SMSL iDEA portable dac+amp

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by Matias, May 27, 2017.
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  1. ModestMase
    The Idea is for people (like me) who can't afford a Mojo. If you can, by all means you should be using Mojo, my dude.
     
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  2. DjBobby
    I have both the iDea and the Mojo. Mojo is of course far ahead, but I am using it only in a quiet environment with a decent headphones, where the Mojo could be enjoyed to its full potential. Otherwise, commuting, jogging and used with simple headphones, iDea fulfills completely my needs. Small, lightweight, and most important, since I have iPhone7 without headphone jack, it's far better than Apple's Lightning to 3,5mm headphone jack adapter.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
  3. dc655321
    IMO, if you listen through good quality iems, to good quality source material, then an amp/dac will only have minimal effect on what you hear.
    Within reason of course (a crappy amp will ruin the experience).

    One has to be a little careful with iems and amps to ensure proper impedance matching. This is especially true for iems with balanced armatures, as their impedance characteristics can vary widely as a function of frequency (https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/MassdropNobelX.pdf).
    A gross mismatch is easily audible. Having said that, iphones produce good audio, as does the iDEA. You're right that it is a subtle difference. I notice the difference between my iphone 5se and my iDEA as the latter having a more crisp sound with a clean, black background using my FLC8S iems.
     
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  4. JayNetTech5
    The X4 is very detailed sounding, probably the most detailed sounding source I've ever heard so far, but I'm not the biggest fan of its overall sound signature; it has a Wolfson dac, maybe that's why I never really liked the audio quality of iPods? I wonder how the IDea would sound in comparison. I'm also looking into the M7 for the sheer fact that it has AKM dacs installed (I'm biased), but I don't know, I like the simplicity and capacitor-less design of these portable headphone amps.
     
  5. DjBobby
    Only the earliest models of iPods had Wolfson dacs. Apple later switched to Cirrus Logic dac which is featured in all their later models of iPods, iPhones and iPads. Wolfson used linear filter, while Cirrus dacs in Apple products used exclusively minimum phase filters.
    I have both X4 and iDea. X4 sounds warmer, more laid back with woolly bass and less treble energy. It is more pleasant for long long listening sessions, but has less precise soundstage and imaging. iDea is typical Sabre dac, sounds faster, more energetic with lots of treble energy, but is also more fatiguing and can be sibilant with some headphones. It depends of your musical tastes and of your choice of headphones. Brighter HPs like AKG and Beyers go better with Wolfson and therefore with X4, darker HPs like Senns and Audezes go better with Sabre and iDea.
    AKM is somewhat puzzling. Older AKMs were more linear and neutral, newer AKMs sound more like Wolfson, with laid back treble.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  6. JayNetTech5
    Wow, my ears weren't lying, I knew something was up with the bass sounding like a spring door stop. Also, everything you described is exactly how mine sounds, especially the weird moments where parts/instrumentation of a song sound laid-back while others sound up close, as if two different bands at different distances are playing the song. While I love it's incredible detail, it's almost sonically unappealing and creepy to listen to at times. I would also say the texture is a little weird and has a bit of "fuzziness" which makes the music sound mushy, almost artificially smooth and processed. While I like setups that are sonically smooth, this sounds kind of unnatural and hard to get into; however, the soundstage is fairly dynamic. I am biased toward AKM because of what I've heard about them, and the fact that the early PlayStation models had them and made them sound very good; I have one.
     
  7. TrantaLocked
    The left channel on my iDEA now only plays static, and to top it off, my left EARPHONE heats up. Yes, the earphone! My SMSL iDEA is now both broken AND dangerous to have plugged in, all due to regular daily use for just a few months!

    I had a bad feeling buying something with no reviews from a chinese company ran by a bunch of moronic assholes but somehow I had hope things would go well. Just no. From the clipping noises I was getting from my last unit after I "upgraded" the firmware, now to this model dying after less than 6 months, I'll never buy SMSL again and really hope everyone here reconsiders buying the iDEA or ANYTHING from SMSL.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
  8. Makahl
    :/
    I'm sorry to hear that. I was wondering in getting an iDEA or Sabaj DA2 but the Android issue was a deal breaker and now that is really a mess. Has anyone else gotten the FiiO Q1 MKII? I'd love some portable solution like the iDEA w/ a great SQ but which works flawlessly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
  9. PlantsmanTX
    The Sabaj DA2 is internally identical to the IDEA, so I imagine it's subject to the same things going wrong, if things go wrong. I haven't had any problem with the IDEA. I did have a problem with skips and pops, but the culprit was my motherboard. Having said all that, I've had my eye on the Fiio, too. It has more power, and just looks like a nicer product. As far as it working flawlessly, well, devices malfunction. I don't doubt some copies of the Fiio have/will malfunction in some way. If you're talking about the buzzing issue with Android, I don't consider that to be much of a problem. You unplug the cable and plug it back in.
     
    Makahl likes this.
  10. DjBobby
    Sorry to hear that. I have from SMSL: M8A, M8, M2, iDea, X3, X4, iDol +, sApII Pro and previously had Sanskrit 6th. No problem with any of them.
     
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  11. TrantaLocked
    The popping thing imo is still unforgivable; no other DAC I've heard of requires you to be picky about what system or USB output you use in order to avoid annoying popping noises.

    I'm going back to the FiiO K1 with my laptop after the broken iDEA. The K1 in my testing sounded really good for the price; certainly not as clean and effortless the Audioengine D3 or SMSL iDEA (yes, the iDEA sounds amazing...as long as it isn't malfunctioning) but good enough to use for a music lover.
     
  12. PlantsmanTX
    I understand. I'd feel the same way in your situation. But in my case, it turned out to be a problem with my computer. I would get clicks and skips no matter which USB port I used, and shortly after I posted about it here, the computer gave out on me. It went off by itself, and when I'd try to switch it on, all I'd get was a lit led on the motherboard. Even the power supply fan wouldn't spin. Long story short, the led indicates that the CPU protection circuit is activated, which wasn't mentioned in the manual. I changed the power supply, cleared the CMOS, and I haven't had a a click/skip problem since.
     
  13. Jack-A
    Native DSD works fine on my S8+

    25542380_933092543510577_2078306227858746247_o.jpg
     
  14. Supa Boy
    I recently connected the SMSL X4 directly to the PS4's USB port and it worked! No more bad sound! I'm very happy to have worked so well! Guys, could anyone please answer or advise me if the SMSL M3 is better than the Sabaj D2 (Also DAC + AMP headphone, 10$ cheaper)? I'm thinking of getting the Sabaj D2 to also plug it into the PS4's USB port, in addition to using it on the computer. Worth it? Will I have better audio quality? Between SMSL M3 and Sabaj D2 = Which one has the best audio quality?
     
    PlantsmanTX likes this.
  15. TrantaLocked
    In regards to my defective iDEA, SMSL customer support is ignoring my requests for at least a replacement. So I paid ~$60 for a USB DAC to fail within 6 months of purchase with no way of getting a replacement.
     
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