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SMSL SD-9 Player Review

Rate this player:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 37 31.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 56 47.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 20 16.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 4.2%

  • Total voters
    118

boomboxx

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The device seems 'fine', however, I dont understand the price. Seems out of touch with the rest of the market. You can build a rpi streamer with a 7" full color touchscreen for less than $150 and minimal effort.

**I just saw this actually came out quite a while ago. Maybe it was a better bargain back when it came out, but probably not.
 
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MikeO

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Agh, well, this is disappointing and not what I thought it could have been. I am years late in the game and new to streamers. Since I already have a Preamp/DAC (Theta Gen.VIIIs3), I'm just looking for a quality streamer (with no internal DACs) that has a balanced output to send to the Theta, and one that maintains signal integrity and has good UI/ease of use. This SMSL doesn't seem to have this. I just subscribed to Tidal so I wanted to start using it.
 

juliangst

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You don't even need to build a Pi player yourself. Audiophonics has a prebuilt Pi player with a screen and sabre DAC with a additional coaxial output for half the price of this SMSL. Software like Volumio or Moode will also be way more future proof and easy to use than any of those chinese desktop DAPs.
 

gegegege

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what' the point of no integrated DAC? A $200 chrome book or old laptop with foobar can do the same job and much more.
 

Verig

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what' the point of no integrated DAC? A $200 chrome book or old laptop with foobar can do the same job and much more.
No dac would be ok if other functionality was top tier. Good form factor, screen, connections, ui... for $400 you could have pretty sweet package.
This thing pretty much has all the negatives that are possible.
 

AndreaT

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Exactly, but i would exclude matrix from your list. In my experience (5 separate devices) they are (now) forthcoming and meet their specs
There was a 2019 Amir's review showing very good performance, however some doubts were presented in the 41 pages of forum that followed about the stability and quality of the MA App to search archived music. Once more, like for the Hiby App of the SD-9 player, the UI is very, very important to enjoy, select and filter by performer, composer, album title a large music database. A flawless server/player/streamer becomes infuriatingly useless if I cannot find what I am looking for to play quickly and effortlessly.
 

ol_mcdonald

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Agh, well, this is disappointing and not what I thought it could have been. I am years late in the game and new to streamers. Since I already have a Preamp/DAC (Theta Gen.VIIIs3), I'm just looking for a quality streamer (with no internal DACs) that has a balanced output to send to the Theta, and one that maintains signal integrity and has good UI/ease of use. This SMSL doesn't seem to have this. I just subscribed to Tidal so I wanted to start using it.
I use Volumio Rivo, previous to that a MacBook Pro and Audirvana which worked quite well, other than having to drag my laptop back and forth from my bedroom to my listening room. Rivo is installed in a rack and a permanent member now, despite some minor issues. Rivo also has a remote/app I run on my iPad.
 

dtaylo1066

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I'll keep my Asus Tinker Board with Volumio, thank you. See no reason to dump $400 on this.
 

Tangband

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This is a review and measurements of the SMSL SD-9 network and local audio player. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $400.
View attachment 286217
I am confused about the form factor here. A streaming/media player device by definition goes into an audio system, used at a distance. As such, the little display will not be visible at all. On desktop use it is frustrating to navigate the unit with just a clickable rotary control. The remote control helps a bit here but still very non-intuitive and rather slow to respond. No DAC is included as all outputs are digital:
View attachment 286218

I connected the Ethernet input and found the menu to update the firmware. I was surprised that it was looking for a file still rather than over the air update.

No Roon support is included, forcing me to deal with its interface to try to play things. I understand there is a remote app from Hiby but I did not try to use it.

I enabled Airplay and while Roon player could see SD-9 over it, it could not play anything to it (I had selected Airplay on SD-9). I then tried to setup DLNA on my windows machine. No matter I did, I could not get the SD-9 to show any files available for playback. Maybe it was pilot error on my part but after half hour of messing around, I gave up and tested the unit using a USB thumb drive.

SMSL SD-9 Player Measurement
With a digital only device, there is not a ton we can test for. But let's see if it is bit perfect playing 24-bit 1 kHz (dithered) tone:
View attachment 286220

I was surprised to see harmonics of 1 kHz in the FFT spectrum causing a bit of reduction in SINAD. It is certainly not a cause for concern but a bit strange.

The only other test was J-test but measuring the spectrum of jitter:
View attachment 286221
The amplitude here is higher than I like to see but again, not an audible concern.

I ran a few other tests but none generated anything useful. It is a digital device and plays what you feed it.

Conclusions
The SD-9 exemplifies what I dislike about "pull" streaming devices. Every one has its own quirks and operational issues you have to learn and deal with. In sharp contrast, push support for Roon gives instant and familiar functionality. I understand if you don't use Roon then you don't have this option but I have to rant anyway. :) Operationally I find the unit challenging to use but ultimately it will pass the bits you send it with 24 bit resolution (assuming you don't use Airplay).

I personally have no use for SMSL SD-9 but you may think differently. I rather save money and get a higher end streamer with larger and easier to use touchpanel. And company supported remote app.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
This is typical. SMSL needs to start collaborating with those companys like ROON and Apple ( AirPlay ) and pay for the licences to get this products working in a proper way.
 

HNK23

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Apr 12, 2023
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I have the SD-9 for half a year now and am very satisfied with it. What is so difficult about operating the player with mConnect (IOS) or BubbleUPNP (Android)?

I use Qobuz and both apps almost always work reliably, unless there is a system update, then the app updates often have to be submitted later. Via Windows, I use the SD-9 with Android over the Windows subsystem, also with the BubbleUPNP app. BubbleUPNP is a great app and the developer is very focussed and responds to inquiries. So I am very satisfied with this player and it really works great.

I don't use Airplay anymore, neither do I use Bluetooth, only upnp. The SD-9 is then connected to a DAC, the Topping E70 Velvet and the amplifier is a Sabaj A20a.
 

syamaz

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Dec 3, 2021
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I bought this in 2021. Back then this was the only streamer without a built in DAC. I already have a DAC hence didn't want to spend money on a steamer with built-in DAC.
The only time I use the screen is during setup. After that I use my phone to play music. So the small screen size doesn't bother me.
My complaint is it does not have Tidal Connect. So I'm limited to using Airplay.
 

pseudoid

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Dear SMSL,
1) Remove the *I2S, *AES/EBU outputs and *MQA
2) Replace with a passthru-HDMI *audio-extractor; via *XLRs+RCAs
3) Add front-panel headphone-out
4) Jack up the price to $500
5) Call me, when ready!
:)

(P.S., Thank you @amirm)
 

newworld666

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I use this little streamer for a year now.. it's connected with wifi 5G as a Dlna Renderer with a SU9/THX887 amp. This combo is beside my armchair on a tablet ( Connected to a HEDDphone One or DCA Stealth) 5 to 10 meters far from my office desk (PC/Syno Server) and TV 65"Screen..

I access my personal Upnp server (Synology) from any of my smartphones/tablet with mconnect/Uapp sent to SD9... I use some PEQ with PowerAMP EQ, JRiver or Foobar.
I have no idea if they are so many possibilities around 1K€ on the market to be able drive such "demanding" headphones through DLNA from an armchair far from my amps/PC/Upnp servers (with a simple small smartphone as remote).
I also own and can use a FIIO M17, but, actually, I prefer the sound quality through the little THX887 amp (SD9+SU9) with the HEDphone One.
 

Jimster480

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I think this is SMSL trying to be twee by releasing a device that they expect their DAC owners to buy as complimentary but really?? $400 for this kind of half baked nonsense?

by the same token I think $1,000+ streamers are taking the piss (so to speak)

i think streamers requires a certain specialty and really, smsl and topping dont have it

these things requires a fair bit of thought as far as UI goes and really, we kind of know they arent specialists at UI and forcing you into a knob and a tiny little screen is torture
I mean really though there are open source projects they could stuff into these boxes. Just the prices keep going up and up and up to the point that we need new budget brands to compete with the old budget brands.
 

Verig

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I mean really though there are open source projects they could stuff into these boxes. Just the prices keep going up and up and up to the point that we need new budget brands to compete with the old budget brands.
It always happens. I remember I bought a Topping amp for $15 back in the day. Horrible volume pot and overmarked for 25W or so. But the sound was really nice for 1-4W. :)
 

pseudoid

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It always happens. I remember I bought a Topping amp for $15 back in the day. Horrible volume pot and overmarked for 25W or so. But the sound was really nice for 1-4W. :)
It must have been near a decade ago, Topping was gawd'awful, like a Yugo!
 

MaxBuck

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You don't even need to build a Pi player yourself. Audiophonics has a prebuilt Pi player with a screen and sabre DAC with a additional coaxial output for half the price of this SMSL. Software like Volumio or Moode will also be way more future proof and easy to use than any of those chinese desktop DAPs.
Apparently you still need to add the Pi to the Audiophonics device, so price structure isn't comparable.

I love that so many here love to tinker with electronics and computers, but I don't. One of many reasons I love my "overpriced, poor-performing" Bluesound Node. Turn it on and stream; no soldering required. I think owners of Wiim devices likely feel the same way.
 

doitttt

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smsl sd-9 gives a fantastic sound, when stream, direct from hdd.
the usb noise is not there, which uses usb cable a pc.
there smsl sd-9 has a strong force.
sounds like some of the best steamers
I am well satisfied
 
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pseudoid

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I love that so many here love to tinker with electronics and computers, but I don't.
I do but I leave my Music hardware as is.
I try to buy quality music hardware. I try to set them up once and then leave them on 24/7.
I loath most anything that requires %^&* software updates in my music chain.
I am from that ol'skool crowd who actually used the 'Tone Bypass' switch.:facepalm:

Yes, Okay! I am a hypocrite because I just built a Z790 PC that runs most of our A/V and computer hardware in the house.
I use a NAS as our music/movie server, I route audio using AES67, we stream stuff... so sue me!

Windows11Pro puked big time with a BSOD stating "Critical Process Died" in capital letters,
It took me a week to rebuild the whole system from scratch... but the music never stopped in the house!
:cool:
 
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