This powerful and affordable amplifier delivers 160 watts per channel. It’s also compact and well-built. Check out our SMSL AO200MKII review!
Need a powerful, full-featured amp that doesn’t take up a lot of space? Then you should check out the $249 SMSL AO200MKII Digital Power Amplifier. This compact integrated amp is the sequel to the impressive SMSL AO200 Digital Amp, which we previously reviewed and listed on several of our best amplifier lists.
Designed with the latest MA5332MS amplifier chip from Infineon, this amplifier promises to deliver robust and crystal-clear audio for your home audio setup. With a power output of 160W x 160W into 4 ohms (up from 90w on the original AO200), it can provide robust sound quality for even some of the least efficient passive speakers. Equipped with USB, RCA, and XLR inputs, the AO200MKII offers versatile connectivity options to suit your audio needs.
In this review, we will delve into the features, build, audio performance, and overall value that the SMSL AO200MKII brings to the table. Join us as we explore its strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed purchasing decision. So, let’s dive in and discover the wonders of this impressive home audio amplifier.
What’s In The Box
- 1 × SMSL AO200 MKII
- 1 × AC cable
- 1 × USB cable
- 1 × Bluetooth antenna
- 1 × Remote control (2 AAA Batteries Sold Separately)
- 1 × User manual
- 1 × Warranty card
SMSL AO200MKII Review: Build
The SMSL AO200MKII is built with high-quality materials and construction. The chassis is made of aluminum alloy, which is both durable and lightweight. The amplifier is also well-shielded to prevent interference from external sources. The single front panel control is also metal and feels solid and responsive, just like the controller on the original AO200. Volume control using the same front panel knob is smooth and noise free.
All connectors on the rear panel are fitted tightly and laid out well, with plenty of space in between. You should have no issue adding or removing cables, and the addition of five-way binding posts on such a compact unit is a godsend.
Just like the original AO200, it uses a relatively large power supply for an amp of its size, and it’s used in conjunction with a quality TI OPA chip, which points to a thoughtful selection of internal components.
Overall, the build quality of the SMSL AO200MKII is outstanding and should stand up to regular use. The only minor flaw is the short power cord, which is detachable and can easily be replaced. If you get this unit, I would advise most people to allow some extra cash (not that much) to upgrade the power cord.
SMSL AO200MKII Review: Features
The SMSL AO200MKII is a 2-channel digital power amplifier that delivers 160W of power per channel into 4 ohms and 85W per channel into 8 ohms. It features a balanced design with one balanced XLR, one single-ended RCA input, and a subwoofer output. It also has a USB input, a nice inclusion at this price point. That makes it a good option for a desktop system, even though the power rating gives the impression that it could shine well beyond the desk. There is no pre-out, so it can’t do double duty as a preamp. I wish there were more than one RCA input, but it is understandable with an amp this size.
In addition, the AO200MKII also supports Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless audio streaming. The stock SBC codec is the only option on board, so “hi-res” wireless or even “CD-quality” streaming is unavailable.
The AO200MKII has several features to improve sound quality, including a digital signal processor (DSP) with 8 Preset EQ settings and Bass/Treble tone controls. All options are accessible via the menu on the AO200MKII’s multi-color LED screen, and you can select them using the included remote control or the multi-function button on the front of the unit.
Here are some of the key features of the SMSL AO200MKII Digital Power Amplifier:
- 85W of clean power per channel into 8 ohms
- Balanced design with XLR and RCA inputs
- USB Input for PC/Laptops
- Subwoofer output
- Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless audio streaming
- DSP with Preset EQ settings
- Bass/Treble Tone Control
- Remote Control
SMSL AO200MKII Review: Sound Quality
For my sound tests, I connected the AO200MKII to a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 11.2 Bookshelf Speakers and played a bunch of tunes from my Tidal “Test Tracks” playlist. I started with the Bluetooth input to see what this affordable amp could do without any other sources involved, and I was pretty impressed with the results. Like the original AO200, I thought the MKII sounded quite respectable via BT, even though there wasn’t a higher bitrate codec available.
The output was crisp and transparent, not to mention dynamic, as the diminutive amp could drive the larger bookshelf speakers with a good bit of verve. Listening to Arya Starr’s afrobeat hit “Bloody Samaritan,” the Wharfedales were rocking, and there was no sign of the low-end tubbiness you would get from an underpowered amp.
I didn’t find much to separate the MKII from the original AO200 other than the sound being a little bit smaller in scale, but other than that, it had the same clarity, low-end control, and nice tonal balance. It has a little more power, allowing this unit to compete with even more amps than before. It also has an excellent tonal balance, especially for its price point.
That said, I did notice it being a bit bright in the treble when I used the BT and USB inputs, but that could be mitigated using the internal EQ settings. I also found that it sounded a bit more balanced when I hooked up the WiiM Pro Streamer to the RCA input. This is the source I used to make my final judgments regarding the AO200MKII’s sound since it was the best source I used with this amp.
Listening to the WiiM streamer through the AO200MKII, I found the bass was deeper and tighter than with the internal sources, and the mids were more precise and more detailed. I played “It’s A Man’s World” by Avishai Cohen and Abraham Rodriguez, and the transparency and separation floored me. When backed by a clean amp, the Diamond 11.2 speakers can produce fantastic soundstage focus. With the AO200MKII, the background percussion and the lead vocal were so vivid and natural it was hard to believe I was listening to a $250 amp.
I found the sound quality of the SMSL AO200MKII to be quite remarkable, just like I did with the original AO200, and it is a great option for those looking for a powerful and affordable amplifier. A more expensive amp like the Cambridge Audio AXR100 will offer a little more of an organic sound along with a bit more resolution, but the AO200MKII holds its own.
If you already have the first AO200, the MKII is close enough in sound and build that an upgrade isn’t necessary. I would suggest an upgrade if you want a little more power to better fill up a larger-sized room with sound.
The Wrap Up
In conclusion, the SMSL AO200MKII is an excellent option for those seeking a powerful and affordable amplifier. It offers good sound quality, is well-built, and has the gusto to drive even some of the least efficient bookshelf speakers.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.