Compendium updated: May 10th, 2021.
Ah, summit-fi. The mile-long specs sheets. The breathless descriptions. The parade of acronyms. Trudging through all that information can be daunting, exhausting even, which is why reviews are so important. Marketing claims aside, how do these products actually fare under the scrutiny of veteran audiophiles?
From Headfonics' review of the SMSL M400 MQA DAC, first published on September 27th, 2020:
“No doubt in my mind, this is one of the best and most well thought out DAC’s sub $1000 in the world right now.
“Do not even listen to me, feel free to YouTube, or read other reviews that also confirm this. I agree with them. It is a great deal for a purist DAC option, but also one that does not slam your ears with impact and harshness.
“You can get clinical tonality and not have a painful wince factor. You can get a softer impact and smoothness while remaining clinical and accurate overall. SMSL just proved it. Facts, all day long, baby!”
From Audio Science Reviews' review of the SMSL M400 MQA DAC, first published on May 31st, 2020:
“We have another "instrument grade" DAC here from SMSL in the form of M400. Performance is beyond question, landing at the top of the class. Price has gone up with it as well but there is no free lunch.
“On a slightly down note, it seems the race for the top place in our ranking is resulting in some design decisions such as removal of output buffer and increase of output impedance. I am not too happy about this but haven't decided what to do about it.
“Anyway, I am happy to recommend the SMSL M400.”
From iiWi Reviews' video review of the SMSL M400 MQA DAC, first published on January 1st, 2021:
From iiWireviews’ written review of the SMSL M400 MQA DAC, first published on December 27th, 2020:
Lush and smooth presentation
Might be too smooth for some
“SMSL M400 is a great product. It’s feature-rich and it sounds great too, almost seductive. There isn’t a single thing M400 does bad, its skillset is divided into things it does well and things it does extremely well. This is a DAC perfectly capable of taking its place as a source in an advanced level system. Even if you hear me saying that I slightly prefer this or that DAC, make no mistake – I could easily live with SMSL M400 in my own system, knowing it will not going to be the weak point for a long time.”
From The Next Best Thing’s review of the SMSL M400 MQA DAC, first published on October 24th, 2020:
From Thomas and Stereo's review of the SMSL M400 MQA DAC, first published on August 5th, 2020:
Editor’s note: Emphases ours.