SMSL DO2000 MK II DAC Review

The DO200 MK II is the successor and a new DAC from SMSL which features dual ESS ES9068AS DAC chipsets and retails for $469 on Aoshida Audio's website. I personally never had an opportunity to try out the original DO200 DAC, so this is a new experience for me, but I am quite familiar with SMSL DACs and headphone amps from owning and reviewing many, many of them in the past.

This review unit was provided by Aoshida Audio and you can find the DAC here:

This DAC is medium-sized -- still small enough to put on a desk, but it wouldn't look too tiny on a shelf either. It's roughly the size or slightly smaller than that of the Topping A90/D90, or the Schiit Asgard/Bifrost/Jotunheim. Despite the small footprint, this DAC has a lot of input/output options for users to choose from. 

The rear of the unit has both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs to feed an external amplifier or speakers. The central input section has options for USB, Toslink Optical, Digital Coax, and the less common AES and I2S input connections. There is also a screw-on bluetooth antenna attachment included that provides a wireless connection from your bluetooth devices.

There is a main power switch on the back that cuts power completely, and pressing in the function button on the front of the unit turns on and off the unit from standby. The multi-function knob also controls volume and scrolls through the various menu options. There is also a remote control for easier use included.

One of the new visual items this unit has that I have not seen on other SMSL products is a new menu interface on the display. It's a much more colorful, and easier to see display. It's easier to use as well and lets you control a lot of options from the input/output selections, the digital filters, and other unit options.

General Sound Impressions

The SMSL DO200 MK II is a very detail-rich DAC that sounds more exacting than rich and warm. Its not overly analytical like some DACs that may have this description and I don't find it overly bright on my choice of amps.

For my listening, I mainly used the Bakoon AMP-13R with it, which I find as a warmer than neutral source. I also used it briefly fed to the iBasso P5 portable amplifier when used with IEMs. For headphones, I mixed between the Hifiman Susvara, the ZMF Caldera, and the Sennheiser HD600 for listening.

One sound that I enjoyed a lot was Mipso's Hey, Coyote. This is a very gentle, acoustic song with an airy nature to it and both male and female backing vocals in a progressive bluegrass folk sound. The notes come off very crisp and clean. The plucks on the combination of fiddle, mandolin, and guitar are very gentle and defined at the same time. I enjoy this definition and exactness in a song like this where each acoustic instrument can express their own character clearly and free from embellishment.

DACs are a pretty hard thing to discern differences from in my cases, and it becomes a little harder when you are comparing chipset to chipset based DACs. My main DAC, however, is an R-2R-based DAC which uses resistors ladders and produces a unique sound that is different.

When I compare the SMSL DO200 MK II to the Holo Spring 3, I found that the Spring 3 had a bit more of an engaging and rounded sound, that was slightly warmer, and deeper in its texture capability. The Spring 3 had a more natural resonance to it, while the DO200 MK II sounded crisper, cleaner, and in some ways, flatter, in this not very apples to apples comparison in many regards (chipset, price, etc.).

I also compared the DO200 MK II to the other SMSL DAC I received, the DO100, which is quite a bit smaller, and half the cost. In this case, the DO200 MK II sounded just slightly more refined, though the differences were not night and day at all.

In many ways, they sounded quite similar, and in this regard, the differences in price and size is more geared towards having more plentiful options for input choices, and an easier to navigate and colorful menu system that looks better than just a simple white OLED screen.