Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by etane, May 6, 2020.
Better than not listening to music at all, as, I am sure, are all the Topping products.
Banned solely on that alone.
I know you can't respond now, but dislike solely because I'd totally rock that hairstyle.
Once my hair grows back anyway.
It was Oh Woman, Oh Man wasn't it? Haha, even if it isn't that particular song is THICK.
If SBAF does get a (cheap!) unit to loan around tentatively requesting to be put on the butt-end of any loaners just so I can see how badly it does bass with my tubby-bottomed cans.
Curious about ASR hype and as a sanity check on my Schiit attitude, I picked up a Topping D50s when I was considering an upgrade of my office stack from Modi Multibit to a current generation Bifrost. It arrived at my home address, so I put it into my GF's rather good 2 channel system. The results were shockingly bad (now I know what glare is) and my GF insisted on its immediate removal. I agreed and complied after putting her through a few different tracks to confirm the impression. I didn't bother to test in my office stack but went ahead and ordered my Bifrost, feeling no need to give either Topping or ASR further consideration.
After seeing this thread, I pulled the D50s out of the box for some head to head listening against the Bifrost in my pandemic remote work system with a Monoprice AAA THX 887 and HD650s. The D50s is clearly inferior to the Bifrost, but not quite as unlistenable as it was in the 2 channel system. Perhaps the Monoprice amp glosses over some of the most offensive traits of the D50s. I can understand how someone who pairs the D50s with poorly resolving components might think that is OK but don't understand how it could fool a competent reviewer with good equipment. I'll eventually have what I hope will be a better amp and better headphones in this setup and could try the head to head then, but what would be the point?
I'll keep the D50s in case I need to self administer some aversion therapy should I fall into the temptation of taking ASR seriously.
Glare of the D50 is not present in the D90. It has some ups and downs but the big problem, imo, is the price that kills it as something to consider.
I've been using the D90 for the last few weeks and love it. Doing a/b testing as best I can, I find it as detailed as my Onyx with slightly better bass and treble than my Onyx. It has better imaging, head stage, and placement, too. Using filter 1. For $700, it's a hell of an option.
Edit: I using a Gilmore Lite Mk2 amp and Ether 2 headphones while I wait forever for Justin at Headamp to fix my GS-X mini (he's had it over 3 weeks with little communication... Pissing me off)
I appreciate your post and am glad that you enjoy the D90. But it is too little too late for me. Had the D50s been OK rather than offensive at first listen, I'd have given it some serious listening against the Modi Multibit. It was Topping's opportunity to convince me to be interested in a D90 rather than a Bifrost. It didn't work.
Truthfully, I'd have to see glowing (as well as thoughtful and thorough) reviews of a Topping product from the likes of @purr1n @atomicbob and @Hands before I'd put any of my own money down on one. Even then I might hesitate. I respect producers who demonstrate not just quality and value from entry level to TOTL but also vision for what a product should be over tiers and time. Does Topping have any consistency, philosophy or vision to their products, or do they just crank out products to various price points that measure well in certain respects? Perhaps it is the latter, which might explain why Topping is reviled on SBAF and adored on ASR.
Do people here act like sycophants at times? Definitely. The notion is unpleasant, of course, people should always come to their own conclusions about things that are within their means to evaluate, but for people who can't afford to cycle gear having useful reference points that display integrity saves a crap ton of money in the long term
The HD650 is somewhat forgiving in the highs, hence why it’s paired more often with gear which sounds neutral or brighter. This is why the D50’s glare isn’t so evident on your headphone rig. The ESS chips can be touchy and I’ve rarely hear good sounding implementations at the lower price points.
The D90 is a totally different implementation based on the AKM 449x Velvet Sound chips. It’s hard to make the AKM stuff sound bad. Soft maybe, but extremely resolving at fine detail and good at soundstage. The D90 uses the latest TOTL AKM4499 chips which measure spectacularly. One only needs to copy the design of AKM product evaluation boards. The AKM4499 chips are very expensive.
I would be curious how a better priced balanced AKM4493 DAC would compare against the D90. Curious whether that 7db extra SINAD would make a difference. Hoping JDS or Schiit may offer something here for $300. I’m hardly alt-right, but I’d like a choice whether or not I want to support China hegemony (I got family in Taiwan and friends in HK)
The Metrum stuff is very niche. It’s NOS and a ladder DAC. NOS sucks at traditional headstage soundstage, imaging. The lower end Metrum stuff isn’t particularly resolving. It’s speciality is tone density, fluid sound, smooth-gentle highs, and NOS in-utero-like headstage. If this niche isn’t what you are looking for, then even a Modi 3 (AKM-based) will crush the Onyx.
i wish Amir had better ears and wasn’t subject to confirmation bias. May have had more Topping gear already. Then again, we’ve already had our share of turds like the D30 and D50.
@purr1n thanks for your replies to my posts and your contributions to the discussion.
Good to know. I do not have that much time with the HD650s and have much to learn about them. I picked them up because I needed something that wasn't a Nightowl while I wait for some ZMF VCs to be made. They were reasonably priced, and I could get them quickly. That they are well known to SABF is a big plus.
Exactly why I like SABF; opinion and listening are backed by insight into designs. Now I have some idea as to why the D50s is terrible but the D90 might be good if a bit over-priced. There may be hope for Topping, but they'd need to win my trust first.
Topping just does what the chip providers suggest in their data sheets. It’s cookie cutter with opamps and some attention paid to layout and cap bypassing (opamp data sheets also tell us how to do this).
Personally, I think Topping stuff is a bit overpriced for it being a China outfit.
People just get tricked by all the functions, options and filters. For some it's not ultimately about sound quality. It's about that it might do MQA or BLUETOOTH ! I have a friend at work like this. He's more impressed by the digital displays than the actual sound quality. If the D90 was $349 I'd buy one !
I tend to agree in principle but I have to say that the quality of materials and finishing is top notch on my D70. The paint finish is very high quality and does not scratch easily. I am assuming that the QC is better than on their entry level products. My unit has been rock solid and great sounding.
Schiit’s stuff is definitely better value than both Topping and JDS Labs, their main competitors for this segment of the market. The reason why I got the D70 is because I really wanted a DAC based on a higher end AKM chip and the D90 was extremely hard to get and much more expensive. Had Schiit offered a D/S version of the Bifrost based on the AK4497 or AK4499 that was cheaper than the multibit version, I would have bought that. I am still convinced that there is a gap in their DAC lineup left by the absence of a $200-$400 D/S DAC in the Asgard-style casing with a built-in power supply and galvanic isolation.
Edit: I would not care if it is upgradable or not if that helps keep the price down.
I largely agree that Topping is overpriced, not by their BQ (recent ones rather good I think) but by sonic merits. This came from my own assessments with DX3 (AKM4493) and D70 (AKM4497).
Let's first forget about their sabres. Sabre needs more careful treatments to have it sound right. Topping wasn't capable. D50 was not even close to better alternatives like Matrix -- pricey though.
Moving to AKM, last year I spent quite a time in comparing dx3 and modi3+magni3 stack (largely similar in price) with Aeolus and Verite. Some possible mix and match also included in the test. At the end of the day, I thought dx 3 not inferior to modi 3. Slightly better details and (head) staging. But worse in transient, intimacy, and dynamics. I believe their new e30 (akm4493) may perform almost identically with dx3. Maybe a touch or two adjusted in circuit parameters? In the end I sold modi 3 as I found extra functionality benefited my use cases.
Later I happened to compare dx3 with d70 as I thought their multi-inputs and outputs management quite useful. If they can perform as satisfying as I expect for $500, I even considered taking it (secretly). The result, shortly, was a bit disappointing. Improvement over dx3 was insignificant or mixed at best -- almost the magnitude of placebo.
Now I know how wonderful $700 multi-bit/r2r can sound. $200 gap is too narrow to seriously consider. If on a budget, I'd rather go low.
So to sum up, I think Topping made a right decision to move from ess to akm (easier stuff). Their E30 seems a bit overpriced but still acceptable if they perform no worse than dx3 as a dac. D90? ... hmm.. I am not bought at all.
PS. Using speakers, I recently found dx3 staging rather far less dimensional. The gap between bifrost 2 and dx3 with my speakers was nearly multiple times as evident as with headphones.
PS. On a bright side, I kinda think it interesting that Topping enables us to assess how capable a modern dac chip per se is (without aids of post-conversion adjustments).
You can get the Asgard with a 4490 Dac card for $300, which I assume is at least gen 5 (so "galvanic" isolation), but perhaps I assume too much and it is a straightforward (non-isolating) C-Media implementation...
edit: you said "Asgard-style casing" so not a head-amp - you want just DAC. My bad.
Unfortunately, the card does not have any form of galvanic isolation, produces a lower volume output compared to any stand-alone DAC and only has a USB input. I much prefer stand-alone DACs.
case work isn’t quality control for electronics. And smsl/topping has awful casework. You’ve clearly never used anything super high end.
why the hell are you choosing a dac based on chip? What’s around the chip is more important than the actual chip. Otherwise stuff from the 90s and early 2000s wouldn’t destroy all Chifi. Topping is just an SMSL rebranded. At best it’s going to be like an ugly woman where the only nice thing you can say about her appearance is that she isn’t fat. At worst, it’s going to be a ugly crackwhore with oozing sores and vd.
gap in the line up? Stuff without any of your meme ass features that you have no basis to be for or against that usually mean jack and shit for real world use destroys everything mentioned in your post. There are diy wolfson and ti/bb dacs that sure as hell don’t have features you think are important that are better that destroy all the cheap crap you talked about.
you could have hunted the used market for something really good. Instead you bought some Chinese muntzed eval board crap and are trying to justify your purchase to people who know you don’t know what the hell youre talking about. An actual eval board sounds better than topping. It has a higher bom with the recommended power supplies.
upgradable? What is this? Leather seats on a dodge neon? This is audio gear. The real upgrade to a cost-reduced turd piece is ripping half the crap off the board, replacing them with better parts, totally rebuilding or replacing the power supply, or just selling it off and buying something better. A new DAC chip with 5 dB lower thd+n won’t get rid of all the crap in it. Most of your music is already massive distorted in comparison.
LOL, that is a hilarious, Psalmanazar. I am glad you didn't go for the money speaking of female body analogy .
The only reason I went for it is curiosity, pure and simple. This was the cheapest way of getting into the higher end AKM. I wanted to hear how this chip sounded and I hoped Topping didn't manage to screw up the implementation of it. To my ears, they have not. Honestly, the Modi 3 sounds very close to it.
Why I sold my Modi 3 was the fact that I had some RFI problems with it which are completely absent from the D70. By the way, their D50s also experienced the same RFI in my situation as the Modi 3. I live close to an airport, so a lot of my devices pick up this annoying radar blip (Mani, Modi 3, D50s, Bottlehead Crack).
Oops, you were still ranting, I mean writing, when I was posting. I like your posts, so let's not get personal, there is no need to. You have no idea what I used or not, and there is no need for the elitist "You’ve clearly never used anything super high end" angle. The casework on the D50s and D70 is excellent and very durable. Paintwork is super durable and flawless under any light. I know, I am OCD, and I inspect my devices meticulously. It really is not fair to disparage them without evidence. I really don't want a fight because, like I said, I really find your posts entertaining and I respect your opinions. There is no reason to disrespect mine, especially because we both obviously like similar things at least when it comes to Schiit products.
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