In this review, I’m looking at the SMSL DO300 DAC. The DO300 is equipped with a flagship ES9039MSPRO DAC chip. It’s got full MQA decoding and supports PCM up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD512. It’s priced at $549.
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 DO300 DAC Review
The SMSL DO300 is loaded with features and is a pleasure to listen to.
SMSL is renowned for providing exceptional value in its DACs, and the DO300 is no exception. It boasts a 3rd generation XMOS XU-316 and a flagship ES9039MSPro DAC chip with built-in MQA decoding, supporting PCM 32bit/768kHz and DSD512.
With a THD+N of just 0.00005% (-125dB) and a newly developed CK-03 clock processing circuit that virtually eliminates any jitter, the DO300 delivers impressive audio quality. In terms of the exterior, the SMSL DO300 sleek and minimalist design. The small form factor made it easy to integrate into my existing setup.
The user-friendly display and menu system found on the DO200 MKII is also present, making it easy to adjust settings, and the clear IPS display provides useful information such as input, sample rate, and volume level. All settings can be accessed via the multi-function knob or the included remote control.
The DO300 also offers multiple input options, including AES/EBU, I2S, coaxial, optical, and USB, as well as a balanced XLR output and single-ended RCA output. Additionally, it features Bluetooth 5.0 with support for LDAC, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC, providing an abundance of connectivity options.
But the true test, of course, was in the sound quality. And I have to say, the DO300 delivered in spades. The first thing I noticed was the incredible sense of space and depth in the soundstage. The music seemed to come alive as if the performers were right there in the room with me. The imaging was precise and accurate, making it easy to pick out individual instruments and voices.
The DO300 also excelled in its handling of bass frequencies. The bass was tight and controlled, with a sense of weight and power that was truly impressive. I found myself getting lost in the music, as the DO300 seemed to bring out details and nuances that I look for in my favourite tracks.
The DO300 also impressed me with its ability to handle a wide range of music genres. From classical to rock, jazz to hip-hop, the DO300 was able to deliver a smooth and detailed sound that made every track a pleasure to listen to.
Playing through Gazpacho’s “Dream of Stone (Live)”, I was struck by the level of stereo separation and strength of the DO300’s imaging. It was so easy to determine the position and distance of each instrument, all of which occupied their own place on the stage. There was so much space between each element of the song, each one floating out of a pure black background. The kick drums slammed, and the timbre of the violin made it sound so real I thought I could reach out and touch it. Perhaps the biggest highlight was hearing the realism of the crowd as they applauded, cheered and whistled.
SMSL DO200 MKII
Both DACs share the same external design, with identical chassis, display, and I/O. However, the internal differences were immediately noticeable in terms of tonality, resolution, and soundstage.
When it comes to tonality, I found that the SMSL DO300 had a little extra weight in the bass, giving the music a more substantial and weighty sound without compromising on tight control. In contrast, the SMSL DO200 MKII was slightly lighter in the bass, which might be preferred by those who favour a more analytical sound.
As for resolution and details, the SMSL DO300 was undoubtedly the winner in my experience. The DO300 captured even the most delicate nuances in the music with a higher level of resolution and transparency than the DO200 MKII. The details were crystal clear and provided a more accurate representation of the music.
The DO300 also offered an even better soundstage and instrument separation. It created a more immersive and lifelike audio experience.
Overall, the SMSL DO300 DAC is a fantastic piece of equipment that truly elevates my music. It is easy to use, versatile and most importantly, it delivers outstanding sound quality that will satisfy even the most demanding audiophile. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to take their audio to the next level.