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SMSL SU-9n Review (Balanced Stereo DAC)

RandomEar

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A couple of questions to SU-9n owners around here:
  1. How much "pop" do you get in your speakers when muting or changing filters? How sensitive are your speakers?
  2. Does anybody know, how much of a DC offset is acceptable at the XLR out?
  3. Did you measure the DC offset of your SU-9n? How much is it?
 

RedCometZero

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A couple of questions to SU-9n owners around here:
  1. How much "pop" do you get in your speakers when muting or changing filters? How sensitive are your speakers?
  2. Does anybody know, how much of a DC offset is acceptable at the XLR out?
  3. Did you measure the DC offset of your SU-9n? How much is it?
1. I don't get a pop when muting or changing filters. Instead there's a half second pause.
3. I just got a multimeter today, so I am by no means an expert, but with no music playing, no matter which two XLR pins I touched, the reading was 0.1mV. My SU-9n
 

flz

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Yes, there is a new DIMMER option in the menu. It lets you choose "screen auto time off" from 5s to 60s.
That's why I wrote "no more 99" while listening. Screen lits back on when remote is used.

Fixed output in another thing. You can't use volume up/down on remote if you select Fixed output vs Preamp in the menu.
It performs exactly as expected to ;)

I noticed this unit "SU-9n" could be firmware upgraded/updated by user... interesting to me.
So just to be clear, when fixed output is selected, the "99" still appears on the screen when screen is on (not dimmed)? Personally, I think it would be more pleasing for the Vol number not be be shown at all when fixed output is selected. Can anyone confirm on this? Thanks.
 

RedCometZero

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So just to be clear, when fixed output is selected, the "99" still appears on the screen when screen is on (not dimmed)? Personally, I think it would be more pleasing for the Vol number not be be shown at all when fixed output is selected. Can anyone confirm on this? Thanks.
This is correct
 

flz

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I've been using it for a few days via my phone, and to date, its the best Bluetooth audio device I've had, and I've had a few :)
I've been wondering about using BT on this DAC (or any other DAC with BT for that matter). Have you compared BT vs a wired connection for this DAC & affect on sound quality? Also just wondering which BT codec you're using?
 
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RedCometZero

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This has been absolutely perfect connected to my LG CX television and M-Audio studio monitors. If you've been looking for a DAC with fast volume ramping and good optical TV compatibility, this is it. (Make sure to set DPLL to 8 or 9 to not get dropouts, however).
 

flz

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This has been absolutely perfect connected to my LG CX television and M-Audio studio monitors. If you've been looking for a DAC with fast volume ramping and good optical TV compatibility, this is it. (Make sure to set DPLL to 8 or 9 to not get dropouts, however).
Since you've mentioned volume control, so the SU-9n's volume goes to '99' max, what is the lowest volume setting of this device in terms of the number shown in the display? Thanks.
 

Celty

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Since you've mentioned volume control, so the SU-9n's volume goes to '99' max, what is the lowest volume setting of this device in terms of the number shown in the display? Thanks.
00
 
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cap1980

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With the new driver 5.30, DSD does not play correctly (there are distortions, clicks and stutters). With the old 5.12 everything is fine. verified
 

Celty

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With the new driver 5.30, DSD does not play correctly (there are distortions, clicks and stutters). With the old 5.12 everything is fine. verified
Sorry you have problems with the 5.30 driver version. I am using this, however, and have not experienced the issues you mention. I do recall it took a few tries to get things installed correctly.

In case it helps, when I go to Settings>Sound>Speakers(SMSL USB DAC), the driver information shows as:

Provider XMOS
Driver date 12/8/21
Driver version 5.30.0.21883

EDIT: OOOHPS! - Hey sorry I did not notice that you were referencing DSD files. I don't use that format.
 
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flz

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With the new driver 5.30, DSD does not play correctly (there are distortions, clicks and stutters). With the old 5.12 everything is fine. verified
I've just purchased the Su-9n. A naive question, what benefits does the new driver bring? Even more naive, this update can only be done with a Windows PC, not Mac? Thanks.
 

King

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..just have this dac for 2 days and actually bought it because i have a clear thin sounding analytical sound system and want to achieve as much warmth as possible and a lot of bass in the soundstage and fuller tones in the highs and this dac has a lot of tone controls so..now I have pcm sound on brickwall and soundcolor on tube 3 at the moment, does anyone have better tips which combination with pcm/sound color etc. to try to put more weight in the sound image with these tone controls for the forthcoming time? Just curious about some experiences, thank you..
 

Westsounds

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..just have this dac for 2 days and actually bought it because i have a clear thin sounding analytical sound system and want to achieve as much warmth as possible and a lot of bass in the soundstage and fuller tones in the highs and this dac has a lot of tone controls so..now I have pcm sound on brickwall and soundcolor on tube 3 at the moment, does anyone have better tips which combination with pcm/sound color etc. to try to put more weight in the sound image with these tone controls for the forthcoming time? Just curious about some experiences, thank you..
Personally, and subjectively speaking of course, I never thought of this DAC as warm or full in the slightest dispite many reviews saying it was.

Technically speaking warm or full to me mean perhaps some emphasis toward a perhaps mid bass hump with less higher frequency volume and some nice colour in the midrange. It sounded to me pretty much as most other DACs do, clear and basically the same as the others. And if I had to subjectively say anything about it a slight emphasis on clarity over anything else, certainly not warm. The filters do make a very subtle difference but to me most of them did very little and I prefered it with no filter.
 

King

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Thank you for your reply but which dac are you thinking of that can make my analytical sound system sound fuller and warmer?
 

King

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....not easy to find and can't buy that dac here, but thank you!... but maybe the smsl d300 sounds warmer than the su-9n, I thought with the filters you get a warm and full sound, but anyone has experience with that d300 dac? ...has a ROHM chip, something different..
 

RandomEar

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....not easy to find and can't buy that dac here, but thank you!... but maybe the smsl d300 sounds warmer than the su-9n, I thought with the filters you get a warm and full sound, but anyone has experience with that d300 dac? ...has a ROHM chip, something different..
I don't think that you will find what you are looking for in a different DAC. DACs are meant to have no sound, they are meant to be transparent. That's what they are designed to do. The SU-9n and the D300 measure very similar. They both measure transparent and I would expect them to be exactly that.

The PCM filters most likely make no audible difference. At least for me they didn't and I haven't seen any indication that people could reliably discern between them in a blind test. But to be fair, I haven't looked for any evidence of this - maybe such test results exist and I'm not aware of them.

And the changes induced by the sound color options aren't super pronounced, either (see here). At best, they seem influence things at around -60 dB. I say "seem", because SMSL isn't very clear about their effect in each DAC. Hear for yourself if you can detect distortions in a signal at -60 dB - I don't. It is also relevant to keep your typical SPL during listening sessions in mind. In a quiet room with around 30 dB of environmental noise, you would have to be listening at >90 dB to be able to detect anything at all at such low levels (90 dB - 60 dB =30 dB). That's not absurdly loud, but certainly elevated.

What you seem to be looking for is something that actually, audibly changes the sound of your system. The easiest thing to change would be to add an EQ. If you want "warmer" sound, try reducing the treble levels. You could also add something like a tube pre-amp with (lots of) distortion. Distortion can also make a system sound "warmer" - but that's certainly subjective and also depends on how the tube is integrated into the design of the pre-amp.
 

King

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I don't think that you will find what you are looking for in a different DAC. DACs are meant to have no sound, they are meant to be transparent. That's what they are designed to do. The SU-9n and the D300 measure very similar. They both measure transparent and I would expect them to be exactly that.

The PCM filters most likely make no audible difference. At least for me they didn't and I haven't seen any indication that people could reliably discern between them in a blind test. But to be fair, I haven't looked for any evidence of this - maybe such test results exist and I'm not aware of them.

And the changes induced by the sound color options aren't super pronounced, either (see here). At best, they seem influence things at around -60 dB. I say "seem", because SMSL isn't very clear about their effect in each DAC. Hear for yourself if you can detect distortions in a signal at -60 dB - I don't. It is also relevant to keep your typical SPL during listening sessions in mind. In a quiet room with around 30 dB of environmental noise, you would have to be listening at >90 dB to be able to detect anything at all at such low levels (90 dB - 60 dB =30 dB). That's not absurdly loud, but certainly elevated.

What you seem to be looking for is something that actually, audibly changes the sound of your system. The easiest thing to change would be to add an EQ. If you want "warmer" sound, try reducing the treble levels. You could also add something like a tube pre-amp with (lots of) distortion. Distortion can also make a system sound "warmer" - but that's certainly subjective and also depends on how the tube is integrated into the design of the pre-amp.
Thank you very much for your interesting story, only in pcm brickwall and sound color tube 3 I hear difference and sounds warmer than the other combinations at first sight, I think now a little bit warmer than my former dac Arcam r-dac, but I am just listening 2 days, so I was curious how others do have their filter combinations. I don’ t read the measures of a dac, sound is more important for me. I listen with source direct with my marantz pearl lite can’ t adjust tone controls in that mode, it sounds warmer in source direct mode..I try to temper my highs in the sound and try to make my sound thicker in the highs…
 

Scrivs

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I’ve had my SU-9 (9038pro) for about 16 months now. It’s really simple, it sounds like NOTHING Exactly as my Modi 3, Motu M4, Magnius, E30, all do coming through my diy Ghent 200ASC/200AC or Ghent/NC252MP playing through One Of My Favourite Things: DBR62. Thanks to Amir, I was an early adopter. First of one set of Walnut twins, the second were procured “just in case.” They’re safely resting.

Apologies,didn’t mean to derail the thread. Point is, for, past a certain threshold, they all sound identical to me.

Items I that I own that don’t feel sound transparent ( but still sound good):Tempotec Sonata HD Pro, Qudelix 5k. Not Transparent, but it more than makes up for it ❤️. Oh yeah, my bass guitar amps. Um, yeah, not transparent. Sounds like the opposite of nothing.
 
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