SMSL DA-1 Review

SMSL DA-1 review featured

In this article, I’m reviewing the SMSL DA-1 power amplifier. The DA-1 is a tiny budget amp demonstrating a robust output power of 65 watts for each channel. It’s priced at $49.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Shenzhen Audio for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

SMSL DA-1 Review
Verdict
The SMSL DA-1 raises the bar for budget power amplifiers.
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Pros
Tiny footprint
Impressive power output
Clean, uncoloured sound signature
Cons
Not the most nuanced or dynamic sound
4
Our Score

SMSL DA-1

SMSL DA-1 design

Design

With dimensions of just 96×30.5×102mm, it might be hard to believe this little amp can produce 65Wx2(4Ω). It’s minimalist in design—just a small black box with a power button and volume knob on the front and RCA plus speaker outs on the back.

Internally, the DA-1 boasts a ТРА3118 digital amplifier chip and a pop sound-control circuit to help eliminate loud pops when you power on the unit. It has a short signal path with several benefits like reduced signal degradation, lower noise levels, improved signal fidelity and enhanced dynamics.

Furthermore, the DA-1 comes with a high-current power supply which helps it reach its full potential without experiencing voltage drops or performance limitations. Not only does the high-current adapter increase performance but it also raises efficiency.

DA-1 rear I/O

Sound

The SMSL DA-1 brings music to life with clarity and honesty. As soon as the music starts playing through the DA-1, you’re greeted with a refreshingly unbiased sound: no frills, no fuss, just pure, unadulterated music.

What sets the DA-1 apart is its knack for staying neutral and transparent. It’s like every instrument and vocal comes through with crystal-clear precision. Whether you’re grooving to the smooth melodies of jazz, getting lost in the rich harmonies of classical music, or rocking out to your favourite tunes, the DA-1 has your back.

The DA-1’s neutral sound signature makes it the perfect partner for fine-tuning your audio chain with confidence. It’s a great way to get to know the true character of your speakers. It thins out a bit when pushed hard, so it might not be ideal if you play your music at ear-busting levels or if you have more power-hungry transducers. But for regular desktop and bookshelf speakers, you’ll be amazed at how much clean audio this little thing can push.

But let’s not get carried away here; the DA-1 is a $49 amp so you’ll need to curb your expectations accordingly. It doesn’t have the same confidence or tonal character as my Fosi BT20A Pro but at half the price, it does an admirable job.

Rear panel angled

Verdict

In wrapping up our journey with the SMSL DA-1, it’s important to recognize its unique charm. While it may not boast the expansive soundstage or minute nuances of its pricier counterparts, it stands tall as a beacon of value and performance in its class.

So, if you’re in the market for an amplifier that won’t break the bank but still delivers a solid audio experience, look no further than the SMSL DA-1. It may not be the flashiest or the most extravagant option out there, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best values you’ll find in its price range.

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