The SMSL SA300 is loaded with features and customization. Could this be the best amplifier under $150? The amplifier itself came with a few pamphlets and a user manual. Although the user manual looks small, it was quite thorough on the operation of the amplifier and remote control. The box also contained a USB cord for the DAC, a massive power supply that is capable of outputting 162 watts, a Bluetooth antenna and a remote control.
Let’s talk about some technical highlights. This amplifier boasts it can output 160 watts or 80watts by 2 @4ohm and 40wx2 @ 8ohm. it has a 384Khz 32 bit driver free dac, .008 percent THD+N, has rca input, utilizes the new bluetooth 5 that supports aptx and even has a passive subwoofer output. As mentioned, It does come with a remote control; however it does not come with any triple A batteries. So if you plan to use the remote…make sure to pick up some batteries. It does, however lack a fiber optic port. Which may be problematic for those who want to use this with their television. Most televisions have both a digital and analog audio out, but if your television only has a digital fiber optic out, hooking this up to it, would require additional hardware.
From the onset I knew this amplifier was something special. It is made of all aluminum with nice sturdy rubber feet to improve stabilization and vibration control. The display was very sharp and clear making it easy to read. And even the remote control buttons were spaced properly with the buttons at the top half of the remote. Thus making it easier for you to control without hand fatigue. Everything was well thought out, but what I did not expect was the customization. It was completely customizable, from the color you order, the screen to even the DSP. This has 7 different DSP’s, separate internal bass and treble control and even an 8th setting, direct, that bypasses all DSP so that you know you are hearing just the source material. They added a passive subwoofer output, for those who want to utilize a powered subwoofer. This allows you to easily convert this to a 2.1 system. That by itself would be enough for most people, but SMSL didn’t stop there, they even made the display screen completely customizable as well. You can easily navigate through the menu and change it to whatever color you would like. You really can make this the way you want.
The DSP function worked really well in my setting, it was easy to notice a difference between the DSP’s and it was nice the display showed the DSP in the top corner. At any time you could easily identify the DSP you were on. The display is large enough to see the volume when turning it up and the input logo to know your source. However, I wouldn’t mind the volume control display to be a little larger. Although, this hasn’t been a problem for me, I could see it being a problem for someone sitting far enough away. The remote control was responsive and well designed. Anything I could do from the physical unit, I could do with the remote. Making complete remote operation a possibility.
After playing some music through it I had a few last thoughts. I don’t have a way of measuring distortion from the amplifier, but I will say everything played very clean at the loudest sounds I dared to play. I personally loved the fact of running my prototype subwoofer. Giving me much more bass and full range sound then a normal mini amplifier could. The screen is one of the things that impressed me the most. It really is crystal clear. I assumed this would be a cheap blocky screen, but this is far from that. Which is really needed if playng it far away. The Bluetooth worked flawlessly and I had no trouble with any of the other inputs. Which now comes down to if I would recommend it.
Th SMSL SA300 is by far my favorite commercial mini amplifier that I have ever reviewed on the channel. Is it the best amplifier under $150? I don’t know, but it is definitely the best I have reviewed under $150. Not only is it high quality parts through and through, but It hits all the high points for me. Remote control operation, passive subwoofer output, clear LCD screen and Bluetooth 5.0. And seeing as I don’t need Fiber optic, this really is perfect for my arrangement. I could see this easily powering someone’s sound system for their television or game room, replacing an old bulky AVR. I could even see this used in a diy made soundbar or for a desktop or even a 2 or 2.1 channel listening area. If you are in the market for a new stereo amplifier, I would give seethe SA300 some serious consideration.