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SMSL SU-8s Review (Balanced Stereo DAC)

Cisco150

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Would you say this is less harsh or warmer? sound. I think I would like a warmer sound. I'm looking at this DAC the SU-9 and the SU-8S, DO200, LOXJIE D50, LOXJIE D40, M500 MK2, and the VMV D1SE or the SU-9N. I stream music with Tidal and never heard MQA but would like to have.
 

sweetsounds

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Would you say this is less harsh or warmer? sound. I think I would like a warmer sound. I'm looking at this DAC the SU-9 and the SU-8S, DO200, LOXJIE D50, LOXJIE D40, M500 MK2, and the VMV D1SE or the SU-9N.
First, it us important to say, that I am reporting on subjective impressions and not a strict blind-tests.

Objectively, Most of the devices in your list measure very similarly, so should sound the same.

I had the SU-8, which was OK, but not excelling, the SU-9 which was very warm/weighty, the D90SE, which gave me most or too many details and now the VMV D1SE which has the best balance in my ears between detail and warmth.

But these are sighted, SPL-calibrated comparisons. Can't guarantee that I blindly could identify all of them.
 

MalinYamato

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I don't understand why LDAC is not included! Why?
 

Cisco150

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First, it us important to say, that I am reporting on subjective impressions and not a strict blind-tests.

Objectively, Most of the devices in your list measure very similarly, so should sound the same.

I had the SU-8, which was OK, but not excelling, the SU-9 which was very warm/weighty, the D90SE, which gave me most or too many details and now the VMV D1SE which has the best balance in my ears between detail and warmth.

But these are sighted, SPL-calibrated comparisons. Can't guarantee that I blindly could identify all of them.
I got the D1se does have more bass and mids im just getting it broken in was reading it will balance out. How long did it take for you to get it broken in.
 

Firace

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Hi guys, I had the SU8 and recently I have tested both the SU9 and the SU8s.
According to my subjective parameters, SU8s has the best balance and a very good mid.. but the most important thing, in my opinion, is that SU-8s sounds more neutral.
It is perfect for hours of listening.
Now i'm gonna look for a DO200 just to understand if it is a matter of chip or not (ES9068).
Has anyone already had a similar experience?
 

sweetsounds

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I got the D1se does have more bass and mids im just getting it broken in was reading it will balance out. How long did it take for you to get it broken in.
I did not notice a break-in, will let you judge.

And I am still puzzled by my perceived diferences in sound between DACs.
 

slackerpo

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Hi guys, I had the SU8 and recently I have tested both the SU9 and the SU8s.
According to my subjective parameters, SU8s has the best balance and a very good mid.. but the most important thing, in my opinion, is that SU-8s sounds more neutral.
It is perfect for hours of listening.
Now i'm gonna look for a DO200 just to understand if it is a matter of chip or not (ES9068).
Has anyone already had a similar experience?

got a topping e50 wich i liked a lot, but didnt worked properly (it disconnected itself in every listening session). i got he 8s as a replacement, considering it had the same dac chip to me, they sound exactly the same. the main difference being that the 8s actually works.
 

gtb75

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For those who are interested, SU-8s is %50 off on Drop for 180$
I saw that pop up this morning too... Great price on a really nice DAC! I got one for my main headphone stack back in November and have been really pleased with the sound. FWIW, the cheapest ever been on Amazon is $306, so this a really good deal!
 

garrettwp

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I just picked one up on Amazon a few days ago during the shenzhenaudio 618 sale for $305. I was going to pick another one up for my other setup. I can get two of these for almost the price of 1. As with anything Drop.com, the wait is the hardest, but have been a customer with them for many years (Massdrop days). Thanks for the heads up!
 

Jarlaxle

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I just picked one up on Amazon a few days ago during the shenzhenaudio 618 sale for $305. I was going to pick another one up for my other setup. I can get two of these for almost the price of 1. As with anything Drop.com, the wait is the hardest, but have been a customer with them for many years (Massdrop days). Thanks for the heads up!
No problem. I imagine you can ask for a price match too from other sites like apos and shenzhen but I'm not sure
 

Zeeb

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Can someone please confirm that you can run the XLR and RCA outputs simultaneously?

This part of the manual seems to indicate this:
OUTPUTS

ALL Normal
XLR Normal
RCA Normal
ALL Inverted
XLR Inverted
RCA Inverted
 

Zeeb

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On another thread someone said this device is "only playing MQA files on tidal @44.1khz".

Can anyone confirm or explain this?

(I am set up with MQA/Tidal for the time being even though I am thinking of swapping from it after reading they are removing their FLAC files.)
 
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Zeeb

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I wonder if the person who was stuck with 44.1k MQA files on Tidal just had Windows set to not allow exclusive mode or something.

Anyway only one day left of the $180 sale for this DAC on drop.com. I was tempted but I'm happy with my Soncoz SGD1 even though it doesn't display the sampling rate (I can see that on the Windows Soncoz-driver control panel anyway).

Perversely, an advantage of this SMSL DAC might be (?) that it can tell you when Tidal is *not* playing an MQA - if you prefer FLAC on Tidal's mid-level 'Hifi' tier.

(I read Tidal has been replacing its mid-level, non-'master'FLAC files with lower quality MQAs. Not sure what the status of this is.)
 
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slackerpo

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Can someone please confirm that you can run the XLR and RCA outputs simultaneously?

This part of the manual seems to indicate this:

im using both outputs simultaneously with no issues.

I wonder if the person who was stuck with 44.1k MQA files on Tidal just had Windows set to not allow exclusive mode or something.

i agree. not shure if he has set up the unit's windows output setting correctly.
 

Zeeb

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i agree. not shure if he has set up the unit's windows output setting correctly.
Yes, you may need to set:
Windows 'Sound Settings' > 'Choose your output device' [choose from dropdown] > 'Device properties' > 'Additional device properties' > 'Advanced' tab >

- set 'Default Format' to eg '24 bit, 192000Hz'
[I think this is bypassed in exclusive mode, but is probably the best general setting for times that you can't use exclusive mode, like when you want to use Windows vol control with a DAC in Wasapi (non-exclusive) mode on Qobuz]

- under 'Exclusive Mode', check both boxes to allow

Perversely, an advantage of this SMSL DAC might be (?) that it can tell you when Tidal is *not* playing an MQA - if you prefer FLAC on Tidal's mid-level 'Hifi' tier.
I don't think this is right... I don't think there is an easy way to tell with Tidal whether a non-'MASTER' track is an MQA or a lossless FLAC. ie, I think the MQA light on most DACs will be off either way.
 
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Zeeb

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Windows 'Sound Settings' > 'Choose your output device' [choose from dropdown] > 'Device properties' > 'Additional device properties' > 'Advanced' tab >
This is for Windows 10. For Windows 11 it's somewhere under Sound Settings, click a device, under 'Enhance Audio'... click the word 'Advanced'.
 

Jimster480

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Yes, you may need to set:
Windows 'Sound Settings' > 'Choose your output device' [choose from dropdown] > 'Device properties' > 'Additional device properties' > 'Advanced' tab >

- set 'Default Format' to eg '24 bit, 192000Hz'
[I think this is bypassed in exclusive mode, but is probably the best general setting for times that you can't use exclusive mode, like when you want to use Windows vol control with a DAC in Wasapi (non-exclusive) mode on Qobuz]

- under 'Exclusive Mode', check both boxes to allow


I don't think this is right... I don't think there is an easy way to tell with Tidal whether a non-'MASTER' track is an MQA or a lossless FLAC. ie, I think the MQA light on most DACs will be off either way.
This is incorrect. If it is a MQA track; it shows on the MQA indicator of my EX5.
I have been listening to MQA Masters for the past few days. I ran into a single FLAC file it seems, because the MQA light was not lit. Otherwise everything is MQA, there are a couple different versions but it works well using hardware unfolding.
I would imagine the SU-8S works the same way. I might be interested in getting one of these since none of the Topping MQA Dac's seem to fit my desktop setup with my THX 789 very well. The EX5 is for my second machine, but I am currently "testing" it on my main desk.
What is interesting is that when using Tidal to unfold MQA and pass it to my Topping DX7 (my everyday stack); there is basically no difference between MQA & Hifi on Tidal. However on the EX5 that has hardware unfolding; there is definitely a noticeable difference in many tracks.
 
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