[Impression] S.M.S.L SD-793II Audio DAC + Headphone Amplifier
Mar 30, 2016 at 9:47 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 71

TheGiantHogweed

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I have been looking for something like this for quite some time and I would struggle find anything that would suit my needs better for the price.
 
 
Advantages:
Really good value for money.
Very little background noise.
Really solidly built in most areas.
Good that is has both optical and coaxial inputs.
Somehow looks and feels more expensive than it is.
 
Disadvantages:
Buttons are slightly out of alignment.
Volume dial feels a little bit sharp to touch in places. It also has a little too much give. (A little too easy to accidentally turn)
May not suit bass heavy headphones as the sound seems quite warm.
A loud (ish) click can be heard from the DAC when being used through the optical input each time you switch to playing sound from a different application from your PC. (that sound doesn't come through the headphones)
 
There may look to be as many or more disadvantages compared to advantages but lots of the disadvantages are really minor things.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have been wanting something that is a DAC with both a coaxial input and an optical input as well as being a headphone amplifier.
I got this from amazon.co.uk for £51.99.
I still have the FiiO E10 which I am starting to struggle to get along with now. It has started to crackle every time I adjust the volume dial. Also, it seemed to allow a lot of my computer noise through it and I could hear all that through both the headphone socket as well as the line out. This SD-793II however is very good. I hear next to no computer noise now I am using an optical cable. I was also worried about the power supply adding noise to the DAC but that doesn't seem to be a problem either. As is often the case, if you listen to something really quiet and turn the volume up full, you then do hear a tiny bit of background hiss but nothing really noticeable. I use 32ohm headphones so it will probably be even less noticeable with higher impedance headphones.
 
Here is am image of the DAC from the front:

 
I would say that overall, it is really well made. It seems to be metal everywhere. The 6.3mm headphone socket is very well made. When I plug a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter in, it clicks really securely into place.
I would say that the volume dial feels just a tiny bit flimsy. As in it wobbles side to side / up and down a small amount when moved. It also feels a little bit sharp to the touch in places. Not a big problem though. When listening to music, it doesn't add any crackling to what I am listening to.
 
The other minor issue with the build quality is the 2 switches:

If you look very closely at the 2 buttons. They are sort of angled towards the top left. They have the same finish that you can see the volume dial has, even on the side of them. The 2 switches are the sort that are either pushed in or out, so they do move by several mm. This means that they do actually rub in the top left corner and do make a bit of a strange sound because of the finish on them. You can avoid this by trying to push down on them slightly as you push them in or out but again, this is not a big issue at all.
 
One thing that I also may miss is that there is no bass boost. That is something many people wouldn't want anyway so it isn't a problem. I'm just so used to them as 4 out of my 5 FiiO devices have a bass boost.
 
I haven't really got any images showing what the little LEDs under the switches on it show but I will do my best to describe. The manual does tell some of what you need to know you but the English is pretty poor.
 
The LED below the power switch is green when you turn it on when no input is feeding it any signal. It then goes red when it detects a signal from either of the digital inputs. If the light below the select button is green, that is for the optical input. When you press it, that light goes red and it is then for the coaxial input.
 
Unlike the E10, at least you can power this off when you don't want to use it. If I ever wanted to do that with the E10, I ended up plugging it into my switched USB hub which you can see in 2 of the pictures further down.
 
 
The side:

Both of the sides look the same. A very similar style and finish to the FiiO E10. This is where this DAC/amplifier feels like it is extremely well made.
 
 
The back:

There is only one extra thing I would like here and that would be a 3.5mm line out as well as the phono output. I do actually have 2 things plugged into the phono output on the back. My Pioneer A-209r amplifier for my speakers with my PC and I also wanted a 3.5mm cable so I can still use my well used FiiO E11.
This is a little strange but I can also use this as an amplifier for my FiiO X3. The phono output seems to work both ways. I can plug the 3.5mm cable that I use for my E11 into the line out of my FiiO X3. I can then listen through the headphone socket of the SD-793II. I don't know why it works both ways but my E10 did also allow this for some reason.
I have a phone to 3.5mm adapter and then a 3.5mm splitter in that so I can have the phono output going to 2 devices.
 
 
Where I am using it:

 
 
It did come with 4 rubber feet already attached but I ended up removing them as I wanted to put sticky back velcro on the back of it so I could stick it to the side of my shelf. This is where I had my E10 before. I still plan on using my E11 as I have always liked the bass boost on it. Quite useful for my Audio Technica ATH-AD700s which have quite weak bass.
 
This image compares the size with my FiiO E10 and E11:

 
 
Out of all the amplifiers or DACs I have had, I still think the E10 is the most well built. The volume dial on the E10 feels more solid. The SD-793II volume dial I would say could do with being a little more stiff. Also, the E10 has nothing on it that feels at all flimsy where as as I said before the switches are not positioned perfectly on the SD-793II.
 
 
 
 
 
 
About the sound:
I haven't had this for long at all. I only felt like reviewing it as I have tested pretty much everything of what it is capable of as I use both inputs as well as the phono output and the built in headphone amplifier.
I would say It sounds better than the E10. It does go very loud although I don't know how well it will drive headphones at around 250ohm. Another small issue I have thought of is that even when the volume is in the lowest position, you can still hear the music slightly. You would have thought that that should cut it out totally. And that reminds me of another thing I sort of miss on this amplifier, a high/low gain switch. If anyone used this with say, 16ohm headphones that are very sensitive, especially with the dial being a little too easy to turn, you would be much better off if you could switch it to low gain or something similar. I keep coming up with more issues but I have just thought of another. This amplifier is not good at playing music at low volumes. I can imagine it would be even worse with headphones that are easier to drive than mine. The issue is that the channel balance isn't very good. The right channel is a fair bit louder than the left until you get a little louder. It will only be a problem if you have low impedance headphones and you like to listen to music very quietly.
 
I would say the detail of the sound is better than the E10. There is something about the bass that makes it stand out to me. It does seem more noticeable but it doesn't take over anything. It may not suit headphones that are already on the bass heavy side.
I haven't had it for long as I said but I would say that even the mid range and treble seems to sound a little cleaner than the E10. I didn't actually listen to the E10 that much because the crackling bothered me. I used the line out of the E10 and listened through my E11.
 
It is only a small improvement to a reasonable computer sound card but it is the fact that it is a DAC and a headphone amplifier that made me want to get it
 
The other DAC I have is the FiiO D03k and sound wise, this beats it by a long way. I used to use the D03K as the DAC for the Coaxial output of my Blu-ray player. That sounded ok but the D03K power supply allowed quite a lot of electrical noise through to my amplifier and always irritated me when I was watching films on my player. This however is very quiet and also sounds cleaner too just like it does with the optical input. If you happen to have both inputs producing sound at the same time, when you switch over to either the optical or the coaxial, it appears to totally filter out the others sound which is great. I will need more time to see what I think of it once I have had it for a while.
 
Something I may as well mention that some may find a bit irritating is that when used with the optical input, it appears that each time you play something from somewhere different on your PC (E.G, browser, Spotify or similar), the unit makes a very noticeable clicking sound. When I pause a track that is playing on Spotify and then play a video on Firefox, as soon as the sound in Firefox starts, that is when I hear this click. It doesn't come through the line out or headphones so to me, it isn't that irritating. Just be aware that if you are constantly changing from listening to things on different applications that you will hear the unit click pretty often. From what I can tell though, this only happens with the optical input. I'm not sure what the reason for this is though. The good thing is that there is never any delay when you hear this click. At first, I was worried that it would sometimes cut off the start of what I was playing / listening to each time I switched to a different program. This sound as I said doesn't come through your headphones or the phono output so it won't bother me at all.
 
 
Information from SMSL's website:
 
Description:
 
SMSL SD-793II decoder uses the advanced digital receiver chip DIR9001, it can receive 24bit/96K signals at the highest. DAC adapt the one of the best D/A decode PCM1793 chip(192K/24Bit convert chip). Use active low pass filteroutput (sealed pack OPA2134, user an change this IC to adjust sound).
 
SMSL SD-793II decoder can work with coaxial and optical jacks on computer LCD, TV, CD, DVD, MD.
 
Specification:
 
Input interface: coaxial or optical fiber(with switch)
 
Input frequency:44.1, 48, 96KHZ/16/24BIT
 
SNR: > 113dB
 
Dynamic range: 105dB
 
Distortion: 1KHZ% under 0.0006
 
Rated output: 1.7VPP
 
Frequency response: 20 - 20KHz( - 0.2dB)
 
Total output power: < 8W
 
Headphone output power: 65mW @ 16Ω; 130mW @ 32Ω
 
Headphone output distortion: 0.01% THD + N @ 100mW/32Ω
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
User Manual:
 
I couldn't actually find this anywhere on the internet so I have just taken pictures of the 4 pages with the information that came with it.
 




 
 
 
 
As I said before, it isn't great English but it still may be helpful for some people as I couldn't find it elsewhere.
 
 
 
 
Conclusion:
 
I will need to have had it for longer to get to know more about the sound but all the functions work well on it and it is definitely better than my E10. My E10 was around £62.99. Around £10 more.
 
I don't think you will be able to get something that is a DAC with both an optical and coaxial input as well as a headphone amplifier that is a good as this for the price I paid.
 
One other thing that people may want from this is a USB input. I have been put off by that now as I feel is often allows the computer noise to go into the device the cable is plugged into. I am sure this won't always be the case though.
 
I couldn't find much about this amplifier on this forum so I thought I may as well start this thread with an impression of it.
 
So far, I am very impressed with it and will update this thread if I come across any issues with it.
 
 
I hope this will be helpful to others.
 
May 3, 2016 at 7:17 PM Post #2 of 71

thuNDa

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Hey, i got the sister model "TARION TRD80", and the only time i heard the clicking, was when i went into the windows speaker configuration, and tested/switched the different samplerates for the SPDIF-out.
Maybe it depends on the Soundcard/OS aswell, i use it on Win10 with my Soundblaster Z(which has too much output impedence(20 ohm) for my 120 ohm HD590's, and therefore caused boomy bass, and wasn't so transparent overall).
 
BTW, someone stated in in the Z-Review comments, that he has measured the output impedance at 0.7 Ohm for the SD793II, and indeed it sounds much sharper compared to using my soundcard with my headphones.
 
May 4, 2016 at 3:59 AM Post #3 of 71

TheGiantHogweed

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The TARION TRD80 does look to be pretty much itentical from the outside. I do find this clicking a little irritating as it does actually seem to happen through both inputs. I have tested this by using the coaxial output of my E10. I still get clicking when I open any application or program that plays sound. When I open Kodi even before playing anything, it seems to click. The good thing is though, it never misses the beggining of any sound that is playing even if it does click. It will probably be the case that all DACs do this but many do it without a sound.

On mine, the light under the power switch is red to indicate it has got a signal from coaxial or optical. Whenever it clicks, the light flickers as if it is loosing signal for a fraction of a second. When I shut my PC down and it stops getting the signal, that light is green.

I'm still very happy with it as the sound from it doesn't have any problems and it is still really good value for money.
 
Nov 3, 2016 at 2:45 AM Post #5 of 71

Denon2010

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Bought this from Gemini Doctor on Amazon very great people to deal with and 100% positive rating my amp came working just fine. Volume Dial is a bit stiff I guess opposite of your experience since your one is loose. LOL
 
Its easy to see SMSL does not have the better machines for cutting the aluminum like big name brands do. So I agree sometimes things aren't aligned that well in manufacturing, however that is easily overlooked when you actually realized that you just bought a God Tier DAC/AMP for $65 with full 100% Aluminum Casing and machined aluminum edges. Something to note this unit is just beautiful the silver natural aluminum color and the way its designed it isn't too small either its bigger than the Fiio E10k its so nice to touch the 1793 Burr Brown DAC inside it is real mama jama stuff this is professional grade audio components that SMSL are using here no corners were cut.
 
This unit seems to shine with Bob Marley more than other musicians, you hear the instruments clearer now in a wider sound stage it goes to show you the wailers were ahead of their time. Pink Floyd goes great on these also.
 
Nov 4, 2016 at 5:42 AM Post #6 of 71

TheGiantHogweed

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Bought this from Gemini Doctor on Amazon very great people to deal with and 100% positive rating my amp came working just fine. Volume Dial is a bit stiff I guess opposite of your experience since your one is loose. LOL

Its easy to see SMSL does not have the better machines for cutting the aluminum like big name brands do. So I agree sometimes things aren't aligned that well in manufacturing, however that is easily overlooked when you actually realized that you just bought a God Tier DAC/AMP for $65 with full 100% Aluminum Casing and machined aluminum edges. Something to note this unit is just beautiful the silver natural aluminum color and the way its designed it isn't too small either its bigger than the Fiio E10k its so nice to touch the 1793 Burr Brown DAC inside it is real mama jama stuff this is professional grade audio components that SMSL are using here no corners were cut.

This unit seems to shine with Bob Marley more than other musicians, you hear the instruments clearer now in a wider sound stage it goes to show you the wailers were ahead of their time. Pink Floyd goes great on these also.

I have over all been pretty pleased with it. It is a huge improvement over my E10. It was already 10GBP cheaper than the E10 when I got it and is 10GBP cheaper again now on Amazon.co.uk. The thing that irritates me a little about it though is the fact that each time you play a sound from a different application on your PC, it makes a clicking sound.Although I said in my main review that that sound only was in the device itself, you can actually hear a tiny quiet crackle through your headphones if nothing is playing and it happens. Not sure why it does this but it did the same with my new and old PC. Strangly though, if I use the E10's coaxial output and plug that into this, I then don't get that problem. I just get the E10's annoying USB interference instead! Was worth trying out. The coaxial input also seems to work fine with the SMSL DAC when it comes from my Blu-ray player. None of this clicking happens then.
I am actually wondering if something is wrong with my optical output on both PCs. E.g., If I record some music playing on my PC from the monitor of the digital audio coming from the PC, whenever that click happens, I can see that the recording has gone silent for a second or so and has missed a bit out. When I used FiiO's D03K with the optical out, I never had this issue though. Can't be sure what it is.

I agree with you about the build quality. I find it strange that they say on their website that it is built very professionally. The volume dial doesn't feel quite right, the Buttons on mine are a bit wonky and by the sound of it, your dial isn't quite the same as mine. At least they could be consistent! Not that it is a big problem for what you get in it though.

One other issue I seem to get with this and the E10 though is crackling when turning the volume dial. Another member of headfi told me a way of dealing with this and it pretty much always works. Unplug everything and flick the dial all the way round fast both ways several times. Then plug everything back in and the crackling seems to not happen any more.

I hope my S.M.S.L SD-793ii lasts as it does seem to be a bit cheap for how good it sounds.
 
Nov 8, 2016 at 8:08 PM Post #7 of 71

Denon2010

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I have over all been pretty pleased with it. It is a huge improvement over my E10. It was already 10GBP cheaper then the E10 when I got it and is 10GBP cheaper again now on Amazon.co.uk. The thing that irritates me a little about it though is the fact that each time you play a sound from a different application on your PC, it makes a clicking sound.Although I said in my main review that that sound only was in the device itself, you can actually hear a tiny quiet crackle through your headphones if nothing is playing and it happens. Not sure why it does this but it did the same with my new and old PC. Strangly though, if I use the E10's coaxial output and plug that into this, I then don't get that problem. I just get the E10's annoying USB interference instead! Was worth trying out. The coaxial input also seems to work fine with the SMSL DAC when it comes from my Blu-ray player. None of this clicking happens then.
I am actually wondering if something is wrong with my optical output on both PCs. E.g., If I record some music playing on my PC from the monitor of the digital audio coming from the PC, whenever that click happens, I can see that the recording has gone silent for a second or so and has missed a bit out. When I used FiiO's D03K with the optical out, I never had this issue though. Can't be sure what it is.

I agree with you about the build quality. I find it strange that they say on their website that it is built very professionally. The volume dial doesn't feel quite right, the Buttons on mine are a bit wonky and by the sound of it, your dial isn't quite the same as mine. At least they could be consistent! Not that it is a big problem for what you get in it though.

One other issue I seem to get with this and the E10 though is crackling when turning the volume dial. Another member of headfi told me a way of dealing with this and it pretty much always works. Unplug everything and flick the dial all the way round fast both ways several times. Then plug everything back in and the crackling seems to not happen any more.

I hope my S.M.S.L SD-793ii lasts as it does seem to be a bit cheap for how good it sounds.

 
Hey there is something I have noticed the amp that comes with the SMSL seems like a very I dunno bad amp?
 
Its rated at 132mw @ 32 ohms this means its bad because the fiio E10K is 200mw @ 32 ohm though I admit this thing can blow my phillips headphone speaks and my ear drums I keep hearing this is not what makes a quality amp it needs to fully supply the max input power of the headphones
 
so I think its now safe to say this amp is bad? and this is just a great DAC and nothing more?
 
Nov 9, 2016 at 3:06 AM Post #8 of 71

TheGiantHogweed

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Hey there is something I have noticed the amp that comes with the SMSL seems like a very I dunno bad amp?
 
Its rated at 132mw @ 32 ohms this means its bad because the fiio E10K is 200mw @ 32 ohm though I admit this thing can blow my phillips headphone speaks and my ear drums I keep hearing this is not what makes a quality amp it needs to fully supply the max input power of the headphones
 
so I think its now safe to say this amp is bad? and this is just a great DAC and nothing more?


I can't say how loud it is is to do with the quality at all. This will very easily drive 64ohm headphones to a loud uncomfortable level. But this is better than the E10 in many ways. The main thing that is better is that it has a separate power supply. This prevents any interference from the PC getting to the sound as that won't travel through optical cable. I just couldn't call it a bad amp at all. The sound quality is just fine for the price and the E10 I has certainly wasn't better. But yes, it was louder. But I've had plenty of amplifiers that are both louder and quieter than the SMSL amp and that doesn't mean that are better or worse in terms of sound quality. It will just mean that they may struggle to drive really high impedance headphones.
 
Nov 9, 2016 at 4:56 AM Post #9 of 71

Denon2010

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I can't say how loud it is is to do with the quality at all. This will very easily drive 64ohm headphones to a loud uncomfortable level. But this is better than the E10 in many ways. The main thing that is better is that it has a separate power supply. This prevents any interference from the PC getting to the sound as that won't travel through optical cable. I just couldn't call it a bad amp at all. The sound quality is just fine for the price and the E10 I has certainly wasn't better. But yes, it was louder. But I've had plenty of amplifiers that are both louder and quieter than the SMSL amp and that doesn't mean that are better or worse in terms of sound quality. It will just mean that they may struggle to drive really high impedance headphones.

 
Hey dude can you have a look at this thread for me?
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/717690/philips-shp9500-discussion-thread/1140
 
This is the conversation we were having and the guy had pointed out to me that the SMSL is rated at only 132mw @ 32 ohms. Which means the amp is bad because it means it cannot deliver the power needed for all frequencies. Which apparently has nothing to do with the fact that this SMSL amp is so powerful it will damage your earphones or ear drums.
 
I can barely turn it to quarter volume before getting ear drum pain cause its so loud
 
let me know your thoughts on this thread and conversation.
 
Nov 9, 2016 at 6:54 AM Post #10 of 71

thuNDa

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Hey dude can you have a look at this thread for me?
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/717690/philips-shp9500-discussion-thread/1140
 
This is the conversation we were having and the guy had pointed out to me that the SMSL is rated at only 132mw @ 32 ohms. Which means the amp is bad because it means it cannot deliver the power needed for all frequencies. Which apparently has nothing to do with the fact that this SMSL amp is so powerful it will damage your earphones or ear drums.
 
I can barely turn it to quarter volume before getting ear drum pain cause its so loud
 
let me know your thoughts on this thread and conversation.

The more you rotate the vol. knob, the more mW will be delivered to the headphones(to make it simple).
132mW wouldn't be enough only when you wanted to get it louder than vol. knob at max.(yes, fiio e10k can deliver more mW, but only in high gain, where it starts to distort when you push the vol. knob too far).
And 132mW is alot for your headphones which are rated at ~100dB at 1mW(no, 2mW won't give you 200dB then, but anyways
biggrin.gif
).
 
Nov 9, 2016 at 11:46 AM Post #11 of 71

TheGiantHogweed

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Hey dude can you have a look at this thread for me?
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/717690/philips-shp9500-discussion-thread/1140
 
This is the conversation we were having and the guy had pointed out to me that the SMSL is rated at only 132mw @ 32 ohms. Which means the amp is bad because it means it cannot deliver the power needed for all frequencies. Which apparently has nothing to do with the fact that this SMSL amp is so powerful it will damage your earphones or ear drums.
 
I can barely turn it to quarter volume before getting ear drum pain cause its so loud
 
let me know your thoughts on this thread and conversation.


Well, I can understand that this amplifier would be a pain if you were using say a 16ohm pair of headphones that were very sensitive. Thin you simply wouldn't be able to listen to them quietly. I still can't really say that it is a bad amplifier at all compared to the E10. It just lacks a high and low gain switch which it sounds like you could do with. If you then put this amp onto low gain. You will need to rotate the dial further to increase the volume which would solve your problem. that it not related to the amplifier. And yes, The E10 is more powerful and efficient but sound quality certainly isn't any worse on this with my headphones when comparing them both. I use the Audio Technica ATH-AD700s and the AKG K550s. both are 32ohm and a very similar sensitivity. Both are also reasonably easy to power. This amplifier powers them very nicely. Not too loud and I can easily get to a comfortable listening level. It will easily drive higher impedance headphones with a lower sensitivity.
 
Considering the E10 is now getting on for £20 more expensive in my country than the SMSL is, I think the SMSL quite easily beats it for it's value. The sound quality to my ears was just as good or maybe even better. I saw it at amazon.co.uk for £40 a few months back. I paid £62 for my E10. This suits my needs well but I can understand how the fact it doesn't have a gain switch can make it hard for people with lower impedance headphones.
 
I rated is high because what I was after was just something that was better that my PC's sound card. I wasn't actually after much better sound quality. The main thing that bothered me was the fact that if I plug my headphones directly into my PC. I hear the PC chugging away every time it gets busy. That drove me mad. You could hear all those sounds that you hear the PC make if you go close to it. But coming through my headphones too! This has totally stopped that and there is not no background noise or interference either. I also wanted to have a nice dial instead of using my keyboard to change the volume. I also wanted a coaxial input for my Blu-ray player. I wanted something solidly built. I wanted something with the ability to go loud. I got virtually everything I was after so for me, it was brilliant value and I really can't say sound quality is any better on more expensive devices I have. I have the FiiO X3 and the DAC in that is identical to the FiiO E17. The E17 itself was over £100. When I listen to that with my PC, I can't say that sounds any better than my SMSL DAC.
 
This SMSL DAC and headphone amplifier may only be worth it to some if you plan to use all of it's features. I do that and it happens to power my headphones perfectly. As I said, maybe it won't be very good with headphones that are extremely sensitive.
 
Nov 9, 2016 at 2:15 PM Post #12 of 71

Denon2010

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Well, I can understand that this amplifier would be a pain if you were using say a 16ohm pair of headphones that were very sensitive. Thin you simply wouldn't be able to listen to them quietly. I still can't really say that it is a bad amplifier at all compared to the E10. It just lacks a high and low gain switch which it sounds like you could do with. If you then put this amp onto low gain. You will need to rotate the dial further to increase the volume which would solve your problem. that it not related to the amplifier. And yes, The E10 is more powerful and efficient but sound quality certainly isn't any worse on this with my headphones when comparing them both. I use the Audio Technica ATH-AD700s and the AKG K550s. both are 32ohm and a very similar sensitivity. Both are also reasonably easy to power. This amplifier powers them very nicely. Not too loud and I can easily get to a comfortable listening level. It will easily drive higher impedance headphones with a lower sensitivity.
 
Considering the E10 is now getting on for £20 more expensive in my country than the SMSL is, I think the SMSL quite easily beats it for it's value. The sound quality to my ears was just as good or maybe even better. I saw it at amazon.co.uk for £40 a few months back. I paid £62 for my E10. This suits my needs well but I can understand how the fact it doesn't have a gain switch can make it hard for people with lower impedance headphones.
 
I rated is high because what I was after was just something that was better that my PC's sound card. I wasn't actually after much better sound quality. The main thing that bothered me was the fact that if I plug my headphones directly into my PC. I hear the PC chugging away every time it gets busy. That drove me mad. You could hear all those sounds that you hear the PC make if you go close to it. But coming through my headphones too! This has totally stopped that and there is not no background noise or interference either. I also wanted to have a nice dial instead of using my keyboard to change the volume. I also wanted a coaxial input for my Blu-ray player. I wanted something solidly built. I wanted something with the ability to go loud. I got virtually everything I was after so for me, it was brilliant value and I really can't say sound quality is any better on more expensive devices I have. I have the FiiO X3 and the DAC in that is identical to the FiiO E17. The E17 itself was over £100. When I listen to that with my PC, I can't say that sounds any better than my SMSL DAC.
 
This SMSL DAC and headphone amplifier may only be worth it to some if you plan to use all of it's features. I do that and it happens to power my headphones perfectly. As I said, maybe it won't be very good with headphones that are extremely sensitive.


Yeah I don't think I am going to spend any money on any AMP I am short on cash aswell. This thing sounds good to me and powers the headphone I dunno how much better a different amp will sound but its as you say, FIIO has high gain which distorts the sound anyways. And i can't turn the volume up beyond quarter on the shp 9500 because it will blow my eardrums so perhaps I am not really missing out on any serious quality by getting a more powerful amp.
 
Nov 26, 2016 at 10:39 AM Post #14 of 71

TheGiantHogweed

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I can't be sure how it will drive 300 ohm headphones. It won't be the best to pair with headphones at that price as this is a budget DAC and amplifier. It is very loud with both my 32 ohm headphones though. It pairs very will with my headphones and seems to be as good or better than other amplifiers I've got at this sort of price. I would probably look for something better. But I don't really know the sort of amplifier you'll need to power such a high impedance pair.
 
Dec 16, 2016 at 11:48 AM Post #15 of 71

speedwheels

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Hello @TheGiantHogweed
 
Thank you for your review. Any chance you could take close-ups of the pcb inside? Specifically, it would help the community to know how the thing is built internally. It would be nice to have close-up pictures of the chips on the PCB. There does not seem to be much information about the amplifier section on this amp. It does state it uses the following chips.
- Digital Receiver : DIR9001
- DAC Chip : PCM1793
- OPA2134 and WIMA caps
 
I am guessing the OPA2134 opamps are used for amplification but is that all they use? Any pics of the internals would be very helpful if you could share them..
 
 
Another thing to note about the specs for this amp: Earphone output power: 65mW @ 16Ω; 130mW @ 32Ω
 
They make no sense, the output increases from 65mW@16ohm to 130mW@32ohm? Output should typically halve when impedance load is doubled..
 
I am looking forward to seeing if this amp can power my Fostex T20v2 cans.. I might order one just to test it out...
 

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