Review: Sanskrit SMSL Sanskrit 10th MK.II / absolutely „bad“, not for „hi-fi-enthusiasts“

so, 😉

got today the „SMSL Sanskrit 10th MK.II“ (from Amazon) in red and the first thing to remark is that the case/DAC is absolutely small; absolutely smaller than you might expect..

second: had trouble in detecting it via USB under Windows 10..installed the original smsl(xmos)-driver (Thesycon), tried all different USB-ports, restart etc, no success..

connected then a blurayplayer via coax->suddenly the DAC via USB was detected..

third: the tone !!

generally speaking: absolutely nothing..absolutely no push/aggressiveness, no particular soundstage, no „3D“, no „airy“, brilliance, nothing, absolutely „flat“..

okay, for „normal“ PC-soundcard-user its maybe an upgrade, but for really sabre-hi-fi-enthusiasts absolutely NOT !!  

i would say, from the overall tone-quality its in the ES9018/28Q2M-range, almost so bad like the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic-100 for example, the Xduoo-Link (portable) sounds almost better..(btw.just saw the Cambridge Dac Magic 200M uses also ESS Sabre-chips; the „100“ used Burr-Brown, no 3D,soundstage,nothing)..

okay, so absolutely no comparison to an ES9038Q2M (not to speak of an ES9038Pro for example)->„worlds/“lightyears“ between them (also i got the feel that the AKM4493 is not soo bad as Sanskrit has it implemented in this „Sanskrit 10th Anniversary MK.II“)

so, great/final conclusion:

buy the SMSL Sanskrit 10th Anniversary MK.II


absolut no recommendation; if u would buy a cheap chinese ES9038Q2M (for only 35$)  you will have an absolutely better tone/sound !!

AKM vs. ES-Sabre:

i really miss this „spectacular“ 3D, soundstage,“airy“, aggressiveness/push from the comparison, ESS-SabreChips are laps/“worlds“ ahead !!

so, the other possibilty in this price-range would be the Topping D10S, one ES9038Q2M in it (the D50S for example is a dual-ES9038Q2Ms-build), but it has only an usb-input, no coax/toslink/no remote..

so, todays conclusion for me is to safe money and buy a Topping D50S (with this dual ES9038Q2M)..(obviously it would be better buying some DAC with an ES9038Pro or similar, but this also costs a lot more..) 

greets for now !  (was a tough/interesting afternoon ! 😉 )

Task: with a cheap bluray/SACD-player over hdmi to I2S->ES9038Q2M

so, in short: 😉

idea is to buy a cheap bluray-player (Sony BDPS570 for example) with SACD-capability and then sending the DSD-information over hdmi to a hdmi -> I2S converter and then via I2S to an ES9038Q2M for example..(btw. absolutely „common practice“ in the „hi-fi“-world).

we had such a hdmi-i2s-converter-discussion some time ago->>

(and beware: there are lot of different hdmi->I2S sender/receiver-boards: ones are only for transmitting the I2S-signal between them and the other „extract“ the audio-signals/I2S from the HDMI-stream ! (had made a new category“->“HDMI to I2S“; will explain it in a later post)

there are also complete „solutions“ for that, and also i´ve read just now that u can burn your own SACDs with Nero for example..

(50$/37$ Aliexpress-> ; )

i´m in the „gathering-information“ state 😉 right now , will post then more about it,

greets for now 😉

Schiit Modi 3+/Multibit 99$ / Analog Devices AD5547

So folks, 😉

back to a little bit „Hi-Fi“ again.. 😉

according to this list (interesting, have a look)->

the Schiit Modi 3+ (Multibit) should be the best in this price-range..(99$/249$)->(

we had here THD-lists („Sinad“) from audioscenereview->( in which the Schiits were also in the top) 

question is now (because they use in 80% of their products „AKM-chips“) and as i always said and read again and again, these AKMs („Velvet“-sound) were not so transparent + airy like our phenomenal ES-Sabre-chips..

so best would be to test one of them in comparison to some ES-Sabre-gear; we´ll see..

also interesting is that there is „a new player“ in these DA-market->“Analog Devices„..I/we know that they had made very good DA-chips in the very beginning of this era + also have a very high „distinction“ in the hi-fi-world in general..

The Schiit 3+ Multibit uses an Analog Devices „AD5547“->have to test them also against some sabre´s..

(it would be very nice, if someone can post his experiences with one of the Schiits oder ADs in the comment-section !!)

more to come, greets for now !! 😉

Xduoo Link arrived / okay, easy handling, not so hi-fi as ES9018K2M for example..

So, 😉

finally the Xduoo Link from Massdrop arrived (Link)..cost was 38$, absolutely easy handling, Windows 10 detected it without a problem (see pictures), was first a really little fun thing, also with a lot of bass/push at low frequencies(read that also elsewhere), but it misses the clarity in the high/-mids, not to mention the positioning or soundstage..

for 38$ its totally okay but if u are on hifi, some ES9018K2M chinese-board for 8,50$ (nowadays) is still a better choice ! (need some raspberry pi or USB-bridge of course; and not to mention the ES9028Q2M,ES9038Q2M->absolutely in another league !)

so, back to the Xduoo Link..interesting is that i had to change the channels (left/right)(plugs), its more source-depending (different recordings and so on), and its really on the edge to hifi in some areas, but in the long-term it could be annoying because of the not soo great SNR/Thd..

for 40 Bucks its still okay/maybe a bargain but don´t expect too much and as said, for hi-fi u still go better with the cheapest ES90XX here (ES9018K2M)..

but okay, its absolutely small and made for mobiles/IEMs; there are also some other there, ibasso etc..

its okay for me now, i primarily wanted to give my fabulous SkySong-XMOS-USB-Bridge a „rest“ (daily use with a PC) and for this purpose its okay for now..(didnt test the DSD256-compatibility yet, will maybe report then about it)

more to come.. 😉

For the last time: real DSD/Dop via volumio->usb-xmos-device->I2S->ES9038Q2M

so, 😉

as we had it here in discussion:“is it possible to get real (native) DSD/Dop on the ES9038Q2M to work ?“ (with the DSD-lock-light on<-thats important because foobar for example indicated „Dop“ but it is internally converted to PCM and the DSD-lock-light stays „off“)

(SkySong->full blue DSD-indication (DSD256 in this case) + DSD lock-light ES9038Q2M)

in my experience here now/to date u can get it only with Volumio (or similar) and via an usb-connection to an usb-xmos-device and from there via I2S to the ES9038Q2M/Pro etc..(its also about the native-usb-audio-driver in linux)

I didnt got DSD to work via the „normal“ I2S-connection on a Raspberry for example..(and i/we tested a lot..)

I have now here a DSD256-file, playing it in volumio with the following settings: (for newbies 😉 )->no mixer, no resampling..

greets for now !! 😉


New XMOS-XU208-device / Leaf Audio 2017/8/2 / Thesycon eval. driver 4.13

so, 😉

after i´ve decided to give my „good-old“ very good Skysong XMOS-XU208 a rest/use it only on my raspberry via volumio and usb to get finally real DSD/Dop (means DSD-lock-light is on (on the ES9038Q2M))(more later/in a later post), i´ve ordered a second device via ebay/cost around 30€, its a „Leaf Audio“ with also an external 5V-option + Coaxial-out (up to 192khz)

first impression: very light (in weight), but looks relatively „hi-fi“; first sound-tests: very „exactly/with contur“, but not so with the fine resolution as the Skysong->it depends also on the oscillators on the board (see pictures)->this is the „cheap“-version..the skysong has more high-end-ones..(but the skysong costs double of the price (around 60€)..

„Driver-wise“ it installed „Microsoft HiFi-DSD“ (never seen it before), thought it would install „xmos-usb“ or similar..

for that i couldnt got the driver from the seller, i searched for some and because i also got a „XMOS DFU“ in the device manager i´ve downloaded some driver-pack from thesycon with dfu support; its here (link) (see pictures)..

more later…

many greets for now !! 😉


Bargain of the day->Topping D50S ! (Dual ES9038Q2M +XU208 +BT + Remote) / AK4137 SRC

so folks 😉 ,
sorry thats its a little bit silent here on essabre-90xx-rpi lately, but there were a lot of other things to do 😉 , but i´ve just seen by chance this bargain on massdrop->
Topping D50S, XU208+Dual ES9038Q2M + BT + Remote for only 200$ !! ->
vs. „old“ D50->
the D50S (in opposite to the D50) has a built-in BT-modul (was at first sight, in aspect to the „ultimate hi-fi“, is not soo good) but also comes with a remote-control + had made some improvement „soundwise“, means they solved the „IMD ESS hum“, where at mid-levels, intermodulation distortion suddenly rises“..

very good test/article about the D50S is here->

also they made some minor sound-improvements (all in the article)..

as said for only 200$ (190$ if u first join massdrop via these essabre-links here(„Xavier“)) its maybe worth a try..
so and as lately said that the onboard spdif-conversion (on the ES9038Q2M) is not so optimal we have to look for an alternative and also somebody said at my praised>Link that „..upsampling to DSD is always better concerning thd/snr and so on, because of eliminating/move the noise in an unaudible range..“ and to reduce jitter i´m thinking about to buy some SRC4192..(SNR= 768khz, DR: 186dB !! ● THD+N: -150dB ) ->

there are some around for only 27$ on ebay->Link and the „high-end“-version with toslink and coaxial option + 1.3″ display (+ AK4118 spdif-receiver chip) for 80$->Link..

my goal at present is to raise the sq directly from a transporter via spdif and then maybe upsampled, but still more jitter-less to feed it in the ES9038Q2M..

will maybe then report more about it..

by that the raspberry 4B+ is out and so on..maybe then more,

greets for now !! 😉


New Moode V4.3 out – now as an image (.img) / ESP32S factory-reset/flash

so, 😉
a new „Moode“ V4.3 is out; now as an image (.img); u dont have to set it up/compile it for yourself anymore->
first impressions: (all in relation to „our“ ES9038Q2M-„chinese-boards“):

choose first the „I2S-generic“-settings; runs okay, no problems..

used then the „Audiophonics ES9028Q2M“ setting->for me better, not so „harsh“, got the feel it has more room, more „exact“, think its maybe about the specialized register-adressing of the ESS-chips (but don´t know for sure if they „fine-tune“ it for the chip, guess so)…used then to cross-check the „hifiberry-dac“ settings; the same there; for me absolutely to „harsh“, too much treble (not such a „fine resolution“ as the AudiophonicsES9028-setting..)
(the „Allo Katana“-setting (at contrary to Volumio) works also NOT !! (on the ES9038Q2M (chinese)))

stayed with the ES9028Q2M-setting, then tested for DSD(DoP): works, Moode said „Encoded to DoP 352.800khz“, but the DSD-Led on the ES9038Q2M was NOT lit !!

disabled the software-mixer, resampling-options, but still no DSD-light..

i´ve mentioned it in this post/article before->

the first time i´ve got the feel of real DSD/DoP (and the DSD-Led was lit of course) was in/with „Volumio“; foobar2000 also said ASIO-active (pcm-mode) 352.800khz and so on, but the DSD-Led was also not lit !!

conclusion for now (for „our“ lovely chinese-ES9038Q2Ms 😉 ):

true/real DSD/DoP (DSD-Led lit) only on Volumio (V2.452 and up) (and meanwhile i think thats the point: with the „Allo Katana“-settings !!so far !!

by that, in listening here Moode is very very close to Volumio (maybe a little better at present IMO) (but as said, this is an absolutely personal/subjective impression).

also my ESP32S Geekcreit ( 36 pin) was not functional anymore, couldnt run/upload a sketch, tried everything, found now a way (and mainly with the right hex-adresses for the espressif-flashtool) to made it functional again->long Tut here (at the forum/at the end of the post)->LINK

greets for now 😉

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