How did it fare in an expanded scenario? Replacing the onboard DAC with the Wyred4Sound DAC2 opened up spectacularly better dynamics and bass punch as well as a larger soundstage with greater depth and better placement precision. The Dp5's own DAC managed a small tonal advantage in the upper octaves with slightly greater refinement. The M400 pairing showcased its DAC's strengths of transparency and detail plus demonstrated better imaging and soundstaging but also provided less bass warmth and broadband dynamics than the Dp5's ESS. Overall however, both DACs provided superior performance to the Dp5's internal 9038Pro which indicates that the addition of a high-quality outboard DAC is a logical upgrade path.
Adding a dedicated preamplifier to the Dp5 extended its abilities in similar but not identical fashion to the M400, drawing on a now somewhat greater dynamic palette but affording only minor improvements in soundstage and image specificity. The Tortuga preamp contributed slightly better edge definition and transparency but the diffuseness inherent in the Dp5 remained to mark this upgrade route possible but not preferable. Expanding to a three-box solution of Dp5, outboard DAC and preamp produced the best sonic results at the obvious penalty of cost effectiveness. That ends my journey of exploration into the flexibility and potential capability of the Dp5. Only final musings remain.
Where does the Dp5 stand overall? It offers a different interpretation on the role of a network music player than the Wyred4Sound Music Server or Auralic Altair G1. Their features and technological priorities reflect a different zeitgeist and financial demographic. The Dp5 aims at a younger generation which takes WiFi, Airplay and Bluetooth for granted and regards CD as antediluvian. That audience expects high value for their hard-earned dollar and S.M.S.L. designed to their requirements. The Dp5 is versatile, expandable and aggressively affordable. $599 may not buy the ultimate in sound quality but will buy a ridiculous amount of capability that serious system building can be centered around especially if, at the end of future upgrades, the S.M.S.L. is used as just a pure digital transport
Quality of packing: Double-thick cardboard. Internal packaging was a cardboard retail box with compartmentalized polystyrene protection. Accessories were individually bagged.
Reusability of packing: Yes.
Condition of components received: Perfect.
Delivery: By courier.
Website comments: Large product line with good documentation and video link support. User-friendly navigation.
Human interactions: Approachable and informative.
Warranty: 7-day repair/replacement warranty under normal usage. 1-year free repair on manufacturing defect. Contact S.M.S.L. or your S.M.S.L. audio reseller for details.
Final comments & suggestions: These two products from S.M.S.L. deliver solid musical value at low cost. One earns status as Jack of all trades, the other as master of one.