In this review we’re taking a look at the new SMSL M300mkII DAC from Chinese manufacturer SMSL, featuring a flagship chip from AKM. SMSL priced this unit at $240 USD.
Disclaimer: SMSL sent us the M300mkII for this review, free of charge. I only covered the customs fees. All thoughts and experiences with the product are naturally my own. You can find more about it here: https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/product/detail/id/548.html
Honestly, if you don’t know SMSL, you have to get acquainted as soon as possible because you’re missing A LOT. They’re a Chinese company who focuses on a wide range of devices, the most notable ones being DACs & AMPs. They offer killer price to performance products and that’s the main reason I found them online 5 years ago.
Their products are always well-built and they tend to use high-quality components. I have never used anything from them that was not CNC machine milled. That’s some commitment right there. SMSL (ShuangMuSanlin Electronics Co. LTD) was actually founded in 2009 in China’s famous techno-city, Shenzhen. Today we’ll be reviewing one of their latest DACs, so you’re in for some great action! It features the AKM’s 4497EQ, the same DAC which was also used by Fiio with their well-praised M11 Pro Player and the same DAC was also used by Lotoo with their Paw Gold Touch player.
M300 MKII Audio AK4497 Balanced DAC with Bluetooth
Here are the highlights:
Integrated Volume Control
PRE Mode + 8 Audio Filters (PCM+DSD)
Full Balanced Circuit Design
Integrated Bluetooth 5.0
PCM 32bit-768kHz & DSD512
DC5V Power Input
M300mkII comes with a white square cardboard box. The specifications are listed on the side of the box. The package comes with the following accessories:
1x SMSL M300 MKII
1x Power Supply
1x Remote Control
1x Bluetooth Antenna
1x Optical Cable
1x Jack 3.5mm to RCA cable
1x Micro USB to USB-A cable
Look & Design
The design has famous SMSL cues such as the CNC milled chassis, metallic paint and an all-together durable construction. It has a long rectangular shape. There are 2 buttons on the front side. One for the powering up the device and one for selecting the input. As for other options, you are better off using the remote control. All ports and connections are located in the rear side of the DAC. The metallic pearlescent blue finish is quite sleek and looks fantastic. M300mkII also has a glossy IPS LCD screen where you can see quite a bit of information such as sample rate, filter type and active input.
Build quality is top-notch. SMSL’s all-aluminum CNC milling is precise and smooth. There are no weird edges or anything that would disrupt the sleek design. The metallic finish complements the design very well. The front panel design is also quite chic. Glossy black looks very well under the LCD screen. In the rear, we see quite a few inputs. There are balanced XLR out, gold plated unbalanced rca out, gold plated coaxial out, optical out, usb in and a 5v power port. After inspecting the quality of inputs and sockets, I can say with confidence that they are built to last. Everything feels very firm in hand. The M300mkII gives you this feeling that you’re in for a long run. That’s always good.
M300mkII uses AKM’s popular flagship, the 4497EQ chip. It is a well-praised DAC among the audiophiles. Devices such as Fiio’s M11 Pro, Astell&Kern’s SP1000, Cayin’s N6II, Lotoo’s Paw Gold Touch players are using the exact same chip. It’s quite popular and I can see why SMSL went with this chip rather than an ESS or Cirrus Logic chip. M300mkII has a great board design. They used the latest XMOS usb solution, they designed the new mkII with an external power supply rather than M300’s usb power, they used the highest quality Japan NDK phase noise crystal clocks. When you combine this amount of quality components together and add a serious filtering to them, you naturally get really good measurements and sound out of the device. They certainly did not skimp and they used several LDO filtering solutions on critical parts of the board such as the USB chip, DAC chip and Low Pass filter. They used aggressive filtering to rule out the noise from switched-mode power supply and it seems to be working very well. Going full LDO is much better than going RLC in my book, kudos to the engineers behind this blue devil!
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Have you tried pairing this DAC with the SMSL SA300? They would seem to be made for each other.