SMSL HO200 Review


Design and Build Quality


When I first received the SMSL HO200, I was surprised by its big, white, retail box. Being used to SMSL products, I was expecting a simple, brown, card box with a printed SMSL logo. It’s not much, but like every product, every detail counts, and a nice box immediately raises your expectations.

Out of the box, you get a medium-sized amp, just big enough to impress and sufficiently small to fit on every desktop. Measuring 210mm x 170mm x 40mm, the HO200 is obviously bigger than my old AD18, but the footprint should not be an issue thanks to the slick design. Mine ended just under my computer’s screen and didn’t move since.

Another reason I didn’t move the amp, may also be its weight. At 1.23kg, this is a very dense amp that inspires confidence, if not for the SMSL logo, it could be mistaken for a much more expensive product like an RME soundcard. 

As for the design, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. The brushed aluminum looks very nice, the front is perfectly integrated, and SMSL didn’t omit to paint the front screw giving the HO200 a superb flush-mounted frame.


The SMSL HO200 I/O is very comprehensive, with every port you may ever need, in both ways. There are a few toggles, too, that give you some way to route where you want to pick and output your music.

The front panel comes with:

  • 1x XLR 4Pins balanced output. We may not be many to use this kind of output, but if you are one of us, big shout out!
  • 1x Jack 6.35mm unbalanced output. A classic, this way you can still plug your classic headphone, or in-ear.
  • 1x Jack 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced output. Looks like 4.4mm definitely replaced 2.5mm for many manufacturers. Good thing brands like ddHiFi produce quality adapters!

There are also three selectors:

  • XLR/RCA. This way you can choose which input you want to use, in case you have two different DAC to connect.
  • PRE/HPA. To switch between pre-amplifier mode and headphone amplifier mode.
  • High/Mid/Low. The gain toggle allows you to choose between three positions so you can match your headphone demands 


In the back, you’ll find a mirror configuration:

  • left side, you have the inputs port with 2xXLR + 2xRCA
  • right side, you have outputs port with 2xXLR + 2xRCA

Between, you can also see a micro-USB port – and yes, it’s micro-USB, not USB-C – that should be used for firmware upgrade. 

Finally, I was surprised to see that the SMSL HO200 now integrates the power supply, whereas old devices like my AD18 relied on a separate one. If a bit heavier, this also means that you can use a classic plug.

So, let’s plug the HO200 and see how it goes.


The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Page 1: About the brand

Page 3: UI & Usage

Page 4: Specifications

Page 5: Sound performances

4.7/5 - (8 votes)

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.


  • Reply October 15, 2021


    Looking forward to a review of S.M.S.L. AO200 Amplifier and the soon to be released S.M.S.L. DO200 DAC.

    I received my new AO200 amp a few days ago and it’s very impressive. I suspect that SMSL is about to redefine the audiophile budget category.

  • Reply October 15, 2021


    Thanks for the review. I love my m500 but am seeking a balanced option thay works well with the focal clears. As a 90% electro listener… Curious of your favorite few dacs and amps or combo units or suggestions for the focals. Thanks!

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