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VMV D2R Stereo DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 14 6.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 55 24.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 121 54.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 31 14.0%

  • Total voters
    221

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the (SMSL) VMV D2R stereo balanced USB DAC with Bluetooth. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $999.
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR review.jpg

The DAC is quite heavy for its size and has pretty stout construction. User interface is similar to other SMSL products. A higher-end metal remote is provided:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR back panel remote review.jpg

Alas, no coin cell battery was included so I used the front panel for configuration of the DAC.

The DAC design is different than many other in that it uses a DAC IC from Rohm (BD34301EKV) instead of the usual ESS and AKM. Let's see how it performs.

If you are new to DAC measurements, be sure to watch my tutorial video.

VMV D2R DAC Measurements
Let's start with balanced output and use the default -2 dB on the volume control which generates our nominal 4 volts:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR Measurement.png

Noise performance is excellent but distortion is a bit high for the class. Still, transparency is achieved, landing D2R in our excellent category:
Best stereo DAC review.png

RCA performance as usual is a bit worse:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC RCA Measurement.png


As noted, noise performance is excellent:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC Dynamic range Measurement.png


IMD test shows the same:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR IMD Measurement.png


Our 50 Hz and multitone tests show very good performance:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR 50 Hz Measurement.png

SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR Multitone Measurement.png


I am a bit unhappy to see spurious/jitter tones in our jitter test especially with USB:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR Jitter Measurement.png


Linearity is perfect:

SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR Linearity Measurement.png


Only two filters are provided which is fine by me but note that the slow one is the default:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR Filter Measurement.png

SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR Frequency Response Measurement.png


You can see that there is pretty early roll off with the slow one so select the Sharp filter.

At first blush, the wideband THD+N vs frequency test looks bad:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR THD vs frequency Measurement.png


If we run an FFT so we can see the spectrum, we can see why:
SMSL VMV D2R Balanced Stereo USB DAC XLR FFT 1 kHz Measurement.png

The DAC (IC) is pushing noise from audible band to ultrasonic which we happen to capture with our previous test. Since you can't hear that spectrum, it is audibly harmless. That said, competitor DAC ICs don't do this (or nearly to this extent).

Conclusions
From audibility point of view, the D2r DAC achieves transparency so that is good. From the point of view of it being a flagship DAC, objective performance doesn't back that. Company says that its audible performance proves that but I am not in a position to judge that.

I am going to put the VMV D2r on my recommended list even though it is priced high relative to its objective performance.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

renaudrenaud

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Thanks.

A link to the chip used:


It's just a Delta Sigma business as usual:

102_MUS-IC_EN_0310_4.jpg


With 2 filters, one is broken.
 

milosz

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I would love for you to do a blind listening test with this DAC and maybe a good Topping or Schiit DAC, and maybe another blind listening test with a "very mediocre" DAC like on of the Audio-GD products.

It is my contention - after some half-baked blind A/B tests of my own- that people can't readily hear the differences between DACs. I did some A/B listening tests myself and also with a professional musician using a Topping D50s DAC and the very same Audio-gd R2R11 DAC that I sent to Amir to test ( https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-measurements-of-audio-gd-r2r11-dac-amp.5779/ ) and we could not tell the difference at a level greater than chance using Red book CDs with Quad ESL-57 speakers or Sennheiser HD-800 'phones. The Audio-gd R2R11 has pretty abysmal measurements so you'd think the difference would be plainly audible. Using music, it seemed it was not.

We did not try pure tones, which may have shown audible differences - but DACs are used to listen to music, not tones, so we used music.
 

renaudrenaud

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I would love for you to do a blind listening test with this DAC and maybe a good Topping or Schiit DAC, and maybe another blind listening test with a "very mediocre" DAC like on of the Audio-GD products.

It is my contention - after some half-baked blind A/B tests of my own- that people can't readily hear the differences between DACs. I did some A/B listening tests myself and also with a professional musician using a Topping D50s DAC and the very same Audio-gd R2R11 DAC that I sent to Amir to test ( https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-measurements-of-audio-gd-r2r11-dac-amp.5779/ ) and we could not tell the difference at a level greater than chance using Red book CDs with Quad ESL-57 speakers or Sennheiser HD-800 'phones. The Audio-gd R2R11 has pretty abysmal measurements so you'd think the difference would be plainly audible. Using music, it seemed it was not.

We did not try pure tones, which may have shown audible differences - but DACs are used to listen to music, not tones, so we used music.
At the moment you cannot hear any differences, why to spend 1000$ when a 200$ unit do the job?
 

GXAlan

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Doesn’t seem to measure better at 1 kHz than the budget model from them:

Note that there is a comment later in the review where it seems like the cheaper model uses DAC ICs with mismatched output which is then corrected with resistors to match the two channels. Maybe this one uses the better ICs that don’t need that.
 

peniku8

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That's a hefty price you pay solely for looks, but I gotta admit it does look unique and pretty interesting. The thread's first pic doesn't do the 3-dimensionality justice.
 

MacClintock

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I would love for you to do a blind listening test with this DAC and maybe a good Topping or Schiit DAC, and maybe another blind listening test with a "very mediocre" DAC like on of the Audio-GD products.

It is my contention - after some half-baked blind A/B tests of my own- that people can't readily hear the differences between DACs. I did some A/B listening tests myself and also with a professional musician using a Topping D50s DAC and the very same Audio-gd R2R11 DAC that I sent to Amir to test ( https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-measurements-of-audio-gd-r2r11-dac-amp.5779/ ) and we could not tell the difference at a level greater than chance using Red book CDs with Quad ESL-57 speakers or Sennheiser HD-800 'phones. The Audio-gd R2R11 has pretty abysmal measurements so you'd think the difference would be plainly audible. Using music, it seemed it was not.

We did not try pure tones, which may have shown audible differences - but DACs are used to listen to music, not tones, so we used music.
I have also some time ago done some (not very scientific, but still) blind tests between DACs. I agree, people would be surprised how hard it is to hear any difference, even if a really bad measuring DAC, which passes well the threshold of transparence, is included.
This one is clearly transparent, but measures worse than many cheaper ones from SMSL. Seems to be more focussed on design.
 

AndreaT

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Expensive for its measured performance when compared to other offers. However it does have a AES/EBU digital input. There might be an advantage using the AES/EBU in terms of noise, spurious & jitter and FFT. The least expensive DAC with AES/EBU I found was the Gustard X16.
 

xaviescacs

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:facepalm:

1701661339420.png


Perhaps the issue with the remote was not the material... Perhaps it doesn't matter what the materials are if it still looks like a generic, multi-device remote. That should work for a cleaning robot: mute the sound, on/off, unload, forward/back, etc.
1701661597866.png
 

DWPress

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First picture reminded me of an old clock radio from the 80's.
 

Short38

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Baffling company. Price near top of offerings from SMSL. Newest new design signature? They need to decide who they are going to be. Unless of course SMSL is an aggregator of products produced by multiple manufacturers with no centralized controls.
 

gvl

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Ok, they shaved off a couple of bucks off the BOM by using a second tier DAC chip. Anything new we get for our hard earned $1000?
 
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