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SMSL SH-9 Balanced Headphone Amplifier

SMSL SH-9 Balanced Headphone Amplifier

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Product Description
Building on the success of the widely used SH-8, SMSL is back with an all-new headphone amp that ups the ante in almost every category. It’s called the SH-9, and it’s more powerful and more discreet than its predecessor, without adding extra size Read More

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GCE1701D
46
Jul 23, 2021
checkVerified Buyer
Better than even expected
I got the SMSL SH-9 as an upgrade to the Schiit Magni 3 I had for years. I expected the SH-9 to be more powerful and presumed there's be some slight sound changes since I saw from reviews it was basically uncolored for the most part. overall I've been damn impressed. I've used it with my Sennheiser 6XX's and having the extra power and pretty much wide open frequency response has caused the usually slightly low perceptible bass at times of the 6XX's to be richer and low bass you can actually feel the air moving from the headphone drivers vibrating at those low notes which increased some of the perceived bass. It also seemed to make the mids even smoother (somehow) and I'm sure some of it was that the Magni 3 had its own coloring affecting that. One of the most shocking things I had no idea of that the ultra low noise floor revealed is that I apparently had barely perceptible EMI feedback from the audio output I'd used the Magni 3 with for years that I could never tell was there before. I changed to another output location for the SH-9 and not only was the distortion gone, but it was even richer. It's unintended diagnostic capabilities were entirely unexpected but greatly appreciated. If I had any kind of 'complaint' it would only be that the volume gain is so granular and nuanced that at times I almost turn it up too high because I can't tell right away if it's even getting much louder it's such a gradual and smooth volume curve. But so far it's been absolutely a fantastic and worthwhile upgrade I'd make again in a heartbeat. After initially worrying it would be too 'cold' or analytical and be detrimental to the 6XX pairing I haven't really found anything but improvement.
Recommends this product? Yes
eddiezr
106
Nov 3, 2023
Thanx for the great reply. I'm deciding between the HD800S and the Focal Clear. The Clear have phenomenal transparency, and amazing spacial presence, as though it's not headphones but actual speakers playing. The 800S is more clinical and precise in a good way, but lack the Clear's natural ambiance. The balanced output on the SH-9 sounds like it'll enhance that aspect in a good way, maybe on the 800S as well. I'm looking at slightly used units for both pairs, so their prices are very good, less than $900, giving me more $ for the full size tube amp I'm planning on getting next year. Too many choices, but that's a great dilemma to have. Thanx again. 🙂👍
GCE1701D
46
Nov 3, 2023
eddiezrHappy to help, one cool thing to remember about the SH-9 too is that in a rare move the power output is the same SE or XLR, so you don't have to worry as much about which output will drive the best, they'll both drive at the same power output, it's also very much uncolored (in a good way) and like I commented in my review, silent noise profile to the point of finding an issue I didn't know I had in my audio chain lol So it's a great little amp to have even if eventually it just becomes a backup or secondary
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