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SMSL DO200 PRO Hifi PRE / DAC – 12 DACs From Aoshida With Professional Tuning

SMSL DO200 PRO Hifi PRE / DAC – 12 DACs From Aoshida With Professional Tuning

SMSL DO200 PRO is a $399 USD DAC or Digital To Analog Converter sold by Aoshida Audio, with PRE Function, and 12 DAC chips inside working together to bring you a whole new type of sound and tuning for the price point it carries. Today we will review the sound and design of the DO200PRO, along with the inputs and outputs it has, and also compare it to other similarly priced solutions including FiiO Q15 (399 USD), SMSL DO400 (499 USD), and Aune X1S GT (349 USD). 

 

Introduction

SMSL is a popular brand for HIFI products from China, known best by the main store selling their products, Aoshida Audio, which has unique offers and products, along with some of the best prices possible for those products. Aoshida Audio products are available on Amazon as well, if you’re looking to have double the warranty coverage, but rest assured as they are one of the companies that solves warranties quickest and makes the process super simple for you. I managed to burn a DAC from Aoshida before, due to a short circuit in my home, but I can confirm that the warranty process is quick and easy, so you can safely purchase from Aoshida with no second thoughts or fears. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases, and using the purchase links in my reviews helps me maintain this website and Youtube Channel. A huge thanks to Aoshida Audio for providing us with the sample for this review. 

PROs – High Resolution and excellent revealing ability, outstanding build quality and design, good support from the shop selling them as well as the producer. The sound is refined, gentle and resembles an acoustic performance accurately, being the most acoustically accurate tuning I’ve heard in years. Good instrument separation without sounding clinical, and strong input / output support. No background noise from any of the outputs. No USB DAC delay is a big bonus. Perfect volume control and the unit stays cool during actual usage are also big bonuses. 

Cons – No headphone output, and only function is DAC/PRE. 

 

Product Link

You can grab one here – https://amzn.to/3W42eBN

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics

SMSL always made headlines with the way they design and with what they put in their products, but this time they went a bit too far, having just put 12 DAC chips inside of a single DAC. Those DACs are all Cirrus Logic CS43131 DACs, and DO200 PRO is designed for professionals as it also has a preamp function, and would make the perfect DAC to pair with active speakers, thanks to the XLR and RCA outputs at the back. 

The input selection includes Optical, Coaxial and HDMI ARC, along with USB Type-C and even Bluetooth 5.1 Digital Audio support. This Bluetooth is no joke, and SMSL includes LDAC support. SMSL tried to be as helpful as possible with us, and they included MQA for the USB, Optical and Coaxial input, but right now MQA is not really a thing anymore, as Tidal just announced they’re fully canceling their support for the format and I don’t really know where else you’re supposed to get those files anymore. If you’re a fan of Hi-Res stickers and Hi-Res support, SMSL DO200PRO has Hi-Res and Hi-Res Wireless Certification, including 32 Bit / 768 kHz support, and DSD support up to DSD256. The face of the unit has a floating display design, and a volume wheel to configure, control and to set the volume, the volume wheel being the kind with solid clicks that allows you to finely set the volume, and which has no errors in its function. 

At the heart, DO200 PRO has 12 Cirrus Logic chips, and an XMOS XU-316 Third Generation advanced USB interface, paired with a Low Noise Power Supply that provides the circuit with a 12 V 1 A current, internally. Externally, you will be connecting a cattle plug to DO200PRO, and it also has a Qualcomm QC5125 Bluetooth chip, having professional-grade Bluetooth support, with SBC, AAC, LDAC, and aptX and aptX HD support. The OP-AMP part is served by 5 High-End OPA1612 chips, which are high-end chips, and also seen before in countless successful products. 

While the input selection will allow you to connect a PC, Android and IOs device, Sony PS4, PS5, TV, and even a Nintendo Switch of a CD / DVD Player to DO200 PRO, we have just two outputs, both for Speakers, either an XLR or an RCA output. The design is intended for you to pair the DO200 PRO with either a pair of active speakers, or with a pair of passive speakers powered by an Amplifier, integrated or with no Pre, as DO200 PRO has a PRE function. Inside the package you will find a SMSL RC-8C remote, which is really handy, so you won’t have to get up to change the volume or control the DO200PRO, allowing you to hide it beneath other devices, or behind them. Happily, the unit stays cool as ice, with very few components producing heat, so putting it in a closed off space will not be a problem. 

SMSL has some special functions for DO200 PRO, and one of them is a switch that allows you to have either 4V or 5V modes, and the PRE mode allowing you to either control the volume from the PRE embedded within DO200 PRO (a great idea, if the AMP does not have volume control or for active speakers), or control the volume from the AMP (also a great idea if the AMP has volume control). We have 5 PCM filters, which sound similar, but can finely tweak the sound, and we can also set the display between 8 levels of brightness, and set it to turn off between 5 and 60 seconds. 

At a technical level, we have a Line Out Voltage of 5.2Vrms for the XLR output, which comes paired with a Dynamic Range of 134 dB, and a SNR of 134 dB, while the RCA output has a Voltage of 2.5 Vrms together with a dynamic range of 128 dB and a SNR of 128 dB. Although on the technical page, it should need a driver for Windows, it works without one for my PC, and I get the full extent of USB Hi-Res support, along with a good overall experience. The THD+N is the same for both outputs, set at 0.00006% or -123 dB. 

 

USB DAC / Subjective Usage

As with most desktop HIFI devices that I have been reviewing lately, the most important function is the USB DAC, and DO200PRO is absolutely perfect. I cannot notice any milliseconds of USB DAC delay, and it responds to signals instantly, without cutting the first second of a song or introducing any other type of issue. 

The chassis stays cool and the whole unit works well, the remote is a nice addition, especially as it is included in the package and won’t cost you a single extra dime above the price of DO200 PRO. As I have just written the review for Burson PlayMate 2 recently, you have to pay a bit of extra for their remote, while SMSL makes sure everyone gets one. 

Subjectively, I like the sturdy connectors at the back, and that you can set the brightness of the display, and when it turns off, and as we will explore in the sound part of the review, the background noise of DO200 PRO is ZERO, and that’s the best part about it. 

 

Sound Quality

Pairings – This is actually an important part of the review, because Keces S300+ has almost always been strapped to either SMSL DO200 PRO or HIFIMAN Serenade, sometimes with HIFIMAN Prelude right in between. While there are many reasons to use the Serenade and the Prelude, that gain Serenade has is audible, and DO200 PRO has a balanced gain, with no hum or background hissing at all. I love this kind of open, clean and brilliant tuning, but what stands out with DO200 PRO is how clean, and quiet the background noise is, basically it having been fully eliminated and replaced with a gentle, slightly soft, but detailed and revealing sound. I have also paired it with Burson Funk driving a pair of NHT C3 Speakers, and with Aune S17 PRO to drive a pair of Aune AR5000, then with a Feliks Audio Echo 2 Tube Amplifier, which I have used to drive a pair of Sennheiser HD 660S2. All those pairings work and sound excellent, with the DAC being able to control every AMP and give it a pleasing, mellow and fun sound. 

Overall Signature – The tuning of the DO200 PRO is on the slightly soft, refined and silky side, as it is a DAC that makes music really easy to enjoy, takes away the edge from harsher instruments but still allows them to sound fun and revealing, detailed and crisp. It is basically a really detailed but soft spoken sounding DAC. The midrange is the central element in the sound, and the bass is on the neutral side, with a softer impact and slightly less energy, while the treble is airy and well extended but silky, rich and smooth, creating a sound that is magically addictive, relaxed and laid-back all while having a high dynamic range and revealing details which are now immediately obvious with most DACs. The beauty of having so much detail with a softer sound is that the details are not forced onto the listener, but rather presented to be enjoyed, in a tasteful and rich manner. 

Bass – The low end of DO200 PRO has the full extension, and depth a proper bass is supposed to have, but it is neutral in quantity, not overpowering the midrange or the voices, rather balancing things out and giving body, volume and lushess to the entire sound. The bass speed is on the slower side, allowing for a relaxed, and less textured presentation, and an excellent fit for Jazz, Classical and slower music, also making the soundstage and presence of the bass in EDM and electronic seem wider and more spatial. The bass drive factor is on the lower side, which is great if you want to hear very low distortions and distinguish resolution and clarity nicely. Rounded and less textured bass is always welcome for slower music, and while for EDM, it doesn’t create every micro texture in the bass, it still provides adequate punch, kick and rumble. Basically, it is a softer, gentler, more refined bass instead of being the hard type. 

Midrange – SMSL always knew how to make a beautiful sounding midrange, and this time it was the sole focus of the tuning, with DO200 PRO having the most refined, naturally accurate and slightly gentle / soft. The whole sound reminds me a lot of how R2R DACs sound in general, and my guess is that when you reach having 12 DAC chips, it is almost similar to an R2R design, or a cross that draws in the best of both worlds, because DO200 PRO has a high resolution, and reveals every bit of detail in music without losing focus. What it also manages to do is create a natural voicing, natural texture, it doesn’t push, doesn’t rush nor force any sound, being the closest I heard in the price range to an actual orchestra. To be honest, I have been attending more and more orchestra concerts, as well as more and more rock concerts, so I can tell more easily when a device sounds closer to a rock / EDM concert and when it is a more acoustically accurate sound. 

Treble – SMSL refined and relaxed the treble on DO200 PRO, and while their DO200 series has not been known as the most relaxed sounding DAC, the new PRO has the silkiest, most gentle, yet revealing sounds I heard recently. DO200 PRO opens the extension and allows the treble to shimmer and present a strong energy up top, but it is a soft, wet character treble, really accurate sounding compared to what you’d hear in a medium sized theater with a medium sized orchestra playing. This has to be the most accurate representation of how acoustic instruments sound live, in this price range. The downside is that it is not very energetic for rock and EDM, but it is plenty airy and sounds refined, which will make you appreciate the background instruments a bit more, and give you a clearer insight on how a song sounds like if played live and acoustically correct. 

Volume Control – There is no variation with volume, and DO200 PRO sounds the same at all volumes, it does not increase distortion or change character with volume, which I consider to be perfection from a Volume Control perspective. 

Dynamics / PRaT / Textures – All this time I talk about a silky and relaxed sound, and it all comes back to how the textures and dynamics are handled by the DAC. DO200 PRO has a really soft texture, wet in character, and a high dynamic range, which allows all instruments to sound at their intended loudness, creating an experience that is acoustically accurate, and which is the least compressed. This is not always ideal for all music styles, as for rock and metal high dynamic compression brings forward the background layers, but the good revealing ability aids DO200 PRO in sounding as clean and controlled as possible without any kind of problems. 

Soundstage – The soundstage of the DO200 PRO is professional, and that means the studio style. Instruments get a good amount of width and room to breathe, but they are bound to their natural size and location, each instrument is well defined, but they aren’t surgically cut out from each other. Music sounds very similar to how it would in a realistic orchestra theater, with the soundstage being natural, and bounded to the recording, narrow and intimate recordings sounding narrow and intimate, while wide and holographic pieces, especially EDM and Rock / Metal sounding wide and holographic. 

 

Gaming Usage

Usually, for a device to be great at gaming, it needs to react instantly to signal, and DO200 PRO does that well, there is no USB DAC delay, and it is perfect for playing real time video games, including competitive shooters and MOBA games, along with watching movies and general media usage. Having support for most gaming platforms is a huge plus, and as it works with no drivers, you can get it up and running on less popular operating systems too. 

The sound is silky and refined, which creates a relaxed listening experience. It is excellent for enjoying soundtracks, for getting a good sense of the atmosphere, and for hearing everything with good resolution. The blast and impact sound is on the softer side, so if you prefer playing and not getting tired, and if you prefer a gentler sound, DO200 PRO will be perfect for that as well. 

 

Comparisons

SMSL DO200 PRO vs Aune X1s GT (399 USD vs 349 USD)

Build – Regardless whether you prefer a sport car or a limousine, or a family car, driving is always fun, and X1S GT with its aggressive and sport design surely will be a pleasure to see on your desk, while DO200 PRO is more of a beautiful, luxury DAC that you can tuck away, just in case you don’t want to see electronics all around. There are two headphone outputs on the X1S GT, which for the price point will increase the usability, and there is PreAMP and DAC output on the X1S GT, while DO200 PRO has PRE and DAC output, but no headphone output. The headphone output is replaced by a balanced XLR speaker output, while X1S GT has only RCA outputs. The inputs of both are similar, including Bluetooth on both, although the power conversion is handled internally on DO200 PRO and externally on X1S GT. The volume wheel of X1S GT is full analogic, while the one on DO200 PRO is a stepped digital controller with well defined steps. 

Sound – As I have used both to drive an external amplifier, the DAC sound is actually quite a bit different, with X1S GT sounding warmer, a bit more focused and more intimate, and a bit more aggressive in the midrange, along with a somewhat smoother treble. By comparison, DO200 PRO sounds cleaner, more revealing, slightly softer and gentler with more soundstage width and depth, and a perceived increase in vocal clarity in particular, where DO200 PRO shows more midrange details than X1S GT. Because DO200PRO has an XLR output, and thanks to smarter internal design, it has a lower noise floor and better noise control in general, while X1s GT will show a bit of noise with sensitive AMPs, if used as a DAC. Both are compelling to purchase, both have a high price / performance ratio, DO200 PRO is better if you need just the DAC part, technically and sonically, while X1S GT is a combo unit that offers more features in one unit. 

 

SMSL DO200 PRO vs FiiO Q15 (399 USD vs 399 USD)

Build – It may seem strange that most of the comparisons we are making today are not against other standalone DACs, but that is because there are very few standalone DACs in the price range, so Q15, a portable DAC/AMP with a battery takes the spotlight, as it is smaller than DO200 PRO and has a multitude of other functions, including and focusing mainly on driving headphones and IEMs. I have noticed that this is a relatively big difference, but Q15 has a considerable noise floor if connected to a power amplifier, showing the limits of a DAC/AMP in one unit, while with headphones you don’t really hear or notice that.  

Sound – Sonically, if both are driving an external amplifier, Q15 sounds thicker, warmer, more aggressive, with a smaller soundstage, but a more dynamic and a more punchy sound. By contrast, SMSL DO200 PRO sounds more mature, more refined, more gentle, cleaner, and has a generally more revealing approach to music, with less aggressiveness and a more laid back presentation. FiiO Q15 is clearly a better choice for someone who wants portability and plans on driving headphones without adding an external amplifier, but if you already have a listening setup with an AMP already, and need a DAC with no background noise, but with a gentle and clean sound, SMSL DO200 PRO is clearly the better choice. 

 

SMSL DO200 PRO vs SMSL DO400 (399 USD vs 499 USD)

Build – DO400 is theoretically the higher tier product range form SMSL, but for 100 extra USD, it offers both a balanced, single ended headphone output, and it has the same design language as do200 PRO. At the construction level, this all checks out and Do400 is actually a slightly more complete device since having a headphone output puts it ahead of DO200 PRO, if you plan on using that headphone output. When comparing them side by side in the same system, DO200 PRO is dead silent with any amplifier, including Keces s300+, while DO400 has a faint tiny bit of background noise. Besides quickly switching between them, you likely won’t notice it, but now that you read it, you will have to live knowing it is there. 

Sound – Sonically, SMSL went in a similar direction with the two when they are used as DACs, but DO200 PRO actually has a slightly more revealing sound, which is silkier, more refined, cleaner and also a bit softer. SMSL DO400 is, in contrast, a bit warmer, a bit bolder, and has slightly more aliasing in the sound, edges are harder and textures less relaxed than with the DO200 PRO. Both sound rather great in a system, but DO200 PRO has its own magic, almost reminding me of an R2R chip, which the 12 DACs likely act like when you really think about it. 

 

Value and Conclusion

You knew from the start that the value was going to be high, as we’re talking about SMSL and Aoshida here, but ironically, this is that one time when the value has insane value for the right people, but less if you’re not looking for a DAC. The trick here is that DO200 PRO is really a perfect DAC with no background noise, excellent resolution and a pleasing, musical sound, but it is a DAC and nothing else, so if you’re looking for a perfect DAC, with PRE, you found it. Otherwise, DO400 and other SMSL products may better suit your needs, especially if you need a headphone amp or something more esoteric rather than a DAC. 

At the end of the day, if you love a smoother, more refined and gentler midrange, if you enjoy music to the fullest and want absolutely no background noise and just pure unadulterated signals to reach your ears, SMSL DO200 PRO will surely help you, and as I found that it works perfectly with a pure stereo HIFI amplifier that has no other volume control, DO200 PRO is literally the perfect desktop HIFI DAC for a down-to-earth and honest, realistic sound. 

 

Product Link

You can grab one here – https://amzn.to/3W42eBN


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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5J3oloz8Riy9LxEGenOjQ0?si=979ba4f082414be7

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/330fd544-8e5b-4839-bd35-676b2edbb3d5

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