SMSL SAP-9 Balanced Headphone Ampsearch

SMSL SAP-9 Balanced Headphone Amp

SMSL SAP-9 Balanced Headphone Amp

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Any chance of this coming back as a drop? Super interested!
Anyone know the output impedence on this?
I think the guy who sold me his sap9 via eBay was someone in this discussion board. Well, generally this is an interesting toy to play with and it’s the cheapest balanced headphone amp you can find (at least it looks like a balanced amp LOL). Cokeman is right, this amp’s single-ended output is not really powerful but the balanced output has the strength to drive hd6xx/650/600/580. I honestly don’t know whether it’s “true balanced” or not (though SMSL clamis it’s true balanced) but I can tell when using its xlr inputs (if you have a DAC with balanced xlr out) the amp’s balanced output indeed sounds different than the single-ended out. For hd650, sap9’s balanced headphone jack could make the headphones‘ low end sound more “solid” than using the single-ended. And what about a better channel separation that a balanced amp is meant to have? I have to say not so much you can hear. So what is its overall sound signature? Bright as someone here suggested? Yup, sort of bright. However IMO sap9’s problem is “thin and flat” rather than just “bright“. The thin sound sig actually makes you feel it’s bright. So is it worth buying? Go for it if you happen to already have a balanced DAC and a pair of hd6xx/650/600 with balanced cable and you don’t want to spend at least $300 to buy a single-ended amp that is capable of powering the infamously hard-to-drive Senn’s 6 series. Sap9 won’t bring you those fancy terms such as “vast soundstage”, “deep bass”, “airy”-you name it; but it can at least give your balanced hd650 an acceptable solid sound that most sub-100 singl-ended amps wouldn’t be able to have. Plus, don’t forget it has a balanced 2.5mm jack for IEMs or some balanced portable headphones from Pioneer. Ok, so far it sounds like sap9 is kinda not bad but why did I call it “toy” in the beginning? That’s because I am using it for my PC video game system LOL (check out my picture). Sap9 might not be good enough to match the word “audiophile“ but it can truly enhance your experience with the finest video games. A balanced system plus a pair of hifi headphones are better than those blinking 5.1/7.1 gaming headsets, IMHO.
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Yes it’s master feline set. I like the griffin too.
I’m using it right now for my gaming system. It’s a balanced 24/192 DAC with decent sound. It’s not fantastic because it doesn’t have great dynamics and wide soundstage, and imaging is just so so, and there is no DSD support. But it is truly the cheapest balanced DAC you can find ( preowned on eBay for about $100 to $150) and its sound is good enough for hd650. However there are not so many of them coming out for sale so you might have to wait for some time.
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I would just like to point out for everyone buying this for the 6XXs that unless you are using balanced the Fulla 2 has more power out of the 1/4in and has a DAC.
does this work well with the AKG K7XX?
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will I need anything other than that?
RickC322
A DAC.
eps... it seems a nice setup... How can I use a really portable system (like in dorm) without the need of a desktop PC (where I have all my powerful audio setup: Balanced HD650 and Jotunheim)? Is it possible using the lightning port of my iPhone7-8 to this Balanced Amp? no DAC need? obviously not so powerful and complete but useful to a medium-high degree? Please answer you audiophiles out there.
would this amplifier drive foster t50rp mk3 ? is it a good match ?
ketant
not even close....
This is great a balanced AMP for $85. But if you have the money to afford a fully balanced DAC, you probably have money for a nicer AMP.
Cokeman
Yep. I mean, I guess it's a cheap way to try balanced outputs if you haven't before.
Do these actually exists? I can't find a single review and hardly a mention anywhere, not even on Amazon. Can someone please report on the sound quality? Thanks!
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So a bit more feedback after listening to this all night. This is a bright amp. My LCD-2's have actually been a bit sibilant. I am running the setup off the ifi BL DAC which is fairly neutral in my opinion. The sound stage is great, but I am not sure this amp would be acceptable with anything but a dark headphone. I will continue to update once the amp burns in all the way, but first impressions are a bit bright.
Can you do XLR in to unbalanced out?
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Mine can't either. SAP-8 may have made more sense for me since I bought it for the XLR inputs.
chicagospugh
Ok no big problem in my case because i have balanced headphones. Got cables from customcans.co.uk
How does this SAP 9 compares to the O2?
strange that it says " balanced and unbalanced output ports can’t be used at the same time " but I was able to hear on both headphones when plugged in balanced and unbalanced headphone out at same time...
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cglin222
If you have only a balanced input (xlr); does the unbalanced out work?
chicagospugh
Just tested balanced xlr in to unbalanced out and it did not work. However unbalanced in to balanced out works..
Bought one on Amazon as soon as I saw it (The MD wait would kill me) The fact I can run this with no wall power and still get balanced is pretty nice. I was running it off an iDAC2 which is also fully USB powered so I was just on my laptop with a balanced stack and no connection to the wall.
ZeosPantera
What?! Where? Did you pick "sold and shipped by Shenzenaudio"? I didn't see any directly sold from amazon.
ZeosPantera
Excited to see the review
I got mine today, and I have to say that I really like it. Sounds great both from unbalanced and XLR out (tried with RCA in only since I don't have balanced sources). Very clean - to me the background noise level appears pitch black, even with my comparatively sensitive Westone 4R (though I am probably not the most discerning listener). And it even drives my Fostex T40RP mk3 at quite loud levels (wouldn't want to go higher than that).
Can't say yet if I can make out a difference between balanced and unbalanced out - will have to do some more back and forth testing with my other headphones, for which I have both unbalanced and XLR cables (unfortunately can't do A-B-testing since cable swapping takes a minute or so).
In my opinion this is really great value for the money, but I haven't really heard many headphone amps to compare them to, so take this with a grain of salt.
I would like to have the 6xx in the picture instead of this drop please :(
Based on specs alone this is could be a good amp to drive both the Sennheiser HD 650/XXX or the AKG K7xx, although the later would have to be re cabled for balanced operation.
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Just about there! We've been in touch with the vendor regarding the group's order and they've let us know that they are still working to gather and pack the group's order for shipment to our warehouse in New Jersey. We will continue to check in with them throughout the fulfillment process and update the group again as soon as everything is en route to us!
Expect another update from us on 1/4 or sooner if something comes up.
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Thanks again for joining this drop! We have submitted the group's order with the vendor for the SMSL SAP-9 Balanced Headphone Amp MD-32378 On Massdrop Accounting Overview Transactions Capture Manifest Emails Flags Comments Images Copy SKUs Polls Shipping Drops Options Description Estimates Schedule Info and they are working hard to prepare it for shipment.
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This one with a Sabre ES9018 USB DAC incorporated, would be a winner. Would have bought it fast.
So if you connect it via rca and use the balanced headphone out, does it counts as balanced? Or you have to get a dac that has xlr out, to be fully balanced?
Can you name a few dac that has balanced RCA out? I mean most DAC that I read the spec don't really specify if it's balanced RCA? I thought you have to get a DAC that actually have balanced xlr out to be balanced
What are these relatively high THD+n levels you speak of? Do you mean the 0.1%? If so, I wouldn't worry - 0.1% is still indiscernible (you will be hard-pressed to find headphones that perform better than 0.1%).
Does anyone know of a reasonably priced dac that could provide the balanced inputs?
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ibox55
Focusrite 2i2 is the best value when it comes to entry-level balanced interfaces IMHO
ibox55
I'm a little late, but I got a used Matrix Mini-I for $175.
Age old question - will it power T50rps?
XenaCat
I for one am satisfied with the sound I get out of my T40RP mk3 using this amp (unbalanced). However, I am probably not the most discerning listener on earth, so YMMV.
Do you think it will pair well with hd7xx?
YoniTubul
It will drive it decent and sound good, but the hd6xx needs about 300mw @300ohms to be driven to it's absolute best. Still will sound good though I can guarantee it. I enjoyed my hd650s out of a mere 40 dollar SMSL amp for a long time, even when they weren't being given THAT much power. But the difference is quite noticeable, slightly in soundstage, more in impact. EDIT: You said the AKG k7xx not 6xx. It will drive k7xx fine.
Uzuzu
Yea I wrote hd instead of K for some reason.. Haha thanks!
I saw a forum post once where someone was saying that smsl could utilize 2 of those tpa chips in a balanced config and get good results because they could work at half the power and keep noise down. it happened
dominica
Link please
can I use this with my Bose quiet comfort?thanks
ramirominn
yes, but I don't recommend it.
whats a balanced amp? and how is it different from a normal headphone amp
greatex
Shortest article on balanced audio. If you don't like reading the pictures are enough to explain te difference. http://www.aviom.com/blog/balanced-vs-unbalanced/
WOW!!!! An affordable fully balanced amp from SMSL!!!!!! Massdrop stop torturing my wallet, have mercy please :( it can't handle it anymore or at least drop awesome products when I can afford it lol XD. NOTE: I know this is the least expensive balanced amp, but it is just a bad timing for me personally. The good news is there is finally a full balanced under 100$!!! It'll also give a chance to read/see a review which I hope for too.
Any review on this?
ricardorfaria
Used google, found nothing.
Now they are just teasing us with the HD6XX pictured as a prop.
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Danco
They saying this can power it? It looks like this amp can from the specs
Danco
They are hinting on a drop for 6xx balanced cable soon.