• 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-9 Balanced DAC Review

Count Arthur

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
493
Likes
693
#41
It would be great to see some tear down of these dacs. Apart from the measurements I've always considered SMSL built quality not at Topping level..
I wonder if these companies have their own, in-house manufacturing, or whether they design them and then have the boards and cases produced by specialist fabricators.
 

tmtomh

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 14, 2018
Messages
503
Likes
1,174
#44
Wow, this is an absolutely killer unit. Top-shelf performance, balanced inputs, nice display and form factor, remote control, reasonable price. Very cool!
 

voodooless

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
173
Likes
113
#45
ESS datasheets tend to be confidential, but I don't really know what there is to deny. They're most certainly configurable, just like THD compensation. Wouldn't it mean SMSL is just using their own coefficients? I'm not saying it makes sense but it's one possible explanation.
Occam's razor has something to say about that.. As for confidential datasheets: Google doesn't seem to care :facepalm:

If all manufacturers are using the exact same 7 pre-programmed digital filters it would be weird that they show differing attenuation strength each time :p I feel like we're missing something.
The performance of the existing ones should be much better, and definitely should vary from filter to filter. Here they are all stuck at the same stop-band, with the same type of spectrum. Most of them should actually be sub -100 dB.

One thing that might be of influence is the MQA decoder. If it would always be active in some capacity, it might always do some kind of upsampling. In that case the MQA decoder would also provide the 7 filters. Though it would be very coincidental that it's exactly the same number of filters that the DAC chip already offers.
 
Last edited:

anmpr1

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
1,800
Likes
2,642
#47
To your last point: waifu dries fruit--looks like the same dryer you use. Try adding some pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon to the fruit prior to drying. Very tasty.
 

RichB

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
May 24, 2019
Messages
832
Likes
852
Location
Massachusetts
#49
It's a great time to be shopping for a DAC.
Do you have internal pictures?

- Rich
 

Cahudson42

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
681
Likes
745
#51
Personally, I have trouble seeing the value for $440.. Maybe two years ago..ok. But today I think a good case can be made 'DAC solved' for $200 and under..

Now if it had included an L30 equivalent HP amp, and a 10-band PEQ...maybe..

Even so, Qudelix 5k ($110) + L30 ($140) = $250 = lesser SINAD DAC (likely) but PEQ room, speaker, HP optimisation ability. Plus HP amp.
 
Last edited:

beefkabob

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
851
Likes
932
#52
Do we have an SMSL member on the forum who can explain why there’s no WiFi input? BT at best is still lossy.
It's not a streamer. They'd have to add a whole additional layer of hardware and software. The prices would probably be 400 more, at least. And then they'd have to support it.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
Messages
14
Likes
4
#53
The best read for my morning coffe!
There may be a latency penalty though so if you are using Toslink for TV sound input, you may need to play with that. Fortunately the jitter that was there with default setting was not an audible concern anyway (at -120 dB and heavily masked by the signal itself).
Out of curiosity, is this latency penalty quantifiable?
Thank you!
 

gvl

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
2,073
Likes
1,892
Location
SoCal
#54
It's not a streamer. They'd have to add a whole additional layer of hardware and software. The prices would probably be 400 more, at least. And then they'd have to support it.
Google Chromecast Audio was priced at $35, it was on sale for $15 just before they stopped making it. And that was a complete shrink-wrapped product with a built-in DAC. Why no one licensing this tech from Google to use in their devices?
 

Cahudson42

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
681
Likes
745
#55
Google Chromecast Audio was priced at $35, it was on sale for $15
Or an LG Rebel tracFone. Qualcomm Snapdragon. Android 8. 2.4g wifi. Touch screen.. BT. replaceable battery. microSD, USB OTG capability..$29
 
Last edited:

AudioSceptic

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
1,002
Likes
795
Location
Northampton, UK
#56
Occam's razor has something to say about that.. As for confidential datasheets: Google doesn't seem to care :facepalm:



The performance of the existing ones should be much better, and definitely should vary from filter to filter. Here they are all stuck at the same stop-band, with the same type of spectrum. Most of them should actually be sub -100 dB.

One thing that might be of influence is the MQA decoder. If it would always be active in some capacity, it might always do some kind of upsampling. In that case the MQA decoder would also provide the 7 filters. Though it would be very coincidental that it's exactly the same number of filters that the DAC chip already offers.
It's not just the number of filters. Look at the Pro-Ject filters I referred to above. They have the same shape as the SMSL ones, and are different only in the ultimate attenuation (and one extra option). The Pro-Ject also decodes MQA BTW.
 

Jimbob54

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
3,563
Likes
3,016
#59
It's not a streamer. They'd have to add a whole additional layer of hardware and software. The prices would probably be 400 more, at least. And then they'd have to support it.
Indeed . But Im hoping for a near future where anything like bare bones DACs (D10 and under) get absorbed into amps/ actives and standalone DACs incorporate any number of connectivity/ EQ / widgets over and above the usual hard wire digi inputs and outputs. Nearly there but not quite.
 

MediumRare

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
Messages
1,099
Likes
1,177
Location
Chicago
#60
Indeed . But Im hoping for a near future where anything like bare bones DACs (D10 and under) get absorbed into amps/ actives and standalone DACs incorporate any number of connectivity/ EQ / widgets over and above the usual hard wire digi inputs and outputs. Nearly there but not quite.
Amazingly, a $300 amp can do all that at 100 wpc (Yamaha R-N303) but not a $440 stand-alone DAC!
 
Top Bottom