• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

SMSL SU-8 Version 2 Balanced DAC

Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
40
Likes
10
Location
Colorado
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 am moving from the DAC in my Emotiva xmc-1 pre/pro to the SU-8, with delivery early next week. I am also looking for improvement in the SQ. I will post my opinions ASAP by the end of next week.

One thing I like is that the EMO offers XLR inputs to accept the XLR balanced outputs from the SU-8.
 

PvtPoncho

New Member
Joined
May 9, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
So between the smsl su-8 and the topping d50 which one would you guys go for? If I plan to go balanced eventually should I just go with the su-8? Sound wise are they pretty comparable?
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
53
Likes
67
Location
Paris
I have ordered 2 Topping products and the 2 went back to Amazon for refund. Remote was not working, Chinese Wall plug... The SU-8 is working fine and I use xlr with my main amplifier and rca for the active speakers. Most important point, I am very impressed by the SU-8 in term of sound. My expensive DAC is now unplugged and I prefer the SU-8.
 

Tks

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
406
Likes
370
Location
NYC
I have ordered 2 Topping products and the 2 went back to Amazon for refund. Remote was not working, Chinese Wall plug... The SU-8 is working fine and I use xlr with my main amplifier and rca for the active speakers. Most important point, I am very impressed by the SU-8 in term of sound. My expensive DAC is now unplugged and I prefer the SU-8.

You didn't insert the battery correctly between the coils for the Topping I would wager almost anything. 2 for two remote failures? This is astronomically improbable.
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
53
Likes
67
Location
Paris
I find on the Internet to insert the battery in the first one. The remote came with a strong odor, like something has burned. The second arrived with a zero volt battery inside. And Chinese plug in France is effectively highly improbable.
 

Tks

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
406
Likes
370
Location
NYC
So I guess su-8 for future balanced upgradability?
Personally I'd pass. The OLED screen is small and like all OLED, prone to burn-in, and the on-device controls are nearly non-existent. Also the ESS IMD Hump is still a factor, and also the device is due for a refresh if you ask me (devices with bigger displays and newer chips should be on the way, with hopefully addressed "ESS IMD hump" issue).

Also subjectively speaking, the device simply looks like a mix of boring/outdated to me from an aesthetic point of view.

The Topping D50 similarly as well.. The screen is better, but is now an "old" device with respect to aesthetic language. Also no balanced, so a massive deduction there compared to the SMSL. If going for the D50, might as well save $50 and get a device like the DX3 Pro with more features (and one more Coax) and since it doesn't use an ESS chip, no ESS IMD hump issue to worry about, etc..

But to be PERFECTLY honest, I'd wait completely and not get either 3. The DX3 is looking like it might get a refresh due to some instances of failures occurring for a few people. The DX50 doesn't make much sense to me, and I'd not get it due to the existence of the SMSL SU 8 that has balanced and costs the same. The SMSL SU is similarly bland-ish looking, and that screen is nearly pointless at that size.

Just hold out, or tell me what it is you value most and I could make the choice easier for you. Otherwise, I don't have any actual metrics to go off of. Generally speaking though, all three are great products in their own right. But when competing with each other, and at this moment in time relatively speaking, each has severe downfalls for me personally if you're looking to make a purchase today. (Though my brother has the DX3 Pro, and that one I feel makes the other two irrelevant is price is a factor, and balanced isn't mandatory).
 

PvtPoncho

New Member
Joined
May 9, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
I know its not very helpful. Im relatively new to the audiophile game, so I guess sound signature is the most important thing for me for the money. I have some balanced headphones so I guess I'm leaning toward getting a balanced dac and amp.
 

Tks

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
406
Likes
370
Location
NYC
I know its not very helpful. Im relatively new to the audiophile game, so I guess sound signature is the most important thing for me for the money. I have some balanced headphones so I guess I'm leaning toward getting a balanced dac and amp.
Oh thats a good peice of information. One final thing if I could ask. Do you perhaps have a budget? There is one device I am also looking forward to in the future that was shown at conventions, the Topping DX7 Pro. That thing looks like it's going to be right up your alley if balanced all-in-one is something you'd want to get. The only problem is, it's probably going to release in two months or so (we don't really know).
 

PvtPoncho

New Member
Joined
May 9, 2019
Messages
4
Likes
0
I would certainly love good value bang for my buck sorta thing but I'm not opposed to spend bal park 500 give or take a couple hundred lol. How much is the dx7 pro supposed to run?
 

Tks

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
406
Likes
370
Location
NYC
I would certainly love good value bang for my buck sorta thing but I'm not opposed to spend bal park 500 give or take a couple hundred lol. How much is the dx7 pro supposed to run?
Around that price(most likely more), but if it's any consolation, there is a D70 coming soon this month supposedly that shouldn't be that high in price hopefully. That looks to be a proper balanced DAC. The DX7 Pro is a DAC+AMP in one.

The good thing about this whole situation, and the products that are currently on the market, they're all still very good performers. In terms of audibility, you'll be happy with any one of them. The only thing left is to evaluate features/looks or inputs etc..
 

MWC

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Messages
88
Likes
31
I have a D50 and I like it. It sounds great and it looks very cute, cut out of a solid block of aluminium, but I only bought it as I needed something delivered before travelling and the DX7s and the SU-8 were not going to arrive in time. I will get a DAC/amp before year's end, probably for under 500, and I will go for xlr, having xlr on my monitors. Although the D50 is very cute, I don't think looks are really of importance in audio gear - build and sound quality is all that really matters - and for me, it needs to be able to natively play quad DSD. Nor am I really persuaded that this 'IMD hump' in the ESS chips is an audible issue. But these are only our opinions and people will arrive at different opinions.
 

Veri

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
2,279
Likes
2,102
So I guess su-8 for future balanced upgradability?
If you need balanced, the SU-8 is your best budget bet. Another option is the Geshelli ENOG-2 but it only accepts coaxical input, no USB.

I would try not to worry about products being refreshed/updated. This will always happen eventually.. if you need it now, buy it.
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
53
Likes
67
Location
Paris
Well, in fact, I think there is no risk. All these products are not expansive and they sound largely better than what we paid a lot 10 years ago. So if it burns after 3 or 4 years, it will be time to get another, better product, for the same price.
 

Tks

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
406
Likes
370
Location
NYC
I have a D50 and I like it. It sounds great and it looks very cute, cut out of a solid block of aluminium, but I only bought it as I needed something delivered before travelling and the DX7s and the SU-8 were not going to arrive in time. I will get a DAC/amp before year's end, probably for under 500, and I will go for xlr, having xlr on my monitors. Although the D50 is very cute, I don't think looks are really of importance in audio gear - build and sound quality is all that really matters - and for me, it needs to be able to natively play quad DSD. Nor am I really persuaded that this 'IMD hump' in the ESS chips is an audible issue. But these are only our opinions and people will arrive at different opinions.
I messed about with the D50. The IMD ESS Hump isn't really a thing when just causally listening to music or whatnot. Test tones could be audible here and there (unless I was under placebo and such, but eh, I wasn't in a lab to properly test, nor would I have confidence I could do it properly, again I'm still a noob to objective ordeals with audio measurements and such). You're more than fine with a D50 to be honest if the featureset serves you well.
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
40
Likes
10
Location
Colorado
So, my plans to order and install an SU-8 this week have hit a snag and are postponed for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, this question:

I have read, on other sites, that this chip manufacturer has had problems with "digital glare", which is something I am trying to get away from in my current DAC built-in to my pre/pro. How does this current chip, and/or the DAC itself, handle this problem? I know it tests great, but I would like to hear from actual day-to-day users.

Thanks!
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2018
Messages
40
Likes
10
Location
Colorado
I can hear slight distortion, sort of like a very light fuzzy halo, that occur on certain audio files. I hope this is caused by the 8 year old DAC in my pre/pro and that the new ESS chips won't have that.

Note: I am reading the thread on this site that says such a thing does not exist. Oh, well. Never mind.
 

MWC

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Messages
88
Likes
31
@Mike Rife It's not much help if some people say what you are calling 'digital glare' is equivalent to fairy farts, now is it? Personally, I believe you are hearing something you don't like and would like a solution, right? However, I struggle to understand exactly what it is you hear from your description. Is there anything particularly different about the audio files presenting this 'digital glare' compared with those that don't? Maybe they are all empty3? Or maybe they are super Hi-Res files and your old DAC can't handle them well?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
53
Likes
67
Location
Paris
@Mike Rife

This website is really science oriented, so let's start with factual facts:
- the unit has very good measurements
- around 200$ is a low cost for a DAC
- personal fact: my very expansive DAC is now unplugged

After that, with no relation with science, I can say that I like:
- a surprising 3D image when used with my other low cost equipment,
- timbral characteristic,
- balanced sound,
- a kind of sweet decay,
- plenty other points I cannot describe with my poor english.

Another point is power consumption: I do not want to spend a lot of electricity to listen to music, I want my hobby low impact for the planet.
 
Top Bottom