New DAC day. SMSL SU9n. First impressions

  • NEW! Linn Owners Club CLICK HERE and please click join club to have full access.

eddie-baby

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 28, 2009
6,210
2,709
143
Pembrokehsire
AKA
Eddie
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Just playing as I just got one of these to try for my family room. Had a lot of features and relatively easy for everyone to use and good functionality which I liked. And if you go by measurements on ASR its probably one of the best DACs you can buy :D

Besides the measurement BS thing though many have been claiming it to be a fuller sounding DAC.

First impressions are its not quite what I expected but doesn't sound bad. Everyone is claiming its a warmer fuller sound. Personally I wouldn't describe it as that. If anything its more of a clarity sound and lean as apposed to the reviews I've read or watched on youtube. It's not anaemic by any means but there's very little in the way of smoothness or warmth either. I'd guess it was an ESS chip if I hadn't known, but a better implemented one at that perhaps. A lot of modern DACs I've heard don't really have a character though, they all sound very similar with subtle differences, if I can even listen to them for long as they all give me digital fatigue.

Still have some tweaking to do yet, different cables, subwoofers switched on etc but just listening to it now though and its far from a bad DAC.

Regardless of what people think though, realism for me is not what I would call organic or seductive though. Its certainly not horrible though or doesn't sound like a cheap DAC either.

Anyone else with an SMSL?

And these sound colour settings are barely indistinguishable from each other and are extremely subtle at best! One I seem to favour so far though is Rich 2, either that or Standard.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: Lawrence001

Rayymondo

Well-Known Wammer
Wammer
Dec 10, 2018
1,017
757
148
UK
AKA
Raymond
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Everyone is claiming its a warmer fuller sound. Personally I wouldn't describe it as that.
I have experienced the very same - although with different dacs ( an Orb and a W4S). Makes me wonder and realize that these things must be very subjective ....

What were they comparing it to I wonder?

Edit: And by far the warmest "dac" I have had is the Linn Klimax Renew -  and I was led to believe Linn were not tuned that way!

Maybe  a lot is to do with what it is partnered with...

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: eddie-baby

eddie-baby

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 28, 2009
6,210
2,709
143
Pembrokehsire
AKA
Eddie
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I have experienced the very same - although with different dacs ( an Orb and a W4S). Makes me wonder and realize that these things must be very subjective ....

What were they comparing it to I wonder?

Edit: And by far the warmest "dac" I have had is the Linn Klimax Renew -  and I was led to believe Linn were not tuned that way!

Maybe  a lot is to do with what it is partnered with...
That's the thing, think it's the general modern market of dacs people compare to. Although many do acknowledge R2R DACs are generally smoother (and more expensive as well). But particularly Chinese DACs are mentioned saying how much better they are getting rather than the cold clinical crystal clear sound that digital often is really.

But have to say there is nothing glaring with this dac, it sounds alright, just a bit vanilla for want of a better word :) it's not glaring digital though perhaps that's what they subjectively mean. It ain't warm or smooth though in the slightest. Reviews are as unreliable as measuring :D

 
  • Like
Reactions: Rayymondo

eddie-baby

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 28, 2009
6,210
2,709
143
Pembrokehsire
AKA
Eddie
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Might change a bit over time....
I was thinking that. It is brand new perhaps it will settle with those electrons running through its components :) perhaps things will change as you say.

I know new speakers need time. New electronics I've not always been so convinced. But old electronics do wear out, so good wear in must be a real thing also. Even with DACs. 

 

Lawrence001

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 21, 2015
3,533
1,227
133
London
AKA
Lawrence
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
But particularly Chinese DACs are mentioned saying how much better they are getting rather than the cold clinical crystal clear sound that digital often is really.
But have to say there is nothing glaring with this dac, it sounds alright, just a bit vanilla for want of a better word [emoji4] it's not glaring digital though perhaps that's what they subjectively mean. It ain't warm or smooth though in the slightest. Reviews are as unreliable as measuring [emoji3]
You should try an Audio Gd dac Eddie that's where I am now. I've got a couple of their WM8741 based ones and like them a lot.
 
  • Upvote
Reactions: eddie-baby

eddie-baby

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 28, 2009
6,210
2,709
143
Pembrokehsire
AKA
Eddie
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
You should try an Audio Gd dac Eddie that's where I am now. I've got a couple of their WM8741 based ones and like them a lot.
I will try to one-day. May be my ears will adjust to this smsl yet and its not bad at all, its actually really good if I might have suggested it's not here in this thread or been less than gushing about it. DACs come and go regularly here with me though. 

I actually have another dac here at the moment which is what I would class as smooth and musical. A Starting Point Systems mini TDA1543 battery dac. Now that is almost vivid and colourful in its presentation, in a nice way though. What an amazing cheap little DAC that is, it gets so much right. And really enjoyable to listen to! 

I'm keeping the smsl for the moment though its working well in the system I bought it for. 

 

Psilonaught

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 16, 2007
2,762
1,136
158
Saffron Walden
AKA
James
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
After I managed to fry my tube dac I bought a smsl dac whilst I waited for a replacement musical paradise to be shipped to me.

The smsl was unlistenable. Totally unnatural sounding. The higher keys on piano solos sounds laughably artificial. Digital sheen galore.

I removed it after two days and just didn't listen to music for a couple of weeks. Horrible thing.

 

Lawrence001

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 21, 2015
3,533
1,227
133
London
AKA
Lawrence
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
After I managed to fry my tube dac I bought a smsl dac whilst I waited for a replacement musical paradise to be shipped to me.
The smsl was unlistenable. Totally unnatural sounding. The higher keys on piano solos sounds laughably artificial. Digital sheen galore.
I removed it after two days and just didn't listen to music for a couple of weeks. Horrible thing.
Was it one of their cheap little ones?

I've purposely avoided all these ones that have glowing ASR reviews and gone with the Audio GD that rate at the bottom of their charts, with much satisfaction...
 

eddie-baby

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 28, 2009
6,210
2,709
143
Pembrokehsire
AKA
Eddie
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
The smsl was unlistenable. Totally unnatural sounding. The higher keys on piano solos sounds laughably artificial. Digital sheen galore.
I know what you speak of this new smsl doesn't to me have an overly artificial digital sheen to it though. And I'm sensitive to that also. I've even gone back to enjoying old records as I've had quite a love hate thing going on with digital. 

I bought the SPS TDA1543 as it apparently eliminates that digital type sound and have to admit it succeeds at it. Although it's not got the minutiae of detail of some of the best dacs I've heard in fact this new smsl is probably better in that respect, the SPS gets closer to a natural timbre digital free and is far better for easy listening. We'll see though I'm still playing with the smsl. 

There was a bit of a fuss around how this new smsl dac may get to that sound reading and listening to subjective reviews. Of course what they are basing their opinions on or comparing it to is another thing. What I don't understand is manys comments on 'warm' or smooth.

I bought the smsl for a multiple source device. The TV, goes into it and the Mrs and kids phones (and Alex radio) can connect it to it and enjoy media from multiple sources. That's how many enjoy media now and was the idea anyway. My thing was something smoother / easier to listen to over a clinical sound, but so far it neither imo. I will perhaps just give it a day or two. Even if the burn in phenomena is a real thing or not. The thing is it's a neat little box of tricks as well rather than having multiple boxes so the options for that were limited whilst having a 'decent quality' dac. The thing is dacs can measure what they want if music and instruments don't sound enjoyable or perhaps believable what is the point. 

 

eddie-baby

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 28, 2009
6,210
2,709
143
Pembrokehsire
AKA
Eddie
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
The smsl was unlistenable. Totally unnatural sounding. The higher keys on piano solos sounds laughably artificial. Digital sheen galore.
Listening to some piano upper keys now here with this SMSL Dire Straits - Telegraph Road, have to say sounds pretty good, this one doesn't sound overly digital to me so far. Really good level detail as well.    

Still wouldnt call it full or warm yet tho as many do :)  

  
61Yi0qezJHL._SS500_.jpg


su-9n-show.jpg


 
Last edited by a moderator:

Lawrence001

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 21, 2015
3,533
1,227
133
London
AKA
Lawrence
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Listen to a modern recording of some Erik Satie of you really want to judge the piano tone.

 

Psilonaught

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 16, 2007
2,762
1,136
158
Saffron Walden
AKA
James
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
What happened James ? 😱
That was last year. I stupidly forgot to change the 12v/6v tube voltage switch when rolling signal tubes...sent 12v through some 6v tubes. Damn thing nearly caught fire, quite a major failure with a LOT of acrid smoke.

Richard alway advises NEVER leaving valve equipment on and unattended. Could have started a serious fire