SMSL made a great impact with their SX-9 stack which combined clean, high-end audio hardware, modern design and reasonable pricing. The company returns with an update to their very popular SX-8 series in the form of the SX-8s devices. While lacking the feature set of the 9-series, the 8s devices boast a focus on similar audio quality while keeping the usability experience simple to uphold the same legendary value as the original series.
The SH-8s is the update to the SH-8 amplifier, with enhanced 6Wx2 power output, 17.5dB of adjustable gain, high-quality relays and low noise power supply. It implements a very similar chassis to the SH-9 though the colour screen makes way for basic switch-based operation. This is a balanced design supporting RCA and XLR inputs in addition to XLR and 1/4″ outputs.
The SU-8s as expected follows up on the immensely popular SU-8 that was the go-to budget balanced DAC for a long time. It’s utilising ESS’ new ES9068AS DAC chip supporting DSD512 and PCM 32bit/768kHz. In addition, the DAC supports Qualcomm’s aptX and aptX HD Bluetooth codecs for high quality wireless streaming. An XMOS 16-core usb chipset maximises wired codec support to match the powerful DAC inside. It also supports remote operation and it has a colour display much like the higher end SU-9. Interestingly, while the SU-9 has a lower SNR for its balanced output, the SU-8s promises a lower noise from its RCA outputs.
You can read all about the SH-8s here and the SU-8s here (affiliate). For those interested in purchasing both, Apos Audio supports the new 8s stack on their ensemble program offering discounts when both are purchased together.
Look forward to the full review coming to THL soon!