SMSL M500 and MQA

Just received in the new SMSL M500 DAC. Awesome unit for $400. Only issue was that I could not get it to pass the MQA signal. I finally figured out that I have to keep at least one DSP setting on. I am using the speaker distance setting and getting full MQA. Has anyone else had this issue with an SMSL or any other MQA DAC?

Hello @Saul_Sutton,

In the “Device Setup” screen for the SMSL M500 zone, ensure that you have the following options configured correctly:

Exclusive Mode: Enabled
Volume Control: Fixed Volume
MQA Capabilities: Full Decoder
Enable MQA Core Decoder: Yes


I wonder how it compares to the Pro-Ject s2

Can Roon control the RCA output volume of the M500? If so, does that break the MQA ability?

Hello @Andy_Spinks,

SMSL is not a Roon Tested partner. As a result, we do not have the M500 in-house to verify this information.


Just got the M500 a couple of days ago documentation is pretty scarce through expermentation I finally got it to do the full unfold like its supposed to–magenta led color with mqa screen.
settings are core decoder on
device to renderer only

Hope this helps frustrated me for couple of days but again persistence paid off :smile:
I did not have to make any changes to the DSP settings.

I am really liking the DAC so far MQA is nice.


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No has to be controlled by whatever the audio outputs on back of M500 are connected to when using as straight DAC. If using as a pre-amp then the volume control on unit or remote will control the volume.

After much trial and error, this is exactly my setup as well. Setting the device to decoder works but always produces a brief stutter at the beginning of every MQA track. Full magenta/MQA when device is set to renderer.

I’ve been using M500 on balanced out. Setting is full decoder. MQA is nice. I have tried either way it work without problem:

  1. As straight DAC, I set the HW volume at 40 (max). Then in ROON, set it as Fixed Volume.
  2. As preamp, I set in ROON setting as Device Volume

BTW: my M500 is version 2 (FW 1.3)

When setting up m500 as both MQA decoder and renderer, without core decoder, then blue or green dot appears next to MQA logo. When Core decoder setting on, then dot is magenta color.

Resolution on display is taken from Authentication, so once displays 48kHz, 96 otherwise or higher values, depending on source file.

As @Dale_Clark asked, I’d be curious to know if it is a worthy upgrade from a Pro-Ject S2. On paper, not sure. However, I did try a D10 (much cheaper DAC/same chipset I am using as a USB/Optic bridge), and it does sound almost exactly like the S2 (a bit more cold/mechanical, though). So I’d guess that the M500 would have a bit more to offer?

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