SMSL D300 DAC with ROHM chip

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by William Bryant, Apr 13, 2022.

  1. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    There's something special about this little DAC with the new ROHM chip. I just replaced my Emotiva DC-1 with it, and I really like it. Forget today's hi-fi jargon and think about what we used to mean when we said high fidelity. The more I listen to my CDs with this thing the less I think about warmth or resolution, transparency or bass punch, soundstage or glare. Instead I keep finding myself thinking, "Wow! That viola sounds more like a real viola (not a low violin); that B-flat trumpet sounds more like a real B-flat trumpet (not a C trumpet)." Over and over, listening to CDs I've owned for decades, it just sounds more like I'm listening to real instruments and voices.

    [​IMG]
     
    Mike-48, Razakoz, jfeldt and 2 others like this.
  2. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I've been very interested in this product as well, but don't really have a use for it. It and the $10,000 Luxman flagship CD player are the only devices using the Rohm chip at the moment. It would be interesting if all the brands who built around AKM chips switched to Rohm.

    The SMSL product rep described it as "vinyl like", but I guess people have been saying that about DACs for 20 years.
     
    timind likes this.
  3. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    "Vinyl like" is a confusing idea if you have a tonearm that allows you to switch cartridges quickly, or a phono preamp that lets you tweak the RIAA curve. Still, I think I know what is meant here if the thought is that the presentation, regardless of the tech behind it, just sounds more lifelike. Certainly it doesn't mean clicks and pops and increasing distortion as you get toward the end of the third track.
     
  4. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Right, it is a statement that can't even really be qualified, much less quantified. It just seems to be the standard subjective praise for DACs in lazy reviews.

    Can the screen on the D300 be turned off completely? Does it have a variable output mode?
     
  5. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    The screen can be set to stay on all the time, or to go off anywhere from 5 seconds to 60 seconds after the last command. If the screen is off, it comes back on any time you give the unit a new command.

    It has a variable output setting and a fixed setting.
     
  6. mongo

    mongo Forum Resident

    Link to review on AudioScience:
    SMSL D300 Review (Balanced DAC)

    I'm looking at trying out the new Topping DAC soon.
    Some of these Chinese sourced DACs are something
     
  7. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    rodentdog and Mike-48 like this.
  8. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I wonder if Bluetooth is a popular source in some markets. Every one of the Topping/SMSL DACs incorporate it, and it has to add to the cost, but I've never seen anybody mention using it.
     
  9. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    The manual mentions it has a "phase mode".
    Three options:
    Normal (2+/3-)
    XLR inverted
    All inverted

    What's it doing? What do they mean by phase mode? Is "All inverted" doing a form of absolute polarity flipping on all outputs?
     
  10. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    I believe so.
     
  11. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    This is a follow up after having the D300 in my main system for a month and listening to everything from Ambrosian chant to Billie Eilish.

    My original impression continues. There is a naturalness to the D300 that encourages me to play music longer, (often) louder, and more as a music lover than as a hi-fi enthusiast. When I say "natural" I'm not saying the D300 is smoother than the real thing or "rolled off" or "musical" (whatever that means) but truer, more able to suspend my disbelief and transport me to another acoustic space where musicians are singing and playing their instruments.

    Listening just now to Jordi Savall's 1996 recording of Purcell's Fairy Queen, it's just breathtaking as valveless trumpets and one-key oboes converse with theorbo and harpsichord on a deep, clear stage.

    We all know what it's like for a new component to compel us to listen again to disc after disc. Well, this little DAC has me listening to everything again.
     
    jfeldt and aunitedlemon like this.
  12. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Interesting. I don't understand why you didn't just pour a drink or dim the lights. :confused:
     
  13. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    What makes you think I didn't do that as well? :)
     
  14. Jules HKG

    Jules HKG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I’ve had the SMSL M500 for about a year now

    Use this as a DAC / Headphone AMP for ROON with a pair of Sennheiser Momentum wired headphones.
    IMO SMSL make great sounding well built product, very pleased :edthumbs:

    [​IMG]
     
    timind and William Bryant like this.
  15. Curiosity

    Curiosity Just A Boy

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    It does seem very competative for its price, GBP399 on Amazon compared with more established manfacturers offerings.
     
  16. MusicManUK

    MusicManUK Active Member

    Location:
    Europe
    Make no mistake you are not getting the same sound from this DAC as the Luxman CD player that I own.

    Only about 10% of the sound comes from the DAC chip, the other 90% is down to analogue processing and power supply, and that makes a phenomenal difference. I tried the D300 and it is a great DAC for the price but in no way compares to the Luxman implementation.

    Don't believe me pop down to your Luxman dealer and have a listen!
     
    Swann36 likes this.
  17. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I do find it strange that there aren't many reviews of this DAC. It has been available for about six months. That's enough time for early adopters to get it and review it. But there's almost nothing out there in the form of reviews about it. Even on Head-Fi there is very little about it even in the Sponsor Announcements thread about it. Usually SMSL gear gets more reviews and discussions than this.
     
    Razakoz and William Bryant like this.
  18. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    I don't know what it's like in the UK these days, but over here in Idaho it's considered bad form to say, "My $16,000 toy is better than your $400 toy."
     
  19. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    I'm not seeing many reviews in English, but a few YouTube reviews are popping up in Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Wish I could understand them.
     
  20. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    And Portuguese!

     
  21. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    If a foreign language YouTube video has closed captioning you can have Google/YouTube auto translate the closed captioning to English. You have to go through a couple levels of settings for the CC, but it's there.

    Here's the Portuguese video being auto translated to English.

    [​IMG]
     
    William Bryant likes this.
  22. Cherrycherry

    Cherrycherry Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maptown
    Whether polite or not, I find value in hearing additional opinions from anyone with experienced of both models using this newer DAC chip.
    It's great that you have found awesome sound from your SMSL D300.
    And I'm sure that @MusicManUK isn't proposing that the Luxman sounds 40x better.
    If the Luxman D10x sounds only 2x better than the SMSLd300, well, you still got the better deal and a wonderful DAC, too!
     
    Swann36 and William Bryant like this.
  23. Jazzabana

    Jazzabana Qobuz all the way

    Location:
    Istanbul
    P
    It probably is for entry level.
    I have just tried bt connection by-passing my streamer, and after that I have tried feeding my dac from my laptop and last back to the streamer. Oh boy! Apparently it has been a long, successful hi-fi journey for me, I thought.
     
  24. Jazzabana

    Jazzabana Qobuz all the way

    Location:
    Istanbul
    Well, I am gonna play the 'what is the rest of the chain' card here. Which mains cable, usb cable, dedicated streamer etc. If you feed smsld300 and luxman d10x via ur laptop it is acceptable that the difference is small. But if you feed them with proper, dedicated equipment you probably will see top performance of the smsl while u will be seeing only half what luxman would be able to.
     
  25. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    How does the D300 DAC sound in general? How is it compared to other sub $1000 or sub $500 DACs?

    Is there any similarity in sound style or signature between the D300 and Luxman that could be attributed to the DAC chip design? I would expect the Luxman to be much better and have an obviously different quality of sound and possibly a different flavor. But is there anything similar? I do know and recognize that DACs are more than just their chips and that the expensive DACs are better and different because of all the design and parts around the DAC chip rather than the DAC chip itself. Much like how the Chord Dave + M Scaler is a different sound and experience than the Chord Mojo (I've heard both the Dave and Mojo).

    Another area where expensive DACs can differ is in filter design. The expensive DACs often have their own custom filters. While the budget DACs use the filters included in the DAC chip. Mouser has some info on the ROHM chip with the datasheet and block diagrams. One thing I noticed in the block diagram is that the ROHM chip as a "ROHM Special Tuned FIR Filter" that is customizable. I assume Luxman is probably customizing the filter while SMSL almost certainly is not. Different and improved filters can make a very noticeable difference in sound.

    I am curious about this new DAC. But so few reviews that cover the subjective sound qualities.
     

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