Topping A90 or Topping Part Deux

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Scubadude, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. Scubadude

    Scubadude Almost "Made"

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    I've seen the Topping A90 amp being mentioned in passing by others but it probably deserves a dedicated thread. I haven't heard it but close mates who have reckon it is pretty damn good at the price point. It certainly seems to pack a lot of value into the tidy and compact casework, even if it is based on TI TPA6120A2 opamps.

    Topping has had a lukewarm reception here, and I fully understand that. I have a little Topping TP-10 Mk III amp driving some AR Classic 5 bookshelves in my study, and it is crude affair with fairly decent sound (works a treat with AKG K1000's when I'm in the mood). But just like I could never make the transference between my Renault 9 student car and the F1 championship-winning cars of Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill, I get the distinct feeling Topping is stepping up the game.

    Any thoughts and experiences?
     
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  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    In case you may want to know:
    • Do not refer to your mate's opinion unless he or she is well known sbaf friend. If so, mention the guy more explicitly.
    • The company has a well documented history of shit generation. This means much STRONGER evidence needed to convince people that talking about it is not noise.
    • Starting a new thread of random product before getting a friend status AND earning folks' credit is highly not recommended.
    No idea about A90 but FWIW A30/A50 have been well below the market expectation for their prices. Can attest their shitty amping tech with my own experience with DX3 hp out and A30. Triangulating all such things, conservative answer is to stay away from their pricier shit.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  4. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I am interested in hearing a few member reviews on the A90. It seems to fit the THX789 / Asgard 3 medium mid-fi zone with really clean measurements. Curious how that sounds in real life. I'm thinking it won't be my thing for anything other than cricket farts on balanced armatures, but what do I know?
     
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Why did you think it "fits"?

    I can think of many reasons the other way around.
    • Pricier ($500) than any other well-measuring competitors (mostly ranged from $100 to $200). Suspect it way overpriced like D70 or D90 was.
    • Recent chip-based amps ALL measure superb. This includes $79-99 ones (Atom / Heresy). Even discrete asgard 3 surprisingly measure clean.
    • I remember in asr one guy claimed he developed recent topping products. The way he talks and explains is pretty sufficient to distrust the quality of any products he involved in. True master engineers must say more professionally.
    • This company has really zero history of coming up with great products. At least I have never heard any good thing from credible ears -- excluding any people active only outside sbaf.
    They might create miracles. But no hint to support it.

    Quoting quantum mechanics words, "everything is possible, not everything is likely".
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    A90 is just Topping doubling down on supa-measurements. Adding one more 0 after the . (and the price too) likely makes it sound shittier. They've been enabled by the Amir, so their balls are growing.
     
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  7. Scubadude

    Scubadude Almost "Made"

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    @Vtory if you care to check my history you'll see I've been around 4 and a half years. That's a good few months more than you and long enough not to fear dislikes. And l don't shitpost. I'm not a friend because I can't share in loaner programs, attend meets, etc - I am stuck on the southern tip of Africa.

    But I have enough experience to know when a new product is a significant event in this hobby and I believe the A90 is. And definitely not because of largely academic measurements. If you are not interested you are welcome to ignore the thread.

    For what its worth my three non-SBAF friends (don't know why their ears should be by definition inferior to everyone here) compared it against the THX789. They report a less sterile, more dynamic presentation and rate it up with the best SS amps they have heard (and they have heard plenty).
     
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  8. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I think it fits for the large group of IEM users on the forum. It is the only measurements jerk-off fest amp with a gain level that is close to usable for some of the more sensitive IEM's. If this is not a priority of yours, then this amp is exactly how you state it to be and why I mentioned in my OP what it might be useful for in my personal situation.
     
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    TI6120A2 - no thanks. Yes, it's less sterile than THX789, but I don't want all my sources homogenized into sounding the same. I will wait for the rumored Magnamius or whatever for $200? that sits nicely on top of the Modius. Kudos to Topping for the tweaks so the Zout isn't the cookie-cutter 20-ohms.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  10. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Friend

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    I like that the A90 exists because it is amusing to watch people who claim to be objectivist recommend it. "the magni 3+ and heresy reach audible transparency but buy this 500 dollar amp that is transparenter!"

    I am sure it is the best amp topping has ever made but all of their previous amps were quite mediocre from both a subjective and a objective point of view. At least they got the output impedance down!

    Looking into John yangs comments the topping A90 sounds very simple to the thx amps, it is basically TI tech with a unique distortion reduction circuit. Rather it sounds better or not would likely come down to how that circuit compares to the thx one. Would be interesting to compare them but I won't be buying one!

    As a side note they are hardly the first ones to be able to get a low z out out of a TI6120A2. These days I constantly find myself thinking of the Dr. Dac series of dac amp combos that were big in Asia a few years ago. They were monsters measurement wise, super low distortion and used TI6120A2 dual mono with zero output impedance. I feel really bad for the people who made that as they were ahead of their time. I guess they would have sold so many more Dr. Dac 3s if they came out in 2020 rather than 2014.
     
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  11. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    First, thanks for adding more context. Now I might understand a little better about where you were coming from.

    Superior-Inferior in this context is (at least to me) mostly defined over whether subjective assessments are translatable and how adjustable bias (let's admit. we all have it) can be -- based on existing information.

    By definition, as a forum, we know a little better (maybe far bette) about someone if he/she is active in this forum -- having more and more data points. And people eventually get friend status when he/she gets credit. At least on average.

    The reason why I automatically disregard outside people (or in some context, non-friends) is their arguments can't be translated very well due to limited or lacking valid data points. There are tons of senior ears that I don't necessarily agree with their subjective evaluations. But reading and communicating over time makes it possible to translate to my world. One extreme case is that I oppositely interpret some arguments from some members, and that has worked being predictive to my own preference.

    This has nothing to do with listening ability. Well, consistency may matter though. How much we know each other plays more important roles.

    Back to the topic, since this company had well documented history of failures, we need stronger testimonials that are more accurately transferable to the forum members. If this thread is started from your first-hand experience, my response could be different. But hey, "my friend said it was good" was one of the weakest evidence in the context I explained above, as we know virtually nothing about your friend(s).
     
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  12. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Agreed. Back in the day these were supposed to be the bees knees, but TI forgot that Zout is kinda important. These are super high speed chips because they're current feedback, so they like to oscillate a lot. Hence you need either 39Ohm resistors to shield them from their load. Zout can be brought down by paralleling, swapping resistors for inductors, using them in composite circuits with an even faster opamp before and taking feedback after the 39Ohm output resistor. Or a combo of the above.

    If you want to listen to zeros, there are cheaper options.
     
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  13. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    <praying to the schiit lord> Please let the Magnanius work with an Andromeda without relying on a dangle dongle
     
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  14. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    wow, a music killing box for $499 instead of $99. thanks, Topping!

    this stuff fills a market niche largely comprised of people with disposable income who have not yet (and perhaps never will) been able to reasonably correlate what measurements mean to the reproduction of music. if you are not one of those people, stay away, or at least keep it cheap.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'm sure these is some kind of business relationship between ASR and Topping. Dr. Dac 3 didn't buy off the right person.

    this stuff fills a market niche largely comprised of people with disposable income who have not yet ...​

    There fixed it. $500 ain't cheap anymore. This is 100% China stuff, marketed and "put on the map" mostly by one person (ASR) via the measurements shtick, and should be priced accordingly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    To add, the rampant unchecked shilling on ASR. AP555 measurements in the same style as Amir, but done by a mystery person in China before the product is even finalized with color commentary from Topping reps. Again, this is for pre-release. Amir did eventually get a unit in his hands to confirm in a separate post. Allowing vendors and possibility their friends (what random person in China would happen to have an AP555 for a hobby?) unfettered ability to post on pre-release products and provide commentary would never be permitted here.

    People over there give Jason shit for his marketing spiel like the Vali 1 turned into a coaster. However, this Topping stuff just smells bad.
     
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  17. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Wolf dude is a university professor, he doesn't seem like any random Chinese person. He's not related to Amir or ASR, really. He measures new Chinese products for free and if bugs or problems arise he gives suggestions to help them fix it (only releases public measurements post-fix)... So basically he tends to help out (willing) Chinese companies like Gustard, etc who do not have an APx555b, probably uses ASR for exposure/spotlight. But doesn't sound like a bad guy to me.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  18. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    I wouldn't mind listening to it, as i didn't dislike their D90, although it was way overpriced for what it was and didn't impress. If Topping sent an unit our way (in my case only subjective listening) i would be happy to hear it but other than that i haven't heard anything from them that i consider a very good product or even good for that matter (maybe the D90 would be, if it was priced accordingly).

    So my skepticism about their products @Scubadude has a reason to be and until things change from their part but who knows?! Maybe this product would be "it".
     
  19. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    I wrote a tiny blurb about the A90 on the Drop 789 page since really, it is yet another feed forward/ composite amplifier and I felt it belonged there rather than making a thread about it. It's not a bad amp, honestly. But considering the 789 is $299, the A90 is probably way too expensive for anyone here to seriously consider it. The only real upside is XLR pre-outs, neat for monitors. Sound is absolutely THX-ish, and definitely not $200 better than the 789/887.

    I don't think the amp alone deserves the hate so far in this thread though, I understand the negative feelings about the Topping brand but this amp is basically the manifestation of solid engineering of someone who goes by the name of John, who basically gave his design for free(?) to Topping during his internship there. It is less a "Topping" amp but rather a Topping production of someone who tried to do THX AAA, but better. And I think he did achieve that. Then again so did magni heresy (not exact same feature set of course) but... heresy sells for $99... :D
     
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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  20. Wolvebain

    Wolvebain Rando

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    @Scubadude, I am REALLY LOVING my Topping A90. Beats the THX 789 & SP200 amps for me, showing me that a head.amp can be uncolored without being lifeless.

    Saved me a TON of cash vs the HPA-4.
     
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