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SMSL SU-9n Pre-amp - any good?

AudioLimey

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Hello

I’m considering buying the SMLS SU-9N DAC. It will be used as a preamp for a pair of active speakers.

I’ve read Amir’s review and see that he recommends the SU-9N.

My question is about the preamp…

For example:

A “Jay Iyagi” video uses an expletive to describe the preamps on Chinese DACs: here

Also, this guy slates the preamp in the Topping E30: here

Is the preamp in the SU-9N any good?

If I use it, will it undo all the good work the DAC is doing?

If so, are there DACs of a similar price that have a much better pre-amp?

Many thanks
 
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Katji

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Welcome :)


A “Jay Iyagi” video uses an expletive to describe the preamps on Chinese DACs: here

Also, this guy slates the preamp in the Topping E30: here
I use expletive for them all: FTA -- (especially for attention-seeker type like that.)
 
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AudioLimey

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Wow - almost radio-silence.....any Chinese DAC owners got an opinion of the pre-amps on your DAC - or do I just assume that Jay and Paul are correct i.e. that they are s**t?
 

archerious

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I'm biased as I had a bad experience with my SU-9N, but your mileage may vary.

If you don't need balanced, you could consider the older SMSL Sanskrit 10th MKII. The prevalent issue with that unit was ground loops or poor grounding/cold solder joint for ground.

Gustard X16 is close to the same price as SU-9N, and the only issue I experienced with it in the past was a DSD issue fixed with a software update.
 
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REK2575

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I'd be curious to know if there are folks out there using the SU-9N as a preamp. I would think if you're trying to do that, you'd definitely want to use the XLR line out, as a power amp might have trouble getting adequate signal from the RCA out - ? Then again, I guess it depends on your amp. If you're matching to a desktop amp like the SMSL AO200, the su-9n might work really well as a preamp.
 

MarcosCh

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If you want a sota preamp performance, look at the SNR. Seems that the smsl is pretty good at 125db.
Another day in the same price range with even better SNR is the topping D30pro (128db iirc). That was precisely the reason why I bought one. BTW, did I mention that now I am selling it here? :D
 

REK2575

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If you want a sota preamp performance, look at the SNR. Seems that the smsl is pretty good at 125db.
Well, the SINAD tells you how good the thing performs as a DAC. How well it will do as a preamp brings in other considerations as well.
 

MarcosCh

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Well, the SINAD tells you how good the thing performs as a DAC. How well it will do as a preamp brings in other considerations as well.
Yes, sure, many, but there can be two dacs with the same sinad and different noise level. When you use them as preamps, this can be a relevant difference if for instance your amp has a high gain and your speakers are very sensitive. As far as i know, all these topping and smsl dacs apply volume control in the digital domain.
Again, the two models mentioned here are both excellent performers, so nothing to worry about i guess.
 
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AudioLimey

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Well, thanks to everyone that replied. To be fair, it's left more questions than answers. Anyhow, I've decided to play it safe and gone down the integrated amplifier/passive speak route; so I've bought an Audiolab 6000a.

Cheers all.
 

horias2000

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Why wouldn't it be good as a preamp? I use it as a preamp and it's connected via the XLR connectors to my amp. The sound is really nice. Unfortunately I recently had an issue with it but I fixed it. It started interrupting while listening over USB. It turned out it was an issue with the clock generating circuit. I replaced it and it works now. You can see the details here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/smsl-su9-n-issue.41040/

Unfortunately the support from smsl was non-existent and shenzhenaudio.com offered to repair it but it would have taken too long to ship the unit from Europe.

Overall I have to say that the DAC sounds very nice, as expected from the flawless measurements, and that it has many features that I like. I also think that it is well suited to be used as a preamp with the excelent measurents and a remote control.
 
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