SMSL packs just about every desired feature into a DAC and headphone amplifier including MQA decoding with great measured and subjective performance. The only weakness is that its amplifier doesn't blow your ear drums.
On the performance front, it is heart warming to see companies like SMSL continuing to refine the performance of their product, lowering noise and distortion in every way they can. We have seen this progress in just a year or so. All of this comes with no premium to us as consumers. And give us products that can be proven to be transparent to the source music. You hear what was given to you by the talent and production/mastering engineers with no molestation of said bits. Puts a smile on my face from just typing these words!
The coolest product line in the SMSL family to us is their M line of desktop DACs. I’m quite sure you’ve seen at least once their latest designs with an elongated and colorful body. The super tiny and bus powered M100 DAC to this day is praised as a very good entry-level DAC in the sub $100 category. M300 DAC added balanced outputs on the back and a much higher-end AKM4497 DAC chip was used for a better performance.M500 that we are testing today is their top of the line DAC, SMSL added a powerful headphone section in case you’ll want to use it in front of your PC.
First of all, M500 uses the top-of-the-line and desktop class ES9038 PRO DAC chip, it is among the best commercial made DAC chip on the market. To let the DAC section breathe and work at normal parameters, SMSL incorporated the ES9311 high-performance power supply voltage regulators that actually were developed to work in tandem with ES9038 PRO to squeeze the best of it. It is a low-noise, low-dropout regulator specifically designed for high-performance audio systems.
I consider its USB input as being its best sounding digital input, adopting the newest XMOS XU-216 the M500 never lost a beat or its connection and it sounds absolutely great on the USB input. This particular USB receiver supports PCM material up to 32 bit / 768 kHz and can natively decode DSD up to DSD512, via DoP it will do only DSD64, even coaxial and optical inputs will play DSD64 files.
Input: USB / Opticalx2 / Coaxial
Output: RCA Headphone Amplifier/ RCA /XLR
Dynamic range: XLR 125dB RCA 120dB
USB transmission: Asynchronization
USB compatibility: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10, Mac OSX10.6 or Later、Linux
Bit depth: USB 1bit, 16 ~ 32bit
Optical/Coaxial: 1bit, 16 ~ 32bit
Sampling rate: USB PCM 44.1 ~ 768kHz DSD 2.8224 ~ 22.5792MHz Optical / Coaxial PCM 44.1 ~ 192kHz DSD DSD64(DoP)
Headphone amplifier output power: 570mW(32Ω) 290mW(64Ω) 125mW(150Ω) 65mW(300Ω)
Power Consumption: 5W
Standby power: <0.5W
Size: 85x88x197mm (WxHxD)
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