SMSL DS100 Review

Today, we review the SMSL DS100, an entry-level MQA-capable headphone amplifier and DAC that uses the CS43131 DAC chip. Priced at $89.99, this unit promises high performance in a compact and affordable package.


SMSL is well-known for producing a wide range of products to meet various audiophile needs, including amplifiers and DACs such as the HO100 and the DO100, as well as higher-end DAC AMP combo units like the SH-9 Pro and the M500 MKII. The latest addition to their lineup, the DS100, is another testament to their commitment to quality and affordability.

Tech Highlights

The SMSL DS100 supports MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) decoding technology, delivering high-fidelity in a smaller file size.

Regardless of where you stand on the MQA argument, it’s hard to deny the fact that MQA decoding is rarely seen in DACs at this price range. Additionally, the DS100 can also decode MQA-CDs, which are CDs that contain MQA-encoded files.

The DS100 uses a third-generation XMOS XU-316 processor, providing a stable and low-latency USB connection. The XMOS chip works in unison with a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chip, allowing it to decode PCM 32-bit/768kHz and DSD256 formats.

Lastly, the DS100 is encased in a CNC-machined aluminum alloy housing. The housing also has an anodized finish with nicely chamfered edges, giving it a premium and stealthy aesthetic.

Design of the SMSL DS100

The first thing that stands out upon seeing the DS100 for the first time is its compact size. Despite being a DAC meant for desktop or home Hi-Fi setups, one could easily mistake it for a portable unit. However, a closer inspection reveals the four rubber feet at the bottom, indicating its intended stationary use.

The entire body of the DS100 is constructed from CNC-machined aluminum with a sleek anodized black finish. This gives it a premium look and feel while ensuring durability. The unit's design is stealthy and unobtrusive, making it a perfect fit for any desktop headphone setup or Hi-Fi system.

Front Panel

The front of the DS100 features the SMSL logo and the DS100 branding on the left side of the faceplate. Towards the center, there are several indicator LEDs: one for MQA, one for the headphone amplifier, and separate LEDs for coaxial, optical, and USB inputs. These indicators provide clear visual feedback about the active input and MQA status.

On the right side of the LEDs is a wide knob that serves both as a power switch and input selector. The knob is slightly indented relative to the faceplate, contributing to its sleek and unobstructed silhouette.


The DS100 features a straightforward and intuitive control system, designed to be user-friendly. The front panel is equipped with a single knob that serves multiple functions: power switch and input selector. Holding the knob will turn the device on or off, while a brief press will cycle through the available input sources.

The slight indentation of the knob, along with the source indicator LEDs, makes the unit easy to use even in low-light conditions. The LEDs provide clear visual feedback on the active input, making it simple to switch between different sources.

Build Quality

The SMSL DS100 features a robust all-aluminum alloy chassis that not only looks sleek but also serves to reduce interference. The gold-plated input and output terminals ensure reliable connections and longevity. The inclusion of both 6.35mm and 4.4mm balanced headphone outputs provides flexibility for different types of headphones, catering to both casual listeners and audiophiles.


The SMSL DS100 is a standout product in its price range. With support for MQA and high-resolution audio formats, it offers an impressive set of features typically found in more expensive units. Its robust build quality and thoughtful design make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to upgrade their audio setup without breaking the bank.

For those interested in exploring more SMSL products, be sure to check out our previous reviews on Headfonics. The DS100 is yet another example of SMSL's dedication to providing high-quality audio solutions at affordable prices.

Shop Now at and elevate your audio experience with the SMSL DS100.

SMSL DS100 Review