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SMSL SU-8 Version 2 Balanced DAC

frogmeat69

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Hello, I tried to read all the thread and find info I need but I need to ask you these two questions:
1) without opening it can you see if it is v1 or v2?
2) I use my smsl su-8 with fostex pm0.4n balanced and XLR cable. I hear a big bump each time I change settings. Support told me to use RCA connections because Fostex are not really balanced. With RCA I hear no bump anymore. But Fostex says that PM0.4n are electronically balanced. So basically is it true that Fostex are fake balanced? Or is it a sign I have version v1?

Thanks,
Mario
Here is Mandy from SMSL explaining how to check which version you have :
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-su-8-version-2-balanced-dac.5433/post-126785
 

MWC

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It might be mgiammarco wants to know the hardware version rather than the firmware version. This is written on the board and not displayed onscreen. I posted this before my browser updated the more recent replies that had come in.
 
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It might be mgiammarco wants to know the hardware version rather than the firmware version. This is written on the board and not displayed onscreen.
I'm sure they do want to know the hardware version, but this can be told from the firmware version as described above. The question was how to check this without opening it up to look at the board.
 

typericey

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@SMSL-Mandy can the RCA and XLR outputs be used simultaneously without any negative effects on sound quality?
 

amirm

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I am pretty sure both are hot at the same time.
I can confirm all outputs are hot at the same time and volume controlled.

That's my only "complaint" about the unit (which I knew about before purchase), it should have been easy and cheap to add some kind of output selection. No big deal though.
 
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I just wanted to pop in here to state my appreciation for @amirm and his measurements and work here. I've been rocking my iFi micro iDSD Black Label for about a year and a half now and I've always enjoyed it incredibly. The sheer amount of features and power it offers is impressive. But I was craving a proper desktop setup and not a portable device used as a desktop device. So I started digging and found ASR. The treasure trove of information and intellectual conversation here is pure gold. From that I found the SMSL SU-8, JDS Labs Atom, and THX AAA 789. Now, I've received the SU-8 (2 of them actually), ordered the THX AAA 789 (in the latest drop - coming september), and JDS Labs Atom (gotta have a headphone amp that's supposedly nearly as good as the 789 but a quarter of the price - and I'm impatient to complete the setup).

I have to say, the SU-8 combined with the Atom has added a level of clarity that I didn't even know existed to my headphones (HifiMan Ananda). I tried to A/B the DAC of the SU-8 vs the Black Label by creating a grouped zone in Roon and having the line outs of the DACs (both using WASAPI Exclusive over USB with TIDAL as source) feeding the Atom, and using the input switch of the Atom to go between the two with essentially no gap or pop. Some songs the differences are more difficult than others to tell. But when you can tell, it's pretty astonishing how great the difference is. Where it was clearest was in vocals to me.

The thing that I'm wondering now is, what exactly is it that makes these two DACs different that is creating this difference in sound? Is it the SINAD difference of 93 vs 110? (I'm not sure how much apart would create an audible difference). Or perhaps just the DACs themselves being different in design, Burr Brown vs ESS?

Maybe this is the wrong thread to ask this question, but I didn't really know where to start it. All I know is I love this forum and I want to stop being a lurker and get into the nitty gritty of it all.

Thanks everyone!
 

Veri

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I have to say, the SU-8 combined with the Atom has added a level of clarity that I didn't even know existed to my headphones (HifiMan Ananda). I tried to A/B the DAC of the SU-8 vs the Black Label by creating a grouped zone in Roon and having the line outs of the DACs (both using WASAPI Exclusive over USB with TIDAL as source) feeding the Atom, and using the input switch of the Atom to go between the two with essentially no gap or pop. Some songs the differences are more difficult than others to tell. But when you can tell, it's pretty astonishing how great the difference is. Where it was clearest was in vocals to me.

The thing that I'm wondering now is, what exactly is it that makes these two DACs different that is creating this difference in sound? Is it the SINAD difference of 93 vs 110? (I'm not sure how much apart would create an audible difference). Or perhaps just the DACs themselves being different in design, Burr Brown vs ESS?
I've owned the black label for 6 months or so. Eventually sold it because, while it had great features and ashtoningly decent output power for battery powered device, the DAC clarity wasn't all that. It's what iFi was going for really, basically all their devices use a rather old burr brown converter claiming it sounds more "analog" than current offerings.

In reality, this DAC sometimes sounds plain muddy depending on what you're listening to (output level, peak dynamic range etc). I liked the black label a lot for what it was, but honestly you can do better with two separates than the all-in-one ifi black label. It's not bad at all but over time leaves you wanting for more. At least, it did for me. So I'm not surprised with your experience.

It's good marketing really. They make a rather well-engineered device that has no glaring flaws... but that is not perfect by any means, making you want to either side-grade to one of their many 'filter'/'fix' devices for power and-or USB (from Amir's testing, snake oil). Or upgrade to higher-end much more expensive devices (which again will be superceded by the next-in-line products, they've released an iFi iDSD 'Pro' and are currently working on a TOTL 'Diablo' DAC). Either I'm overthinking this or they know very well what they're doing.. :)
 
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It's good marketing really. They make a rather well-engineered device that has no glaring flaws... but that is not perfect by any means, making you want to either side-grade to one of their many 'filter'/'fix' devices for power and-or USB (from Amir's testing, snake oil). Or upgrade to higher-end much more expensive devices (which again will be superceded by the next-in-line products, they've released an iFi iDSD 'Pro' and are currently working on a TOTL 'Diablo' DAC). Either I'm overthinking this or they know very well what they're doing.. :)
I think you're absolutely right on that. I was basically that exact scenario. Wanted to improve my gear...what did I do? Buy an iSilencer, iDefender, and iPurifier. End the end, I kept only the iDefender as it it's a pretty simple device that solves ground loops and it made a pretty significant difference in some cases for me (where it was pretty clearly ground loop to begin with). The rest got returned because it did essentially nothing from what I could perceive, and certainly no perceived noise reduction. Not only that, but I was very strongly considering buying the iFi iDSD Pro or Pro iCAN. In the end I just couldn't justify the price thinking there had to be alternatives. Which led me to discover ASR. Which does indeed show iFi products can indeed be quite good, but perhaps not always as good as they make themselves seem.
 

MWC

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Ground loops mentioned again: can I ask for clarification as it's slightly off (SU-8) topic?

I usually hear of ground-loop issues from Americans and hardly at all from other nations. Is this an issue more prevalent in USA than elsewhere because of the way electricity is supplied there? Rightly or wrongly, my reading all over the www has led me to the conclusion that power supply in USA is more 'dirty' (not properly grounded) than elsewhere. Maybe because it is such a very large country, power infrastructure is difficult/complicated? In this case, surely it would be similar in Russia or China? I don't get it?
 
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Ground loops mentioned again: can I ask for clarification as it's slightly off (SU-8) topic?

I usually hear of ground-loop issues from Americans and hardly at all from other nations. Is this an issue more prevalent in USA than elsewhere because of the way electricity is supplied there? Rightly or wrongly, my reading all over the www has led me to the conclusion that power supply in USA is more 'dirty' (not properly grounded) than elsewhere. Maybe because it is such a very large country, power infrastructure is difficult/complicated? In this case, sure it would be similar in Russia or China? I don't get it?
This is definitely massively off-topic (so we should probably try to keep this short if anything), and I'm by no means an expert here, but I can attempt to tackle this a little bit. Anyone else can feel free and step in here if desired for correction and/or clarification.

"A ground loop occurs when there is more than one ground connection path between two pieces of equipment."
So you can create a ground loop fairly easily. And the thing is, once you start having multiple audio components with separate power supplies, factor in a PC (if you're using one), and then powerstrips and separate outlets, and boom you have a ground loop fairly easily if you're not paying attention.
In my case, I'm not in the USA. I'm in Switzerland, which typically is known to have a pretty solid grid/building regulations. And I never had these things when I was living in New York. I believe it ultimately comes down to the grounding design of the building/house itself. Namely, if it has more than one path to ground (let's say the circuit that leads to a particular outlet has one path, and another circuit, and outlet, has another path), then if you had two components connected to each other, and both of these components connected to these two different outlets, you would create a ground loop.

The effect of ground loops can vary in degree, but usually there's a "hum" that you can very audibly hear in some of your equipment. And you can usually tell it's a ground loop if you are listening to the equipment and you put your hand on one of the pieces of equipment (that's metal), and it changes the tone in some way.
 

rodz37

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Hi guys. I have a marantaz pm6006ukse with DAC CS4398 onboard. Would the smsl su-8 v2 be a decent upgrade? Noticeable improvement as the sound via my dali zensor3's as it seems a little 2d and not projecting the soundstage as much as I'd like.
 

Veri

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...Not only that, but I was very strongly considering buying the iFi iDSD Pro or Pro iCAN. In the end I just couldn't justify the price thinking there had to be alternatives. Which led me to discover ASR. Which does indeed show iFi products can indeed be quite good, but perhaps not always as good as they make themselves seem.
Haha :) I too almost considered an iUSB nano and even the iDSD Pro. Thankfully I didn't decide to actually buy the usb tweak, and stereophile saved me from the iDSD Pro. It doesn't measure particularly well for all their claims and all features they stuffed into it, especially at the very high price. The DSD mastering produces lots of artifacts, as do the tube modes. Also no bass boost / crossfeed toggles. Pretty lousy for a high-end product.
 

Veri

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Hi guys. I have a marantaz pm6006ukse with DAC CS4398 onboard. Would the smsl su-8 v2 be a decent upgrade? Noticeable improvement as the sound via my dali zensor3's as it seems a little 2d and not projecting the soundstage as much as I'd like.
I would say buy one from amazon and try it out. It could be you appreciate the difference. And otherwise return & request a refund ;)
 
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