SMSL SU-9 DAC - Is it a budget alternative fit for an audiophile ?

So I have this problem where even though I'm content with what I have, I still like to try out products that look appealing to me.  I was super curious about these near state of the art DACs coming out of China--Topping, Gustard, SMSL, and so on.  Amplifying my interest is the fantastic measurements that this unit, the SMSL SU-9 puts out coupled with its price (<$500).  

Just 10 years ago something that measured this well would be thousands.  And, this DAC uses the ESS 9038Pro chip.  

Now, big DISCLAIMER-- I don't buy, keep and enjoy product based on measurements alone.  It must sound good. 

I've only been running the SU-9 for a couple hours so it's early to say how I really feel.  I can confidently say that I thought this little guy might embarrass himself.  But, not that's not the case.  The sound is pretty great.  There's nothing harsh going on, no digital haze/hash, and it's musical--I'm tapping my toes. 

Again, it's too soon to really review this DAC--yet I will say I think that I have the answer to my question above--this is a great DAC and it's nothing to scoff at.  All I know is it sounds great. 

What a wonderful time to be an audiophile!  

PS. I have no affiliation with any hifi company, including SMSL.  

The SU-9 is amazing for the price.  I find it a little brittle sounding and prefer the Ares II DAC but the SU-9 is more fully featured for 30% less money.  It is a solid recommendation for any audiophile unwilling to spend 2-3x more at a minimum.  
Hey Pinwa,  yes, that is my thought exactly.  I'm about 5 albums into it now.  It's a glorious little cracking DAC.  I think it is a touch brittle.  It's definition, noise floor, transients, and general sound of instruments is super--top notch really.  
Well, I don't think that I need much longer with the unit to tell that it's a pretty good piece of equipment and still not for me. Here's what I found.

  • Price 
  • Glorious sound at low volume levels
  • Quiet
  • Grain free sound
  • Hyper detailed
  • Bass is wonderfully proportional, defined, and integrated

  • Sound quality was not as good as volumes increase
  • The picture into the recording (while accurate and nuanced) feels tight, constrained, and narrow
  • Midrange feels slightly light and high end is not that extended

It feels unfair to be so critical a this price.  Great DAC.  Giant killer?  No. 

i reviewed the su-9 for my headphone blog ( and came away damn impressed--as per jbhiller, great bass control and great at low volumes; also a great sounding preamp and bluetooth streamer. my only quiblles, literally, were that it only has three legs and it doesn't have a headphone amp (tho there is a matching amp). i thought it certainly held its own against the chord mojo, which also hits well above its weight. a no brainer at the $$$.
This Dac needs 200 hours of break in and does change its character with time.  
The sound is pretty great. 
Compared to what?  What other DAC(s) are you using?

Loved the sound of mine, but the Bluetooth was not functional. Returned it and decided to try a Soncoz LA-QXD-1 instead. Front switch/control buttons were not accessible and rattling around inside the case right out of the box. Apparently there is no QC with this ChiFi crap.  I also had some Tin HiFi IEMs that crapped out after a few months, with no support from Linsoul. I’m done chasing so called bargains!