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SMSL M9 DAC/Amp

SMSL M9 DAC/Amp

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Product Description
A compact, fully featured DAC/amp from SMSL, the M9 features a CNC-machined aluminum chassis with a 1.44-inch TFT LCD screen, customizable with your choice of six text colors. And it doesn’t stop there Read More
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All of our reviews are from verified customers.
4.3
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oceannnnn
42
Jun 18, 2019
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Poor build quality, Drop and SMSL no help with warranty
When I first received the unit I very briefly listened to the unbalanced output with inexpensive headphones to make sure everything is in order. Sound was not that great but no real issues and only wanted it for the dual mono balanced output headphone out really. I've only listened to the balanced output and haven't had any issues. Fast forward around six months until now and I want to use the DAC as a source so i decide to do some tests. There was something wrong with the output relay on the unbalanced side and after running through some pink noise, brownian noise, and a few sine waves a 1kHz sine wave was looking like a square wave. The worst part is now the sound on the balanced output is now grossly distorted as well. Testing an output with no load with a different protection relay shouldn't damage a different output with a different relay. So I contact SMSL. They say contact the original seller, which is massdrop. Massdrop support says only returns or exchanges for the first thirty days?!? So they are basically saying no warranty... would have never purchased this DAC with a THIRTY DAY WARRANTY 🤦‍♂️. Massdrop never again. SMSL never again. Too sketchy.
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Would not recommend to a friend.
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MidnightTaco
18
Sep 16, 2021
I can't say that my few experiences with SMSL have been positive. I have used their small little bluetooth amp (looks like a cubed rectangle) which lasted about two weeks before the RCA inputs gave out and now only BT can be used. Their THX headphone amp (the small one that has a sort of skewed angle) was well-built and worked quite well, but the sound wasn't what I wanted. They have been making more and better things, but I too cannot recommend them based on the shoddy QA and things being built to a (low) price.
generick
15
Feb 12, 2019
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The M9 is a great Dac amp combo, it provides many customisation options and sound filters to suit many preferences. The DAC output if very clean and capable while the amp is also very clean but lacks some power. In comparison with a higher end amp, the one here sounds V shaped. The amp portion of the unit could improve with a gain switch, a 2.5mm balanced socket is quite impractical for any non portable solution and the volume nob feels loose and often struggles to pick up turns. Ignoring these minor gripes, for this price the separation and clarity which it outputs if phenomenal.
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DjBobby
22
Jan 19, 2019
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For the price it was offered here, it's a steal. Can't imagine more bang for the buck. I was interested only in the dac section, having more powerful amps to pair it with. Therefore my remarks are only for the M9 as a dac. Wide and realistic soundstage, nice bloom in the mid-bass, more forward mids than Topping D50 and SMSL M8a, crispy treble without sounding fatiguing. Imaging and instruments separation is very good, soundstage depth is medium but still enough. It sounds slightly bright but not harsh or unpleasant. No buffering problems, no signal loss or stuttering. Using MacBook Pro with the Audirvana +3, all upsampling resolutions up to 768 were supported. Hardware upsampling in the M9 called ASRC gave better transients and smoother sounding treble, but also added some distortions. After lots of switching between on and off, left it on off. There are 4 filters, long delay sharp sounded closest to my Chord Mojo. Thinking about probably joining the next drop to order one more M9, to replace the dry and gray sounding Topping D50.
BrotherKathos
123
Jan 16, 2019
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I've been listening to the M9 for the last couple of days and I have a few initial impressions of it.  I like it, but it took a bit of tuning to get it where I wanted it. For reference I will disclose my entire setup so people will have a better idea. I'm getting usb from my pc that is first treated by an ifi idenfender 3 power/ground noise eliminator without external 5v ifi ipower(this is used on the M9 for ac/dc power) since I don't need the usb to power the dac. Then the signal is going through a 1.5 meter Pangea usb cable that is their lower tier cable ($25) on amazon. Then the signal goes to a Schiit EITR Usb to spdif converter and comes out of a 6 inch mogami 2964 75ohm cable to the M9. Then the audio is sent via mogami 2549 rca to the THX 789 amp. Headphones are brand new Sennheiser HD6XX using Fanmusic balanced cable.  When i first hooked it up I was initially underwhelmed. I had all the equipment above hooked up minus the ifi ipower on the M9 and the sound I was getting, while 'detailed' came off as too sharp and certain dynamic sections of song were a bit piercing and grating on my ears. I fiddled around with the internal oversampling features and the digital filters and still did not get much of an improvement. The internal up-sampling(ASRC) feature seemed to give the biggest improvement to smoothness. I fiddled around with the usb and even tried the ifi ipower on the usb line to see if there was any reason the eitr might improve the signal if there was a 'better powered' usb signal getting to it. This still did not take away the edge unfortunately.  I broke down last night and ordered another Schiit loki thinking I was just going to have to use it to tame the glaring highs with no other option. Then today I finally decided to just test the IFI ipower with the M9 instead of using its supplied power brick. I was apprehensive because the supplied power brick is a 5v 4amp unit and the ifi brick is only 5v/2.5a. I thougt there might have been an issue there so was reluctant. Then I was just like oh well just try it. I'm not using the M9 as a head amp anyway and never plan on it either. Just the dac portion can't use that much energy. Long story short, the ifi ipower fixed it. I've used them on other dacs like the D50 and modi 3 and did not really find it to make much of a difference in those specific applications.  This time however I have been very pleasantly surprised. The glare is as far as i can tell gone now. I can listen to the headphones at the same volumes as on my other setups with the D50 and modi multibit, and the sq might actually be a tick better as far as micro details go. Very hard to say for certain because I can't a/b them, but I'm very satisfied with this dac now. I'm now only looking forward to the loki for when I just want to play around a bit, instead of as a way to fix the system's sound. Who knows why the ipower smoothed things out so much, but I'm glad I got one to use with this system. Hopefully this helps others if they find their units a bit too 'bright' or 'glaring' at first listen. Maybe an LPS would work even better? The good thing is this unit when tamed by the right accompanying gear is an extremely well performing dac. Its by far the best price/performance dac I own at the $140 I paid for it on Massdrop. I debated internally over whether or not to give this unit 4 or 5 stars. I'm a fairly treble sensitive person and typically like warmer and smoother presentations even at the possible sacrifice of 'clarity', so this unit out of the box does not cut it for me without the treatments. Then I factored in the price I paid for It and compared it to the other dacs I have that cost me almost twice as much. The sound I'm now getting rivals or even beats them with all the same equipment hooked up, so I guess the best way for me to rate this dac is to give it 5 stars based on my end experience and its potential..
Cryph
9
Jan 12, 2019
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I'm leaving a 5 star review, because this thing destroyed my expectations on a few levels. Originally planned as a unit for my office -- it's actually going to wind up replacing my main setup at home(Topping D30 / Magni 3) The Magni 3 was hooked to some powered monitors... this was an impulse buy, so I didn't quite notice that the M9 will take care of that as well. Also has RCA volume level (off by default; go fix that, as this might be louder than you expect) It was purchased, mainly, to use the balanced out for my E-MU Teaks. I figured based on the impedance of these headphones, the amp that looks far subpar to my Magni 3 on paper would still be "OK" at-least in balanced. I am pleasantly surprised that the E-MU Teaks are powered far beyond normal listening volume via balanced as well as 6.35. So, I surely figured my HD650s would suffer due to their impedance. Honestly they are gathering dust at this point, but I threw em at the UNBALANCED 6.35 -- it's not like this thing outputs like a phone. It's decent. I can't really find any negatives. Clicking when leaving DSD is probably something able to be overcome in software. I would have *never* paid 400+ for this thing. It was an absolute steal at this price, and I got a working unit.
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Cryph
9
Jan 15, 2019
Great point made here; because I'm an idiot. I was at that line between "this is film" and "wtf there is no film there" Since you say there is film, yeah this problem is a non issue after literally minutes of attempting to grasp the film. Where's the edit button? :)
wcg66
126
Jan 15, 2019
At least your one issue with the M9 is cleared up :)
Cellar
38
Jan 11, 2019
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wtf this thing is AMAZING, and for only $140?! This was a STEAL. When I saw that it was still ~$500 on Amazon and AliExpress I honestly thought it was a mistake by MD and that they were going to cancel the orders placed. I instantly joined the drop anyways in hopes that it would go through. I was using the JDSLabs OBJECTIVE2+ODAC REV B before receiving this today. I Instantly heard the massive difference. so much CLARITY and POWER. I'm in love. Thank you Massdrop <3
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