SMSL AD18 Bluetooth Amplifier 80W Power Amplifier Review

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
SMSL AD18 Full digital Amplifier
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star

Are you looking for a FDA( Full digital amplifier)?

If yes, you can take a  look at  this SMSL AD18 80W2 Bluetooth 4.2 HIFI USB DSP Digital Decoding Power Amplifier. ( SMSL just complete the  updated  in September 2017) .

So, without wasting anymore time, we are now going to take a look at all the things on this amplifier.

Main features of SMSL AD18

  • AD 18 is a small full digital class bluetooth amplifier with built-in independent headphone amplifier , and it supports subwoofer output.
  • It can connect to your computer and use it to drive your headphones with an amplifier or to power your passive speakers(4ohm speaker produces 80Wx2 output power).
  • Sophisticated matting aluminum housing reduces interference.
  • Patented SDB sound and +-8 level treble and bass adjustment.
  • Independent headphone amplifier design and advanced DSP technology makes the unit more desirable.

Build

AD18 is the flagship amplifier in the SMSL AD series product line. It is portable design  and equipping with a 1.44 inch TFT color screen on the front panel, so you can see the real time information on that screen.

It is pretty small if you compare it with the NAD or Onkyo. Almost half size of a brick, pretty light as well. And It comes with a bluetooth antenna which needs to be fixed to the slot.

The funnily thing is that the power adapter has almost the same size as the amp.

The chassis is strong enough, and the usage is very intuitive and quite brilliant effort at simplicity by SMSL engineers.

There is a  large dial on the front panel of SMSL AD18. It is an all-in-one button for multiple usage, volume control, power on/off and menu selection.

Besides, AD18 comes with a aluminum remote, and it is pretty small, only  half size of a credit card . All functions can be controlled by the remote, and again,  it is very intuitive.

PS: for transport security reasons, the battery was not installed in the remote, so you need to install them before operation.

What is the  output power for SMSL AD18 ? It is 80W*2 (4ohm) 

Menu Selection

First menu selection is for sources five in total Aux, Optical, Micro USB, Coax and Bluetooth. BT is 4.2 and aptx compatible. Coax is a jack type and not RCA type.

Second option is to  select the output between headphones and speakers ; it has a very good headphone amp output.

Third is EQ : if offers 6 settings jazz, rock etc. Next menu is for bass and treble settings, only +/- 3 levels, Next option to change the display color from white, blue or green all with very good visibility overall.

The supplied manual is pretty basic, but it is useful.

Does SMSL AD18 need to install the driver when you are connecting with Windows 10 PC? The answer is no need.

Bluetooth connection

SMSL AD18 provide two connection options,

  • Bluetooth connection directly. Search SMSL Bluetooth 4.2.
  • Using NFC connection. What does it means?

Well, there is a NFC sensor area on the body of AD18, you can use your smart phone to connect the AD18 by approaching the sensor parts. So, you don’t need to connect it by searching the Bluetooth manually each time. It is more convenience.

SMSL AD18 bluetooth stereo receiver
smsl ad18 bluetooth stereo receiver

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, it has happened.

Sound

The sound is amazing, great bass and a nice warm quality. The 80Wx2 power rating might be a little optimistic, but it DOES seem to hold its own against a 60w Yamaha A-S301.

When I connected to its Bluetooth for iPhone streaming, the sound was very clear and free from any kind of distortion. The reception and range of its Bluetooth is impressive. I can walk across my whole house while maintaining a stable connection

I used my headphones to listen and the built-in headphone amp works great too. Then when I switched to speakers, the sound was again very much engaging.

In short, all the inputs works as expected, except the aux, so, if you generally rely on analog sources, AD18 might not be the best choice for you.

The good thing is that there is a subwoofer output for SMSL AD18, so that you can drive your small bookshelf speakers plenty loudly.

Specification

Signal-to-noise ratio90 dB
Power amplifier output powe80 W x 2(4 ohm)
Headphone output, 32 ohm53 mW at 0.04% THD
THD+N 0.04%
EQ quality7 kinds
Treble adjustable range+/- 8 dB
Bass adjustment range+/- 8 dB
Bluetooth specificationBluetooth 4.2, support Apt-x
Input interfaceUSB, coaxial, 3.5mm analog, Bluetooth, 2 optical
Output interfaceAmplifier output port, headphone port
ChipTAS5508C, TAS5342A, CS8422, VT1620A, MAX97220A, CS5341
Bluetooth moduleNE5532
USB sampling rate16 bit 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz; 24 bit 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 96 kHz
USB compatibilityUSB 2.0
Optical fiber sampling rate16 bit 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz
Coaxial sampling rate16 bit 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz
Power amplifier power consumption50 W
Amp consumption 4 W
Standby power0.8 W
Supply voltage 24 V
Dimensions10.8 x 9.1 x 2.9 in (27.5 x 23.1 x 7.4 cm)
Weight1.55KG
Pros

√ Very good Bluetooth connection 

 Compact size, Good build quality, led display 

  Patent SDB (SMSL Dynamic Bass) sound, good sound quality

 Have bunch of useful line in/connection

 Good on board DAC 

  Variety EQ setting

 

Cons

⊙ Poor quality cable

The others input works fine, but with USB input, after some times using,  it plays random (loud) bursts of static

⊙ The manual of remote control is not very clear, some people will get confused about how to use it, and sometimes, the inside battery will die every two or three days

What is in the box?

  • SMSL AD18
  • Power supply
  • MICRO USB cable
  • Remote control
  • Antenna

Conclusion

AD18 is very easy to use, offers multiple input options, comes with a handy remote control and delivers excellent audio output with different sources.

If you are searching for a Bluetooth, compact and durable amplifier which is not highly expensive, but delivers decent performance , SMSL AD18 is surely a great option.