Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Impressions - HLLY SMK-II DAC
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Impressions - HLLY SMK-II DAC

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Clarifier: I was sent this unit as a test sample, in the past David of HLLY has also sent me other pieces.

 

Short and Sweet: This unit can be found for as little as $199 including S&H in eBay. At this price it is IMO a great bargain for a DAC/Amp Combo. If you wish to read no further so be it, otherwise go on.

 

Note 1: The specs I found on this unit indicates it can decode up to 24/96. For most of the listening I used the USB out of an iMac 3.06, I did play with the MIDI settings and fed the unit files that were coded as 24/96 but were sent as 24/44.1 (could not figure out how to use the MIDI software to send them up to 24/96) and the HLLY SMK-II played them beautifully.

 

Note 2: I also fed the SMK-II via coaxial. The files were 24/96 which were played without a hick-up.

 

The unit was first burnt-in for about 210 hours, this was an arbitrary number I chose up front. During most of the burn-in I did not listen to the  unit except for brief periods while I connected various cans to load the SMK-II with various impedances. I was informed by David of HLLY that the unit sounds best with higher impedance cans so I expected it to sound best with Senn HD580 and AKG K501 which are the higher impedance dynamic cans I currently have. Which by the way they did sound very good with the presentation via the Senn HD580 being very smooth. I would venture to say that those who suffer from “high frequency overload” would find this unit very much to their liking.

 

The AKG K501 are the hardest dynamic cans I own. I listen at very low levels (average of 65 dB to 68 dB) and the volume pot was no higher than 9:30 o’clock. As a wild test I took out a 1/4” to a 4-Pin balance adapter and I tried an AKG K1000 ear speakers. Yes, not the intended use but ... anyway the volume pot did not go past 12 o’clock. This was to me quite surprising in a very positive way. For the record zero volume is at 7 o’clock.

 

What I did not expect was for the Grado RS-1 or the SR-80 to sound as good as they did. Perhaps it is time to interject that although the unit sounds very musical and I could listen to it for hours without any fatigue it does not posses great top end extension. This while it may translate to some as not having sufficient detail (not the case) it could also translate to others as not being harsh. Overall I rather have and engaging presentation with no harshness than being fatigued after a few minutes of listening. Or to put differently I found the sound very smooth and musical with the Grado cans.

 

Since what may be good for one person may not be so good for the next I chose this time to present the same observation from both perspectives. Thus you will see the Pros and Cons sections below.

 

Pros:

 

  1. No optical input: For those who do not need/use an optical input the lack will not be missed plus it is less “stuff” inside the unit thus reducing the cost, complexity, and size. For those using files beyond 24/96 should not be an issue since that is an optical limitation.
  2. Smaller footprint and less weight.
  3. Higher level of fit and finish.
  4. Sockets for rolling op-amps.
  5. Linear regulated power supply: This should provide an overall better sound presentation over switching wall-warts.
  6. RCA inputs for an analog source and also for fixed DAC out: Would allow you to hook up an iPod or similar with a line out dock as well as feed an external amp/receiver.
  7. Mechanical switches for on/off and source selection: I really prefer this method to the unit automatically selecting the source, a matter of personal preference. The switches engage positively and after a few cycles with an smooth positive feel. No indicator light to indicate 44.1 or 96 which reduces cost, size, and potential electrical noise.
  8. All the switches, 1/4” plug, and volume control are very easy to access and use.
  9. The packing has improved.

 

Cons:

 

  1. No optical input: This will be missed by those who want to electrically de-couple their computers from the DAC.
  2. Smaller footprint, however the rubber feet do not provide sufficient “grab” to prevent the unit from sliding. Also if you have very heavy or inflexible cables they may “pull/tug” the SMK-II DAC unit.
  3. Higher level of fit and finish, however the volume pot action is still a bit “rough”. I did not hear any channel imbalance with the Grado RS-1 or SR-80 the lowest cans I tried.
  4. Sockets for rolling op-amps: However the case is not horizontally split like in previous versions which means both the front and back must be un-screwed and the entire unit pulled out in order to roll op-amps.
  5. Linear regulated power supply: However the unit will run slightly warm and use a bit more electricity.
  6. RCA inputs for an analog source and also for fixed DAC out: If you have extremely large RCA connectors they may not work here.
  7. Mechanical switches for on/off and source selection: Some may prefer the automatic method used in other HLLY units. It took a few cycles before the switches operated smoothly. Some may really wish the unit had a pilot light indicating 44.1 or 96.
  8. Although the 1/4” plug was able to accept up to the Furutech FP-704 plug I wish the relief was a bit larger.
  9. Although the packing has improved I believe the volume pot would benefit from additional protection specially since the unit is traveling all the way from China.

 

I considered rolling op-amps like the AD843, OPA2604, and NE5532 which according to David can be used in the SMK-II. However I chose not to since in most cases most users do not roll them.

 

In closing I would like to thank David for the opportunity to listen to the SMK-II. It is IMO a very desirable unit and one which at $199 will make ears and wallets of many users very happy. Thanks for taking the time to read these impressions!

 

I borrowed the following pictures from a HLLY advertisement in eBay.

 

SMK-II-11.jpg

 

SMK-II-13.jpg

 

SMK-II-14.JPG

 

SMK-II-00.jpg

 

SMK-II-01.jpg

 

SMK-II-02.jpg


Edited by mrarroyo - 4/30/11 at 5:33pm
post #2 of 33

THanks, Miguel

post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 

My pleasure, I am enjoying the unit's sound a lot. I will probably send a PM to a couple of members to see if they are interested in trying it out. Thanks again.

post #4 of 33
Looks like it's just above the Aune Mk2 price,but similar features and form factor
On second thought - cs4396 (dac + dig receiver?) and te7022l usb?
and those look like transistors in the HP out?
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 

^ I should not post an advertisement in eBay for this product. If you do a quick search you will find it and see what it has. As far as the op-amp it could be the OP275 but I really like the NE5532 currently in my unit. You can also roll in the AD823, or the OPA2604. Cheers.

post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by svyr View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by david-gao View Post





      Yes, we compare it with AUNE DAC,  the sound of SMK-II is better than that of AUNE,

Unlike the Aune , SMK-II has transformer inside, the Te7022L feature is better than PCM2706/07

 

     Hope miguel can have it some comparations with other products!gs1000.gif

 




so then the dac is cs4396 inside? Could you please list all the chips on the board? (coax, usb, dac, opamps (opa275 I presume) ,etc)


> SMK-II has transformer inside,

Yes, I noticed it's not a wall-wart.


    OK, Here it is:

 

    DAC chip: CS4398

    DIR  chip: DIR9001

    USB chip: TE7022L

    LPF OPAMP for DAC: OP275

    Headphone Amp OPAMP:5532

    Headphone AMP Transistor: Philips BD139 & BD140

   
 

 

post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by david-gao View Post




    OK, Here it is:

 

    DAC chip: CS4398

    DIR  chip: DIR9001

    USB chip: TE7022L

    LPF OPAMP for DAC: OP275

    Headphone Amp OPAMP:5532

    Headphone AMP Transistor: Philips BD139 & BD140

   
 

 


nice thanks!

are there specs for the headphone output power vs impedance levels and corresponding distortion measurements ?

So HP out is class A with opamp as a buffer?
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by svyr View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by david-gao View Post




    OK, Here it is:

 

    DAC chip: CS4398

    DIR  chip: DIR9001

    USB chip: TE7022L

    LPF OPAMP for DAC: OP275

    Headphone Amp OPAMP:5532

    Headphone AMP Transistor: Philips BD139 & BD140

   
 

 




nice thanks!

are there specs for the headphone output power vs impedance levels and corresponding distortion measurements ?

So HP out is class A with opamp as a buffer?



     The SMK-II is ok for Headphone which  impedence is below 300 OHM, I will offer the specs for the  

headphone output power vs impedance levels soon! Thanks for attention

 

post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by david-gao View Post





     The SMK-II is ok for Headphone which  impedence is below 300 OHM, I will offer the specs for the  

headphone output power vs impedance levels soon! Thanks for attention

 


ok thanks. Last question. I noticed you guys used the 'ASIO drivers available' in the item description.
Every TE7022 device I've seen says that, but none seem to provide the drivers. Could you please provide a link to the drivers on the product support page or something biggrin.gif ?
post #10 of 33

HLLY SMK-II Feature:

post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by david-gao View Post

HLLY SMK-II Feature:


Thanks for the specs. Looks pretty impressive. (better than D100). Any chance you could post the distortion figures for the 150mw into 300ohm :P ?

http://www.hlly-audio.com/index.php?main_page=fillib the link to the asio driver is broken (404).

What's more, the file name, seems to imply it's a ploytec driver and I though it's not free. Do you have a deal with ploytec? If so, the latest version has long been V2.8.45 any chance you could get ploytec to get you the latest one?
Edited by svyr - 5/5/11 at 7:30am
post #12 of 33

THe download link is OK now,  Yes, it is free version!  We do not deal with  ploytec  

post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by david-gao View Post

THe download link is OK now,  Yes, it is free version!  We do not deal with  ploytec  


uuummm, no offense, but including a serial number posted on the warez sites makes it warez, not free.

Also, the representative from their company says they don't support the tenor chip:
Quote:
Originally Posted by svyr 
to helpdesk # usb-audio.com
date Fri, May 6, 2011 at 12:27 AM
subject ASIO support for Tenor TE7022L?
mailed-by gmail.com

hide details 12:27 AM (8 hours ago)

Hi,

Just curious, does your driver support the above chip?

Regards,
...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markus Medau 
Markus Medau # usb-audio.com to me
show details 12:38 AM (8 hours ago)

Don't think so..
It may work, but at least I'm not aware of that, as there's
a number of compatibility issues with Tenor chips on the list to be fixed in future
versions of the driver.

-Markus


Ploytec GmbH
Fahrnauerstr. 64
79650 Schopfheim
Germany

Phone: +49 7622 6844664
Fax: +49 7622 6844665

Handelsregister: HRB 670497,
Amtsgericht Freiburg i. Br., Germany
Managing directors: Markus Medau, Werner Wirsum
VAT ID: DE813962013

Edited by svyr - 5/5/11 at 4:02pm
post #14 of 33

Dear David-Gao, Dear Hlly Audio people,

 

we kindly ask you to cease and desist publishing the driver software, which is obviously stolen and taken from illegal "warez" pages IMMEDIATELY.

We reserve the right to claim compensation and take legal action against this audacious theft.

 

Best regards

 

Markus Medau, Ploytec GmbH

post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ploytec View Post

Dear David-Gao, Dear Hlly Audio people,

 

we kindly ask you to cease and desist publishing the driver software, which is obviously stolen and taken from illegal "warez" pages IMMEDIATELY.

We reserve the right to claim compensation and take legal action against this audacious theft.

 

Best regards

 

Markus Medau, Ploytec GmbH



So sorry, have deleted the link for the dirver now!

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Impressions - HLLY SMK-II DAC