SMSL PS100 Multifunctional DAC

General Information

From the manufacturer:
The PS100 is a versatile and compact audio decoder converter with HDMI ARC, optical, coaxial, and USB inputs, making it suitable for various audio setups. Whether you want to connect it to your TV, computer, or smartphone, the PS100 promises to deliver enhanced sound quality and convenience. It has USB input, optical input, coaxial input and RCA output. The DAC is designed to provide high performance audio conversion, making it suitable for a wide variety of audio setups, including automotive.

Latest reviews

Headphones and Coffee

Previously known as Wretched Stare
Good beginning
Pros: Features per cost , size and decently made , Multiple connectivity.
Cons: Accessories are minimal, Bluetooth is very limited SBC only.

The PS100 is a versatile and compact audio decoder converter with HDMI ARC, optical, coaxial, and USB inputs, making it suitable for various audio setups. Whether you want to connect it to your TV, computer, or smartphone, the PS100 promises to deliver enhanced sound quality and ease of use.

The SP100 is a tiny DAC , the build is all plastic and it has the following specs.

Technical Parameter:
Input: Optical/Coaxial/HDMI/USB
Output level: 1.9Vrms
THD+N: 0.005% (-85dB)
Dynamic Range: 96dB
SNR: 98dB
Sampling Rate:
USB PCM: 44.1kHz~48kHz
Opt/Coax PCM: 44.1 kHz~192kHz
Power Consumption: <2W
Standby Power: <0.1W
Size: 105 x22 x80mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 90g/0.20lbs
1* PS100 1* HDMI Cable 1* USB Cable 1* User manual 1* SMSL card

The USB , optical, and coaxial worked flawless. Providing a much clearer and more detailed presentation of the sound.
Decent dynamics and mid and treble representation. The Bluetooth however is limited to the lowly SBC , it smoothed over details and emphasized the highs and lows to mediocre levels. I would recommend using it wired for more discerning Audiophiles. Still wired and HDMI ARC are very useful, for gamers and casual Bluetooth is fine. My favorite connection for these types of devices are optical.

The device is small and it's really useful for a gamer as it doesn't take a lot of space and can be tucked away or even attached to the back of the TV or computer system.

I tested mine with the powerful Burson amplifier. And another SMSL product, I found it paired equal well with all.
Wether I was listening to high end Yamaha YH-L700A Bluetooth or my Hifiman Ananda via wired. It's performance was adequate and dependable.

I think for a beginner or a budget minded Audiophile. You would find this product very nice for the under $30 price. It had a lot of features for such a low cost.

Last edited:


500+ Head-Fier
The little DAC that (mostly) could
Pros: - Highly cost-effective way to “modernize” legacy audio equipment
- Simple, compact, and low-power design is suitable for any number of use cases
Cons: - Sound quality is adequate, but not really audiophile-grade
- Bluetooth limited to SBC codec
- Combined USB signal input and USB power could present usability challenges



Let’s start with the obligatory disclaimer: Aoshida Audio provided me with this unit free of charge as a form of compensation for some shipping costs I incurred while replacing another piece of audio equipment under warranty, and also asked that I provide a review of the PS100.

This review is based on my personal views of how the unit performs as part of a headphone audiophile chain, which I honestly don’t think is the primary use case for this device. Given the cost and go-anywhere form factor, I see the PS100 being used mostly as a cheap and good-enough way to modernize legacy bits of audio equipment: think home theater receiver from just before the wireless era, or old desktop CD/cassette sound system that still works perfectly but has no way of streaming Spotify. I could even imagine this thing being velcroed to the underside of a dashboard for in-car use.

Build, Form, and Function​

The packaging for the PS100 is sparse, and that extends to the documentation, which provides basic operating instructions and a handful of specs. I had to search online to learn that this device is built around the ESS Sabre ES9023 DAC chipset, and the only way I learned what Bluetooth codec it supports is by looking through the developer option screens on my Android phone (the answer is SBC, and that’s it – no AAC, no AptX, and certainly no LDAC). I still don’t know what Bluetooth chipset is used.


The entire device is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and the UI couldn’t be simpler: there is a single button on the front that you long-press to power on or off, and short-press to select the input source. A dim white LED indicates which source you’re using. The whole experience is rather budget-oriented, but given this device’s mission in life I’m fine with that; it honestly isn’t meant to be looked at or touched any longer than necessary. Slick, hefty knobs and satisfying clicks would be wasted here.


To keep costs down, SMSL chose to use the USB-C port for power, and didn’t even include a power adapter. This compromise creates some potential usability challenges. On the plus side, everything just worked™ when I plugged my android phone directly into the back via a C-to-C cable (more later on the sound quality of USB vs Bluetooth), however I have to assume this will place added drain on the phone battery, and if you happen to be coming into a listening session with a low phone battery and were hoping to charge your phone as you listen, you’re out of luck: you’ll have to plug your phone into the wall and stream via Bluetooth instead. Output power is sufficient but rather limited. For comparison, I set my DO200 at -5.5db output level to create an equivalent listening volume.

Weirdly, there’s an easter egg on shutdown. A very quiet male voice says something (which I haven’t yet been able to figure out) after you long-press the button to power off the device.

Features not tested​

I reviewed this unit mainly as a piece of headphone HiFi gear. As such, I didn't get around to testing the following:
  • Windows drivers (for USB input)
  • Optical, Coax, and HDMI ARC inputs

Test Equipment and Test Tracks​

Even before plugging in the PS100, I had a hunch the modest and inexpensive Sabre ES9023 might give the sound a harder edge, so I reached for my Beyerdynamic DT-880’s (since they are the most revealing headphones I have when it comes to treble) and fired up some tunes to get a first impression. My hunch proved to be correct: the PS100 is much sharper and more sibilant than any of my other DACs, especially when using Bluetooth input (more on this later).

To develop my impression of the audio, I went back and forth between the SMSL PS100 and my SMSL DO200mkII as the DAC source feeding into my SMSL HO200 amplifier. On the output side, I listened with both the Beyerdynamic DT-880/600 (to bring the treble forward as much as possible) and the SASH Tres 45 (which take a much more relaxed approach to upper mids and treble).

For test tracks, I gravitated toward things that would reveal sibilance and other compression artifacts in the midrange and treble, such as:
  • Genesis (Duke) – Behind the Lines
  • Rush (Grace Under Pressure) – Red Sector A
  • David Bowie (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) – Soul Love
I also threw in some tracks to test overall resolution, imaging, and presentation of the soundstage:
  • Tears for Fears (Songs from the Big Chair) – I Believe
  • Tears for Fears (Songs from the Big Chair) – The Working Hour
  • Harry Manx (Live at the Glen Gould Studio) – Point of Purchase
  • Autorickshaw (Four Higher) – Ganamurthy

Bluetooth Performance​

Bluetooth performance is by far the PS100’s biggest weakness, so let’s start with the bad news then end on a high(er) note. As mentioned earlier, I haven’t been able to figure out what chipset SMSL used for Bluetooth here, but the default – and only – codec option is SBC. That means 328 kbps with a sampling rate of 44.1khz. This, coupled with the relatively archaic ES9023 DAC chipset, creates some pretty noticeable compromises in sound quality.

For comparison, my DO200mkII connects using LDAC, and I configured LDAC in my phone (via developer options) to output at 990kbps, which should maximize audio quality. Honestly with the DO200, I am hard-pressed to tell the difference between LDAC and hard-wired USB. Feel free to take that either as a statement on the high quality of modern Bluetooth codec implementations, or a statement on the low quality of my ears as test equipment, and an inability to hear differences that other people might find obvious.

Either way, when listening to the same tracks via the PS100, the decrease in audio quality is noticeable. For starters, there is an edge to the treble that makes any sibilance in the track more prominent and annoying. Sibilance feels like it sustains longer and suffers from compression artifacting that sometimes turns a simple “sss” sound into a “sssshwuh” sound. This is all very subtle (I can think of numerous friends and family members who I bet wouldn't detect this at all) but it’s there. Upper midrange and treble also sound more grainy. Bass seems less affected but I did hear some mud and loss of precision at times in the upper bass – for example with Tom hits.

Overall, the PS100 creates an impression of less resolution and detail: in my opinion piano sounds more congested, vocals lose some of their ethereal quality, and passages that should sound “effortless” somehow don’t anymore. I also found imaging and separation to be less precise, and if an instrument or vocalist seems to be floating around me when using my DO200, it moves toward the top of my head and sounds less expansive with the PS100. There is less sense of being immersed in the music or present at the venue.

A more intimate and less revealing headphone such as the SASH Tres 45 (as compared to the Beyerdynamic DT-880) will go a long way toward softening many of the weaknesses of the PS100. This is especially true of the relatively crude treble presentation and proclivity toward sibilance. You may still hear it when you pay specific attention, but it’s less immediately distracting.

Having said all of the above, let me insert an asterisk* into the discussion at this point. When switching back and forth between the PS100 and a higher quality DAC, the differences are obvious if listening critically. But the SBC codec uses “psychoacoustic” compression, meaning it cuts information where you notice it least. Also, auditory memory is notoriously short in duration. What this all means is that after about a minute of listening with the PS100, my brain mostly forgot about the higher quality I was hearing before. It got to the point where I’d be grooving along to the music and I’d suddenly ask myself “Am I sure I’m not being too hard on this DAC? Is the sound really as flawed as I thought?” Of course a quick switch back to the DO200 would then confirm the flaws, but it’s entirely possible to enjoy a listening session with the PS100 if you turn off the critical part of your brain, especially when using less revealing headphones.

USB Performance​

Direct-wired USB reduces the treble and sibilance issues significantly, but not quite completely. Treble is presented more cleanly and without the artifacting described earlier, and midrange grain also seems to be reduced compared to Bluetooth. But this is still a less sophisticated chipset than the ES9068 found in the DO200 - the imaging is less precise, the soundstage is less immersive, and those moments of ethereal, floating beauty hit less often.


It’s impossible to review the PS100 without mentioning the fact it costs less than 1/10 what the DO200 does. It is important to measure its “flaws” against the correct set of expectations. I don’t anticipate anybody here will be shopping the PS100 against a mid-fi unit, nor should they. As mentioned earlier, this is the unit you buy to bring sound someplace you didn’t have it before. It’s probably also worth recommending as a starting-point DAC to someone who’s extremely price conscious. Paired with something like the Douk Audio U3 Class A amp, you'd get a dirt cheap listening station with an upgrade path.

To me, the more interesting question with the PS100 isn’t whether it’s well-suited to its intended market – because it is – but whether SMSL should have priced it $2 or $3 higher and included a more capable Bluetooth chipset. Really, 80% of the weaknesses I heard here were due to the SBC codec. LDAC would sound soooo much better and would make the PS100 a much more compelling buy even against units costing 2 or 3 times as much. But then maybe that’s the point: SMSL has a large (some would say too large) portfolio of audio products, and a PS100 with good Bluetooth would certainly cannibalize sales from higher margin models. Regardless, it’s a good time to be alive as a headphone audiophile and used within its limitations, the PS100 is a useful audio appliance.
Last edited:


There are no comments to display.