrible with most USB connections, even for 16/44.1. I've had zero issues with the M500, but I do only go up to DSD128 and 24/192.
 

zym1010

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Will have to test. It is out of commission right now until I figure out how to put the ribbon cables back in!
Those ribbon cables are pretty finicky I think. At least that’s the case for D5. Seems that a few (2+) plugging cycles can make the individual fine wires on a cable broken.
 

BYRTT

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APx555 makes it kind of easier. But a good and stable(!) audio interface like the Adi-2 Pro, plus a passive notch filter, plus competent software (REW, perhaps some own code for post-processing) any change of harmonics/spuriae etc is easily detected, IMHO.

In past took me together and started save up for a ADI-2 PRO fs unit that should arrive tommorow from Musicstore Köln :) beside it should serve as recording and reproducing device look forward use it for measurements and can see in manual for that task they recommend run it powered from a floating battery powerbank, moreover can i ask if you aware of some good sites/links where one can seek diy education on stuff as you suggest above.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Those ribbon cables are pretty finicky I think. At least that’s the case for D5. Seems that a few (2+) plugging cycles can make the individual fine wires on a cable broken.
The cables are fine on this. It is just that you can pull them out from the back, but can't insert them back in from there! The LCD needs to be taken back. It has special glue which melts at a certain temp. So I was able to disassemble it, take out the screws from the front and then get easy access to the ribbon cable. It is good as new now. :)
 

Charles0322

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All my test signals are standard PCM without MQA coding. When you say it doesn't work, what does it do different?

Can only hear a difference with my unit cycling through filters on MQA source.. any other type of file be it 24/192 or 16/44.1 filters do not change the sound like they do when I play MQA and use them..
 

Shoaibexpert

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The comments suggested that the M500 chip only heats when playing over and above 16/44.1 content. Would it be safe to assume that Tidal HiFi streaming is then at full ~117 SINAD for most users? Wouldn't it then make a better value proposition than the D90 which is 400 dollars more
 

NorthGraves

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Wouldn't it then make a better value proposition than the D90
So apples and oranges, I don't know where to start:

1) Sabre 9038PRO vs AKM4499 - very different flavour, can't compare directly

2) How can you measure value using only ONE criterion, namely SINAD?
What about quality of power supply and a million other decisions made to built each unit?

3) Inaudible difference between 100 and 120 SINAD, I'm sure

GUSTARD DAC-X26 is using the same ESS Sabre 9038PRO as SMSL M500, and Gustard likely has a lower SINAD, while costing about 3 times the price of M500, does it mean M500 is a better value proposition? No it doesn't.
 

beefkabob

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So apples and oranges, I don't know where to start:

1) Sabre 9038PRO vs AKM4499 - very different flavour, can't compare directly

2) How can you measure value using only ONE criterion, namely SINAD?
What about quality of power supply and a million other decisions made to built each unit?

3) Inaudible difference between 100 and 120 SINAD, I'm sure

GUSTARD DAC-X26 is using the same ESS Sabre 9038PRO as SMSL M500, and Gustard likely has a lower SINAD, while costing about 3 times the price of M500, does it mean M500 is a better value proposition? No it doesn't.
1. Dacs don't have flavor unless you lick them.
2. Nobody here is using one measurement. There's imd distortion, noise floor, and a host of other measurements. Power supply and other design decisions make measurable impacts. So we measure.
3. Provable that 120 will be transparent. Not provable that 100db will be.
 

NorthGraves

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1. Dacs don't have flavor unless you lick them.
2. Nobody here is using one measurement. There's imd distortion, noise floor, and a host of other measurements. Power supply and other design decisions make measurable impacts. So we measure.
3. Provable that 120 will be transparent. Not provable that 100db will be.
OK short version - the question about "a better value proposition" cannot be answer universally, imo.
Individually, subjectively, yes.
 

NorthGraves

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May you elaborate about this?
Never heard an AKM4497/4499, but everyone says AKM sounds noticeably different from ESS Sabre.
Not quality-wise, but a personal preference question. I love ESS Sabre's speed and transparency, but again, I've never heard any AKM4497/4499.
 
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