D/A Converter - USB/Bluetooth Streamer
S.M.S.L DO200

S.M.S.L DO200

During the listening test sessions, the DO200 replaced the reference DAC (Teac Esoteric D70) and during most of the process was connected as a USB DAC to a host running Windows 10 and the foobar2000 media player. The connection was through the Signal Projects Hydra cable. The remaining system comprised of our standard reference devices, i.e the Melos Plus Series Line preamplifier, the Parasound HCA3500 power amplifier, and a pair of ATC SCM-50PSL loudspeakers.
Installation of the device was without any difficulty and the computer automatically recognized the converter and installed the relevant driver without problems. DO200's user interface is well-designed and obvious in its operation, therefore the user will feel comfortable from the very first moment, even without resorting to the well-written user manual.
Most of our listening was done with the Sound Color function disabled (set in the Standard mode) and the Fast Linear digital filter, but we also found the Slow Minimum option very good, especially in mixes involving intense envelopment information.
First impressions with the DO200 in the system include those of homogeneity, transparency, and a very good feeling of detail. The result appears to be an accurate, transparent, and pleasant character, which never becomes rough while offering a sense of good tempo and a high ability to fill the listening room. Given the price of the device, this performance can only be considered as a pleasant surprise and, perhaps, a good indicator for where the technology and its combination with the economies of scale have led us.

S.M.S.L DO200
S.M.S.L DO200

Entering the details, the system with the DO200 as a DAC, offered very good low-frequency extension, being able to clearly describe the relevant details with a convincing feeling of magnitude and beat, without any impression of excess or loss of control. The result is imposing when it needs to be, with a proper description of the mix elements and never tiresome. This is ideally combined with similar behavior in the low and upper low bass, where there was a good body and scale rendering. Here, the well-defined dimensions of the acoustic instruments and a good feeling of timing are combined, perhaps, with slightly more tight control, compared to the reference DAC. Anyhow, this behavior allows for a very pleasant rhythm section rendition, with good filling and sense of attack, good release timing, and no trace of excessive or overwhelming bass. Each track flows pleasantly and the foot-tapping is inevitable as it is very easy to dive in and enjoy your listening.
Mids are focused somewhat behind the horizontal loudspeaker axis, a behavior we found attractive and creates a feeling of naturalness. The system sounded balanced in its brightness, quite pleasant overall, with very good performance in the details and layering domains, offering a very good feeling of slam and intense presence with a very good sense of the air of the recording. DO200 performance will never oppress, even at high levels, but it will create very beautiful musical images in the space.
Stereo imaging was, indisputably, one of the converter's strongest points, a result -in part- of its very good channel balance. Given a good mix, the result was impressive, with a clear pinpointed three-dimensional description of each sound source and with a good sense of depth and air. Soundstage offered a feeling of discipline, with clear left-right boundaries and a very good description of sound source motion, elements that created a very good atmosphere in the listening room. The sense of envelopment when it was included in the recording, was top-notch and appeared to be slightly affected by the digital filter selection, with the Slow Minimal to appear marginally more complete and homogeneous in the ear.
Towards the high-frequency part of the audio spectrum, DO200 tone balance appeared to slightly lean to the soft side, somewhat rounded compared to the reference DAC, but without becoming neither simplistic nor euphonic. The feeling here remained of a detailed and relaxing nature, with a very good sense of extension and good performance with high sample rate recordings. Percussive instruments were described with fast attack times, well-bodied, and somewhat short release times in comparison to what we are accustomed from the system, a feeling that improves, however, by selecting the Slow Minimum digital filter. This behavior was extended to the rendering of harmonic-reach instruments. With the standard Fast Linear filter, the end result is very good, but not impressive, while the Minimum Slow option softens and fills the overall feel, creating a more ear-friendly impression.


In the case of DO200, we are talking about a thoughtful product that justifies the "by the book" definition in every aspect. It is clear, though, that SMSL does not hesitate to diverge, where necessary, adopting interesting choices in the power supply, the approach of DAC architecture, and the analog stage design. To these attributes, you should add the high-quality implementation which has a tangible (both in the lab and in the listening room) performance impact, the rich features-set, and a very sensible price. This is, no doubt, a top product in this price range!

Listening Sessions Recording

The following recordings were made with a DV-RA1000 Tascam master recorder (using 24bit/192kHz sample rate) and you can download them to have an impression of what the device under review sounded like. It is obvious that any recording of this kind could not be absolutely transparent but, according to our experience, the majority of sound attributes we listen to, during the actual listening sessions, are preserved. No need to say that you should use these samples cautiously and for informative purposes only. Do not rely on them exclusively to make any buying decisions. The file format is .flac, so expect that the zipped files will be quite large (even if the clips are about a minute or less long. You could use an ABX listening tool like the ABX plug-in for foobar2000 if you want to make some more elaborate experiments. Contact us if you have any questions.

Listening Sessions Recording TOC
Track #01 SMSL DO200 | USB | Single Ended/Variable | Fast Linear-Standard | 16/44k1.
Track #02 SMSL DO200 | USB | Single Ended/Variable | Fast Linear-Standard | 24/96.
Track #03T SMSL DO200 | USB | Single Ended/Variable | Minimum Phase/Slow Minimum - Standard | 16/44k1.
Reference Teac Esoteric D70 | dCS Puccini U-Clock.

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