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SMSL SU-10 DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 12 4.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 12 4.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 51 16.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 228 75.2%

  • Total voters
    303

Rover

Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
107
Likes
71
Location
France



JSmith
"The first 9039?
I really want to say a few words about this feature. The technical passport is published on the official website, no matter how you look at it, this is a stripped-down version of 9038! ? The biggest feature is a more energy efficient hyperflow modulator. What is the source of this energy saving? At first glance, I see two points from the script: 1. The reconstruction filter is worse, the removal of a brick wall, the addition of an extra minimum phase, the filter attenuation is worse. 2. Low-frequency hyperflow modulator, asynchronous mode mclk (MasterClock) 9038 is 100 MHz (> 2048 fs), and 9039 is 50 MHz (1024 fs). You should know that the data in the official 9008 document is all 40 MHz, does that mean it's done backwards? . . This mclk is associated with the final modulation process, affects the formation of noise, and also directly affects the resolution.
Although in general, while maintaining the same parameters, energy consumption decreases, and it would not be an exaggeration to call it an "upgrade", but again, the measurements are the same, and it sounds like devices that are very different from each other, surely all enthusiasts have met. This adjustment of retention parameters cannot be considered simply as an "improvement". For those who can already play 9038, why do we need 9039?"
 
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HiFindingnemo

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
20
I admit I watch alot of reviews like this despite knowing better but here it goes.


For me it's bongers what these guys Sometimes hear between "high-end" devices.

I have been looking at the topping DX7 pro plus (or whatever it's called) that is basically up there with these 3 DACs in performance and comes with a really good headphone amp as well.
Why are we not Getting more devices like that from SMSL too?
 

Gradius

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 17, 2019
Messages
618
Likes
381
Location
Iquique, Chile
How about a new comprehensive review and video.Dave Extremis..... Sandu has ears like a bat...background quiet better than Topping D90se...Amir measured both units with analyzer. For which he deserves thanks. But subjectively, DAVE is quieter and much wider...;):facepalm:
Those kind of reviews are a (bad) JOKE and you know it. ;)
 

jio

New Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
4
Likes
1
One of the best buys ever, run digital filter over hqplayer. Seems to sound as good like my r2r dac costs 4 times.
 

Docmoggy

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
79
Likes
50
Received my SMSL SU-10 today. Connected it to I-Pad Pro PCM USB B, Topping Pre90 and Benchmark Media AHB2s. I set the AHB2s to medium sensitivity. Unit switched on without any issues. Menu was intuitive. Set the Pre-mode to fixed. No sound.

Worked out that the max vol setting (+2 dB) for the SU-10 has to be set before the fixed option is chosen. That allows the Pre-90 to be the master volume control unit without compromise.

Set Filter to fast linear. Everything else remained left to default. Amir mentioned something about updating the firmware, but there doesn't appear to be one on the SMSL web site. Well, there is something, but I can't open it up after downloading. Anyway, everything worked - sound out of the Wilsons.

My go to test music is Taylor McFerrin - Early Riser. That will put anything through its paces. It really does sort them out from the very first note and then its a relentless barrage of every sonic frequency variable for about 40 mins.

The album was played back from Apple Lossless through an Ipad Pro @ 44.1 MHz. Immediately, I knew there was greater clarity. About 10 secs into the second track I started to resolve what the weird little clicks used to be as a ticking mechanism from a clock. Honestly, I was very much impressed. Then the bass notes kicked in and there was a real noticeable improvement because something in my room started resonating - which was new! I hadn't noticed that when I played the same album on the MA prior to connecting the SU-10. Trouble is, I've played that album track 4 times now and I cannot isolate the slightly irritating noise. Only occurs on that track!

I moved to a Hi-Res Lossless Toni Bennett album (192 MHz) and wow! - you really can hear everything! The big band was so well staged. Again, I was able to resolve more detail and it was immersive as though watching the guys playing in the studio. The biggest revelation for me was that fact, I could visualise the music being played. Difficult to explain, never had that experience before. It’s the sense of being present. What ever that means. I mean on another album I can now distinguish the type of cymbals the drummer is crushing and each Tom he’s beating the hell out of. If you’re a musician it’s a cribbing tool.

I set the AHB2s to high output (2 VRMS) and wasn't happy with the result from over amplification. At lowest output setting (9.8VRMS ) had to crank up the Pre90, but the resolution was really good. However set in the middle with XLR balanced output, seems to be the sweet spot. Quite astonishing really. I’m not going to wax lyrical like some journalist from a hifi mag. But this is the best sound I’ve managed to reproduce in my room in 22 years!

Well well, two chips better than one it would seem. Well, theee with the pcm chip.

The bluetooth connection with my Iphone came up as LDAC on the SU10. Not impressed with it, a big loss in sound quality IMO, but handy if you have guests around sharing music. Maybe someone can point me to how I can get better reproduction from fancy Bluetooth sources.

I certainly do not regret this purchase and I should know, I've had a few! 35 years of searching for excellence and here it is in a little black box, ironically as my earing could be fading fast such is the advancement of time.

What else can possibly come next? I guess a networked version for the Tidal etc.. streamers? Well done SMSL. Great product.
 
Last edited:

staticV3

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
3,283
Likes
4,724
Amir mentioned something about updating the firmware, but there doesn't appear to be one on the SMSL web site. Well, there is something, but I can't open it up after downloading.
You can downlaod the firmware update with instruction at the bottom of the page here. It improves jitter.
 

anander

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
42
Likes
32
Location
67°40'17"N 51°19'34"W
Measures great, everything else is slightly better than past dacs, price really isn't there. Definitely would rather go for a sgd-1 or eversolo dac-z6. Gets a middling "fine" from me.
 

yodog

Active Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
163
Likes
38
Received my SMSL SU-10 today. Connected it to I-Pad Pro PCM USB B, Topping Pre90 and Benchmark Media AHB2s. I set the AHB2s to medium sensitivity. Unit switched on without any issues. Menu was intuitive. Set the Pre-mode to fixed. No sound.

Worked out that the max vol setting (+2 dB) for the SU-10 has to be set before the fixed option is chosen. That allows the Pre-90 to be the master volume control unit without compromise.

Set Filter to fast linear. Everything else remained left to default. Amir mentioned something about updating the firmware, but there doesn't appear to be one on the SMSL web site. Well, there is something, but I can't open it up after downloading. Anyway, everything worked - sound out of the Wilsons.

My go to test music is Taylor McFerrin - Early Riser. That will put anything through its paces. It really does sort them out from the very first note and then its a relentless barrage of every sonic frequency variable for about 40 mins.

The album was played back from Apple Lossless through an Ipad Pro @ 44.1 MHz. Immediately, I knew there was greater clarity. About 10 secs into the second track I started to resolve what the weird little clicks used to be as a ticking mechanism from a clock. Honestly, I was very much impressed. Then the bass notes kicked in and there was a real noticeable improvement because something in my room started resonating - which was new! I hadn't noticed that when I played the same album on the MA prior to connecting the SU-10. Trouble is, I've played that album track 4 times now and I cannot isolate the slightly irritating noise. Only occurs on that track!

I moved to a Hi-Res Lossless Toni Bennett album (192 MHz) and wow! - you really can hear everything! The big band was so well staged. Again, I was able to resolve more detail and it was immersive as though watching the guys playing in the studio. The biggest revelation for me was that fact, I could visualise the music being played. Difficult to explain, never had that experience before. It’s the sense of being present. What ever that means. I mean on another album I can now distinguish the type of cymbals the drummer is crushing and each Tom he’s beating the hell out of. If you’re a musician it’s a cribbing tool.

I set the AHB2s to high output (2 VRMS) and wasn't happy with the result from over amplification. At lowest output setting (9.8VRMS ) had to crank up the Pre90, but the resolution was really good. However set in the middle with XLR balanced output, seems to be the sweet spot. Quite astonishing really. I’m not going to wax lyrical like some journalist from a hifi mag. But this is the best sound I’ve managed to reproduce in my room in 22 years!

Well well, two chips better than one it would seem. Well, theee with the pcm chip.

The bluetooth connection with my Iphone came up as LDAC on the SU10. Not impressed with it, a big loss in sound quality IMO, but handy if you have guests around sharing music. Maybe someone can point me to how I can get better reproduction from fancy Bluetooth sources.

I certainly do not regret this purchase and I should know, I've had a few! 35 years of searching for excellence and here it is in a little black box, ironically as my earing could be fading fast such is the advancement of time.

What else can possibly come next? I guess a networked version for the Tidal etc.. streamers? Well done SMSL. Great product.
Your candid review is quickly accelerating my likelihood to purchase this DAC. And I wasn’t exactly already in the market looking for a DAC for the home sound system. Thank you for sharing your experience.
 

DRuszaT

Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2022
Messages
18
Likes
18
Received my SMSL SU-10 today. Connected it to I-Pad Pro PCM USB B, Topping Pre90 and Benchmark Media AHB2s. I set the AHB2s to medium sensitivity. Unit switched on without any issues. Menu was intuitive. Set the Pre-mode to fixed. No sound.

Worked out that the max vol setting (+2 dB) for the SU-10 has to be set before the fixed option is chosen. That allows the Pre-90 to be the master volume control unit without compromise.

Set Filter to fast linear. Everything else remained left to default. Amir mentioned something about updating the firmware, but there doesn't appear to be one on the SMSL web site. Well, there is something, but I can't open it up after downloading. Anyway, everything worked - sound out of the Wilsons.

My go to test music is Taylor McFerrin - Early Riser. That will put anything through its paces. It really does sort them out from the very first note and then its a relentless barrage of every sonic frequency variable for about 40 mins.

The album was played back from Apple Lossless through an Ipad Pro @ 44.1 MHz. Immediately, I knew there was greater clarity. About 10 secs into the second track I started to resolve what the weird little clicks used to be as a ticking mechanism from a clock. Honestly, I was very much impressed. Then the bass notes kicked in and there was a real noticeable improvement because something in my room started resonating - which was new! I hadn't noticed that when I played the same album on the MA prior to connecting the SU-10. Trouble is, I've played that album track 4 times now and I cannot isolate the slightly irritating noise. Only occurs on that track!

I moved to a Hi-Res Lossless Toni Bennett album (192 MHz) and wow! - you really can hear everything! The big band was so well staged. Again, I was able to resolve more detail and it was immersive as though watching the guys playing in the studio. The biggest revelation for me was that fact, I could visualise the music being played. Difficult to explain, never had that experience before. It’s the sense of being present. What ever that means. I mean on another album I can now distinguish the type of cymbals the drummer is crushing and each Tom he’s beating the hell out of. If you’re a musician it’s a cribbing tool.

I set the AHB2s to high output (2 VRMS) and wasn't happy with the result from over amplification. At lowest output setting (9.8VRMS ) had to crank up the Pre90, but the resolution was really good. However set in the middle with XLR balanced output, seems to be the sweet spot. Quite astonishing really. I’m not going to wax lyrical like some journalist from a hifi mag. But this is the best sound I’ve managed to reproduce in my room in 22 years!

Well well, two chips better than one it would seem. Well, theee with the pcm chip.

The bluetooth connection with my Iphone came up as LDAC on the SU10. Not impressed with it, a big loss in sound quality IMO, but handy if you have guests around sharing music. Maybe someone can point me to how I can get better reproduction from fancy Bluetooth sources.

I certainly do not regret this purchase and I should know, I've had a few! 35 years of searching for excellence and here it is in a little black box, ironically as my earing could be fading fast such is the advancement of time.

What else can possibly come next? I guess a networked version for the Tidal etc.. streamers? Well done SMSL. Great product.
My SU-10 arrived 2 days ago from linsoul.com.... I can't update the firmware either. I press the button and turn on the power, I keep pressing the button but nothing happens... no connection to the upgrade software. Someone could describe here in detail how to do it... I was very surprised by the LDAC capability, I listened to my own mixes with it for the first time, so I had no expectations. I usually do the mastering work on an ADI-2 Pro Fs R BE. Well the SU-10 didn't go into my home studio, I bought it for my listening room along with an A90 Discrete. I started playing my own mixes from soundcloud in unbalanced mode via LDAC and not too combo Mackie CR5-XBT. No MQA and other bullshit. Seriously, I heard details in my mixes that I've never heard before, I tried most of the filters, I especially liked the Brickwall filter... I'm already looking forward to next week, when the PMC twotwo8 arrives in my studio... after that I'll definitely combine it with the SU-10.
 
Last edited:

GPJ

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
420
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464
Did you folllow the instructions included in the attached PDF?
 

Docmoggy

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
79
Likes
50
My SU-10 arrived 2 days ago from linsoul.com.... I can't update the firmware either. I press the button and turn on the power, I keep pressing the button but nothing happens... no connection to the upgrade software. Someone could describe here in detail how to do it... I was very surprised by the LDAC capability, I listened to my own mixes with it for the first time, so I had no expectations. I usually do the mastering work on an ADI-2 Pro Fs R BE. Well the SU-10 didn't go into my home studio, I bought it for my listening room along with an A90 Discrete. I started playing my own mixes from soundcloud in unbalanced mode via LDAC and not too combo Mackie CR5-XBT. No MQA and other bullshit. Seriously, I heard details in my mixes that I've never heard before, I tried most of the filters, I especially liked the Brickwall filter... I'm already looking forward to next week, when the PMC twotwo8 arrives in my studio... after that I'll definitely combine it with the SU-10.
I can concur that I experience exactly the same symptoms as you when trying to update the firmware. Guess, we will have to await someone to post some instructions. The SU-10 will certainly work well in a studio environment with monitors. Could be that your mixes get more impressive! Good luck.
 

GXAlan

Major Contributor
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Joined
Jan 15, 2020
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I wonder if this DAC: https://vintageking.com/antelope-audio-amari really lives up to the specs with a dynamics range of 138dB, the SU-10 has 'just' 130dB.

A single CS43198 features a 130 dBA dynamic range and a THD+N rating of -115 dB.

That product you linked parallels a few of them. The THD+N isn’t all that impressive by today’s benchmarks but I’d expect it to be audibly transparent and it looks like a great product, except the price is pretty high.
 

WasM

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2022
Messages
8
Likes
9
Yes, to the letter.
I got mine delivered 3 days ago and just saw this firmware upgrade. I loaded the files, extracted as noted and what the instructions don't tell you is to make sure you change the device to "MM32F103xx_o", uncheck "Vefify".
Also make sure when you power up pushing in the rotary dial for more than 5 seconds. No power up screen comes up but the blue "Connected" comes up on the ISP program.
After a successful upgrade the DAC turns on.
I hit the "X" to disconnect and it turned off.
Hope that helps.
 

DRuszaT

Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2022
Messages
18
Likes
18
I got mine delivered 3 days ago and just saw this firmware upgrade. I loaded the files, extracted as noted and what the instructions don't tell you is to make sure you change the device to "MM32F103xx_o", uncheck "Vefify".
Also make sure when you power up pushing in the rotary dial for more than 5 seconds. No power up screen comes up but the blue "Connected" comes up on the ISP program.
After a successful upgrade the DAC turns on.
I hit the "X" to disconnect and it turned off.
Hope that helps.
I think we're doing everything right, in principle it's as simple as a wedge in a tree. All SMSL devices have to have their firmware updated like this, you can't go wrong. The problem is that the device produces the issue that it doesn't always turn on when I plug it into the socket. I have never seen this before, that I plug a device into the socket and no picture or sound... If I push the dial button it never gets power from the socket, if I let go, everything works again after 3-4 tries. If I'm not mistaken, it could be related to the internal surge protection... Between you and me, it was a big dumbass who designed the firmware update using this method. I use an EU plug (230V, Schuko power plug, standard CEE 7/7).
 
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Docmoggy

Member
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Mar 13, 2021
Messages
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I got mine delivered 3 days ago and just saw this firmware upgrade. I loaded the files, extracted as noted and what the instructions don't tell you is to make sure you change the device to "MM32F103xx_o", uncheck "Vefify".
Also make sure when you power up pushing in the rotary dial for more than 5 seconds. No power up screen comes up but the blue "Connected" comes up on the ISP program.
After a successful upgrade the DAC turns on.
I hit the "X" to disconnect and it turned off.
Hope that helps.
Thanks for that information. Could you please let us know what file you selected was it also the same as the device label but ending in hex?
 
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