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Desktop Amps item created by jacksonchansf, Sep 23, 2012
Pros - Cheap, Sounds fantastic, fit and finish is top notch.
Cons - Channel matching at low volume (<25%) is poor.
Got this as a gift from the girlfriend, sadly it is WAY too powerful for nearfield and will be selling it for a much less powerful model. Quality issues with a slightly sticky pot which went away with use and poor volume matching at low volume, bad enough that you can clearly hear each channel step up one than the other, but not so bad its difficult to match it just takes an extra second of effort. At louder volumes this either goes away or stops occuring.
Pros - Fine SQ, small, cheap
Cons - No input selection, (no sound controls)
One channel of my Denon 250 pre-amp/amp set failed several times per listening session and my Arcam rDAC started failing as well. So I bought the SMSL SA-98 via eBay for a mere € 98,99 including transport (and a SMSL SD-1955+ DAC for even less). The trip from Hong Kong to Rotterdam took far less than from Rotterdam to nearby Utrecht.
It's (switched) power supply is about the same size as the amp itself. The amp has good quality speaker and input connectors. I connected my B&W 604 S2 speakers - my PC-set due to a misunderstanding of its WAF-factor - and an SMSL SD-1955+ DAC. I used Atlas Element Integra interconnects between DAC and amp. The DAC is connected to my Hackintosh via an AudioQuest Cinnamon USB-cable - although I never heard a difference with a cheap USB-cable.
SMSL claims 2 x 60 W @ 8 Ohms. The amp has more than enough horse power for my speakers. Decent volume with the volume knob at 9 o'clock en high at 11. Not as much bass as my Denon produced, but this was solved when I removed the foam from the bass ports. Crisp and detailed sound. Tight bass, fine highs. Great soundstage.
Robben Ford's 'Bringing it Back Home' sounded great. Bass that could be felt in your stomach. Hammond organ that made my speakers shine. Robben's singing and guitar playing as if he was in my room. Every instrument on 'Emergence' by Roy Hargrove Big Band could be heard individually. Melody Gardot gave me shivers with her Wicked Ride on Some Lessons Learned.