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SMSL Music Fortress FORT Computer USB Decoder Headphone AMP Amplifier 130mW MAC

0% Positive Reviews
Rated #125 in DACs

Posted

Pros: Portable, compact, light, sturdy

Cons: Incompatible with USB 3.0, slightly narrow soundstage, sounds muddy with higher-end headphones

SMSL Fort USB DAC is a quite affordable, very portable USB DAC with volume control pot on the top. The DAC is housed in a CNC machined black aluminium cylindrical casing with dimensions of 50 mm in diameter, 38 mm in height and 72 grams in weight. It is capable of outputting 130 mW of power with 32 ohm load and its Burr-Brown PCM2704 chip supports the following sampling rates: 32/44.1/48 kHz@16 bits. The headphone jack is 3.5mm in size. The DAC comes in a plain cardboard box with a white USB-Mini USB cable.

 

Test setup

 

OS: 64-bit Windows 8

Player: Foobar2000 (Kernel streaming)

Source material: FLACs ripped from CDs

Headphones/in-ears used: Thinksound TS02, Superlux HD 622F, Hifiman HE-500

 

I compared the SMSL Fort against my main setup which is Audio-GD NFB 3.1 and Meier Audio Corda Classic. Powerwise the Fort handled all of the headphones very well, it had plenty of power to spare. Even with HE-500 I didn't have to crank the dial past nine o'clock (the dial goes from 6 to 4 o'clock). I mostly used my Hifiman HE-500s for the sound quality tests. The sound seemed quite neutral but a bit thin. The bass lacked a bit of that familiar punch and highs were not as high as I was accustomed to. All in all the sound was nicely balanced but the lack of power was clearly showing with the HE-500s. The Superlux HD662F was a much better companion to the Fort as the shortcomings of the DAC/AMP were not as apparent due to the lower quality of the headphones.

 

The DAC does not function with USB 3.0 ports. On the brighter side, on USB 1.1 and 2.0 ports no separate driver is needed because Windows recognizes the DAC automatically.

If you have a crap sound chip in your computer and you don't want to break the bank, invest in the SMSL Fort. It is a good upgrade to an integrated chip especially if you can get it cheap.

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v80), quality = 80

SMSL Music Fortress FORT Computer USB Decoder Headphone AMP Amplifier 130mW MAC
By:
Description:

Technical Specifications: USB Interface: compatible with USB 1.0, Plug and Play, Windows2000, WIN7, MAC for the operating system. Analog output: Gold-plated 3.5MM headphone jack output, built-in amp. Amp power: 130mW, 32? Sampling rate: 16Bit 32K 44.1K 48k Machine size: 138 * 97 * 35mm Machine Weight: 0.2Kg Package List: 1 * SMSL FORT Decoder & AMP 1 * High Quality USB Cable

Details:
DetailValue
EAN0600107015428
LabelSMSL
ManufacturerSMSL
PublisherSMSL
StudioSMSL
TitleSMSL Music Fortress FORT Computer USB Decoder Headphone AMP Amplifier 130mW MAC
UPC600107015428
PackageQuantity1
ProductGroupMusical Instruments
ProductTypeNameSOUND_AND_RECORDING_EQUIPMENT
UPCList - UPCListElement600107015428
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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