Topping DACs?

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by etane, May 6, 2020.

  1. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    I have compared the two as well. At one point I had the Modi 3, the Bifrost 2 and the D70. Honestly, the comparison was much closer that I thought it would be, and this is with the HD800s and The Asgard 3. I am not sure I would be able to A/B them 100% of the time.

    Just out of curiosity, what was wrong with the D70 case? I actually really like mine as stated before, but I know it is subjective.

    I ended up returning my Bifrost 2 as one channel developed a weird buzzing noise at high volumes and the casework was not great - the front panel came with manufacturing scratches around the led cutouts and the USB input sign was torn. The Bifrost 2 sounded good, but the D70 held its own sonically. For me, there is no question that the Modi 3 is the best bang for the buck of all DACs I have ever owned. If it was not for that damned RFI interference in my house, I would have just kept it. And it is not because of my speakers that I pick up that RFI - it is also picked up through headphones. When I install my setup in the basement, there is no interference. My audio room is on the second floor where RFI is much worse.
     
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  2. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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  3. MichaeLeroy

    MichaeLeroy Almost "Made"

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    Agreed, but it's a straw-man point I think, as we are talking not about notions but experience and observations.. What is the preconceived notion; Topping is Chinese and Chinese products are crap, therefore Topping is crap? I did't see that sort of reasoning in the responses made by Topping detractors. Yet that simple minded thinking was seemingly imputed on to the detractors by those who threw the racist thinking flag.

    Some detractors had evaluated the D90. I did generalize from observation of another Topping product, literally dismissing the D90 in favor of the Bifrost after a cursory but very revealing audition of the D50s. Was that irrational, unfair or ignorant? I think not. I had read Amirm's ASR Review and Measurements of New Topping D50s DAC, which had many great things to say about it and endorsed it as exemplary of Topping's engineering. Of course I was skeptical of the review, but decided to give the D50s a shot to test my skepticism. The result of the experiment was D50s bad and Amiirm unreliable. Did that experience prove that the D90 is bad? No, but it gave me no reason to expect good things from Topping, So my $700 office system DAC upgrade was the Bifrost and not the D90*. That could have been the wrong decision, but I doubt it, and it was certainly not unfair, irrational or closed minded.

    * edit: D50 -> D90
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Still looking for a used Topping D90 or D70 or one as a loaner.

    The OP, who happens to live in SoCal, but now banned, should have offered a quick loaner to me or other senior members for evaluation from the onset. I mean, if it’s so good and spectacular...

    This is how it works here. Put up or shut up when we voice our magic-eight ball suspicions, which are more often right than wrong because they are based on past experience.

    Less talk and more sharing of resources. Trying really hard not to buy a new D70 or D90 new because I’m afraid we’ll get 40 cents on the dollar after we are done. We’ve taken huge losses lately on gear that no SBAF member wanted to touch after a few members got their ears on it. And last time, the D30 (now that was a POS) got stolen from someone’s porch.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  5. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    Out of curiosity, what did you compare the D50s against? I thought it sounded acceptable compared to the older D50 which was lifeless. The D50s also had a fairly significant channel imbalance that bothered my OCD. I could not really hear the imbalance, and I don't remember why I decided to measure it with my multimeter, but it was around 0.2dB, which was out of spec (+-0.025dB). It's probably because they are using two ESS 9038Q2M chips and they were not perfectly matched.
     
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  6. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    D30 measurements coming soon (finally.) It has both measurable and audible problems. D30 serves as bad example for listening education in my lab.
     
  7. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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  8. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    Really looking forward to this. It is not a surprise to me as this is one of rare DACs which had an audibly high noise floor especially using the Toslink input. The measurements should once and for all settle the debate about the D30 being anywhere close to the Modi 3 which was implied by the ASR. To my ears it was not even close, and I can’t wait to see how exactly your measurements demonstrate what I was hearing.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    D30 isn't grainy. It's just dead and boring, like any other cookie cutter implementation using the Cirrus chip.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It was D30 vs Modi 2U:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...c-deconstructing-amirs-hack-job-part-ii.6449/

    @atomicbob may have found stuff which I didn't. I just did very basic measurements to do apples to apples with Amir.

    The Modi 3 is a significant improvement.
     
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  11. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    Amir actually sent some mixed messages about the Modi 3 as well. At first, when comparing the D30 to the Modi 3, he was saying that they are very close:
    "Topping D30 sells for nearly the same money as Modi 3. It has the same three inputs just the same. I like its larger USB input jack and the on/off switch in the front. Aesthetically I say it is better than Modi 3 but this is a personal thing and you can decide that. From distortion+noise point of view, it is neck and neck with Modi 3. It is more well behaved in jitter test/sensitive to USB data than Modi 3. I give it a slight nod in this regard."

    Then he changed his mind two months later (Dec 2018):
    "Schiit Modi 3 has better performance than Topping D30 so if you are inclined to go there, that would be fine."

    One day I truly hope that there will be a way of proving to the ASR crowd that each D/S chip (and each amp) has its own sound signature. For them, evaluating an audio product is very simple and it consists mainly of looking at the frequency response chart and the THD+N chart, all created using generated signals that have very little resemblance to any form of music produced by human beings. Basically, the implication is that all DACs that measure well enough sound 100% exactly the same - transparent. I do not understand how someone can choose to believe that when their own ears must be telling them otherwise. It's like when people used to argue back in the day that any cable carrying digital signal either works perfectly or doesn't work at all because "it is all ones and zeros", without recognizing the importance of jitter-related issues.

    I hope that people like atomicbob one devise some kind of measurement that would reveal why exactly certain amps that measure similarly sound very different - say the Heresy vs the Magni 3+.
     
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  12. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    You'll never be able to do that given most of them are inattentive and many of them fully drank the mullah's kool-aid and own shitty dsp speakers designed to get subbass out of a small box or crossover a massive woofer to a compression driver like a pa system with a pa system amp.
     
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  13. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Why?
     
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  14. fp627

    fp627 Friend

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    Just curious - to those who have spent time on ASR (I have no desire to spend more time there) - who else does/provides the accepted measurements for their entire community aside from Amir?

    I don't care as much as many people here that ASR as a whole chooses to buy ASR-fi dacs and amps, that Amir may be getting kickbacks based on the foolishness of his followers, that Amir's measurements may be botched, or whatever else. It doesn't affect me or the world at large.

    However - the amount of mental gymnastics I saw in my <1hr there absolutely baffled me. Distilling all audio gear down to 1-2 graphs and price would probably be the technical equivalent of distilling every vehicle in existence down to only price + power and maybe the weight of the car. Like whattttt?????????



    Just read the synopsis. Man that was sad. On the flip side it's nice to see how far we (all people) have come in 50-100 years (I guess depending on where you are) and how much we take for granted today.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
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  15. MichaeLeroy

    MichaeLeroy Almost "Made"

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    As I noted in my original contribution to this thread, my first and until recently only listening to the D50s was in a very good 2 channel system. It's a pure pleasure system that does not get a lot of tinkering. DAC, preamp and amp are all vintage 2010 Audio by Van Alstine Ultra FET Valve products (here is the DAC on wayback). This chain is fed by a squeezebox, and the loudspeakers are Odyssey Audio Nightingales supported by an Adire Audio Rava sub.

    I have no clue about the fairness of comparing the D50s to a 10 year old DAC that cost almost 7 times as much when new. But it was not a contest, the AVA DAC sounds sweet and the D50s sounded unpleasantly flawed when it took the AVA's place in the chain. I didn't have the words to describe my perception other than to think of it as a strange harshness in the treble. I subsequently researched describing audio qualities on SBAF and decided that it was glare that I had heard. It wasn't just me, my GF who enjoys music on this system but is not super analytical about audio found the D50s quite annoying. It was not a matter of needing to A-B the two DACs to tease out the difference; the D50s was unquestionably bad in this setup, which with the AVA Ultra DAC sounds great.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The problem is thar Amir is deaf, doesn't actually set up blind tests, and is too subject to confirmation bias. Even if he did blind tests, he still wouldn't be able to hear a difference, and through this "scientifically" infer that no others can.
     
  17. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    I saw at least one other guy (WolfX) who is a guy in China with a more advanced analyser than Amir. He buys or gets sent products from people in the Chinese community, or manufacturers direct, and measures them, no subjective reviews just measurements. He seems to have a bias or two of his own though, see for example Aune.
    He was lyrical about the engineering done on Holo spring 2 (bought one himself) and Holo May so there's that. At least one overlap in the 'objective' and subjective realm of audio appreciation :p
     
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  18. magicscreen

    magicscreen Rando

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    The main problem is, there is no test for proving the opposite. Someone cannot hear a difference but when he (easily) fails this test, the result is that there is a difference in fact.
     
  19. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Almost "Made"

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    i think the worst part of the hyper objectivism is that I genuinely have no idea how to get someone out of it. Blind tests are going to be useless as they are already convinced they cant hear any differences. It stands to reason if one can convince themselves to hear differences where there are none, they can also convince themselves into thinking there is no difference when there is one.

    I find hyper objectivists just cant understand that concept or they seem to think themselves totally immune to confirmation bias, ironic since they constantly tell others confirmation bias is the reason for their hearing differences and why blind tests are totally needed to report any kind of subjective feedback. Its very frustrating.

    As for the Topping Dacs I tried the D30 and the D50 (original) and well the D30 sucked. As Purrin mentioned its super boring sounding, though in my case I found it a little grainy or "low fi"ish as well. D50 was not terrible just bright sounding,certainly better than the D30. Not as good a implementation of the 9038 as the Burson Playmate though.

    I find it amusing that the high end Topping stuff like the D90 exists to be honest. Topping markets their stuff to people who only care about measurements and while they are sure awesome measurements....there is no reason measurement wise for it to be any better than the Topping E30 which is 130 dollars.

    I dont get why anyone would not just buy that if they thought there were no audible differences between dacs. i guess you could make the argument for it being balanced but then the SDAC balanced exists again for far far less money and measures "good enough". Its amusing to see people on reddit freaking out that a new thing has come out with .00000000008% lower distortion and thinking they gotta get it!
     
  20. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    To dispel the myth propagated by the measurebator community that the performance of a DAC or an amp can be fully captured and expressed using solely these 2 sets of measurements and nothing else. In a sense, beat them at their own game by empirically proving that there is more to a performance of an audio device than the THD+N graph and the Frequency Response chart. It is a gross oversimplification that is used to make people feel secure in their limited worldview.

    For example, it would be awesome if someone could devise a set of measurements that would demonstrate why the high gain setting on the Magni 3+ and the Asgard 3 sounds very different than the low gain. The conventional measurements simply show that the high gain has a bit more distortion and slightly higher noise floor, but still way below the threshold audibility, so they should theoretically sound the same on high impedance headphones, but they do not.

    Ever since ASR appeared on the scene, there has been a dangerous (to my mind) shift towards measurement-obsessed culture in the audio enthusiast community which can potentially breed laziness and over-reliance on op-amp design which mostly sound boring and unengaging. For me, the watershed moment came when I compared the Heresy and the Magni 3+. If in 3-5 years all we can get are op-amp based designs like the Heresy, I will be keeping my Asgard 3 for a very long time.

    Just to clarify, I do believe in measurements to a certain degree, but not to the detriment of the overall listening experience and not to the point where I am ignoring what I am hearing. I believe in science, but not when it is driven by ignorance.
     
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