SMSL DO100 Review
Is a budget DAC worth it in 2022? Well, that’s the question we’re going to try to answer by looking at the SMSL DO100, which retails right around $230.
SMSL DO100 Review
SMSL sent the DO100 for me to review. And I was very interested in it, because I already have a DO200, which I really love and enjoy, but is about twice the price. The DO100 is its smaller brother in both size, features and of course price. If we take a look at the back, it does have all the digital inputs that you would want, such as USB, digital fiber optic, digital coaxial and even Bluetooth 5.0. It also has your unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs so that way you can go into something like another amplifier, or even a headphone amplifier, depending on how you want to utilize this particular dac.
Before we review the sound quality of the SMSL DO100, I want to first talk about its overall quality. And I got to say that SMSL D100 has hit it out of the park. I absolutely love the different varying brightness levels of this particular dac and all the different menus that you can go in and change as nice to have.. It’s all aluminum frame is very robust for its size. And honestly, is on par with something like the HO 100, or even the bigger brother DO200, as far as build quality goes. They do give you a remote control which is their standard remote that is used on most of their units.
Since the SMSL DO100 is a budget DAC that is being reviewed. There are going to be some things that you are going to notice that are lacking on this particular model. For example, the screen is nice and bright, and I do enjoy that. However, it is using older technology that ahs a limited range in reproducing letters. Although, this isn’t an issue, it does make it look cheaper and is a little harder to navigate the menus. For example, when we go through the menu system, you can’t easily identify what you are changing. Thankfully, the manual clears that up for you. Another disappointment, is the DO100 is missing one of my favorite features of the SMSL DO200, sound color modes. This is a built-in feature that changes the way the DAC sounds. You can even make it sound like a tube amplifier if you want. WIth the DO100, you can’t do that without another device.
What was surprising for this price range is that the SMSL DO100 does do DSD512, PCM 32/768 as well as your Bluetooth support for (LDAC, APTX/HD, SBC, AAC). And that’s something I just didn’t expect any price range. And all of these help give you the best sound quality you could expect from a DAC. Speaking of sound quality, that is most important thing with any dac. And I gotta say, once again, SMSL has hit this out of the park.
Not only do we take a look at the graphs SMSL provided of the DO100 and we see very low distortion, but it also does a great job at reproducing exactly what it is that the artist intended. It doesn’t add any coloration to it and the sound came across crystal clear, crystal clean. And I got to be honest, I really enjoyed the sound. Now, my particular headphones, the bare dynamics, DT770 pros, do get a little bright during certain songs. So I would have appreciated a way to attenuate the treble or the addition of sound color modes.
Final Thoughts on the SMSL DO100
As of now, if you did want those, you would have to buy a more expensive dac, like the DO200. And if I am to be frank, in this particular price range, for a dac of this size, I don’t know that there’s much more that I could personally ask for. It is a really good value. Now, having said that, I’m going to go ahead and show you where I put it on my list. And I put this right around here. I would still take the SMSL DO200 over it, even though it is a lot more expensive. In this case, I think the expense is warranted. You get the better screen the more extensive menu system and the sound color modes. All of these, adds quite a bit of value. However, if those things don’t interest you, I think the SMSL DO100 is a great value.
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