Topping D70 DAC Review and Measurements - Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, May 17, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The Velvet sound is not caused by the slow roll off filter. It's qualities, mainly a softness in the lows, permeate across regardless of filter. Other qualities include expansive stage and increased highs relative to mids. While there are small differences among the filters, the major differences are heard when compared to other DACs using different chips or designs, e.g. ESS, AD, Wolfson, etc.
     
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  2. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Almost "Made"

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    Small tangent:
    The problem is perhaps worse with computer hardware. If you're using VR or a high-refresh rate monitor you're going to care about minimum FPS, frametimes, consistency, and variability due to RAM speed when reading CPU/GPU reviews. Much the same as with audio there are over simplistic reviewers targeting those with a simple understanding.. those who are used to the standardized nature of a games console and looking for one single number they can point to when rationalizing an expensive purchase. These people tend not to know what they actually want, buy an expensive PC, and then bottleneck it with a shitty display. Kind of like buying flagship headphones and a chi-fi DAC.

    Side note, there's a tech reviewer named TechDeals who has begun openly questioning the objective only nature of hardware reviews. He claims a smoother experience with a high core count CPU & hasn't been able to measure anything to verify this. I believe he's looking into developing a new form of test to try and capture the difference.. with any luck he'll at least be able to move that market away from the extreme objectivism.
     
  3. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I tend to agree especially with the softness in the bass across all filters on the 4490. I do feel that the short delay slow roll was the most velvety of them all.

    I remember the charts that circulated about the filters with the marketing guys putting up in the #1 slot the Super Slow and calling it Natural Tone. On the Modi 2 Uber I bought right after they announced the availability of the 4490, I felt it was warm and perhaps a little veiled. If in fact, Schiit used the default Short Delay Sharp Roll then my impressions of it being warm kind of correlates with the powerful bass descriptor in the AKM chart.

    The least offensive filter for my ears on the El Dac is the Traditional Sound one with it negatively connoted pre and post ringing. The effects are very subtle and I had a challenging time differentiating with casual listening.

    velvet.png
     
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  4. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Almost "Made"

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    Absolutely, gets even more complicated when dealing with things like Ryzen CPUs where part of the performance of the CPUs tied to your ram speed, so if the review used shitty slow ram to compare Ryzen and Intel cpu, the Ryzen would suffer much more but that is not something most people would know.

    Tech deals is one of the best tech reviewers out there, very practical real world advice and tons of data. I fully agree with him on that point too it was extremely noticeable when I upgraded to a Ryzen CPU from a Intel I7. My max fps in games didnt go up but man it was SO much smoother. I have had almost zero hitching or stuttering since I made the switch. I could get more max FPS with intel but its not worth it to deal with all the stutter and hitching you get whenever windows decides to run a background process or whatever else weirdness happens in the background. I cant show it with benchmarks but its definately a real thing. I hope he succeeds in his endeavor.

    I do think a lot of the hyper objectivist shit is tied to the whole benchmark mentality that has risen out of PC gaming getting so big. People want the Amp/DAC that looks best on paper since that is how they pick GPUs and such. I also remember the HUMAN EYE CANT SEE MORE THAN FPS bullshit that got spammed everywhere talking about how refresh rates were a scam. THE HUMAN EAR CANT HEAR A DIFFERENCE IN DACS is the new trend!

    Sorry to join in on the tangent, but that has been why I have recommended Ryzen to all my friends and family. Such a nice computing experience!

    Edit : Also on the subject of AKM filters, all of the filters roll off later than the ESS/Ciruc Logic versions so there may be something to the idea of the slower roll off contributing to the softness, though I dont think it explains the somewhat recessed sounding upper mids or lower mid bloom I think they have.
     
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  5. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    I don't get why people dislike preringing. Making a digital filter with its super sharp slope as a minimum phase filter will just result in lots of phase shift in the audioband, no?* I don't really see the argument how that is going to sound more natural than some ultrasonic ringing that doesn't get excited with music anyway. I have to agree with @purr1n that with DACs that let me chose I preferred the linear phase to the minimum phase variants.
    I guess if you need low delay minimum phase is a must. But not for fidelity.
    *Just measured it and there's some not-so-subtle delay in the high frequencies with the minimum phase filters.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    From what I know, the minimum filter thing was audiophile bullshit started by the guys at Meridian many years ago, ORFAS, and all that jazz. The thought-exercise, flawed, was that pre-ringing wasn't natural and not heard in the real world. What they didn't account for, not withstanding phase shifts, was that any ringing wasn't natural, and minimum phase had a penalty of more post-ringing as a trade-off.

    You can see results from Ultrabike, minimum phase filters muck up the waveform (couple of posts down): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...d-post-effin-ringing-and-shit-like-that.2627/
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    LOL, what up's with the descriptions, e.g. "acoustic tone", "harmonious convergence", or "traditional sound"? Did that come from some boutique audio jewelry manufacturer? And all those remarks referring to "echo" is flat out wrong.
     
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  8. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Marketing guys speak with different tongue!
     
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  9. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I don't know if Bob Stuart/Meridian "started it", but they certainly laid claim to it and sold it as their own and by the early 2000's (if not before) you have guys like John Atkinson and the rest of the Stereophile writing crew repeating it as if it was self evident. Look at the AKM webpage where @bixby got that graphic a few posts up. The "edge" in the graphic refers to the transient leading edge, and AKM is repeating this oft told story (with their own peculiar marketing language) about how "pre-ringing" significantly affects the audibility of this transient "edge", and thus the character of what you hear. Notice that the well understandable phenomenon of phase shift fuckery is simply ignored.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Last set of measurements for Topping D70, mostly IMD:

    Multi-tone blah blah blah, looks great.
    upload_2020-5-22_19-56-37.png

    50 and 7000Hz, awesome.
    upload_2020-5-22_20-17-6.png

    600 and 1700Hz, good enough - can't hear any of this stuff
    upload_2020-5-22_20-19-7.png
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    is Bob Stuart's friend and will support everything he does including MQA. The difference between me and Atkinson is that I tell my friends when things sound like shit or are dumbass ideas.
     
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  12. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Marketing guys talk bullshit.

    velvet.png

    From top to bottom:

    1. Natural tone: Digital filter bypassed on AK4497, likely an ultrasonic extravaganza.
    2. Acoustic tone: Shitty digital filter with shittier phase response.
    3. Traditional tone: Minimal "ringing" produces an under-powered digital filter that at least doesn't fuck up the phase.
    4. Harmonic tone: Reasonable filter with shitty phase response.
    5. Acoustic sound: Reasonable filter with shittiest phase response.
    6. Traditional sound: The only setting that make any sense to me.

    Low "pre-ringing" filters make sense if you want absolutely the least possible latency while still removing ultrasonics, at the expense of some phase distortion. And that's it.

    If one does not give a shit if the music starts a few milliseconds later after one pressed play, then I can't for the life of me understand why any one would use a low "pre-ringing" filter.

    But this is pointless. Press whatever random button. Relative to other problems, this is small potatoes.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. (The commentary is funnier once you know how various digital filters work).
     
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  14. dmckean44

    dmckean44 In a Sherwood S6040CP relationship

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    When I reviewed my Soekris DAC I had trouble making sense of all the different filter options so I ended up leveling matching with my vinyl setup and A/Bing. No matter what I thought sounded most pleasing on it's own, the linear filters were the most similar to what I heard on my LPs. The NOS filter sounded the most "wrong" when compared directly.
     
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  15. Sonorus

    Sonorus Almost "Made"

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    No.6 is the classic "linear" phase filter while No.5 looks like the "minimum" phase.
    No.3 looks like a tweaked No.6 some times called a "steep" filter.
     
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  16. wadec22

    wadec22 Almost "Made"

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    i picked up the ultralite mk4 based on @Psalmanazar recommendation. thing has been a fucking dream. huge value proposition.

    thanks for the in-depth comparison marv.
     
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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Conclusions on Topping D70:
    Not Recommended
    upload_2020-6-1_9-13-22.png

    Positives:

    • Many inputs: SPDIF, AES, toslink, HDMI i2s
    • Balanced and SE outputs
    • Measures good enough
    • Display screen that tells us sampling rate, input, output, etc.
    • Six digital filters
    • Decent chassis with some weight
    Negatives:
    • Poor value at $500 + tax for cookie cutter design and no niche application
    • Six digital filters without any guidance or documentation (only two, maybe three, of which are worthwhile, the rest sound like shit)
    • 0dbFS 1kHz THD+N or "SINAD" no better than $99 AKM4490 based Modi 3 considering use of better spec AKM4497 chip, and two of them - this is an indicator of poor engineering
    • Physical interface is not intuitive: certain functions require the remote, random buttons on remote with markings don't do anything. Difficult to read and understand manual with most real-estate dedicated to measurements. Strange procedure to get to "secret" settings menu. Unfortunately too stereotypical of Chi-Fi.
    • Subjectively thin tonality, mushy lows, and digital highs compared to other AKM Velvet Sound DACs.
    • Subjectively less resolving than $99 Modi 3
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  18. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Almost "Made"

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    Think you meant AK4497s rather than 4493s which makes it so much worse I might add as the AK4497 was the top of the line chip before the 4499 came around, so its real bad if they couldnt manage significantly better performance in dual mono config of the flagship versus a single midrange chip.
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Fixed. It was so underwhelming that my brain kicked it down to 4493. When you drive a car that is supposed to be a V6, but you get an I4 experience...
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  20. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    So essentially, it's 5x the cost of the Modi 3 for 1/5 of the performance?
     

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