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SMSL SU-8 Version 2 Balanced DAC

Joined
Mar 29, 2018
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Hello Again,

I'd like to report that my SU-8 unit is working good with good sound. I went again to the recording studio and retested the unit with a different usb cable and used a USB 2.0 port on the Pc instead of a USB3.0. It may aswell have been a glitch with the XLR cabling connection to the Equalizer and Power Stage which has to be switched from the default setup. The engineer did high resulution pure tone frequency tests and the response was good without distortion.

Now to my subjective sound impressions, if I may give them here. :) I can't do an ABX blind test because of setup configuration and difficulty to redo the connections but I am positive that I can tell the difference when I switched from-back to the default studio dac.

The SU-8 is indeed transparent and detailed, has good dynamic response and good stereo image. It is even more resolved than the M-Audio ProFire 2626, specially midrange. However the mids still seem to be a little forward or pushed up, for example in classical music, cellos and violas sound a little bright or brilliant and it grates me a bit to enjoy the track, I don't perceive them as 'natural'. With some bright vocals recording too, but not all. Music samples to judge were above 200 kbps. I know it is not optimal to judge compressed music but the difference is there with the gear.

Right after switching back to the M-audio the sound is more 'agreable'. It is more rounded,natural if maybe mids a touch pushed-back and also less resolved, like 'forgiven'. Don't get me wrong, I expect a flat response and I like mids as they are, not V shaped of any kind, but I wasn't wholly satisfied with the sound as it was from the SU-8. Of course it may have been the room equalisation, as the studio is fitted for the M-audio, but both converters should give a flat response so the equalization is more geared for the monitors and room acoustics. The M-audio sounds more edged in midrage (uncomfortable) with the EQ turned off). I didn't test the SMSL SU-8 with the EQ off to compare.

I also took another listening test at home with my two setups and varied hardware and the SU-8 definitely improves the sound (mids more detailed), although here the differences are harder to tell because of hardware limits/resolution.

Apologies for the confusion above, I am now satisfied with the product and hope it may be useful to someone. Bear with my subjective impressions even if this is a scientific thread.

P.S.: We did test the digital filters. They change the stereo witdh and phase, as well as bass and treble balance. Here I couldn't tell them apart well, but the engineer could blind tell off some filters in a couple tests. He pointed up at the phase difference without seeing the preset filter. He agreed with the filter frequency graph from the manual, and he was also familiar with the brickwall filter. To his judgement the first filter (Fast linear) is the one that sounds better of the first 5.
 
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I'd be curious if you used solely the SU-8 for a week and then went back to the M-Audio, if you would find the mids recessed and disagreeable on it:p
 
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I'd be curious if you used solely the SU-8 for a week and then went back to the M-Audio, if you would find the mids recessed and disagreeable on it:p
Read the post immediately above yours...
 
Joined
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Location
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I'd be curious if you used solely the SU-8 for a week and then went back to the M-Audio, if you would find the mids recessed and disagreeable on it:p
Being the one that bought the SU-8 I have no bias to prefer the M-Audio, all the contrary, I want to like the smsl. I would need indeed more time to make a better judgement but my impression was that. Also the M-Audio was 700€+ new, it makes sense to compare even if it's an interface mixer, with preamps. The monitors are very capable and I love them.

However I think that if we ran a room correction sweep test with the SU-8, the newly EQ (it is a Yamaha 31-band stereo EQ) would improve the sound aswell as it does with the M. Since at home and auditorium I don't notice these differences as much.
 
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Read the post immediately above yours...
That's what I was referencing, I didn't see any mention as to how long he used the SMSL. I was just curious if he used solely the SU-8 for a week if his ears would get used to it, as it seems his brain is finely tuned to the nuances of his M-Audio. I did appreciate how he gave it a second listen with a completely open mind!
 
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Messages
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Location
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That's what I was referencing, I didn't see any mention as to how long he used the SMSL. I was just curious if he used solely the SU-8 for a week if his ears would get used to it, as it seems his brain is finely tuned to the nuances of his M-Audio. I did appreciate how he gave it a second listen with a completely open mind!
Apologies. Your post read as if you were responding to Diego's original post, particularly with the emoticon.
 

JohnYang1997

Senior Member
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Dec 28, 2018
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Hello Again,

I'd like to report that my SU-8 unit is working good with good sound. I went again to the recording studio and retested the unit with a different usb cable and used a USB 2.0 port on the Pc instead of a USB3.0. It may aswell have been a glitch with the XLR cabling connection to the Equalizer and Power Stage which has to be switched from the default setup. The engineer did high resulution pure tone frequency tests and the response was good without distortion.

Now to my subjective sound impressions, if I may give them here. :) I can't do an ABX blind test because of setup configuration and difficulty to redo the connections but I am positive that I can tell the difference when I switched from-back to the default studio dac.

The SU-8 is indeed transparent and detailed, has good dynamic response and good stereo image. It is even more resolved than the M-Audio ProFire 2626, specially midrange. However the mids still seem to be a little forward or pushed up, for example in classical music, cellos and violas sound a little bright or brilliant and it grates me a bit to enjoy the track, I don't perceive them as 'natural'. With some bright vocals recording too, but not all. Music samples to judge were above 200 kbps. I know it is not optimal to judge compressed music but the difference is there with the gear.

Right after switching back to the M-audio the sound is more 'agreable'. It is more rounded,natural if maybe mids a touch pushed-back and also less resolved, like 'forgiven'. Don't get me wrong, I expect a flat response and I like mids as they are, not V shaped of any kind, but I wasn't wholly satisfied with the sound as it was from the SU-8. Of course it may have been the room equalisation, as the studio is fitted for the M-audio, but both converters should give a flat response so the equalization is more geared for the monitors and room acoustics. The M-audio sounds more edged in midrage (uncomfortable) with the EQ turned off). I didn't test the SMSL SU-8 with the EQ off to compare.

I also took another listening test at home with my two setups and varied hardware and the SU-8 definitely improves the sound (mids more detailed), although here the differences are harder to tell because of hardware limits/resolution.

Apologies for the confusion above, I am now satisfied with the product and hope it may be useful to someone. Bear with my subjective impressions even if this is a scientific thread.

P.S.: We did test the digital filters. They change the stereo witdh and phase, as well as bass and treble balance. Here I couldn't tell them apart well, but the engineer could blind tell off some filters in a couple tests. He pointed up at the phase difference without seeing the preset filter. He agreed with the filter frequency graph from the manual, and he was also familiar with the brickwall filter. To his judgement the first filter (Fast linear) is the one that sounds better of the first 5.
I think what you heard is the high dynamic range and low noise floor eliminating noise modulation over the sound aka transparent. Or it's possible that su-8 has higher output level that making it sound harsh. Or the higher level making the next stage's front end distort a little bit more. There are a lot of possibilities here.
 
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I've had similar professional audio interfaces to the M-Audio mentioned, including Avid, TC Electronic and Universal Audio.
All I can say is that SU-8 DAC beats all of them, older Avid interfaces (comparable to M-Audio) are actually so "bad" in comparison that the difference is night and day. I think that Diego might be accustomed to a "colored" sound.
 
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Is this something that could potentially be resolved with a software update or are we restricted by the hardware design here?
Lets be realistic, DACs have always been doing that when changing sample rate (especially those connected by USB), I've never owned one (professional or not) which was completely silent on sample rate change, there are some out there but they are not the norm, simply because is rather unusual (and imho worthless) to have different sample rates in a music library, also when working professionally you can only set your sample rate prior to creating the project.
By the way SU-8 seems to do it only on balanced outputs (very quietly) in my case, and RCA is silent.
But for me is not and never have been an issue all this years.
 

Jaimo

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I actually like the pop sound. For me, It’s a prompt that the SR has changed.

In my system, it’s a low level pop that’s in no way a cause for concern.
 

JohnYang1997

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My su8 arrived but i am always having hard time getting things open. How do I open this thing? Are the screws hidden under the pads?
 
Joined
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The pop on sampe-rate-change is a dealbreaker for me.
I also hate this click sound. My VMV (and my SU-8, when I owned one) exhibits the same behavior. It is a mechanical, hardware relay issue, that is by design. I have owned so many dacs, some click, some don't. I don't think a firmware will ever change this. I use Jriver to upsample everything to 768khz, and that keeps it from clicking all the darn time.
 

JohnYang1997

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Did some extensive measurements with su8 and smsl m3.
Multitone (white) flat
multitone (pink) down sloping
single tone with varies output level

Ess chips behaves really really different from regular chips.
This su8 specifically, the distortion harmonics doesn't reduce when the output level reduces. It always stays at around 0.0003% which is weird as fuck. At the same level -16dbFS m3 has 0.00007% distortion at 1khz where su8 is still at 0.0003%

Noise performance is pretty good. I'm not even testing thd hump there are already parts I don't like.
 

JohnYang1997

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Just tested thd hump. This time it's very different from what we had seen. It's actually the distortion rather than noise modulation. 3rd 5th 7th harmonics are way too high. at -23dbFS to -30dbFs around that area. Which makes me sad because that's not something we can fix like some one from ess said.
 

JohnYang1997

Senior Member
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Also did some 20hz + 1khz intermodulation distortion test and results are horrible. I'll do more nontraditional testing to dig out what the fuck is ess doing.
 

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