Is the DAC I got from aliexpress defective if it produces crackles on one channel?


2019-04-05 12:12 am
I saw SMSL M100 DAC being sold at 70 USD on 70 USD included delivery fee.
I ordered it because it usually costs about 79.99 USD without delivery fee on amazon

On delivery, I checked the box. The box was already partially disassembled in a weird way. Just opening the box could not result in this weird partial disassembly.
I suspected something was wrong. My suspicion was correct.

When both channels of DAC is 0dB, if I play the same exact audio data on both channels, loud parts produce crackles on the right speaker. If the right channel of DAC is set to -1dB or -2dB, the crackles stop. After swapping RCA cables on amplifier and DAC, I heard crackles on the right speaker. So, there is no problem with RCA cables. Swapping RCA cables on amplifier only made crackles appear on the left speaker. So, there is no problem with amplifier.

I strongly suspected it was channel imbalance from DAC because the right channel of DAC was very prone to producing crackles. I filed a dispute to request a full refund for the DAC. The seller acknowledged the test was not fake but claimed that since my test is not professional, they would not admit my video evidences prove the DAC I got from them is defective. I will have to escalate the dispute so that intervenes.

Is the DAC I received actually defective? I'm 97% sure, but I'm not 100% sure because I have never used an external DAC before.

From what I read on the internet, it seems that most brand products or the vast majority of brand products on are counterfeit or factory rejects that the manufacturer rejected. On are teams of people who are eager to sell factory rejects as new products at cheap prices. Also, there is no guarantee that is going to protect customers from corrupt sellers.

If you want to buy from, you need to vet the sellers first. Official stores operated directly by the manufacturers and "official" sellers are probably going to be fine.
Last edited:
If you are within the EU there are distance selling rules that can be applied. That means you can return any item for a full refund even if you just don't like it, postage at your cost.
I have no idea where you live.
If it is faulty they will require proof of a fault and replace the unit if it is faulty when they receive it back.
Check the trading laws in your country.