No.2 product from Aoshida HiFi, with grateful thanks to Yihua, my newest convert to the Subjective mantra, who has supplied me with the little bar of Chinese goodness, the M100 DAC. Available at places like this
Or even from their main store
I know. I surely have come across SMSL before. But, I’m struggling to remember when I have reviewed any of their stuff. No, having had a quick flick around t’internet, it appears I am a newcomer here. I’ve seen much but heard little, it would appear. They’ve been going since 2009, a long time in the Chinese side of the Industry, and specialise in making nice looking bits at fairly attractive prices. The M100 itself is a dinky little thing. It cries out to be part of a cute little stack of components, such as are part of the M series. It’s tiny form factor means it’ll slot in just about anywhere. It doesn’t feed off your smartphone’s power if you’re using OTG. It needs an independent suply but only needs a side order of Micro USB, so hoping that won’t interfere with it’s prettiness by having too many cables hanging around. For inputs, the M100 takes Digital only, naturally, and it’ll accept coaxial, optical and USB OTG and Asychronous. RCA outputs send the analog result to another speaker or headphone amp to finish off the proceedings.
Perhaps what we are aiming for here is the audio lover who has no use for a DAP, everything is on the phone or the laptop or PC and it just needs a bit of help when he or she has time to sit down and really indulge and savour a bit of extra quality. Without breaking the bank. This unit costs roughly the price I paid for my last micro SD card, which was wht I needed for my rather more expensive Astell & Kern AK380 digital audio player. I’ve put the thing through it’s paces, and it’s easy enough when you get the hang of things. There is what appears to be a power on switch at the front of the M100. In fact it is also works as a switch between the 3 inputs, all of which are numbered on the rear of the unit. In 1 is USB, 2 is optical (full sized) and 3 is coax. A short press and 1,2 or 3 will show up. Be ready with the volume well down on your amp for when this happens!
I will not over eleborate on the sound quality of the SMSL DAC, because you can have the opportunity to take a listen yourselves. I felt it was a competent little performer, improving on the outputs from Macbook or Smartphone, and I took the opportunity to sample a couple of sound files for you. I have clearly labelled them. They’ve been recorded on an Olympus digital recorder which I use from time to time for such occasions. Yes, the recordings are lossy, but the loss should be equal amongst all recordings.
Now I hope you’ve had the chance to listen, perhaps you can revisit a few times and decide for yourself; does it sound better? Truly, such auditions, over less than perfect conditions, are not easy. The Macbook Pro Retina is a pretty good sounding Laptop in it’s own right, but perhaps you can tell a difference between part 1 and part 2 of the YouTube upload. I have put a high quality CD Rip of 1 of my own collection, Synthesizer Greatest Vol II, and I hope you like the track. It’s a cover version of Vangelis’ Theme from Antarctica by a little known chap called Ed Starink…
I hope you’ve enjoyed participating in this review. For once, it’s not just been all about me. I’m sure you’d like to know my opinion on the SMSL M100 MKII DAC after all this. However….I’m going to give you all a little while to make up your own minds, and maybe, just maybe, I shall revisit this little write up and put my 2 pennorth in. Until then, you have been charming company, and I look forward to seeing you again, very soon.