SMSL SH-9 HP AMP Review Round Up
by SHENZHEN AUDIO on Dec 30, 2020
SMSL released their desktop-grade headphone amplifier the SMSL SH-9 in early November, we also posted a preview here. Paring with the latest MQA enabled SMSL SU-9 DAC, it is a powerful amplifier with both balanced and unbalanced input and output options. Equipped with the certified THX-888 amplification module, SH-9 offers a powerful and clean amplification for your headphones.
We have compiled the reviews of SH-9 from famous bloggers, influencers and reviewers and we are going to share with you right here. So let's check what they have to say about the SMSL SH-9.
Video reviews round up :
Max Setting posted a video review of the SMSL SH-9 on Nov. 28：
It’s using the flagship THX AAA-888 topologies, and it has the same power as the SP200, so 6 watts at 16, 3 watts at 32, 440 milliwatts at 300, 220 at 600. Talking about the build quality, and this will also also apply to the SU-9, both of these units are very nicely built. They both feel really high quality and premium.
With the SH-9, if you do want a very analytical sounding amplifier and you're willing to live with the somewhat smeared and compressed microdynamics, then this is a very solid pick. I do like it. The SH-9 is a solid pick for a THX amplifier and it gets my recommendation.
Soundnews posted video review of the SMSL SH-9 ：
SH-9 is the third THX-888 dual mono equipped headphone amp on the market. These are the highest performing modules that should be used only in no-compromise amplifiers of all sorts. These reduce harmonic intermodulation and harmonic crossover distortion by 20-40 dB, offering a true-to-life realistic and emphatic listening experience. Since a very low noise amp will need an uber-low noise volume port to preserve all the dynamic range, SMSL developed an advanced relay control-to-volume port.
Suena Tremendo channel analyzed the SMSL SH-9 in Spanish, originally published to Youtube on Dec,26 :
Article reviews round up:
Audio Science Review posted SMSL SH-9 THX Headphone Amplifier Review on NOV,13.
A 256-step attenuator using resistor ladder implements volume control which should result in perfect channel matching (see measurement later). Typical of these systems, the volume control changes a bit slow compared to analog counterparts. The chatter of relays controlling which resistors are being used is rather quiet which is a relief.
My threshold for desktop products here is 100 milliwatts and the SH-9 sails way past that to 226 milliwatts. So it should have no trouble driving high impedance headphones.
SOUNDNEWS' wirtten review on SMSL SH-9 :
SMSL put the same 24 Watt ultra-low-noise power supply they used in SP200, it is encapsulated inside a metal shell and that is fine by me. As with all THX AAA designs, the electrolytic caps are not in the signal path but are used for power filtering and storing.
It has an output impedance close to zero ohms, so damping factor should not be affected at all and at only 1.9 micro volts of noise A-weighted, it should pair nicely even with ultra-sensitive IEMs. What I really like about THX AAA amps is that they have their noise floor undetected at any volume levels, but will see about that very soon.
Headfonics overviewd the SMSL SH-9, posted on Nov. 28 :
So when I plugged the SH-9 into my system, this was what I was expecting and I was not disappointed. The SH-9, to my ears, was as flat as any amplifier can be. It did not add anything in terms of tonality nor did it remove anything from what was being produced by the upstream DAC.
Imaging is also accurate on the SH-9. Listening to binaural recordings, I found that the center guitar on Amber Rubarth’s Washing Day is very accurately placed in front of the listener.
When it comes to staging depth the SH-9 can either be very intimate or very wide. In between the 2 extremes, the soundstage can often sound a bit empty.