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SMSL SU-9 vs Musical Fidelity MX-DAC vs RME ADI-2 DAC FS and Other DACS in general.

JustasG

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I've bought SMSL SU-9 DAC, but before even receiving the shipment, i'm already more interested in buying Musical Fidelity MX-DAC without even seeing any measurements. Do any of you have Musical Fidelity MX-DAC and can confirm the great reviews out there? I think Musical Fidelity is a serious manufacturer and their products are really well priced. My guess is that MX-DAC would hit 110 Sinad score easy.....

Also, I want your insights on the DAC performance dependence in general.

Example - one of the best DACs in market - RME ADI-2 DAC FS (1000 EUR) which uses AK4493 chip. Same chip is used in SMSL SANSKRIT 10Th MKII (120 EUR). Are the chips like AK4497 or AK4499 better than AK4493, which would mean, that SMSL M300 MKII DAC (265 EUR) should be better in theory? So WHY is the RME DAC so expensive. Does SMSL SU-9 (450 EUR) actually sound better than SMSL M300 since it has an ES9038PRO chip which is one of most expensive on its own? Where would it put MX-DAC with TI SRC439 chip in comparison to SMSL SU-9, SMSL SANSKRIT 10Th MKII and SMSL SANSKRIT 10Th MKII.
 
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JustasG

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@amirm - i know you're using RME ADI-2 DAC FS. You have tested all the SMSL's and what not... There's Gustard X-16 which is much cheaper and rates better.... Why do you pick RME over any other DAC?

Can you please share your opinion on the above? Because my simple math is basically saying that SMSL SANSKRIT 10Th MKII (120 EUR) is the one to go for.
 

Joachim Herbert

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Hi, this is not @amirm, but @Joachim Herbert .

It's the package of DAC, headphone amp, features, volume control and excellent hardware engeniering. Still hard to beat. Before I forget: Chips are overrated. It's the implementation. And there is no simple math in this.
 
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JustasG

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@Joachim Herbert Thanks! So if these dacs, using same chips tend to provide similar amazing measurements, it still doesn't mean they all sound good. Sound is subjective to your other units and room acoustics as well. So how would You chose without listening for all of these dacs. If You don't really need headphone amp.. what would You choose?

@Joachim Herbert Can you confirm my statement - It could be that something like SMSL M300 MKII DAC might have better chip implementation than RME ADI-2 DAC FS.... so i can have something even better for a quarter of the price.

When i read the reviews about Musical Fidelity MX-DAC and RME ADI-2 DAC FS both being great and then seeing that RME use AK4493 chip which is now "old".... my assumption that it doesn't sound as great as let's say SMSL SU-9 is totally wrong.... meaning the MX-DAC could be actually the best.
 
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Joachim Herbert

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Sound is subjective to your other units and room acoustics as well.

No: All those well measuring DACs are transparent in sound. The room is a very important but completely different matter.

So just go for the cheapest well measuring unit with a feature set that suits you. Or maybe go by the looks. Or the weight, if you are out for built quality.
 
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JustasG

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No. I want the BEST sound/price ratio. The measurements doesn't make much difference as it seems. People find all of these dacs excellent.
 

Joachim Herbert

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You just need to go for the best price then. Pick any DAC from the first quadrant and look for the cheapest. They do not sound different. Problem solved.
 

M00ndancer

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No. I want the BEST sound/price ratio
That's easy, get the cheapest one. Since you wont find any audible difference. Just as @Joachim Herbert says. (There's even an argument that anything above the last quadrant is plenty enough)
The cheapest is then the Apple USB-C DAC, problem solved.
 
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JustasG

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Thanks Both, @Joachim Herbert and @M00ndancer. Maybe I didn't put it right. I'm looking for the best sound quality that is worth the money. That's why i wanted to know @amirm opinion why he decided to go with the RME. It could be that something is best for 50$, best for 500$, best for 1000$. There could be something that is not worth 700$, because the one for 500$ is better. So which is the one under 1k$ that simply kicks ass.......... is it RME?
 
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JustasG

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How can they not sound different, when theres thousands of videos and rsviews that highlight impact on note separation.. clarity...sound openess and what not...

I dont want to pay 400 for a dac which is boring, if i can get the best thing ever for 700.
@M00ndancer and @Joachim Herbert what are the dacs you are using?
 

SJ777

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Thanks Both, @Joachim Herbert and @M00ndancer. Maybe I didn't put it right. I'm looking for the best sound quality that is worth the money. That's why i wanted to know @amirm opinion why he decided to go with the RME. It could be that something is best for 50$, best for 500$, best for 1000$. There could be something that is not worth 700$, because the one for 500$ is better. So which is the one under 1k$ that simply kicks ass.......... is it RME?
People are responding in the way that they are because DACs that measure well are all transparent and therefore there are no differences in sound quality. Differences in price are down to a variety of factors including features, build quality, appearance and (unfortunately) brand inflation.

In other words the Topping E30 "sounds" as good as any DAC you can get in the sense that it doesn't have a sound. There's lots of information on this site about the subject.
 
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SJ777

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How can they not sound different, when theres thousands of videos and rsviews that highlight impact on note separation.. clarity...sound openess and what not...
Because all of those videos and reviews fail to take into account cognitive bias and/or are in the business of trying to sell you something. Just because something is repeated a thousand times does not make it true.
 

Joachim Herbert

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How can they not sound different, when theres thousands of videos and rsviews that highlight impact on note separation.. clarity...sound openess and what not...

This site offers plenty of information on these matters. Take your time to look around, but be prepared not to like what you read. Also be prepared that almost nobody around here is willing to discuss these matters. There are lots of other places to share audiophile beliefs.
 
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JustasG

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@SJ777 thanks for your time spent reading my thread. So you would say, that these both guys are just wasting their breath in their SU-9 reviews? Are these just some delusional impressions they experience or you would say they are saying whatever SMSL paid them to say?


"Reminds of Marantz sound signature.....analog vinyl playback kind of feeling...engaging sound signature with good instrument separation....warmish sounding dac....good dynamic range...good musicality...good tone accuracy... good quality music playback... good sounding/reasonably priced."

This one's fun:

"Warmest sounding DAC, without a doubt more about emotions, about making you move instead of analyzing your music to the smallest detail...
doesn't want to be linear - very meaty at bass and mid range section, brutal at times...unsophisticated and messy, but when it's time to land some well placed hits and everything in an instant it does that with it's chin up. SU-9 is not the most refined sounding digital source and not the most detailed one, it always pressed the gas pedal. It's like your friend looking for a fight after a drink or two. It's brutally impactful and hard hitting.
.........
It also sounds clean defined and really transparent. It's a detailed sounding dac and it will show all the smallest nuances in your music......provided mind blowing detailed retrieval i was not expecting. The stage size is not grand, it's not upfront....
...
As for a conclusion - up till now, i've reviewed only linear sounding dacs like Sanskrit 10, M200, M500 - straight as a line with little to no personalities - SU-9 felt like a rock and roll child that is not following any rules and plays the way it wants. SMSL was able to transform a linear and transparent chipset into a sweet natural smooth sounding digital creature......"
 

BDWoody

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So you would say, that these both guys are just wasting their breath in their SU-9 reviews? Are these just some delusional impressions they experience or you would say they are saying whatever SMSL paid them to say?

I'm chiming in, but that would be my conclusion.

If one doesn't account for natural biases inherent in being human, through controlling the volume levels so they match, and not being able to see which is playing, any of the comparisons like that you read or watch are pretty much worthless...

I would also say it isn't about whether someone paid them to say it, but consider they get a little piece of everything bought with that handy link.

Notice... None of that here.

They are salesmen. Never forget that part.
Here, we deal with the science of it, not the superstitions and unknown magic physics.
 

Joachim Herbert

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Jmudrick

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Thanks Both, @Joachim Herbert and @M00ndancer. Maybe I didn't put it right. I'm looking for the best sound quality that is worth the money. That's why i wanted to know @amirm opinion why he decided to go with the RME. It could be that something is best for 50$, best for 500$, best for 1000$. There could be something that is not worth 700$, because the one for 500$ is better. So which is the one under 1k$ that simply kicks ass.......... is it RME?

The RME DAC will indeed sound better if you make use of its unique DSP and loudness control features. If you don't need them save your money.
 

SJ777

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@SJ777 thanks for your time spent reading my thread. So you would say, that these both guys are just wasting their breath in their SU-9 reviews? Are these just some delusional impressions they experience or you would say they are saying whatever SMSL paid them to say?
I don't think that I've got anything more to add - @BDWoody has summed it up nicely.

There's lots and lots of information on this site about cognitive bias, subjective impressions, YouTube reviews and a whole host of other things that hopefully you'll find useful. All you really want from a DAC is for it to do its job and convert digital to analogue without adding anything in. Obviously you might also want additional features.
 
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JustasG

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Thanks all of you for your time! So I should have went with M200 since MQA is pretty much useless as it doesn't work via Bluetooth and AK chips don't have that "ES HUM"....
example.JPG
 

SJ777

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Thanks all of you for your time! So I should have went with M200 since MQA is pretty much useless as it doesn't work via Bluetooth and AK chips don't have that "ES HUM"....
The SU-9 that you've gone for is a fine DAC. The ESS IMD Hump is 90% suppressed according to amirm's review. Do you want/need MQA? If the SU-9 is on its way I'd be inclined to keep that
 
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