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Overview amplifiers S. M. S. L.: little friends music lover

Appetite comes while eating, and for spiritual food, too. At first sounding normal smartphone and cheap ear buds satisfied, but soon thinking of something more worthy. For real improvement you need a solid money — music player for headphones quality. Is it possible to improve the sound of a simple smartphone and headphones at the lowest cost? It is possible, with a portable DAC with amp. Check in some of them.

Solid and inexpensive

These devices are available from many brands, and some of them are very expensive. But we are not talking about them. Today we will look at three models for the price of 2690-4290 rubles from the world famous brand S. M. S. L., which belongs to a major Chinese manufacturer Shenzhen shuangmusanlin electronics Co., LTD and specializiruetsya exclusively on compact audio equipment — both portable and stationary, in the main amplifiers, DACs, converters of interfaces, and so on. Solid and firm with a good reputation, and because it sells products around the world produces it in large quantities, which allows to optimize the production, reduce the cost and to set very attractive prices.

The range is very wide, but for the review were selected three most typical models with different capabilities. Because everyone has different needs.







Converter type



ESS Sabre ES9023


n. d.


integrated DAC

The maximum resolution of the signal

16-bit/48 kHz

24-bit/192 kHz

24-bit/96 kHz

Harmonic distortions+noise, %




Dynamic range, dB




Output power, W


The output voltage In RMS

n. d.




headphone, 3.5 mm

headphone and line-in, optical digital (3.5 mm)




USB from smartphone

Compatible with Android

from version 4.0 and above

Dimensions, mm




Weight, g




Estimated price, RUB.





General and miscellaneous

All three models have their own batteries and are fed via USB from a smartphone. On the one hand, this is good: they are compact, lightweight and do not require pre-charging. On the other, they will inevitably reduce the battery life of the smartphone. How much? It depends on many factors: the impedance and sensitivity of headphones, from your preferred volume level from the type of music being played.

Machines differ not only in size and weight, the presence or absence of a digital optical output, but the implementation of USB interface. Therefore, the model Ivy can work with any Android players (applications), and the other two — only those that support the output audio stream to USB, like USB Audio Player or HiByMusic. These devices (Idol+ and M2) can be used in the role of audio interfaces for your computer. It would be under strength, and baby Ivy, but its design makes it difficult to connect to desktop computers.

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Testing of all DACs-amps was performed with smartphones Galaxy S3 GT-i9300 and the LG G3. Headphones: in-ear traindriver hybrids (32 Ohm, 98 dB), Audio-Technica ATH-PRO5MK3, Fostex TH-7 and full-sized monitors Fostex T50RP (50 Ohm, 98 dB) — this is the first version of the popular model, which differs from the subsequent noticeable decline at high frequencies. Music is the most different genres and if it is a standard set that listens for reviews of headphones and players. App — free HiByMusic.



S. M. S. L. Ivy: check millimetri

In a small box — plastic zipper case, inside of which hides a device that invokes emotion with his miniature. It’s so small that the case remains a place for in-ear headphones. There is also documentation, but to sense from it a little bit: a large part is occupied by information about the manufacturer and recommendations for safe use (“never touch the device with wet hands…” etc.), there is also the figure with the designation of connectors and controls, the specifications table. But in fact the device is so simple that you can deal with it and no papers.

Ivy is built on the very popular chip PCM2704, which has its own built-in USB interface. But it does not work in asynchronous, normal mode, is therefore able to receive signals only up to 16 bit/48 kHz. That is why it can work with any Android players. However, those applications that output audio to USB, the sound quality turns out much better.


Because of its design (connecting directly to the USB connector no additional cables are needed), the device is not “friendly” with covers and bumpers for smartphones. And since the headphone output is shifted to the side, turns the lever, which acts on the Hilo connector of the smartphone, so you have to be very careful.

Immediately after connecting the rocker volume control lights up bright green. The backlight eats energy, with the use of a USB player volume control not working.

When directly connecting the headphones to the smartphone volume control on most of the records have to display on 60-70%. But if the level is reduced (for example, on the album Livin’ Blues “Blue Breeze”), you have to raise it almost to the maximum. Baby Ivy enough 35-40%. And, interestingly, with any headphones.


And with it goes the “dregs” obviously cleaned high, which is especially useful for Fostex — frequency balance with them is leveled and it becomes almost optimal. In General, the sound becomes more dense, distinct, bright, however, due to the rise in the top of the range, but you may feel somewhat diminished the lower classes.

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S. M. S. L. Idol+: admiration from a short distance

This model is a bit larger than Ivy, but the sense of emotion still causes. You can now return the case to the smartphone device is connected via a short micro-USB cable<=>micro-USB. Included is a hard case, like Ivy, but two cables, one for connecting to the computer.

USB-device interface asynchronous and allows you to get streams with resolutions up to 24-bit/192 kHz built on the VIA VT1620A chip. It has a built-in DAC, so an extra chip of the Converter is not required. Amplifier — a specialized chip MAX97220A from Maxim Integrated.


Management bodies more here: the volume control on two buttons added MUTE key. However, when using the app-player (one of the best USB Audio Player), trained to output audio to USB interface, they don’t work. With any other application controls operate, but the sound at this.


Indicator light turn on tiny led that correctly — saved energy is required for the amplifier.

And that he is powerful, can be seen by the fact that the optimum volume level with in-ear headphones is achieved at the level of about 25%, Fostex — at 50% that is a huge margin.


High steel cleaner and more. If your economy is very tight and lethargic headphones, they are Idol probably sing a different tune. The more that DAC calmly accepts streams Hi-Res, and with them the sound is particularly detailed and transparent.


M. S. L. S. M2: hold waist

The rectangular aluminum ucilka on the side faces there are recesses, a sort of waist and it will be convenient to attach the device to your smartphone with rubber bands. Kit no — you can use the conventional “money”. In the box besides the amp there are also two cables — one to connect to a smartphone, the second for desktop computer (laptops are also on the table are placed). No case — will have to find something yourself.

Fundamental differences from previous models two. First: Yes line out — analog and optical on the same 3.5 mm Jack So you can connect this DAC to a great amplifier or other DAC of a higher class, for example, in the AV receiver.


As soon as the unit is powered, the digital output lights up red and a single led, also red. And all this illumination consumes precious energy.

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S.M.S.L. S.M.S.L.

On the other hand, optical switching outputs (for example, a separate toggle switch) would have complicated the design and made the machine more expensive.

The second difference is perhaps even more important, is the traditional volume control wheel. This additional “knob” allows a lot of flexibility to control the volume, largely affecting the character of the sound.

S.M.S.L. S.M.S.L.

DAC built here on a serious chip ESS Sabre ES9023. It is, of course, not very new and therefore supports input signals up to 24-bit/96 kHz, but more for playback from your smartphone, in principle, not necessary. Class it is clearly higher than the converters of the two younger models. In addition, it has a built in output stage and is able to develop voltage up to 2 V RMS, so additional headphone amp is not required. Of course, something more powerful would be nice, but we must remember that the device is powered by the smartphone, so the excess energy is not needed.

M2 sounds very dignified. Interestingly, “cleaning” the top of the range not affecting the density and expressiveness of bass — they have a sufficient level, crisp and clear. “Curvature” of the headphone somehow leveled: hybrids out excessive sonority and the brightness is high, and the Fostex, on the contrary, become more transparent and detailed. The volume is huge: the optimum is reached at 25-30%.


This model is the most interesting sound of all three, but for her musical ability have to pay higher power requirements. On phones with old batteries can even fail, so that the enhanced battery is welcome.


The results

In inexpensive headphones, there is a certain quality potential that can be realized only with a decent amplifier, and in most of the smartphones he’s not good enough. So even a cheap and simple external DAC amplifier can improve the sound and to deliver ultimately a lot of fun. The action of the amplifiers S. M. S. L results in increased loudness, which positively affects the perception of music. In addition, the high frequency becomes clearer and clearer. At lower levels the effect of “amps” is manifested not so noticeable, so fans of “sausage” bottom should choose a more bass headphones — they benefit from the external amps will manifest in the whole spectrum. But we should remember that this amp is an increased load on the battery of the smartphone. However, high-capacity battery will solve this problem — good music “in the pocket” is worth it.



  • improve sound “not musical” smartphones;
  • reveal the potential of inexpensive headphones;
  • designed in a rugged metal housings.


  • increase battery consumption.

The author of the text: Vasily Zuev

Picture device: Daria Nesterovskaya

Source: 4pda.ru

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