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Review and Measurements of Topping D10 DAC

amirm

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#1
This is a review of the recently released Topping D10 DAC. I purchased mine from massdrop for just $75 including shipping. I see it online from Aliexpress for $89. I must say, this is one of the most handsome budget DACs I have seen with a nice retro amber/orange 7-segment LED display:

Topping D10 DAC Picture.jpg


Despite its very low price, the unit is solidly built out of thick aluminum and has good bit of heft to it. As a result, the cables connected to it stay put.

The only on the input is USB. Outputs are of course analog unbalanced RCA but also Toslink and S/PDIF coax:

upload_2018-3-19_16-56-12.png


Format support is excellent as indicated on the front panel and more detail at Topping website: http://www.tpdz.net/en/products/d10/index.htm

Unlike vast majority of audio hardware out there, Topping has full FCC/CE regulatory emissions certification together with that of "high-res audio" the certificate of which is included in the box! That certification is apparently done in Japan. The regulator emissions certification is useful for those of you who sweat traditions from your gear.

The USB interface is class 2 compliant meaning no driver was necessary to use it in my Roon player using exclusive mode, WASAPI in Windows 10 Creators Edition. Auto-detected formats by Roon are:

upload_2018-3-19_17-0-38.png


I know most of you are anxious to see how it measures. So let's get into that. As usual, if you are not familiar with what these graphs are, refer to my tutorial on understanding audio measurements: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/understanding-audio-measurements.2351/

Measurements
Because this is a USB only DAC, I can only run a subset of my usual measurements. For this review, I compared the Topping D10 to my previously recommended Behringer UMC204HD. The Behringer is a good DAC but has anemic output which means it can't drive some amplifiers to full output. It also looks more like a pro piece of equipment and not an expensive one at that. The Topping D10 remedies all of these but let's see how it compares specifically, starting with jitter and noise:

Topping D10 DAC vs Behringer UMC204HD vs Schiit Fulla Jitter Measurement.png


The Behringer is in yellow and Topping D10 in red. As we see, the topping D10 has some jitter sidebands around our main tone of 12 kHz. So in that regard it is worse than Behringer. However, if you look at the amplitude of our tone, you see that the output of the Behringer is lower. Compensated, the signal to noise ratio of Behringer is worse than Topping D10 and the jitter spikes would be barely visible. Regardless, the jitter components are at a whopping -130 dB and lower which are absolutely not an audible concern.

As a bonus and to show how good these measurements are, I have also shown a preview of the measurements of the Schiit Fulla which retails for $99 (but has a headphone amp) in green. As you see, its signal to noise ratio is much worse.

If you want perfection here, then you would need to step up to Topping D50 ($250) which has the same noise floor but no jitter spikes to speak of.

Next let's look at linearity or how well the DAC produces the output voltages that we instruct it to, from digital domain:

Topping D10 DAC vs Behringer Linearity.png


Very respectable performance from both DACs. Even when we start to see deviations from perfect zero dB line, nothing goes wild all the way up to -120 dB (20 bits). The Topping D10 though pulls ahead a bit but sticking to zero line more perfectly than the Behringer. This is no doubt due to its higher output.

We can see a confirmation of that in a much clearer picture as we look at the ability of the DAC to reproduce a -90 dB sine wave (at the limit of 16 bit audio):

Topping D10 DAC vs Behringer UMC204HD -90 dB Sinewave Measurement.png


The picture speaks for itself. The Topping D10 produces excellent output that resembles a nice sine wave whereas the Behringer UMC204HD has too low of an output and a noisier one at that.

Let's look at harmonic distortion where the Behringer has been an excellent champion at:

Topping D10 DAC vs Behringer 1kHz Distortion and Noise Measurement.png


Ah, we discover something interesting. The Behringer doesn't show a lot of harmonic distortion because its noise floor is much higher. The Behringer beats it by as much as 25 db. By doing so, its harmonic distortion is visible but they are all lower than what the Behringer produces (note: this noise is the combination of the DAC and my analyzer). Net, net the Topping D10 has far better performance even though its graph looks more "busy."

Edit: forgot to post the frequency response/channel matching:

Topping D10 DAC Frequency Response measurement.png


Measured output voltage was 2.113 volts (RMS) on one channel and 2.108 on the other so very excellent (0.021 dB difference). Response is essentially ruler flat to 20 kHz.

Conclusions
The Topping D10 is a delightful audio DAC. It looks very "cute" and masculine at the same time. I cannot fathom how it can be built and shipped at such incredibly low prices. Combine that with proper manufacturing that includes regulatory certification and such and the value you get is just amazing.

Measured performance is excellent and just shy of its more expensive brothers like the Topping D50. With its much higher output vs Behringer UMC204HD (1.5 volt RMS vs 1.1 volt) it is suitable to drive any and all amplifiers.

For an entry level DAC without headphone output I cannot recommend the Topping D10 enough! Another job well done by Topping.

As always, questions, comments, corrections, jokes, etc. are all welcome!
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Guermantes

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#2
Thanks for this review, Amir. It appears my concerns regarding harmonic distortion in the D10 were misplaced.

One point I'd like to clear up: in the review of the Topping D30 you also compared it to the Behringer UMC204HD and there the Behringer's noise floor seemed much lower. Is the difference due to testing over SPDIF versus USB?

I also swapped out the stock OPA2134 for an LM4562 and think I prefer the sound of the latter, though no huge difference really and those noted may be due to expectation bias.
 
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Great review, thanks! Amir, if possible please test op amp swaps! It'd be very interesting to know if it does anything in the audible range. Also, testing it wouldn't be a waste of time as they mention this option as a feature when buying this product.
 
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#5
the toslink and coax out seem like a very interesting feature. do you have any plans to compare it to other usb->optical units like the xusb or gustard? the usb ports on my motherboard are terrible so even as somebody who is set on buying the D50, this could serve some utility to me...
 

amirm

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One point I'd like to clear up: in the review of the Topping D30 you also compared it to the Behringer UMC204HD and there the Behringer's noise floor seemed much lower. Is the difference due to testing over SPDIF versus USB?
Thanks for bringing this up. I meant to mention it. This new test is completely different than the previous one. So the results can't be compared. They both used USB though it is just that the test methodology is very different (impacts on how the measurement system works).
 

amirm

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Great review, thanks! Amir, if possible please test op amp swaps! It'd be very interesting to know if it does anything in the audible range. Also, testing it wouldn't be a waste of time as they mention this option as a feature when buying this product.
What do you guys suggest as alternatives? I don't keep up with the latest in DIY circles on what the "in opamp is" these days. :)
 

amirm

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the toslink and coax out seem like a very interesting feature. do you have any plans to compare it to other usb->optical units like the xusb or gustard? the usb ports on my motherboard are terrible so even as somebody who is set on buying the D50, this could serve some utility to me...
I have thought about doing that once I get through my backlog of gear to review. Please remind me in a few weeks if I don't get to it.
 

amirm

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#9
can you do comparisons to the jdslabs ol dac? Also, was that a fulla 1 or a fulla 2?
I will see about OL dac. And it was Fulla 2.
 
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#10
What do you guys suggest as alternatives? I don't keep up with the latest in DIY circles on what the "in opamp is" these days. :)
There are many boutique discrete opamps these day: Burson V lineup, Orange opamps, Sparkos are a few that come to my mind, and even integrated one like muses series from NJR. Nevertheless, I think that opamp is heavily dependent on the circuit around it to even work properly anyway, so I think it's safe to start from TI suggestion. Here's a verified upgrade path for opamp from TI themselves:
https://e2e.ti.com/support/amplifie...gn_notes/upgrading-op-amps-in-audio-equipment
 
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Amir, thanks a lot. D10 looks decent. Are intermodulation distortion tests applicable to it - wondering why you skipped those?
 

amirm

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Amir, thanks a lot. D10 looks decent. Are intermodulation distortion tests applicable to it - wondering why you skipped those?
My standard SMPTE IMD test requires S/PDIF input which the D10 doesn't have. I tried to get it working over USB but it was taking too long so I went ahead and post without it. I can do a simple spectrum of it but it will be a new graph that I have not presented before, and hard to show two DACs on the same graph.
 

Wombat

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There are many boutique discrete opamps these day: Burson V lineup, Orange opamps, Sparkos are a few that come to my mind, and even integrated one like muses series from NJR. Nevertheless, I think that opamp is heavily dependent on the circuit around it to even work properly anyway, so I think it's safe to start from TI suggestion. Here's a verified upgrade path for opamp from TI themselves:
https://e2e.ti.com/support/amplifie...gn_notes/upgrading-op-amps-in-audio-equipment
Good TI info. I wonder how many boutique op-amps are custom inked vs custom delivered-to-spec products?
 

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Guermantes

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Just popped in the OPA2227 but haven't listened yet. I've been running the LM4562 because of subjective preference and I may go back to that.
 
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My standard SMPTE IMD test requires S/PDIF input which the D10 doesn't have. I tried to get it working over USB but it was taking too long so I went ahead and post without it. I can do a simple spectrum of it but it will be a new graph that I have not presented before, and hard to show two DACs on the same graph.
I don't want to ask you for any extra work unless you think there is a good chance it can reveal something audible - if not, please don't bother. I am mainly concerned about that -20db to -40db anomaly that both DX7s and especially D50 exhibited in your tests. Since D10 has an older DAC chip, if it shows nothing special on the intermodulation chart the anomaly is indeed likely to be caused by the newest ESS DACs anti-distortion feature.
 

amirm

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I am mainly concerned about that -20db to -40db anomaly that both DX7s and especially D50 exhibited in your tests
Unfortunately that is the test that is not yet running over USB. When I get it running, I will circle back and run it on the D10.
 
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