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AMA about the Topping D90 (non-MQA version)

ichonderoga

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#1
Hi All, my Topping D90 just arrived and I'm thrilled to put it through its paces. Please ask away and thanks for being awesome! :)
  • I bought the DAC because I was so pleasantly surprised with the Sanskrit Pro-B to Sanskrit 10th MKII upgrade I made recently and this whet my appetite for MORE enhancements (especially XLR).
  • First I installed the latest Windows drivers from Topping (link) and then I connected it via USB.
  • No issues out of the box everything just works: Foobar2000, ASIO output, DSD, Spotify, YouTube and so on.
  • Connected directly to my fully balanced power amp TacT SDA 2175 via XLR
  • Using built-in pre-amp functionality
  • First impressions using the XLR is that the output is very "hot". Might be due to the increased voltages that XLR connections provide (it's my first time using XLR).
    • Low listening level on Topping D90 display around -70dB with Foobar2000 ASIO and Spotify (Windows 100%) output.
  • Build quality and weight feel great.
  • In standby it's still visible to connected devices (BT and USB).
    • My Sanskrit 10th turns off USB (removed from pc/usb sound devices) when switching inputs, Topping D90 doesn't.
  • As of writing this I've only had a couple of hours listening time in a semi-noisy environment (kids are at home and awake *hah*). So whether or not this device provides listening bliss above my Sanskrit 10th MKII has yet to be determined.
  • Can also confirm what Z Reviews stated - Volume goes from -99dB --> 00dB very fast! (both on remote and on device)
    • Volume steps are: 0,5db from 00dB --> -50dB and 1dB from -50dB --> -99dB.
  • In Windows Exclusive Mode (ASIO + WASAPI) output from Foobar2000 Windows Volume Control still controls volume.
    • I've checked samplerate output and everything is correctly displayed on the Topping D90 and ASIO active on Thesycon Control Panel
    • Windows Sounds are suppresed (as they should be) - when music samplerate isn't the same as Windows'.
    • Didn't think it possible but it is. Probably the way the Thesycon drivers and XMOS U208 are implemented.
  • Display cannot be turned off - The three modes are low, medium and high brightness.
  • FIR-button changes filter on every press (some DACs show active filter on first button press and the following press changes it)
  • Powerusage @ 240V: between 2-5 watts (idle/full output)
  • Settings (input, filter, volume, brightness etc.) are remembered after power loss.
  • Pre-Amp or DAC mode
    • Switch off device with back power button
    • Hold down front panel multifuntion button whilst powering on device until settings menu is shown
    • Use multifuntion button to scroll to 3rd option: LO Mode
      • Use volume button to switch between PRE or DAC mode
    • Use multifuntion button to scroll to 11th option:
      • Use volume button to select Save and exit
A little background: I've been on a light shopping spree since discovering this site a year or so ago. With all it's passionate followers and @amirm passion for objective measurements. I've since come to like the dry wits this site has to offer and when it comes to saying yay or nay to devices that hits test benches. So far the vallet has lightened a bit based upon reviews - Since aquiring a Sanskrit 10th MKII, Meizu HiFi Pro (Dongle) and last but not least the Topping D90. I've sworn to my wife "no more DACs" (this year atleast) *heh*

ps. I don't have any fancy measuring equipment (besides my ears) so please don't ask me to measure Jitter, FFT, SiNaD ... ;-)

Update 20/5-2020 (after a couple of weeks use):
  • It still surprises me how good the stereo separation is - The sound is always where it should be nomatter the source.
  • Crystal clear sound.
  • Absolutely no issues whatsoever.
  • Still using filter 3 (default) - I have tried the other filters but really can't hear much if any difference.
    • Checking filter setting still bugs me because each button press on the D90 remote changes the filter - So no option to display on first button press and change on the second.
  • Remote just as awful as the Sanskrit 10th MKII (generic piece of [email protected]). So mostly end up around -35dB and control volume directly in either Windows, Spotify or Foobar2000.
  • Value. Won't say this device is 6x as good as my previous DAC the Sanskrit 10th MKII (which btw is a steal for the price of ~$/€115!!) - The D90 is just a bit better (yes buyers/sighted bias - I know).
  • All listening has been conducted via the USB input.
  • Connected to a "master/slave power outlet" so when turned on my TacT poweramp also turns on.
 

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#2
Thanks for the initial review and comments. I hope to have my own NON MQA unit in the next 36 hours. Some of my own thoughts:

1. I'm coming from an SMSL SU-8 with xlr balanced outs to my Massdrop 789 headphone amp. I'm curious to hear, if hear the IMD bump in the SU-8 vanish with the D90.

2. I urge others not to get sucked into the MQA game, and stick with the NON MQA version of the D90. Purchase your favorite recordings from hdtracks . com or some other high resolution download store.

3. yes, XLR is hot. It has basically twice the voltage swing as RCA, consider turning the preamp mode OFF on the D90, and run that into your power amp?
 
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ichonderoga

ichonderoga

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Thread Starter #3
Thanks for the initial review and comments. I hope to have my own NON MQA unit in the next 36 hours. Some of my own thoughts:

1. I'm...
Sounds great, so far it's one awesome piece of gear!

1. Yeah i've only read about it never expirienced it. My "serious" DAC game has primarily been around AKM chips.
2. MQA is mute to me because of its closed off (DRM-like) nature. Just like the Pono-moniker of yesteryear (eventhough it was only FLAC with special tags). MQA is just another way for the few to squeeze more cash out of the music production chain all rolled up in a lossy format. Also: at the risk of starting a flamewar this article about hi-res vs. cd is very interesting.
3. *hah* you must be joking - running XLR LINE-level into the poweramp (without prior volume control) will blow my speakers. And I really don't want (at this point in time) another device in my signal path or to rely on Windows to make sure that 100% isn't output. With DSD output the Topping is the only device able to control volume neither Windows nor Foobar does anything with RAW DSD output.
 
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#4
Sounds great, so far it's one awesome piece of gear!

1. Yeah i've only read about it never expirienced it. My "serious" DAC game has primarily been around AKM chips.
2. MQA is mute to me because of it's closed off (DRM-like) nature. Just like the Pono-moniker of yesteryear (eventhough it was only FLAC with special tags). Also: at the risk of starting a flamewar this article about hi-res vs. cd is very interesting.
3. *hah* you must be joking - running XLR LINE-level into the poweramp (without prior volume control) will blow my speakers. And I really don't want (at this point in time) another device in my signal path or to rely on Windows to make sure that 100% isn't output. With DSD output only the Topping is the only device able to control volume neither Windows nor Foobar does anything with RAW DSD output.
1. I've heard Burr-Brown (ifi stuff), ESS, but not an AKM chipset, I have high hopes.

2. MQA also uses perceptual compression to reduce bitrate, PLUS they do the flac tagging, etc. Also, I am a headphone person. I own several very famous classical music recordings in both CD and High res format. When I say high res, I mean 24bit pcm, the sampling rate matters less. So in a quiet room, with properly recorded music, you can ABSOLUTELY hear a difference in headphones, between 16 and 24 bit. You can basically go from a reel to reel audio tape, directly to pcm in 24 bits, and not having to worry about fitting/mastering the entire dynamic range of the recording into 16. Many high resolution recordings I own are just that. 24bit re-rips of the original master tapes, or, just releasing the original full PCM tape rip, before it went to CD mastering.

3. :facepalm: My apologies, I'm a headphone person, I'll be turning off the preamp on my D90, running the FULL XLR LINE VOLTAGE, and using the volume control on my massdrop headphone amplifier.
 
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ichonderoga

ichonderoga

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Thread Starter #5
1. I've heard Burr-Brown (ifi stuff), ESS, but not an AKM chipset, I have high hopes.

2. MQA also uses ...
I concur.

Apology accepted ;-)
 
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#6
Did you pay full price or get any discount on the d90? I hope to get one myself in the near future...
 

Jimbob54

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#8
Thanks for the initial review and comments. I hope to have my own NON MQA unit in the next 36 hours. Some of my own thoughts:

1. I'm coming from an SMSL SU-8 with xlr balanced outs to my Massdrop 789 headphone amp. I'm curious to hear, if hear the IMD bump in the SU-8 vanish with the D90.

2. I urge others not to get sucked into the MQA game, and stick with the NON MQA version of the D90. Purchase your favorite recordings from hdtracks . com or some other high resolution download store.

3. yes, XLR is hot. It has basically twice the voltage swing as RCA, consider turning the preamp mode OFF on the D90, and run that into your power amp?
Can you physically hear the IMD bump, or you mean hear whether in measurements it isnt present?The D90 is AKM DAC, the SU8 is ESS- it was the infamous ESS IMD hump.
 
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#9
Can you physically hear the IMD bump, or you mean hear whether in measurements it isnt present?The D90 is AKM DAC, the SU8 is ESS- it was the infamous ESS IMD hump.
Yeah the IMD in the SU-8 IS audible, if you have an amp with a lower sinad floor, like my monoprice 887. it Sucks because the ess imd bump sits right at the middle of the volume level that most music plays at. I'll be able to confirm that with my golden ears in a few days when I get the D90. IMD is the worst distortion, makes everything sound muddy and crammed, again, right in the middle of the su-8's output levels.
 

Jimbob54

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Yeah the IMD in the SU-8 IS audible, if you have an amp with a lower sinad floor, like my monoprice 887. it Sucks because the ess imd bump sits right at the middle of the volume level that most music plays at. I'll be able to confirm that with my golden ears in a few days when I get the D90. IMD is the worst distortion, makes everything sound muddy and crammed, again, right in the middle of the su-8's output levels.
Fingers crossed for you then!
 
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ichonderoga

ichonderoga

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Thread Starter #12
@Jimbob54 can't help but think that @atomicminded review of D90 sounds interesting - So please let us know how it goes when you're all setup.

Whether it's buyers bias or it's the device I can't say for sure but I really like the sound coming from the D90 :)
 

Jimbob54

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#13
@Jimbob54 can't help but think that @atomicminded review of D90 sounds interesting - So please let us know how it goes when you're all setup.

Whether it's buyers bias or it's the device I can't say for sure but I really like the sound coming from the D90 :)
I'd be surprised if it's night and day, but you never know.
 

Tup3x

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#14
  • In Windows Exclusive Mode (ASIO + WASAPI) output from Foobar2000 Windows Volume Control still controls volume.
    • I've checked bitrate output and everything is correctly displayed on the Topping D90 and ASIO active on Thesycon Control Panel
    • Windows Sounds are suppresed (as they should be).
    • Didn't think it possible but it is. Probably the way the Thesycon drivers and XMOS U208 are implemented.
That's a good thing. Creative does the same with with AE-x series cards i.e. the DAC handles the volume control and Windows volume control is mapped to it (in direct mode too, unlike with Z sries cards where SoundCore3D chip handled it).
 
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#15
I'd be surprised if it's night and day, but you never know.
It might be day and night difference will report back in a while after i get the unit and spend a few days with it. The difference in IMD between the su8 and the d90 is like 5-10+db better. This IS a significant difference. The low and mid range volume levels coming out of the D90 DAC will sound much better (less distorted) than the SU-8. The D90 will be going out to a monoprice 887, and I'll be evaluating on my fostex cans and using both 16 and 24 bit recordings of the same music album/recording. all balanced everything, obviously.

Just a reminder that IMD is NOT harmonic distortion and this is really the worst distortion for the ears and mind. I find IMD in the DAC to be a major source of "listening fatigue" associated with digital audio.

SMSL SU-8 DAC Version 2 IMD Measurement.png
Topping D90 Balanced USB DAC XLR  IMD Audio Measurements.png
 

Jimbob54

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#16
It might be day and night difference will report back in a while after i get the unit and spend a few days with it. The difference in IMD between the su8 and the d90 is like 5-10+db better. This IS a significant difference. The low and mid range volume levels coming out of the D90 DAC will sound much better (less distorted) than the SU-8. The D90 will be going out to a monoprice 887, and I'll be evaluating on my fostex cans and using both 16 and 24 bit recordings of the same music album/recording. all balanced everything, obviously.

Just a reminder that IMD is NOT harmonic distortion and this is really the worst distortion for the ears and mind. I find IMD in the DAC to be a major source of "listening fatigue" associated with digital audio.

View attachment 62668 View attachment 62669
Which fostex cans have you got?
 
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#17
Which fostex cans have you got?
the ones in the picture. 900mk2 and the 909's. Also the massdrop ebony versions, but those dont get much time anymore........
 
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#19
Just got mine, OUTSTANDING. The default filter selected is Mode 3: short delay, sharp rolloff
 

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