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SMSL SU-9n Review (Balanced Stereo DAC)

jawbfl

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Great review, a bit disappointed looking at the price, I was awaiting a competing DAC to the E50 at its price point, I'm officially waiting for SU-9nn (no MQA no Bluetooth) under $300.
 

peng

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It would be perfect if they remove even dsd support, so no more annoying bugs with dsd.
I think dsd and mqa support are some of the reasons of frequent firmware updates or other stupid bugs, with otherwise perfect dacs.
Removing MQA, probably is one of the reasons they are so high in the SINAD chart.

To me 16bit cd playback is as good as I can hear..

I hope not, should just fix the bugs (if still there) instead!! It needs to be there because they are many great recordings that may only be available in DSD. To be clear, I don't believe DSD is better in anyway, to me it is just about the available high quality recordings availability.
 

Transmaniacon

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This might be the DAC that gets me to upgrade from my Topping D30. Balanced output, internal power supply, beyond audibility, and a nice looking screen on front.
 

Tatteredmidnight

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SMSL has such a strange lineup. This is only $39 more than the su-8s and I’m not sure what the major differentiator is between them. Both have the same form factor, appearance, IO, etc. What is going on :D
 

pozz

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LOL I literally came an hour ago wondering why this wasn't up yet XD *It far outstrips my expectations though, think TOTL level DACs are here to stay
TOTL seems to be the standard, honestly.
 

Thomas_A

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Nice review as always. I wonder if there is any good small and cheap DAC that has a polarity switch? I would love to have such a function instead of all optional filters.
 

dualazmak

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Hello @amirm,

Thank you so much, as always, for your wonderful review.

Just as reference for those who like to see the inside of SMSL SU-9n, you can find the inside photos in this review, in Japanese though...

Sorry, my mistake; the linked review was on SU-9 (with MQA), not on SU-9n.
 
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dmac6419

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This beats the FiiO K9 pro by a mile,add a amp and bet you it's cheaper too.
 

dualazmak

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Will smsl have 2 versions of the su-9 dac, ie with mqa and then this (su-9n) with no mqa ?

Copy-paste from this site;
WS002482.JPG
 

MaxBuck

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If it weren't for the chrome ring on the volume knob, I'd want this component to replace my Adcom preamp.

DACs are so good now that silly aesthetic preferences like this can be a major consideration in the purchase decision. (I'm aware my admission here doesn't reflect well on me.)
 

Shoaibexpert

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Could be more like 2 versions of the SU-9n DAC from their track record...

I dont understand how a company can manage multiple assembly lines for different PCBs, components and casings (albeit name change only)...not to mention SW development etc. at such a rapid pace with $59 or so difference (from say the next SU-9 or the cheaper SU-8s) between products in an age where chip costs are skyrocketing ...I mean do these DACs even sell as much every other month...is the audiophile community growing at that pace as well to support economies of scale. I know no one manufactures stuff to incur losses but am really curious about the business model SMSL and the likes have to make money

As for MQA...I don't mind it being a feature sitting by as long as you don't charge too much for it...which I don't think SMSL does. It is counter Intuitive to ask for more features in modern DACs as most have in this thread and rightly so and then complain about the features the product already has...it's all about haviy choices at the end!

Great review btw @amirm
 

dorirod

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I receive an email from shenzhenaudio.com this morning for the SMSL SU-9n and @amirm has already posted the review a few hours before. Your dedication and service to the audio community is amazing @amirm. In a world full of delays you stand out as an example of excellence. Thank you so much for all your hard work.

View attachment 158978
I got the same spammy email, guessing from the time I bought the Topping EX5 from them. Do they think we buy DACs using Subscribe & Save(TM), minus the save? I really have no idea how they are able to justify releasing new products every couple of months when their old one is perfectly fine. Excellent performance, but who's chucking their 118 SINAD DAC to get a 122 SINAD one?
 

Walter

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Great review, a bit disappointed looking at the price, I was awaiting a competing DAC to the E50 at its price point, I'm officially waiting for SU-9nn (no MQA no Bluetooth) under $300.
They already have the M300 MKII.
 

alekksander

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If it weren't for the chrome ring on the volume knob, I'd want this component to replace my Adcom preamp.

DACs are so good now that silly aesthetic preferences like this can be a major consideration in the purchase decision. (I'm aware my admission here doesn't reflect well on me.)
have You heard about ever lasting 99 on the display? and the permanent blue glow? this is even more rejecting. smsl needs configurable displays. as for now this dac looks better from the rear rather than front plate.
 

jawbfl

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Could be more like 2 versions of the SU-9n DAC from their track record...

I dont understand how a company can manage multiple assembly lines for different PCBs, components and casings (albeit name change only)...not to mention SW development etc. at such a rapid pace with $59 or so difference (from say the next SU-9 or the cheaper SU-8s) between products in an age where chip costs are skyrocketing ...I mean do these DACs even sell as much every other month...is the audiophile community growing at that pace as well to support economies of scale. I know no one manufactures stuff to incur losses but am really curious about the business model SMSL and the likes have to make money

As for MQA...I don't mind it being a feature sitting by as long as you don't charge too much for it...which I don't think SMSL does. It is counter Intuitive to ask for more features in modern DACs as most have in this thread and rightly so and then complain about the features the product already has...it's all about haviy choices at the end!

Great review btw @amirm
It will look bad if you drop the price on very expensive devices, early buyers would hate to know the margins you took, but you can create a similar product for a cheaper price and no body will be mad. Always recycle, keep the hype up, fill every segment and keep the prices close so people could be upsold easily, that's how they operate.
 

PhnomPenhPaul

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have You heard about ever lasting 99 on the display? and the permanent blue glow? this is even more rejecting. smsl needs configurable displays. as for now this dac looks better from the rear rather than front plate.
I couldn't agree more. The display is hideous and the chrome around the knob tacky. (Subjective opinions, I know...). But as I also look better from the back than the front perhaps I shouldn't be so critical...
On a serious note though, SMSL should be congratulated for this product's outstanding measurements (especially given its price). It is their misfortune that because there are so many 'audibly transparent' DAC's with similar features at similar prices that aesthetic considerations can be of import (for me at least).
 
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