SMSL SU-1 DAC Review
SMSL SU-1 DAC Review
SMSL Audio (Foshan ShuangMuSanLin technology Co., Ltd.) has been founded in 2009 and is located in Shenzhen, China. The company is specialized in R&D, Manufacturing and Marketing of DAC’s (Digital to Analog Converters), Stereo Headphone Amplifiers and Power Amplifier.
The SU-1 is the entry level MQA & MQA-CD capable Digital Audio Converter of the company and the latest member of the “SU Series” product line. The SU-1 features some interesting internals such like the AKM’s AK4493S DAC Chip and the new XMOS XU-316 USB interface. Moreover, the device is equipped with a Single-Ended Analog Line output and multiple Digital outputs such like 1x Coaxial & 1x Optical Digital output + a Multifunctional USB Type-C (Power & Data) input interface.
I would like to thank Shenzhen Audio and SMSL Audio for providing me the SU-1 DAC as review sample. I am not affiliated with Shenzhen Audio and SMSL Audio beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The SMSL SU-1 Digital to Analog Converter with a decent value for your money that has actually a MSRP price of 79.99 US$. More information’s can found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The SMSL SU-1 came inside a relative minimalistic box with the illustration and some product related brandings on its surface.
This box contains the following items;
- 1 x SMSL SU-1 Digital to Analog Converter
- 1 x USB A to USB Type-C cable
- 1 x User Manual & Warranty card
Design & Build Quality:
The SMSL SU-1 is a robust looking Digital to Analog Converter in the budget segment with a very compact and lightweight design. The device has dimension of just 96×27×78mm (W x H x D) and a total weight of approx 195g. The housing is made from CNC machined Aluminum Alloy Material that has an anodized finish in black color.
On the front of the DAC are the SMSL SU-1 branding in white color, multiple LED’s that do show the actual input source (MQA/USB/OPTICAL/COAXIAL) and a small Power On/Off button.
At the rear side of the device are the Single-Ended Line out, multiple Digital outputs such like 1x Coaxial + 1x Optical Digital out and a Multifunctional USB Type-C (Power & Data) input interface.
The top of the SU-1 has plain surface with just a small Hi-Res Audio logo on the left corner.
At the bottom of the device are four rubber isolations feet’s.
The SU-1 has a pretty robust appearance for its price, which doesn’t show any imperfections such as gaps and burrs.
- Model : SU-1
- DAC : AKM AK4493S
- Output Level : 2.0Vrms
- THD+N : 0.00013% (-117dB)
- Dynamic Range : 121dB
- SNR : 121dB
- USB : XMOS XU316
- DSD Encoding : up to DSD512
- PCM Encoding : up to PCM 32 Bit/768kHz
- Bit Depth : USB- 1bit~32bit, Optical & Coaxial- 6bit~24bit,
- MQA : 16x
- Outputs : Single Ended Line Out
- Inputs : Coaxial, Optical, USB Type-C
- Power Consumption : <5W
- Standby Power : <0.1W
- Size : 96×27×78mm（W×H×D）
- Weight : 195g/0.43lbs
A) Digital to Analog Converter:
The SMSL SU-1 utilizes AKM’s (Asahi Kasei) power efficient 32Bit AK4493 DAC Chip that supports the companies VELVETSOUND™ technology. The AK4493S offers a decent Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of approx 0.00013% (-117dB) and accepts Data up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD512.
B) XMOS XU316 for Native DSD:
The SMSL SU-1 is equipped with the 3rd Generation XMOS XU-316 USB processor chipset from XMOS Technologies, allowing for clear transmission of high-resolution audio signals via the input port and handing them over to the DAC chipset. The XU-316 USB Chip inside the SMSL SU-1 is able to decode high-resolution files with a sampling rate up to 32-Bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 signals.
The SMSL SU-1 comes with a wide variety of input options including coaxial, optical and USB Type-C. It supports USB inputs that is compatible with Windows 7/8/8.1/10/11 (driver is required), Mac OS X10.6+, Linux (driverless), Android, and iOS.
D) MQA Decoding:
The SMSL SU-1 supports MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) decoding. Each files being authenticated by the artist, the producer or the copyright holder. Moreover, the SMSL SU-1 also supports MQA-CD.
Equipment’s used for this review:
- DAC : SMSL SU-1
- Source : Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, iPad Air2
- Amplifier : SOCOZ QXA1
- IEM/Headphone : Moondrop Blessing3, QoA Margarita, Whizzer HE10, HiFiMAN Edition XS
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Photek – The Hiden Camera (Spotify)
- Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Rush – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The SMSL SU-1 is a Digital to Analog Converter that shows just a very low amount of sonic coloration, which makes it to an ideal source for amplifiers. The SU-1 offers in general a quite transparent, natural and balanced sound signature from the lows up to the highs. The tonality of the SU-1 is neither too clinical nor too warm, which is a decent ability for an entry-level device.
Please note that this review has written after a burn-in period of about 50 hours. I have paired the SU-1 with the SONCOZ QXA1 amplifier. My sound Impression below are mainly based on pairings with IEM’s like the Moondrop Blessing 3, QoA Margarita, Whizzer HE10 and HiFiMAN Edition Xs.
Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage & Imaging:
The SMSL SU-1 shows a quite natural bass response with a linear overall character. Therefore, the bass character and performance you will get at the end depends to the amplifier/source you will pair the SU-1. Both the subbass and the midbass region sounds in general pretty textured, rich and detailed, especially for the price. The depth, extension and sense of decay in songs like Charly Antolini’s “Duwadjuwandadu”, Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” or the impact and volume in electronic music like Toutant’s “Rebirth” or Lorde’s Royals was quite impressive.
The midrange of the SMSL SU-1 is produced with an excellent level of clarity and resolution. The sense of transparency and airiness is quite decent for an entry-level product, with such a reasonable price tag. The lower midrange has an adequate grade of body and depth for male vocals like Sting, Dave Gahan or Barry White and while listen to instruments such like strings and percussions. The upper midrange on the other hand is generated I a pretty natural and rich manner that was audible while listen to Aretha Franklin, Adel or Sertap Erener or to instruments such like violins, clarinets and pianos.
The treble region is another highlight of the SMSL SU-1 that has a quite balanced presentation and natural sense of brilliance and presence. The lower treble region shows a good level of resolution and extension when I have listen to pianos and organs or to soprano voices. The sense of clarity and definition is above average. The upper treble region of the SMSL SU-1 is produced with an efficient level of airiness and sparkle, which is able to create a nice grade of brilliance in this register.
The SMSL SU-1 offers a relative spacious soundstage atmosphere for a precise and clear placement and separation of instrument and vocals. The soundstage shows a good level of wideness, while the depth is on an above average level.
The SMSL SU-1 is a quite compact and highly capable desktop type of Digital to Analog Converter that shows good technical capability and just a very low amount of sonic coloration, which makes it to an ideal source for amplifiers. It supports MQA decoding and is equipped with the latest XMOS XU-316 USB Interface for 32-Bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 signals and features an AK4493 DAC Chip that offers an excellent performance in terms of Total Harmonic Distortion of just 0.00013%. All this ability’s makes the SU-1 to a DAC that performs wide above its size and price tag.
Pros & Cons:
- + Neutral and Balanced Sound Profile
- + Overall sonic technical performance
- + Capable Hardware (XU-316 USB Interface, AK4493 DAC Chip)
- + MQA/MQA-CD, 32-Bit/768kHz PCM and Native DSD up to DS512
- + Compact Size
- + Good Value
- – Just One USB interface for Data and Power
- – No Power Adaptor included inside the box
Thank you for the Read!