SMSL M300 SE Review

SMSL M300 SE Review

SMSL M300 SE Review – Little Wonder

M300 SE is the latest model from SMSL in the M lineup. M series has a form in rectangular cube style which we know from previous models like the M500 MKIII or M500 MKII.

M300 SE is a very interesting product. Why? Because it just costs $119. Ok, it’s not as powerful as its 3x or 5x expensive big brothers but as a pure DAC, the rest of the specs hold up enough in my opinion.

What’s in the box


  • A new exterior design with tempered glass panel, both high-end feeling and durable.
  • Dual Cirrus Logic CS43131, 0.00013% (-117dB) distortion.
  • Third-generation XMOS XU-316, PCM support up to 32bit /768kHz, and DSD support up to DSD512.
  • USB support MQA full decoding.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 digital audio input.
  • The clock system uses independent ultra-low clock jitter, and ultra-low phase noise for the audio clock.
  • Built-in high-efficiency power supply chip for the decoder to provide sufficient energy, and the use of multiple groups of low-noise LDO power supply.
  • A large number of audio-specific audiophile resistors and capacitors.
  • 1.29 “OLED display.
  • Fully balanced design.
  • With 6.35mm, 4.4mm balanced headphone output.
  • Equipped with full-featured remote control and preamp function.
  • All aluminum CNC precision machining chassis.
SMSL M300 SE vs M500
M300 SE vs M500

I would like to thank SMSL Audio for providing me with the review sample of the M300 SE.


  • Inputs: USB / Optical / Coaxial / Bluetooth
  • Output Level: RCA 2.0Vrms/  XLR 4.0Vrms
  • Headphone AMP output power: 148mW @ 32 ohm
  • THD+N(UN-WTD):0.00013% (-117dB)
  • Dynamic range (UN-WTD): RCA 120dB XLR 132dB
  • SNR (UN-WTD):131dB
  • Bluetooth: BT 5.0 ( support SBC)
  • USB transmission: Asynchronous
  • USB compatibility: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 Mac OS X10.6 or Later / Linux
  • Bit depth: USB:1bit ~ 32bit
  • Optical/coaxial:16bit ~ 24bit
  • Sampling rate: USB:44.1 ~ 768kHz DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512
  • Optical/coaxial:32 ~ 192kHz
  • Power Consumption:3W
  • Standby power:<0.1W
  • Size:70x73x165mm (WxHxD)
  • Weight:0.54Kg
  • Price: $119.99

M300 SE can work as a DAC or as a DAC and preamp combo, as its voltage output can be variable or fixed.

SMSL M300 SE Review 3 e1686145532163

M300 SE’s menu can be accessed with the volume knob or with the remote control that doubles as a joystick. You can also choose inputs with the dedicated input button under the power button.

SMSL M300 SE Review

One downside of the DAC and this will make Bluetooth lovers sad, is that it only supports AAC and SBC codecs, no aptX versions or LDAC onboard. Not a big problem for me though because I never use Bluetooth connection on any gear, like I always say, the technology is not there yet to replace our beloved cables.

SMSL M300 SE Review

M300 SE supports true balanced XLR output. It utilizes two audio decoding chips, namely the C543131, combined with carefully crafted circuitry. Moreover, it employs a substantial quantity of audiophile-grade resistors and capacitors specifically designed for audio purposes, as well as multiple sets of low-noise LDO power supplies.

SMSL M300 SE Review
M300 SE vs remote control unit


The M300 SE has a more neutral tuning, and it comes with a fast yet musical delivery. It’s the typical solid-state kind of sound you’re getting here, and it’s especially noticeable once you start comparing it to the dongles DACs in the same price range on the market. The first character I noticed about the M300 SE sonically was the full-bodied spectrum sound that is wide and tall, rather expansive but with a neutral but slight mid-centric character. It portrays overall a tonality that is rather large in scope.

The M300 SE is very energetic from top to bottom, especially present in the upper mids and treble regions. Also does well in the detail retrieval department, especially around the midrange section.

SMSL M300 SE Review
If you have power-hungry headphones look elsewhere because the headphone AMP output power of the M300 SE is only 148mW @ 32 ohm.

The M300 SE tends to be soft-mannered as to not emphasize anything within a recording but it’s no mister softie either. It seems to employ a relaxed tuning but a rather spacious one.

The balanced output does indeed have a small sonic improvement over the single-ended output, especially in the overall staging which gives credibility to the almost double and much higher crosstalk specification. It also tends to produce more detail.

SMSL M300 SE Review
Yes, you can connect your phone and power up the M300 SE. Ok, maybe not the most power-efficient way but you can do it if you want, and you can always power the ME300 SE from the auxiliary power input with a power bank, phone charger, or another USB cable if needed.

What I like a lot about the M300 SE are the energy, top-end extension, and the vocal forward presentation. The stereo imaging and left/right balance are also remarkable. Imaging is almost spot on with just a very small amount of underfill but placement makes up for it and the M300 SE portrays an interestingly expansive capability, particularly within the midrange and high frequencies.

SMSL M300 SE Review
Inputs: USB / Optical / Coaxial / Bluetooth


Here we have a neutral bass tuning. The warm bass tonality tends to relax the bass and presents it in a tamed manner but with a good amount of body and low-end extension nonetheless. Bass is fast and it has a good pace and attack. Bass comes with a neutral amount of body, but it’s punchy and impactful. Bass never feels exaggerated in presence. Detail-wise it’s ok, but it’s not the best. Layering on the other hand is impressive compared to dongle DACs as well as the depth.


The midrange takes front and center stage. The mids perfectly connect to the bass with the same presence, body, and impact. Mids have a neutrally musical presentation with a nice airiness and spacious feel to it. The mid-depth is very good. What I love about the mids are the dynamics, the energetic presentation, the stereo imaging, and the vocals. There’s a focus on the vocals but it’s done in an excellent way. I absolutely love this vocal mid-tuning.


The high frequencies also seem to be controlled and slightly timid, somehow held back from crossing over into distortion levels. Perfectly connecting from the mids, the M300 SE is balanced in the overall presentation. The amount of body is the same as before and what is remarkable here is the liveliness and energy in the delivery. Treble is not the most extended but for me, the treble tuning is the best, together with the mid vocals. I really like the M300 SE’s sparkle and energy on top.

SMSL M300 SE Review


As I said, the SMSL M300 SE is a very interesting unit. You can hook it up to your existing setup as a pure DAC in fully balanced mode. You can connect it to your PC as an external USB sound card and connect speakers alongside using it also as a headphone AMP. For the price of just $119, it’s like a dongle DAC for your desktop but much more versatile, sounds better than most, and also comes with a remote control for your comfy sessions.