In this review, I’m looking at the SMSL DO200 MKII DAC. The DO200 MKII is an upgraded version of the original DO200 and features dual ES9068AS DAC chips, MQA full decoding and Bluetooth 5.0. It’s priced at US$469.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Aoshida for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
SMSL DO200 MKII
Starting with the dual ES9068AS DAC chips, the SMSL DO200 MKII has some impressive internals for a DAC at this price. It’s a fully balanced DAC and supports up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD512. In addition, the DO200 MKII can do full MQA decoding which is an important feature for many Tidal users.
This new model has a newer XMOS XU-316 (the original was XU-216) to enable all that tasty high-bitrate support. There are 5x Texas Instruments dual OPA1612A OP Amps for better precision and low THD+N (an impressive -122dB). Equally impressive is the DO200 MKII’s 128dB dynamic range.
Bluetooth 5.0 is present and serves up sumptuous Hi-Res wireless audio codecs such as LDAC and aptX HD supporting up to 24bit/96kHz courtesy of a Qualcomm QCC5125 Bluetooth chip. Other available input methods are I2s/EBU, coaxial, optical and USB. As for outputs, there are XLR balanced and RCA single-ended.
If you are someone who likes to shape the sound of your DAC the DO200 MKII has got you covered with 3 digital PCM filters and 9 different ‘Sound Color’ options. There’s an option for fixed or variable output modes meaning this device can be used as a preamp.
All of the settings can be accessed by the function knob or the full-function remote control. Navigation of the settings menu is made easy by a lovely tempered glass IPS colour display.
Gear used for testing includes the Burson Funk along with the NHT C3 Carbon speakers. In addition, I fed the TOPPING L30 II via RCA and paired it with the Meze 99 Classics. Lastly, I used the DO200 MKII with the Feliks Audio Echo and Hifiman Sundara.
In recent times, SMSL seems to be staying faithful to the pursuit of neutrality and that’s exactly what I’m hearing here. But don’t let that make you think this DAC doesn’t have any character because it most definitely does. And I’ve become rather smitten with it.
First of all, the DO200 MKII’s technical performance is fantastic. It’s an incredibly clean-sounding DAC which makes it great for critical listening. It creates a large and natural soundstage with stable imaging and airy treble notes.
The DO200 MKII’s sound feels natural and organic; nothing is forced or strained. It sounds as precise as laser etching yet effortless and almost casual in its approach. -122dB THD+N? You’d better believe it; the background is as black as pitch.
There’s an ease about the DO200 MKII that makes it sound confident and surefooted. It’s not as raw as something like the SMSL C200 but it’s every bit as detailed and even more resolving. I’d even say it can perform as well as the more expensive Gustard A18 and it has a better display and more features.
To get the most out of the DO200 MKII, you should use the balanced XLR outputs. The RCA output still sounds great but the XLR takes things even further with greater dynamics and micro-details.
So, how about Bluetooth performance? Pairing the DO200 MKII with my Shanling M5s and playing quality FLAC files over LDAC yielded remarkable results. It sounded so good that what was meant to be a 10-minute function test turned into a 2-hour session of audio bliss. This DAC’s performance is amazing regardless of which input method you choose.
Simply put, the SMSL DO200 MKII is a DAC that performs exceptionally well for its price. The colour display and extensive menu system make the user experience even better. It has good staging, detail and energy but it’s presented with a maturity that belies its price. With all that in mind, I am happy to recommend it.