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SMSL SU-8s Review (Balanced Stereo DAC)

sarumbear

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F1308

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It says lossless at 16-bit at 44.1kHz. If I’m not mistaken most lossless streams are at high resolution format, which is 24-bit at 48kHz. This will create the same conversion issues we know face with AirPlay.

Anyway, it will be good enough for my collection of CDs ripped to FLAC.
Still wondering why they bother using Bluetooth instead of WiFi 6 for transmitting music.
 

sweetsounds

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I owned a SU-8, SU-9 and now Topping D90SE.
I know that it can't be when looking at the measurements, but I believe to hear differences.

The SU-8 sounded much like many other DAC, I liked the design, but even sighted I couldn't really discern it from more expensive DACs.
I purchased SU-9 to see if it makes a difference. Interestingly it did, it was at the same time cleaner and punchier. At least so I think.

I was annoyed about SMSL's handling of @Wolf 's 3rd harmonic issue so replaced it with the D90SE, hoping maybe even for same or better sound.

However, while it is as detailed and clean as the SU-9 it sometimes lacks some punch.

Obviously this is most likely imagined, but could there be glitches like in the SU-9, which might cause a sonic signature?

Would be interesting to hunt for these on the SU-8s
 

Nango

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Now that all late smsls + Toppings measure that good and close to each other would be curious to see the innards of these items, somewhere somehow they should be different from each other, otherwise it doesn't represent added value.
 
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amirm

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Output impedance measurement has fallen off the checklist ?
I don't run output impedance on DACs. But yes, on headphone amps where I used to run it, I don't always run it unless I suspect a problem. Impedances have universally dropped to close to zero so I don't test it anymore.
 
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amirm

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Edit: no multi-tone for this one?
Oops. Just added to the review:

index.php
 

digicidal

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I love the display on my SU-9, glad they kept it for this. Pretty much the only complaint I have about many of these budget-friendly DACs is lack of readable displays at a distance. Since I can't tell the difference sound-wise... I basically picked the DX7 Pro and the SU-9 on the display (and the former due to HPA inclusion as well).

If I didn't already have both office locations handled... I'd definitely grab this one as an easy solution.
 

RichB

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Nice size, nice price, great measurements, remote control, Bluetooth support, but once again engineers are baffled by the illusive trigger out technology.

- Rich
 

digicidal

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Nice size, nice price, great measurements, remote control, Bluetooth support, but once again engineers are baffled by the illusive trigger out technology.

- Rich

This bugs me as well. Anything that's designed as a preamp (or can conceivably be used as one) should have at least one - optimally it should have at least two. After all, it's a non-streaming DAC... so there has to be a source - why not trigger it on and off as well or at least easily facilitate monos? ;)
 

GimeDsp

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So does this mean that in terms of performance per $$$

1. DAC
2. AMP
3. Speakers

Imagine being able to put together an amazing system for under $100!

If someone doesn't need onboard DSP this thing is great.
 

thefsb

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Every time I see such a unit, with a proper volume knob, I think: that would make such a great preamp, I could replace my D50s and integrated amp with that and a Buckeye. But then I remember I'm still stuck for EQ and an analog input. Wouldn't it be something if Topping or SMSL decided these were the next steps in their competition instead of continuing to polish performance that they pushed beyond transparency years ago?
 
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GimeDsp

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Every time I see such a unit, with a proper volume knob, I think: that would make such a great preamp, I could replace my D50s and integrated amp with that and a Buckeye. But then I remember I'm still stuck for EQ and an analog input. Wouldn't it be something if Topping or SMSL decided these were the next steps in their competition instead of continuing to polish performance that they pushed beyond transparency years ago?

That would be awesome. SMSL performance with DSP, maybe make one with 3,4 outputs, DSP, and sell it under $1000, hopeful more around $700
I don't need autocall, just nice basic. I would sell my ddrc-24 in a heartbeat!
 

PeteL

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Distortion should rise linearly as the output signal increases, we shouldn't have non-linear levels of distortion in the form of an 'ESS hump'

raising the noise won't make the distortion build-up magically more linear but it would make it so that there is no way in hell we could hear it.

The RMS value of most movies and series is around -28 to -30 dBFS, with this DAC that's where you get the highest amount of distortion.
Why would you be less likely to hear it with a higher noise floor? on a FFT you don't see distortion if the noise floor has higher level than the harmonics, but you can see the distorted signal in the time domain, regardless. noise is easier to detect, you don't fix disgortion by adding noise, that's couter productive,audibility is a debate that never has a solid answer, but the gosl is to have both low
 

sarumbear

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That would be awesome. SMSL performance with DSP, maybe make one with 3,4 outputs, DSP, and sell it under $1000, hopeful more around $700
Why 3, 4 outputs?
 

sarumbear

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My miniDSP has 4 outputs. 2 for mains and 1 is used for subwoofer sometimes.
Sorry. I misunderstood as 3,4 sets of stereo outputs. Wouldn’t a miniDSP do what you want?
 

GimeDsp

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Sorry. I misunderstood as 3,4 sets of stereo outputs. Wouldn’t a miniDSP do what you want?
I believe the IMD was less than great.
There is some bad sound, the ddrc-24.
Whatever is "bad" I hear it with the mindsp. some people don't that's great for them.
 

sarumbear

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I believe the IMD was less than great.
There is some bad sound, the ddrc-24.
Whatever is "bad" I hear it with the mindsp. some people don't that's great for them.
You can use the digital output product of theirs with any of the excellent DACs measured here.
 

Music1969

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I don't run output impedance on DACs. But yes, on headphone amps where I used to run it, I don't always run it unless I suspect a problem. Impedances have universally dropped to close to zero so I don't test it anymore.

You made comment on SMSL M400 DAC and found an unusually higher number (although it was based on what you've elsewhere not measured yourself)

Hence my query :)
 
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