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Review and Measurements of Topping DX3Pro DAC and Headphone Amp

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V2 looks like a complete [sic] redesign. A new test is absolutely warranted.
Yeah, I wonder why Amir isn't interested. I thought he would be excited to do a nice comparison like with the DX7 and DX7s. Certainly the fans want to know.

Maybe my original will become a rare and valuable classic;)
 
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SoBu

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Does anyone know if the version 1904 PCB performs the sames as the original 1808 that was reviewed?

And would 30 days of power on time be enough to know if my unit has problems or not? I'd be buying from Amazon in case I get a bad unit.
 
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At Amir's urging, I contacted the Amazon seller, Shenzen Audio, to see what they wanted to do about this double failure... They're going to send me a replacement unit direct from the factory, but advised that "the factory will take a few days to upgrade it"...
My "v2" Report

I received my upgraded DX3 Pro six days ago. The serial number is 1905594xxx. The only visible (external) difference is the presence of a second sticker on top that says "Hi-Res Audio Wireless", although as jion showed above the circuit board has been substantially revised.

The good news is that this unit hasn't died "stuck in standby" like my two previous units (serial numbers 1903xxx). And it sounds great!

The bad news is that my new unit has a random and intermittent problem with overheating. When it's playing in DAC mode it sometimes overheats to the point where the controls freeze up, although the music keeps playing and there's no audible change in the output. This has now happened six times in six days. Four times the front display switched to show an "E", presumably for "Error" (see picture below). In all six cases, the unit was warm to the touch (102 F vs 88 F normally vs 78 F room temperature) and it become unresponsive to both the front panel controls and to the remote control. The only way to reset it was to pull the plug.

So far the overheating problem has not occurred in headphone mode. It occurs only in "DAC mode". But, other than that it's completely random. It's not related to volume or length of time playing. And it doesn't matter which amplifier the DX3 is connected to. I've tested it with two mini-amps, a Dayton Audio DTA-100 and a Topping PA3, and it has overheated with both. After I unplug it and let it cool down it starts working again like nothing ever happened.

So, the bottom line is that the emergency rework to create "v2" has left us with a product that's still only half-baked*. :(

* Yup, that was a pun.

P.S. The only functional difference from "v1" that I can see is the response to the "Line Out" button on the remote control. It not longer sets the output to maximum volume. Instead it leaves it at the current volume setting for headphones. For me this is a significant aggravation, because it's quite tedious to dial the volume up from -30 dB to 0 dB when I switch to speakers and then back down again when I return to headphones. Since the volume control is computerized ("digital") it would be MUCH better if it could remember two settings - one for headphones and one for line out.
 

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Gray

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There is a function to put the DAC-mode directly at 0dB output like the old version, it's a hidden menu option (check the manual, I haven't tried it yet)

My V2 doesn't heat up at all but that's probable because it won't go above -30dB (as I don't have a volumeknob on my amp.)
But of course in your case, it sucks... maybe a small heatsink on the dac-chip could help?
 
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There is a function to put the DAC-mode directly at 0dB output like the old version, it's a hidden menu option (check the manual, I haven't tried it yet)...
Thank you, Hawkeye!

In v2, there is indeed a new option in the setup menus to control the behavior of the remote control's "Line Out" (DAC) button. Paraphrased it says:

"Option 7: Lineout Mode Setting
d-0 : Pre-amplifier Mode (default) [Line output is attenuated according to the current volume setting]
d-1 : DAC Mode [Line output is not attentuated]"

Attached are three pictures showing the new "v2" manual pages (in English). Highlighted in yellow are the things that changed from the v1 manual. (I can compare the manuals because I still have one of the dead v1 units.)

Also highlighted in red is a line that applied to v1, but should have been removed from the v2 manual. Paraphrasing again:

"Repeatedly pressing the DAC button [on the remote control] toggles between DAC mode and Pre-amplifier mode."

This behavior no longer applies to v2. In v2 the function of the DAC button is controlled by Option 7 in the setup menu. Repeatedly pressing the DAC button has no effect.

So, the solution to my nuisance problem of needing to crank the volume knob from -30 to 0 and back again is to just set Option 7 to "d-1".

It works! In headphone mode the volume is controlled by the DX3 Pro, and in DAC mode the speaker volume is controlled by my external amplifier.

Perfect! Well, not quite. It would still be better to remember two separate volume settings. In DAC mode, my amp is now running at just 5% of maximum power. But this is definitely an improvement. :)

@TP-Wong

I only got a few hours of listening time before my DX3 Pro died, but I already have some suggestions for v2...

(3) I was disappointed that the front panel display does not continuously show the sampling rate. Since this number dominates the D10's display I *assumed* (silly me) that it would also be continuously displayed by the DX3 Pro... Please modify the display in v2 so that it always shows the signal type, sampling rate, and bit depth. Some of us want to know what the input signal is...
As I experimented with DAC mode (Option 7, setting "d-1"), I discovered that it changes the display on the front panel to show the sampling rate instead of the volume (see picture below). Just like I asked for last month. Haha! Turns out this was a feature of v1 all along. I just never got to see it because both of my v1 units died within hours.

Anyhow, Mr. Wong, you can cancel this request. The feature is already there. :)

Note: The v2 manual explains this in the "Details of output mode" table on page 5 titled (see picture 3 below). You just gotta read the fine print...
 

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So they have version 2 already. My batch from 1812 still works flawlessly. I use it everyday and plugged it in all the time. It's sad to hear that even 1903 still have the faulty standby issues. Does the version 2 have the clicking noise?
 
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So far my 1903xxx unit has been working fine with no issue for a week. But I’m considering returning it and buying a sound blasterx g6 to get 7.1
 

SoBu

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My thoughts on the DX3 Pro as a potential buyer:

The DX3 Pro 1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808) performance, reliability, and replaceability are too uncertain for me. I find it really surprising that people are still recommending and buying it when the newer PCBs haven't been tested and compared to the one Amir tested. And the fact that it's no longer being manufactured (it looks like) makes warranty replacements a gamble. So I'd rather spend more on a D50s + Atom to avoid worrying about these issues. However D50s reliably is unknown since it's new, but still seems like a better choice than the DX3 Pro.
My thread with my thoughts is here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/dx3-pro-vs-d10-jds-atom.8309/

Edit: Changed 19xx to "1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808))" to clarify
 
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Yuno

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My thoughts on the DX3 Pro as a potential buyer:

The DX3 Pro 1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808) performance, reliability, and replaceability are too uncertain for me. I find it really surprising that people are still recommending and buying it when the newer PCBs haven't been tested and compared to the one Amir tested. And the fact that it's no longer being manufactured (it looks like) makes warranty replacements a gamble. So I'd rather spend more on a D50s + Atom to avoid worrying about these issues. However D50s reliably is unknown since it's new, but still seems like a better choice than the DX3 Pro.
My thread with my thoughts is here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/dx3-pro-vs-d10-jds-atom.8309/

Edit: Changed 19xx to "1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808))" to clarify
d50+atom is not an alternative for dx3. No one here would care about dx3, and this thread would not be 204 pages long, if not for feature set of dx3 which is not present in d50+atom combo. And if you want reliability just get some jds labs dac instead, like ol dac. You won't be able to tell the difference between the two anyway.
 

THW

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My thoughts on the DX3 Pro as a potential buyer:

The DX3 Pro 1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808) performance, reliability, and replaceability are too uncertain for me. I find it really surprising that people are still recommending and buying it when the newer PCBs haven't been tested and compared to the one Amir tested. And the fact that it's no longer being manufactured (it looks like) makes warranty replacements a gamble. So I'd rather spend more on a D50s + Atom to avoid worrying about these issues. However D50s reliably is unknown since it's new, but still seems like a better choice than the DX3 Pro.
My thread with my thoughts is here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/dx3-pro-vs-d10-jds-atom.8309/

Edit: Changed 19xx to "1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808))" to clarify
D50s costs USD 30 more than the DX3 but doesn’t have a headphone amp stage which means you need to spend USD 99 more for an Atom, at which you’re now looking at an overall USD 129 cost increase over the DX3. this is not an insignificant difference in price. plus the DX3 actually still performs quite well. for people looking for a budget desktop product and need both a DAC and an amp, the DX3 is still hard to beat. 0.001% THD+N and 125 mW into a 300 ohm load is actually really good.

if you just need a DAC and your budget is USD 250 then yeah D50s is the way to go.
 

LuckyLuke575

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Testing dsd playback on the dx3 pro. Headphone is fidelio x2hr, tracks are “The Best of Satana”, playback software is foobar2000. Not very impressed. Music sounds very closed to the ear, clarity is nothing revelatory. Nothing compared to the binaural stuff from Dr Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Test. I don’t understand when people say a headphone has a wide soundstage, what kind of audio file do they listen to? If it is just simple 2-channel non-binaural file, even in high quality dsd, I feel the soundstage is very narrow. Only the binaural tracks can give me that sense of spaciousness.
Listen, its a different situation in terms of sound stage going from headphones to listening to speakers that are 10 feet apart.
 

LuckyLuke575

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My thoughts on the DX3 Pro as a potential buyer:

The DX3 Pro 1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808) performance, reliability, and replaceability are too uncertain for me. I find it really surprising that people are still recommending and buying it when the newer PCBs haven't been tested and compared to the one Amir tested. And the fact that it's no longer being manufactured (it looks like) makes warranty replacements a gamble. So I'd rather spend more on a D50s + Atom to avoid worrying about these issues. However D50s reliably is unknown since it's new, but still seems like a better choice than the DX3 Pro.
My thread with my thoughts is here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/dx3-pro-vs-d10-jds-atom.8309/

Edit: Changed 19xx to "1904 (or earlier, but after Amirs 1808))" to clarify
I've had a 1904 model for the last 3 months, and its been a golden unit (knock on wood). I think now that the D50s has bluethooth and a remote control, it would be a great option with the Atom if you're willing to spend a bit more.

I've had such a great experience with the device, given its size and all in one package. Listening to high res files on my HD 650s has been a dream. I'm now also using it as a DAC / pre amp for my newly acquired power amp and speakers, and this is where its versatility really shines through. I still can't image a better unit for the money.
 
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LuckyLuke575

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Soundstage perception is a measure of the headphone itself, not the recording and not the playback equipment. It’s how the pinna part of the ear interacts with the sound itself.

Well explained on this page: https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/soundstage
Great read. I think there's also something to be said about anticipation becoming perception (they're headphones, so they sound closed) or having high expectations (it's DSD, so it should sound amazing) that leave you underwhelmed.

But since I've added a power amplifier and speakers to my setup, of course I also have a different perception of sound stage if I turn the volume up and sit 10 feet back from the speakers compared to listening to the same music with the headphones (even though they're open back). It's a different listening experience and use case.
 

LuckyLuke575

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It looks like something went awry on the new version. Headphone output is down, and impedance is way up. I'm happy that I have the original version.
 
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