Country of Origin


M400 & Dp5

Reviewer: Glen Wagenknecht
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Wyred4Sound server/streamer, Auralic Altair and Altair G1 server/streamer, Wyred4Sound DAC-2, Ideon Ayazi
Preamplifier: Tortuga Audio LDR6 passive, Auralic Altair Amplifier: Audio Zone D-2 Main Speakers: Mark + Daniel Maximus Mini Monitor, Mark + Daniel Maximus Monitor Mk2, SVS SB3000 subwoofer Rack: Codia Acoustic Design Stage 3000 BAB Stands: Charisma Audio Function, Target AV Speakers: JohnBlue M3s Desktop speakers: Swans M200 MkIII Desktop DAC/pre headphone amp: DA&T U-2 Cables: Arkana Physical Research Loom, Audio Art SE, SE-2, e2,and Classic cable looms, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Madison Audio Lab E3 Extreme 1 Interconnects/Extreme 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects, optical and coax digital cables, Audio Sensibility Impact SE balanced interconnects, Statement S/PDIF and Impact USB digital cables, SwanSong USB cable, DH Lab Power Plus AC cable Resonance Control: KAT Audio Terminator 1 Feet, Solid Tech Feet, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Audio Exklusiv Silent Plugs, Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. Footers, CA Electronics Standard Cones, Feet, Cable Clamps, IsoAcoustics L8R130, Aperta and L8R200 SUB speaker stands Powerline conditioningExact Power EP15A, GutWire Ultimate Ground cable USB conditioners: Ideon 3R Renaissance Listening room 1: 12' x 17' Listening room 2: 10.5' x 16.5'
Review component retail price: M400 $810, Dp5 $600

Publisher's foreword. As we learnt with Musician Audio's Pegasus, Chinese OEM culture can have models from different brands share design platforms. Non-disclosure contracts mean that no party may confirm any details. If in today's products consumers imagine similarities to a Topping or Gustard DAC, we really wouldn't know more. Initial contact for today's review was made by Ivan Lee who helms the Ologe brand but then went incommunicado. We subsequently dealt with S.M.S.L. directly but timely dialogue wasn't the easiest. We later learnt that Mr. Lee fell victim to police violence in Hong Kong and has been in and out of the hospital. We wish him speedy recovery! – Ed

Although an established audio brand in the Far East, S.M.S.L. will be new to most so here's a brief intro. Foshan ShuangMuSanLin Electronics first established in 2009 then branch company VMV set up shop in Hong Kong by 2013. Today S.M.S.L. make a range of products including DACs, headphone amps, power amps and network players. The company seem to have substantial depth of engineering, support separate R&D, manufacturing and marketing divisions and within their 11-year history have garnered a strong value reputation. In the past few years they sought to expand from their regional base to an enterprise with a worldwide presence and now take advantage of the exposure offered by Internet hubs AliExpress, HiFiExpress and Amazon.

S.M.S.L. position themselves in the high-value not high-end sector so even flagships like their D-1 DAC are affordable by traditional standards. Audiophile prejudice may dictate that lower cost equals lower sound quality but blanket dismissals would be an oversight. High-value product can be a gold mine for music lovers and S.M.S.L. have the distinct advantage of being a proven player in a very tough market where consumer needs and technologies are in constant flux. They have the depth of engineering and resources required to rapidly assemble advanced products.

With basic introductions rendered, it's time to meet two of their stable, the M400 DAC and Dp5 Network Music Player. The pair share a small form factor that shows high construction quality and aesthetic refinement. The casings comprise a satin-black aluminum-alloy shell for the sides with gentle curves on the vertical corners. Dimensions for the M400 are 220 x 215 x 43mm WxDxH and weight is 1.53 kg. The Dp5 measures 210 x 228 x 71mm and weighs 1.3 kg. Top plates are shiny tempered glass with the company logo in green. A black bottom plate shows the only visible evidence of assembly with two recessed Allen screws. To prevent surface damage and provide rudimentary vibration management, four 3mm rubber feet mount adhesively to the corners of the bottom plate. S.M.S.L. provide a basic 1m power cord, USB cable, antenna and small but quite useful remote for both along with manuals.