DAC/amp for SM3
Jan 28, 2011 at 12:44 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12


New Head-Fier
Mar 10, 2008
Helloes, what is a good dac/amp combo for EarsSonics SM3?  I will be using it with my laptop using usb, but I'd like the possibility of optical/coax too.
I like neutral/flat FR sound.  Budget is max $400.
I was thinking iBasso D6, or pico dac/amp.
Jan 29, 2011 at 11:15 AM Post #2 of 12
well from what i can recall, the D4 mamba was certainly musical with the SM3,while the pico was really neutral - it brought out subtle details from both ends and widened the already gigantuan soundstage to a larger extent than the D4.
i preferred the D4 over the pico as the amp is more immersive... but well the choice depends on what taste or characteristics you are looking for in the whole experience (=  
i expect the D6 to be somewhat the same sound sig as the D4, but i haven't heard it to give constructive comments...
the pico would be my recommendation.
Jan 29, 2011 at 7:30 PM Post #5 of 12
Hmmmm but it doesn't work as a standalone amp.  Decisions decisions...
In comparisons to what some consider the benchmark, I found that the Pico was very detailed and spacious like the DACport; but with slightly recessed mids vs the DACport. And the DACport sounds slightly warmer and fuller, or more complete.

SM3*Pico, and SM3*dacport- which one gives the most neutral response?
Jan 30, 2011 at 11:18 AM Post #7 of 12
D12, E7+E9, D6, D4.........
Jan 31, 2011 at 2:28 AM Post #9 of 12
Great thing about the SM3 is...you don't NEED an amp for them to sound great.  For instance, they sound awesome out of the J3 alone.  Sure, my Arrow can do some fun stuff, like crossfeed and bass boost, but it's wholly unnecessary.  All of these things people are describing are due to the sound of the amps, not what it's doing for the IEMs...if you want flat and neutral, well...for one, the SM3 is really neither, and for another...nothing is more flat and neutral in coloration than NO amp at all. 
However, if what you're saying is you're having impedance matching issues with your laptop, and you need to fix that, then you'd want an amp that provides variable/adjustable impedance settings.  But if you just want an amp to add to the chain or you want a better DAC w/USB, then one of the amp/DAC combos like the TTVJ Slim or Pico DAC/Amp would be a great fit.
Jan 31, 2011 at 9:52 AM Post #10 of 12
My laptop sounds like a sandstorm without a DAC

Feb 18, 2011 at 9:23 PM Post #12 of 12
So, after a couple weeks, the pico DAC/amp has arrived.  Some observations:
- using the SM3
 - no noise at all
 - channel imbalance at very low volume.  Therefore I just lower foobar's volume and increase pico's volume.
- using Audio Techinca A900
 - compared to laptop headphone out, significant increase in high and low frequencies
 - the A900's resonance and messiness at high frequencies becomes very obvious
 - very low frequency extension and power
The A900's and SM3 are pretty easy to drive, so no comments on high power performance.  No intentions to blast my ears.
I should experiment someday: using a very low volume in foobar so pico gets very low accuracy numbers, and use hi gain and hi volume and hear if any harmonics are generated.  Mathematically, it should mean more square/triangle wave output so a fourier transform should result in additional non-fundamental frequencies...but is it audible...
some physical observations:
 - the LED indicators are very interesting...is it bipolar?
 - surprisingly small
 - likes to absorb fingerprints
 - very solid feeling volume and gain switches
 - it does pick up RF interference- if you put your cell phone on it and call, you will hear the interference

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