• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Is my amp killing my IEMs?

VictorS

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2024
Messages
8
Likes
3
Hey there guys, I've been lurking around and reading for a while but this will be my first post here.
I'm not a very tech savvy person, so go easy on me.
I'm running a SMSL Su-9 Dac into a Topping A90 (not the discrete one) using XLR and USB into my PC, that's how I enjoy most of my music, and having (very loud) kids around the house IEMs is my preferred option to have some isolation and be able to enjoy some tunes without being disturbed, running everything with 4,4 balanced for convenience between desktop and DAP, but sadly the right channel of my IEMs keep dying on me, its starts as a perceived channel imbalance and it progresses to the point where I can barely hear the right channel at all, lost my Thieaudio Monarch mark1 and now my Sennheiser IE600 to the same thing.
I always have the Amp at low gain and the volume pot very low with the Dac at max volume. Checked multiple times with different cables, different sources (dap and phones) even asked wife for help cause I was getting paranoid I was getting deaf on my right ear.
Could my amp be the responsible for murdering my IEMs? Or am I really unlucky to experience the same problem twice?
Best regards and thanks in advance for any answer.
 
It's possible that your amp is putting-out DC. There would probably be a loud (or louder) click or pop in the right side when you plug them in or turn it on. You can't hear DC but you can hear it with it suddenly kicks-in or kicks-out.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB
Hey there guys, I've been lurking around and reading for a while but this will be my first post here.
I'm not a very tech savvy person, so go easy on me.
I'm running a SMSL Su-9 Dac into a Topping A90 (not the discrete one) using XLR and USB into my PC, that's how I enjoy most of my music, and having (very loud) kids around the house IEMs is my preferred option to have some isolation and be able to enjoy some tunes without being disturbed, running everything with 4,4 balanced for convenience between desktop and DAP, but sadly the right channel of my IEMs keep dying on me, its starts as a perceived channel imbalance and it progresses to the point where I can barely hear the right channel at all, lost my Thieaudio Monarch mark1 and now my Sennheiser IE600 to the same thing.
I always have the Amp at low gain and the volume pot very low with the Dac at max volume. Checked multiple times with different cables, different sources (dap and phones) even asked wife for help cause I was getting paranoid I was getting deaf on my right ear.
Could my amp be the responsible for murdering my IEMs? Or am I really unlucky to experience the same problem twice?
Best regards and thanks in advance for any answer.
My first guess is the IEM are developing an issue on their own. If the IEM are prone to failure randomly in the left and right, it's not that unlikely you will see 2 fails on the right channel. I observe that IEM from some manufacturers are not reliable and prone to failure. I really can't say that about your models, I have no experience, just keep in mind... If the IEM is still under warranty, would be good to seek warranty service.

My second guess is the right channel output of the A90 has a DC offset. But it is a wild guess based on most of my Topping gear having failed within a year or two. You might be able to hear the presence of DC if you listen to the phones while plugging in and out, or by looking at a driver of an over-ear pair of phones while plugging in and out, looking for the driver popping out and staying out due to the DC, not easy but not impossible. Or you would need a voltmeter and a headphone jack with bare wires or some way to contact the leads in order to test. Perhaps from one of your damaged headphones. Or bring it to a repair shop, which may be a better option due to the high cost of the iem that are failing. You could also bring the headphones and have the shop test for continuity.

Darn, those are expensive IEM. Good luck. Keep us posted if you can.
 
You've mentioned at least 3 different sources. The dac/amp stack most common. Have any of the right channel issues started with any of the other sources (DAP, phone)?
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB
It's possible that your amp is putting-out DC. There would probably be a loud (or louder) click or pop in the right side when you plug them in or turn it on. You can't hear DC but you can hear it with it suddenly kicks-in or kicks-out.
I have not noticed / experienced any pops or clicks, as an example I start noticing that suddenly mid songs the vocals or guitars are basically coming only from the left side, to the point I wonder if the recording was made that way and it progresses to where the right side is basically dead silent.
 
You've mentioned at least 3 different sources. The dac/amp stack most common. Have any of the right channel issues started with any of the other sources (DAP, phone)?
Very unlikely, I do 98% of my listening on the desk. Basically just grabbed the DAP to double check if i was not imagining things or going deaf on my right ear, and to my surprise my IE600 were dead silent on the right channel on the DAP as well
 
My first guess is the IEM are developing an issue on their own. If the IEM are prone to failure randomly in the left and right, it's not that unlikely you will see 2 fails on the right channel. I observe that IEM from some manufacturers are not reliable and prone to failure. I really can't say that about your models, I have no experience, just keep in mind... If the IEM is still under warranty, would be good to seek warranty service.

My second guess is the right channel output of the A90 has a DC offset. But it is a wild guess based on most of my Topping gear having failed within a year or two. You might be able to hear the presence of DC if you listen to the phones while plugging in and out, or by looking at a driver of an over-ear pair of phones while plugging in and out, looking for the driver popping out and staying out due to the DC, not easy but not impossible. Or you would need a voltmeter and a headphone jack with bare wires or some way to contact the leads in order to test. Perhaps from one of your damaged headphones. Or bring it to a repair shop, which may be a better option due to the high cost of the iem that are failing. You could also bring the headphones and have the shop test for continuity.

Darn, those are expensive IEM. Good luck. Keep us posted if you can.
Glady the IE600 are still under warranty so I might be able to savage the situation. Just out of curiosity I plugged in and out the Monarch while music was playing heard a few pops before the cables was fully in place, but I guess that's normal?!? Other than that nothing called my attention.
 
Very unlikely, I do 98% of my listening on the desk. Basically just grabbed the DAP to double check if i was not imagining things or going deaf on my right ear, and to my surprise my IE600 were dead silent on the right channel on the DAP as well
I'd have to go with others. Either you are very unlucky with iem or there is something funky with the A90. I'm guessing that's long out of warranty?

Personally, given you like your expensive iem, I'd either :

Sideline the A90 (and approach topping about investigating) and get something like a jds atom 2 for desktop use. I've never heard anyone say anything about one of those having issues but there are plenty of topping woes out there (I had one).

Or

Get some cheap but good iem (let's say 7hz crin zero 2) plus a cheap 4.4mm cable and play them on the A90 for days on end at your usual output levels. Maybe when you're not listening. And if the R dies then, it's all odds on the A90 being dud.

I would be wary of using the A90 for anything I spend real money on. At which point it's useless either way.
 
Glady the IE600 are still under warranty so I might be able to savage the situation. Just out of curiosity I plugged in and out the Monarch while music was playing heard a few pops before the cables was fully in place, but I guess that's normal?!? Other than that nothing called my attention.
Hard to tell, but a small amount of clicks and pops are normal while plugging and unplugging.
See if you can get warranty. Even if they reject and say "you blew them", useful info if accurate.
 
I'd have to go with others. Either you are very unlucky with iem or there is something funky with the A90. I'm guessing that's long out of warranty?

Personally, given you like your expensive iem, I'd either :

Sideline the A90 (and approach topping about investigating) and get something like a jds atom 2 for desktop use. I've never heard anyone say anything about one of those having issues but there are plenty of topping woes out there (I had one).

Or

Get some cheap but good iem (let's say 7hz crin zero 2) plus a cheap 4.4mm cable and play them on the A90 for days on end at your usual output levels. Maybe when you're not listening. And if the R dies then, it's all odds on the A90 being dud.

I would be wary of using the A90 for anything I spend real money on. At which point it's useless either way.
Yeah the A90 warranty is long gone if there was ever one I could rely on.
I have a pair of Moondrop Starfield that I keep around for nostalgic reason (First IEMs I ever tried) that I'm willing to sacrifice, gonna run it for a while and see if the right channel dies as well. If a third one dies I'm tossing this amp asap.
Was planning to get another another amp but wanna find out if the A90 is truly the problem, don't wanna spend money on another amp just to find out my dac is killing my Iems or something else in the chain. Any logical chance the amp is not the problem?
 
Yeah the A90 warranty is long gone if there was ever one I could rely on.
I have a pair of Moondrop Starfield that I keep around for nostalgic reason (First IEMs I ever tried) that I'm willing to sacrifice, gonna run it for a while and see if the right channel dies as well. If a third one dies I'm tossing this amp asap.
Was planning to get another another amp but wanna find out if the A90 is truly the problem, don't wanna spend money on another amp just to find out my dac is killing my Iems or something else in the chain. Any logical chance the amp is not the problem?
As long as the Moondrop go through the 4.4 too.

Take the dac out of the chain with the Starfield into the A90 and run it either direct from the pc with a 3.5 to rca jack, or use a dongle dac inbetween. But I doubt it's the dac or the pc and it's not cables badly wired either as you've used stock on both the monarch and Senn?

So it's bad luck or amp as odds on favourites to me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB
Just to check something. Youre not adapting 3.5mm cables to 4.4mm using an adapter are you? These are proper 4.4mm terminations? Stock supplies cables?
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB
Just to check something. Youre not adapting 3.5mm cables to 4.4mm using an adapter are you? These are proper 4.4mm terminations? Stock supplies cables?
no adapters, both the Sennheiser and Monarch were stock 4,4. And the Moondrop is a tripowin cable bought thru Linsoul
 
Just an update, left the pc on over night playing music on the moondrop starfield, bypassing the dac.
And came back now to check, I can already perceive some channel imbalance. For sanity check I asked the wife to put them on listen to a few tracks and tell me what she hears. He words were: Sounds like the voices are coming louder from the left side and I only hear "bass" on the right.
Don't think that is enough to prove that the AMP is the culprit but at this point I'm too afraid to plug anything else into it and will be replacing it as soon as I can.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB
Just an update, left the pc on over night playing music on the moondrop starfield, bypassing the dac.
And came back now to check, I can already perceive some channel imbalance. For sanity check I asked the wife to put them on listen to a few tracks and tell me what she hears. He words were: Sounds like the voices are coming louder from the left side and I only hear "bass" on the right.
Don't think that is enough to prove that the AMP is the culprit but at this point I'm too afraid to plug anything else into it and will be replacing it as soon as I can.
Wow.
I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but I guess I'm not surprised. None of my Topping devices function properly any more.

My PA5 developed a large DC offset and noise in the left channel in the first week (while driving a $400 tweeter), I never got replacement or full refund, only part of my money back after long negotiation with one of the resellers,. After getting the unrepaired unit back after more than a year of wrangling, I sent it to a German ASR member Gamerpaddy, he developed a replacement module that didn't have the epoxy encapsulation that caused the fails. My biggest regret is Topping never asked for the amp back so they could develop their own reliable module.

My A30Pro gave out after 9 months, one channel started dropping out. I opened it up, saw lots of cold solder joints and lost interest in the unit. I contacted the resellers, they began the same runaround, and I unloaded on them so badly they refunded my money, I just savaged them with public and private humiliations, drug @JohnYang1997 on ASR, and the reseller miraculously refunded my money (to be clear, I think John assisted in that refund in response to my full-court press just to get rid of me, the reseller never even asked for the unit to be returned which is very unusual for this crew who seem to treat the customer with suspicion, require video proof of malfunction, and rather spend months in petty efforts to verify rather than fix). I still have the carcass of the A30Pro in a box somewhere in case I need spare parts for another one of my Franken-projects.

My D90 recently started making noise when I adjust the volume, I don't even know what to say except if I stumbled across a pile of cash in my driveway that had "D90 refund" written on it I might just keep walking since I think these are bad luck.

People (trolls) have posted that these devices are cheap and thus we shouldn't be too bothered by occasional unreliability. I point out that speakers (and headphones) actually make a large sonic difference, and typically cost more, so not cool for a DAC or amp that has very little to do with the listening experience to blow up our speakers. This wouldn't even be the first time Topping damaged downstream gear.

I use an RME ADI-2, I highly recommend it. The new software interface is a headphone-owner's dream (I own several and have PEQ for each stored in the device). It has a killer headphone amp (almost as powerful as the A30Pro). And is supported by a serious company that I am happy to support.
 
Wow.
I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but I guess I'm not surprised. None of my Topping devices function properly any more.

My PA5 developed a large DC offset and noise in the left channel in the first week (while driving a $400 tweeter), I never got replacement or full refund, only part of my money back after long negotiation with one of the resellers,. After getting the unrepaired unit back after more than a year of wrangling, I sent it to a German ASR member Gamerpaddy, he developed a replacement module that didn't have the epoxy encapsulation that caused the fails. My biggest regret is Topping never asked for the amp back so they could develop their own reliable module.

My A30Pro gave out after 9 months, one channel started dropping out. I opened it up, saw lots of cold solder joints and lost interest in the unit. I contacted the resellers, they began the same runaround, and I unloaded on them so badly they refunded my money, I just savaged them with public and private humiliations, drug @JohnYang1997 on ASR, and the reseller miraculously refunded my money (to be clear, I think John assisted in that refund in response to my full-court press just to get rid of me, the reseller never even asked for the unit to be returned which is very unusual for this crew who seem to treat the customer with suspicion, require video proof of malfunction, and rather spend months in petty efforts to verify rather than fix). I still have the carcass of the A30Pro in a box somewhere in case I need spare parts for another one of my Franken-projects.

My D90 recently started making noise when I adjust the volume, I don't even know what to say except if I stumbled across a pile of cash in my driveway that had "D90 refund" written on it I might just keep walking since I think these are bad luck.

People (trolls) have posted that these devices are cheap and thus we shouldn't be too bothered by occasional unreliability. I point out that speakers (and headphones) actually make a large sonic difference, and typically cost more, so not cool for a DAC or amp that has very little to do with the listening experience to blow up our speakers. This wouldn't even be the first time Topping damaged downstream gear.

I use an RME ADI-2, I highly recommend it. The new software interface is a headphone-owner's dream (I own several and have PEQ for each stored in the device). It has a killer headphone amp (almost as powerful as the A30Pro). And is supported by a serious company that I am happy to support.
Having suffered a Topping Tragedy I too went for an RME. If ALL OP wants is a decent headamp thats reliable , I would get a JDS Atom.

If OP is in the UK I would happily sell him my "spare" Atom 1 for a very reasonable price.

I am one of the cases referred to in your linked downstream damage post. To be completely transparent, I reached a fair settlement with Topping in my case with the L30 so no gripe about their customer relations but the QC is below what I would like.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB
Having suffered a Topping Tragedy I too went for an RME. If ALL OP wants is a decent headamp thats reliable , I would get a JDS Atom.

If OP is in the UK I would happily sell him my "spare" Atom 1 for a very reasonable price.

I am one of the cases referred to in your linked downstream damage post. To be completely transparent, I reached a fair settlement with Topping in my case with the L30 so no gripe about their customer relations but the QC is below what I would like.
Thanks for the offer but I'm in Sweden.
I think I'm just gonna buy from my local reseller here, depending on how they handle the warranty with my ie600, they have a nice sortiment of Burson, Violectric and Aune, sadly no RME.
I think the Burson and Violectric are outside my budget.
Any experience with Aune? They seem to be another chinese brand but by quick Google search couldn't find any horror stories with their name attached to it.
 
Back
Top Bottom