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SMSL SU-9n Review (Balanced Stereo DAC)

archerious

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Does this still have smsl DPLL?
 

Le Concombre

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I'm considering buying a Wadax Reference server ($90,000) and Wadax Reference DAC ($190,000) combo (CA$, breathe) but would like to see how they measure ; could you, please?:cool:
 
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amirm

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I'm considering buying a Wadax Reference server ($90,000) and Wadax Reference DAC ($190,000) combo (CA$, breathe) but would like to see how they measure ; could you, please?:cool:
Sure. Just start a conversation with me.....
 

pseudoid

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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.
Snag_2d2dc518.png

Great, we pretty much beat the heck out of this SMSL but I do have another tiff with it:
Since such DACs are challenging the AVR (and Pre/Pro) purchase decisions; wouldn't such DACs benefit by providing a few analog (RCA/XLR) INPUTs?
I sure may consider to open my wallet for such a piece of hardware from SMSL and find other uses for my Yamaha WXC-50.
I am thinking something like the SMSL A8 (or A6) but replacing the XMOS ICEpower amp section with the outputs of the current SU-9 (+/-MQA).
I would not suggest that SMSL steal the I/O capabilities of the Gustard X-16 (or X-18), and chop the price in half. Or would I?;)
 
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ABSNimes

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Got mine delivered yesterday.
I choose this one because : I don't care about MQA - wanted a firmware that could be updated.
Displays don't show 99 anymore, "time off" or "no display" options are included in DIMMER menu.
Remote control look the same, less confusing buttons. Remote +/- won't work if fixed output is on.
Volume Up and Down from remote is quick, tried but I don't use it as I've got a balanced preamp.
They add customs filters to play with.
I feel really happy with this very nice DAC !
 

RedCometZero

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Got mine delivered yesterday.
I choose this one because : I don't care about MQA - wanted a firmware that could be updated.
Displays don't show 99 anymore, "time off" or "no display" options are included in DIMMER menu.
Remote control look the same, less confusing buttons. Remote +/- won't work if fixed output is on.
Volume Up and Down from remote is quick, tried but I don't use it as I've got a balanced preamp.
They add customs filters to play with.
I feel really happy with this very nice DAC !
Thank you! The confirmation that it has quick volume ramping means I can use it as a Pre, and that makes it a buy for me.
 

Selarom

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Displays don't show 99 anymore, "time off" or "no display" options are included in DIMMER menu.
Question, do you mean that the “99” is not shown because you can turn OFF the screen? Or is it that when you set it to fixed output it will show a different thing instead of volume level?
 

ABSNimes

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Question, do you mean that the “99” is not shown because you can turn OFF the screen? Or is it that when you set it to fixed output it will show a different thing instead of volume level?
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.
 
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Philong

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Did they remove the button to switch between bluetooth and Usb or optical input?
 

Selarom

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I received mine. Setup as fixed output to my THX-789 amp. Amazing how I perceived better bass response vs my previous LH Labs Pulse DAC. The sound feels fuller. Not necessarily louder. I wasn’t expecting it. I felt happy with the SQ of the Pulse, but wanted better functionality and the high SINAD and price were a +. So getting a fuller sound out of my HD600 was a very welcome surprise! Big ++
 

ABSNimes

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Did they remove the button to switch between bluetooth and Usb or optical input?
There's a button to switch from BT/TosLink/SPDIF/USB on the new remote control.
Same button as Su-9. Feels a little better quality than SU-9 one.
One big improvment is display auto off ;)
 
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pseudoid

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Would anyone be willing to open an SU-9n and take some pictures? It would be interesting to compare with SU-9: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...s/smsl-su-9-balanced-dac-review.16150/page-23
Wouldn't be even nicer if we can have access to the real schematics ...
I get ticked off when audio hardware manufacturers (and sellers alike) forget :)mad:) to include or to provide the back panel photos of their products.
That back-panel photo (connectors) is pretty much all that I need for a quick view.
I also get a crack-up :)rolleyes:), when a manufacturer forgets to properly label the "INputs" and "OUTputs" on them.
I guess, schematics and photos of the guts are too much to ask for from manufacturers/sellers.
 

tjeff1

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I just watched a scathing review of this dac with the criticism being about its low value based on price.


From the comments:
"well, the measurements are utterly meaningless. They have literally no effect to the listening experience. That’s all Topping and SMSL seem to be doing these days—releasing a product every month with slightly lower THD or marginally higher dynamic range. You can’t hear THD or noise under 1%. And you cannot listen to music above 90db for long without damaging your hearing. So, what difference does it make when these products measure well? It’s such a shame ASR refuses to put its measurements into context."

I was thinking of either getting this DAC SU-9n or the Denafrips Ares II. The Ares has such a great following but I was liking the SU-9n measurements and not needing a preamp along with a remote. But the above review has me pushing toward the Ares.
 

Walter

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You can’t hear THD or noise under 1%.
This was a popular belief 40 years ago among audiophiles and even then scientists knew it was completely untrue. That alone destroys this guy's credibility, in my opinion. Even in a normal listening environment, most people can hear distortion that is half that or less. I believe that in an ideal situation, the threshold is below 0.0002%, but I'm not positive about that number, and it would never apply outside a lab environment.

Now, I also have had doubts about the value of this DAC, so I'm not disputing that fact. I just would not base my buying decision on misinformation.
 

Doodski

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This was a popular belief 40 years ago among audiophiles and even then scientists knew it was completely untrue. That alone destroys this guy's credibility, in my opinion. Even in a normal listening environment, most people can hear distortion that is half that or less. I believe that in an ideal situation, the threshold is below 0.0002%, but I'm not positive about that number, and it would never apply outside a lab environment.

Now, I also have had doubts about the value of this DAC, so I'm not disputing that fact. I just would not base my buying decision on misinformation.
Try this THD test. I used headphones for the test.
 

Walter

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Try this THD test. I used headphones for the test.
Thanks for sharing that link. That is a very useful test, as long as people use it only to determine the absolute highest the level can be before they hear it. I've tried that one before, as it is really convenient. I'm not sure if it is due to the compression on the video, tinitus, my poor current system combined with the fact that "a quiet listening environment in Phnom Penh" is pretty much an oxymoron, or simply the way the test is designed (an ABX test between an "undistorted" signal and one with varying levels of distortion would be much more accurate, but also take a lot longer, more tedious, and probably get a lot fewer Likes), but my results are all over the place ON THE SAME SEGMENT. The best I can personally say after 20-30 tries over a few different days and doing my best to randomize my starting points so that I did not simply start subconsciously tracking the time, is that I THINK I can hear a difference starting at 0.2%-0.3% on all three tests. But at the other extreme, there were times when I didn't hear it until 2%. There was even one where it got to 6%, but I disregarded that as the AC compressor 2 meters away kicked on right as I started listening.)

From the comments:
"well, the measurements are utterly meaningless. They have literally no effect to the listening experience. That’s all Topping and SMSL seem to be doing these days—releasing a product every month with slightly lower THD or marginally higher dynamic range. You can’t hear THD or noise under 1%. And you cannot listen to music above 90db for long without damaging your hearing. So, what difference does it make when these products measure well? It’s such a shame ASR refuses to put its measurements into context."
Also take into consideration that the SINAD score is just a measurement at one frequency at one output level--and in some components the equipment has been specifically designed to maximize the performance on this specific measurement over providing better results overall--AKA, gaming the system. So just because a DAC has a SINAD of 120db at 1KHz at 2 or 4 volts does not mean it will be anywhere near that high at at all frequencies and all output levels--in fact, you can be pretty much guaranteed that it will not. It is just one of many useful measurements.

In addition, the DAC is the first component in the system that has the ability to add distortion or noise after the source. Therefore, you are guaranteed that no other component can improve upon those factors later on (disregarding any kind of supposed noise reduction technology used later in the chain), and in reality each component will probably degrade it a bit further--and the speakers will degrade it a LOT further. So while I seriously doubt anyone could hear the difference in a system between two well designed DACs with SINAD scores of 110db and 120db, I think most would certainly be able to hear the difference if one had a SINAD of 60db (0.1% THD+N).
 

Kermit116

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Nov 8, 2021
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Got mine delivered yesterday.
I choose this one because : I don't care about MQA - wanted a firmware that could be updated.
Displays don't show 99 anymore, "time off" or "no display" options are included in DIMMER menu.
Remote control look the same, less confusing buttons. Remote +/- won't work if fixed output is on.
Volume Up and Down from remote is quick, tried but I don't use it as I've got a balanced preamp.
They add customs filters to play with.
I feel really happy with this very nice DAC !
Hi ABSNimes,
Have you had the opportunity to find out whether the SU-9N have an automatic on/off function, turning it on if the SU-9N receives a signal, and turning it off after a while when there is no signal? I can't find out when reading the manual from SMSL.
 
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