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Disappointed with SA-160. I use it with SMSL M8 DAC and X-LS Encore speakers as desktop monitors. Unit exhibits high-frequency noise when nothing is being fed or playing back quiet tracks. You can somewhat mask it but it's still there.
I was looking forward to upgrade my old TA2024 based T-amp and this is clearly a downgrade. Not as detailed, muddy. Not totally horrible but mediocre in comparison. Much louder (more output power) but lacking clarity. Not sure if this is just my unit that is defective or it's the whole model line that is subpar.
PS Tested with Foobar, WASAPI (event). 192/24 bit audio tracks that included Pink Floyd, Eagles, Metallica, Scorpions...
It could be so many things... dirty power, unshielded wires acting like antennas, poorly assembled interconnects, and of course maybe a bad amp. If you can narrow it down to the amp then you should be able to have MD or SMSL send you a new one. If you are not interested in sending it back you can open it up and see if you just have some messy solder debris other other garbage touching things they shouldn't. I have received electronics from China that rattled like it had broken in shipping, just to open it up and see it was some solder clipping or other trash from the work area rattling in the case. Once I had a lump of flux on the board that just needed to be cleaned off and my gear worked fine after that. I think you are safe to go inside the amp since it is advertised as having a replaceable op-amp, but don't quote me. My SA-160 worked fine out of the box so I didn't crack it open.
** I would like to make it clear that NONE of the items I had to fix are from SMSL. **
I still buy products from China, it can't be avoided and most times are without incident.