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SMSL SU9 Series Buying Guide: Ultimate Guide To Understand Flagship SU9 Series Desktop DACs!!

SMSL SU9 Series Buying Guide: Ultimate Guide To Understand Flagship SU9 Series Desktop DACs!!

SMSL is a highly trusted HiFi audio brand from China. The brand has an exclusive range of HiFi audio gear especially in the desktop category featuring premium audio decoders, headphone amplifiers, power amplifiers, and many more. Over the years, SMSL has catered to a wide audience with everyone praising their gears for excellent performance parameters. Today, we are going to discuss one of their prominent series of products, the SU9 series of desktop audio decoders. Originally began with the SU9 back in 2020, the series as of now in 2023 has four products in store, the OG SU9, the SU9n, the SU9 Pro, and the recently launched SU9 Ultra. All these are priced closely with the most affordable one as SU9n at 399.99$ and the SU9 Pro and SU9 Ultra as the most premium ones at 499.99$. They each differ among each other in terms of performance characteristics, today with the help of this guide, we will compare all these four models in the SU9 series helping you to make an informed decision among the four models as your next premium desktop DAC.

SMSL SU9 series is the upper-mid-fi section of desktop DACs currently available in the market. They use top-quality hardware featuring flagship-level DAC chips promising enhanced sound decoding characteristics. The first three models in the series, SU9, SU9n, and SU9 Pro feature ESS Sabre DAC chips while the latest launched SU9 Ultra pack AKM’s current flagship DAC chipset. Let’s explore more about them.

SMSL SU9: The Beginning Of The Chain With Premium MQA DAC!!

Price: 459.99$.

Launched back in 2020, SMSL SU9 was the flagship of the brand back then(in the SMSL Lineup). With ESS Sabre’s ES9038Pro flagship DAC, the SU9 promised top-level performance with a range of inputs featuring 32-bit/768kHz PCM, Native DSD, and DoP audio signals. The key attraction of the SMSL SU9 was full MQA Unfolding support through USB input. SMSL designed the board layout with short tracks to ensure the highest quality sound performance. It featured seven user-selectable filters, Bluetooth connectivity, an optimized clock processing circuit and ES9311 Voltage regulators that have low-noise performance. SMSL SU9 supports high-resolution wireless transmission with UAT transmission protocol support in Bluetooth connectivity. Overall, the SMSL SU-9 gained a lot of praise for its exquisite sound performance!!

SMSL SU9-1

Key Features of SMSL SU9:-

>Flagship ES9038Pro DAC.

>XMOS 2nd-Gen 16-Core USB Processor.

>MQA Decoding.

>Bluetooth Connectivity with High-Definition UAT Protocol Support.

>Low-Noise Performance.

>Built-in Digital PLL Jitter-Reduction System.

>Seven Digital Filters.

SMSL SU9n: Easy On Pocket, Top On Performance!!

Price: 399.99$.

Right after the OG SU9, SMSL introduced the SU9n a few months later in 2021. The DAC came at a slightly lower price although packed with an identical internal arrangement. We got the same ES9038Pro flagship DAC Chipset with a range of inputs that supports advanced PCM and native DSD audio signals. Everything for the input-output here is the same as with the SU9 model, the primary difference is only of a few things. First, there’s no MQA support on the SU9n. Secondly, the SU9n doesn’t have UAT protocol support in wireless mode, third, the SU9n adopts XMOS XU208 while the SU9 features a 16-core XMOS XU216 USB Processor. But for the benefit part, the SMSL SU9n houses a newly-developed CK-02 low-jitter clock, the distortion performance of the SU9n is better compared to the SU9. Overall, we basically drop the MQA decoding along with a Bluetooth Protocol, but we get a newer low-jitter clock and also get better decoding performance with the SMSL SU9n compared to the OG model.

SMSL SU9n-1

Key Features of SMSL SU9n:-

>Flagship ES9038Pro DAC.

>XMOS 2nd-Gen 8-Core USB Processor.

>No MQA Decoding Support.

>Bluetooth Connectivity with LDAC, AptX HD, and SBC codecs support(No UAT Support).

>Better THD+N Performance than the SU9(0.0006% vs 0.0008%).

>Newly developed CK-02 Clock Module.

SMSL SU9 Pro: The Latest Sabre Flagship DAC!!

Price: 499.99$.

SMSL came up with the SU9 Pro in 2022. It came as a true successor to the OG SU9 with the latest flagship from the house of ESS Sabre Technologies. The primary upgrade that we get on the SU9 Pro is the latest ES9039M Pro as the core Decoding chipset along with this new-generation SABRE DAC chipset, we have also got an upgrade to the USB Processor here with the all-new XMOS XU316 chipset. It now has true MQA and MQA-CD decoding support across all the input options. Originally back on the OG SU9, we had MQA support only through the USB input. We also have redesigned OPAMP Architecture with 11 OPA1612 chips when the OG model had only 3 OPA1612 chips. The SU9 Pro adopts the latest CK-03 low-jitter clock module. All these upgrades provide enhanced performance on the SU9 Pro. Available for just 499.99$, the SMSL SU9 Pro brings cleaner THD+N, and high SNR-DNR Performance resulting in cleaner overall output than the OG SU9 Model.

SMSL SU9 Pro-1

Key Features of SU9 Pro:-

>Latest ES9039M Pro Flagship DAC Chipset.

>Upgraded OP-Amp Architecture with 11 OPA1612 Chips(OG Models had only 3).

>XMOS 3rd Gen 16-Core USB Processor(XU316).

>Full MQA, MQA-CD Support Across all Outputs.

>Newer UI Interface in the Display Screen.

>Cleaner Output with Better Distortion, SNR, and DNR Performance.

SMSL SU9 Ultra: Brand New AKM Flagship Desktop DAC!!

Price: 499.99$.

The SU9 Ultra is the latest instalment in the SU9 series by SMSL. This is the first DAC in the series to adopt the AKM DAC chipset with AKM’s current flagship AK4499EX+AK4191 decoding chipset. The SU9 Ultra is designed with top-quality components to promise ultimate performance including the latest AKM’s flagship DAC along with a self-developed brand-new CK-03 jitter processing circuit, a 3rd generation 16-core USB processor (XU316), a fully discrete low-noise power supply, etc. The SU9 Ultra provides exceptional performance with ultra-low distortion while supporting advanced 32-bit PCM and Native DSD audio signal decoding. SMSL SU9 Ultra supports full MQA & MQA-CD decoding through USB and SPDIF inputs. Basically, it has everything the SU9 Pro has but with an audio architecture based around the AKM DAC Chipset. Now as we all are familiar, the AKM DAC’s are known for their Velvet Technology, treating the sound signal with a silky-smooth velvet touch, The SMSL SU9 Ultra just packs the wonderful sound of AKM’s current flagship DAC!!

SMSL SU9 Ultra-1

Key Features of SU9 Ultra:-

>Only DAC in the series with AKM DAC Arrangement.

>Current AKM Flagship DAC Chipset(AK4499EX+AK4191).

>3rd Gen 16-core XMOS USB Processor(XU316).

>Full MQA, MQA-CD Support Across all Outputs.

>CK-03 Low-Jitter Clock Design.

>Clean and Rich Sound Presentation with AKM’s Velvet Technology.

Final Words:-

SMSL SU9 series of DACs are widely loved worldwide by the audiophiles. They offer excellent performance whether it be the OG SU9 or the latest generation SU9 Pro and SU9 Ultra. Each one of the four models have their key features as a flagship DAC chipset, high-performance USB Processors, etc. The SU9 series is a basically top-tier Desktop DAC series which packs all the wonderful performance under a compact shell and doesn’t hit the bank hard either. Now deciding between these models is actually quite simple, if you don’t want MQA and are ready to settle with previous-generation flagship DAC chipset, the SMSL SU9n is a good choice, for everything else, we have the SU9 Pro and the SU9 Ultra to choose from. For fans of ESS Sabre DAC chipsets, the SU9 Pro packs a wonderful sound and for the people who prefer using AKM DAC Chips, the SU9 Ultra might be the best choice.

Well, this completes our guide on the various SMSL SU9 series models. We hope this guide helps you make an informed purchase, for any further assistance feel free to write to us at support@hifigo.com.

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