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Review and Measurements of Topping DX3Pro DAC and Headphone Amp

jlpl

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Should've added "subjectively"

Otherwise some that didn't read from beginning might thought this is the result of controlled objective test, which is the norm on this forum when doing comparison.

Hi ASRs!
Long time reader first time poster here.

I'm really interested on this topic of output impedance. I have a V2 which I enjoy using it as DAC for my active speaker and also as headphone amp for my headphones. The output impedance never bothered me before as most of the time I'm using planar headphones. Since the recent discussion on how output impedance alter the sound I want to explore more on this rabbit hole.

I fortunately also have Tin T2 to test. I use it to compare between DX3 Pro and NX4DSD, which have very low output impedance. I don't have equipment to do volume matching so it was manually adjusted as best as my ear allow me to. After listening to numerous songs, especially on bass heavy genre, try as I might but still I could not hear any difference between the 2 devices. Dissatisfied, I try my dynamic driver headphone which is 35 ohm impedance, still can't hear any difference. Why is it so?

What controlled objective test have you done to say what you have said on this post?
 

Killingbeans

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I smell a straw man.

I get that you are trying to do the whole "don't throw stones when you live in a glass house"-thing, but the "things" he says in that post is just a description of his subjective experience followed by a question. He does at no point make a claim out of the ordinary.

You can't juxtapose it to something like "The sound from headphone output is as good as a cheap laptop."

"To my ears, the headphone output only sounds as good as the one you get from a cheap laptop." would probably be a far more effective way of defusing the situation.

The real can of worms to be opened here would more likely be to discuss whether the headphone output of a cheap laptop can necessarily be assumed to be bad sounding :D
 

jlpl

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I smell a straw man.

I get that you are trying to do the whole "don't throw stones when you live in a glass house"-thing, but the "things" he says in that post is just a description of his subjective experience followed by a question. He does at no point make a claim out of the ordinary.

You can't juxtapose it to something like "The sound from headphone output is as good as a cheap laptop."

"To my ears, the headphone output only sounds as good as the one you get from a cheap laptop." would probably be a far more effective way of defusing the situation.

The real can of worms to be opened here would more likely be to discuss whether the headphone output of a cheap laptop can necessarily be assumed to be bad sounding :D

It's obvious that it's my opinion if it's me who is posting, so I don't think that I have to say "To my ears..."

And this is what I have said before:

Hi. This is my first post in this forum and want to describe my thoughts about Topping dx3 pro dac.

I used a Behringer U-Control UCA222 usb dac (https://www.behringer.com/product.html?modelCode=P0A31) to connect my pc to a pair of jbl305 active speakers that cost me 25€. I bought the topping dx3 pro with the expectation that it would be way better but…

Dx3 pro build quality is good. It as a light but solid metal case and the remote control is also nice.

What about the most important, the sound?

The sound quality from the rca on the back is just as good as my 15 year old Behringer, which for an almost 200€ price difference and so many years in audio technology advance, is something that I can’t understand.

Worst is that the audio from the headphone output is as bad as it can be. I do not believe that it can be worse than this. It reminds me of the headphone outputs from cheap laptops. It is unbelievably bad. It is muddy and boomy with no definition at all.

So, I just describe my opinion also. The sentence that you quoted is the continuation of my first post so don't take phrases out of the context...

The problem is that members who replied to my review think that they are the "special ones" just because they are members of this forum.

My post is very clear about the kind of sound I was hearing on the headphone output and was directed towards people who don't like bass heavy sound and prefer accurate one. And I posted it in here so that others, that don't like that kind of sound be advised.

I don't have nothing against nobody and everyone as the right to have any kind of "sound taste".

About the laptop headphone output, because most people like bass heavy sound even expensive laptops don't have accurate sound reproduction. And the cheap ones are worse at least the ones that I have used. But if someone knows a cheap laptop that as good, accurate sound from the headphone output just let us know.

Take care.
 

Killingbeans

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It's obvious that it's my opinion if it's me who is posting, so I don't think that I have to say "To my ears..."

Saying that a product is subpar and should be avoided is not an opinion, it's a claim.

The problem is that members who replied to my review think that they are the "special ones" just because they are members of this forum.

It's a forum. It's probably unavoidable that people gang up on newcomers with opinions that speak to their emotions. I can fully imagine that it must be irritating/tiring to come to this place and automatically get a "Double blind test, or it didn't happen" thrown at your face, but ASR is a sanctuary (not in the religious sense) for those who doesn't have much appreciation for opinions and would rather have hard data points or psychological insight. I think it often makes us look like cold bastards or one trick ponies, but in reality we just don't react well to things that don't fit well with what we have established as common sense. If you have solid, logical arguments you'll have no problem with people lashing out or trying to assert dominance, no matter how much of a devils advocate you are.

My post is very clear about the kind of sound I was hearing on the headphone output and was directed towards people who don't like bass heavy sound and prefer accurate one. And I posted it in here so that others, that don't like that kind of sound be advised.

The problem is that nothing points at the DX3 Pro as having a non-flat frequency response, other than your experience.

A more plausible explanation would be that you have received a defective unit, or that some kind of EQ situation is taking place upstream.

Don't know about the selectable anti aliasing filters, but I can't imagine that any of them are slow enough to give "boomy" bass.

And then there's all of the psychological factors, but I have a feeling you're not gonna like hearing about those.

I don't have nothing against nobody and everyone as the right to have any kind of "sound taste".

Me neither. And I think you'll have a hard time finding people on ASR that doesn't feel the same.

But the general consensus in here is that, besides transducers and amps being raped beyond their clipping point, components with a "taste" is a rarity. When you point at something as an exception, you'd better have some hard evidence if you don't want people to be highly sceptical ;)

About the laptop headphone output, because most people like bass heavy sound even expensive laptops don't have accurate sound reproduction. And the cheap ones are worse at least the ones that I have used. But if someone knows a cheap laptop that as good, accurate sound from the headphone output just let us know.

I've never heard of the headphone outputs on laptops having tailored frequency responses? I get that some of the bloatware probably "treats" you with some EQ'ing, but that should be easy to disable. I could be wrong though. Is it something that's been measured?
 
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jlpl

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Saying that a product is subpar and should be avoided is not an opinion, it's a claim.

And saying that a product is good and should be bought is what? Publicity?

I've never heard of the headphone outputs on laptops having tailored frequency responses? I get that some of the bloatware probably "treats" you with some EQ'ing, but that should be easy to disable. I could be wrong though. Is it something that's been measured?

The problem with the headphone amps in laptops is the quality of the components, and in general even the good quality ones, that the majority of people like excessive bass, so manufacturers give them what they want. I can tell you that my mac headphone output, even not sounding that bad, as excessive bass.

Amir has done the controlled objective testing for this device and recommended it. Essentially, the tests prove that the device is distortion free, it does its DAC job well, and does not (cannot?) add any color to the sound. I don't own this, but I have Topping NX4 (based on ASR review), which is pretty good.
Sir, each of us have a right to our opinion. But if you strongly recommend that people don't buy this product, and you are fairly sure that your product is not broken, then readers will naturally be skeptical [like I am] about your recommendation, since: (1) It is contrary to Amir's tested recommendations (not just based on listening), (2) Your opinion is based on your hearing (alone), and (3) You don't cite what test/measurements can indicate that 'coloration is added to the sound of a product' [Frankly, I am not sure if it's even possible for a DAC to do it - It just converts digital format to analog, right?].
BTW, I don't know why you feel that members who respond to your posts feel they are special. I don't think I am 'special' at all (the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know).

About amirm measurements and quoting his first post:

EDIT 3: To deal with some of the reliability issues, Topping has revised the unit with a different output IC and an inline resistor. How much these impact measurements, I don't know. This version is called "V2" although I am not sure it is indicated such in online sites.

So, the measurements where done with the "V1" of this dac and are outdated.

The problem that I have on my unit should not affect the sound quality, but I will review my post if my unit would be replaced and the new one is better.

Another thing, I didn't say that my unit was not faulty as you can see in this post.

I just reported what I heard in comparison with other dac's/headphone amps that I know that sound good.

To put things in perspective, to me, sounds good means as neutral as possible, just like we can get with speakers from ATC, Neumann, Focal, Genelec, headphones like sennheiser hd 600, some beyerdynamic, Hifimann he4xx, for example.

Speakers, amplifiers, dac to name a few, can have the frequency response that the manufacturer pleases. That's why
audiophiles exchange their audio components so that they can obtain their goal soundwise. (To be clear, this is not what I advocate as for me all components should have as flat frequency response as possible).

In summary, not knowing if my unit was faulty or not, what I have to say is that, in my opinion, the dx3 pro "V2" dac sounds good but the headphone amplifier does not.

Take care.
 

ZenTraveler

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What controlled objective test have you done to say what you have said on this post?
I admire your enthusiasm to find something that is comparable to how you said it. Unfortunately it is not even close.

From the post itself I believe you can understand what model I use as comparison, how I did the volume matching, how I specifically said "after listening".

Your post just make a claim without mentioning how you came to the conclusion. I get it that it's a continuation from your earlier post. Hence, I reiterate: Otherwise some that didn't read from beginning might thought this is the result of controlled objective test, which is the norm on this forum when doing comparison.
 
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Rock Rabbit

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Sorry if my cold Scandinavian nature made me seem like I was trying to put myself on a high horse. I was not. But the fact is that digital attenuation has come a long way the last few decades. I'm not just trying to push an opinion as truth: ESS volume control



You misunderstood me. I'm saying that the issue with the popping sound makes the DX3 Pro a less attractive product to me. I was actually agreeing with you on something :D
The ESS article says clearly that DAC with digital vol control 24 bits has no problem. Then says potentiometers are better if the analog noise floor is better (??)...but never talk about the bad linearity and channel mismatch of analog potentiometers that can't compete with digital "perfect" channel tracking
 

ZenTraveler

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Additionally, please read this post for the answer that I found of my own question regarding impedance.

I too have v2 with 10 ohm output impedance. After comparing few cans including Audio-Technica 35 ohm cans and Tin T2 16 ohm iem on DX3 with another 1 ohm output impedance amp, I can't hear any difference between the 2 amps. I wouldn't worry about 10 ohm output impedance especially if using with headphone.

Reference Audio Analyzer site have plenty of headphones measurements and one of the test is when using different output impedance amp. This is for MSR7, 35 ohm headphone:
View attachment 78365
The difference in db were too small to be noticeable.
Other headphones:

Sennheiser HD 600, 300 ohm
View attachment 78367

Beyerdynamic DT 990, 600 ohm
View attachment 78368

Even for iem, not all are susceptible to 10 ohm output impedance. KZ models seems to be more susceptible than Tin models. Maybe due to BA driver.
KZ ZST, 10 ohm
View attachment 78371

Tin T2, 16 ohm
View attachment 78372
 
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Killingbeans

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And saying that a product is good and should be bought is what? Publicity?

It's a recommendation based on measurements. Both the data and the circumstances for the subjective listening test are made clear.

No matter how you twist it, "Don't waste your money on this DAC." and "Just my 2 cents." just don't belong in the same post.

It's either: "I had this experience and it wasn't good. I have no data to back it up, so take from it what you want. Just my 2 cents."

Or: "I measured the frequency response on the headphone output of the V2, and it has a massive boost in the low end. Don't waste your money on this DAC. Unless you plan to never use the headphone output, or love excessive bass."

You can't have it both ways o_O

The problem with the headphone amps in laptops is the quality of the components, and in general even the good quality ones, that the majority of people like excessive bass, so manufacturers give them what they want. I can tell you that my mac headphone output, even not sounding that bad, as excessive bass.

Drivers and other software can definitely do that, but I'm not convinced about the hardware. No offence, but it sounds like a preconception.

Amirs measurements has shown that a $9 USB dongle can have close to impeccable performance (in regards to all audible concerns). I really don't see why laptop manufacturers would go through the trouble of tailoring the headphone amp, when a few lines of code can do the trick.

In summary, not knowing if my unit was faulty or not, what I have to say is that, in my opinion, the dx3 pro "V2" dac sounds good but the headphone amplifier does not.

The headphone amp of the V2 has a 10 Ohm output impedance compared to the 1 Ohm of the original design. I've been told that it shouldn't make a difference in most cases, but you haven't told us what headphones you are using(?). Maybe yours has an exceptionally freaky impedance curve and low sensitivity? But then again, that would probably have the opposite effect on the bass?

This is not meant as an attack on you as a person or your skills, but you still haven't given any information that rules out the possibility of all of this simply being your head messing with you.
 
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Killingbeans

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Then says potentiometers are better if the analog noise floor is better (??)

And that it has to be better than -135db. I think it's meant as something to trigger a bit of laughing in the audience when the slideshow is being presented :D
 
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ZenTraveler

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This is useful contextual informatiom for someone new to ASR.
That is a very informative post for someone that's new to ASR!

In almost all other audiophiles forums it is norm when someone talked about comparison it is about their own opinion. But not in ASR, here the norm is when comparison being made in general, it is from result that are being done objectively. I believe most new members were shocked when realized how their own subjective comparison which is highly regarded in other forums, matter very little here.
 

BDWoody

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Some new members came across as entitled, and seemed to have a preconceived notion. This is the only place I have seen, where many ppl help if you are polite, and few ppl help if you are rude.

I think many of us came here at first with a lot of preconceived notions...I know I did.

Some then take it as an opportunity to learn what all this is about, and benefit from the incredibly knowledgeable and helpful people that frequent the place.

Others take it as a challenge to educate a bunch of chart/graph locked boomers with bad ears and bad systems on how much of a difference their kilobuck interconnects make, then get offended when they get the predictable responses.
 
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jlpl

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It's a recommendation based on measurements. Both the data and the circumstances for the subjective listening test are made clear.

What measurements, the ones that are outdated for the "v1"?

Drivers and other software can definitely do that, but I'm not convinced about the hardware. No offence, but it sounds like a preconception.

You know that there is code in the hardware right?

Amirs measurements has shown that a $9 USB dongle can have close to impeccable performance (in regards to all audible concerns). I really don't see why laptop manufacturers would go through the trouble of tailoring the headphone amp, when a few lines of code can do the trick.

And I compared the dx3 pro with my $25 behringer one that is as good and a $5 usb headphone amp that is better sounding.
Laptop manufactures don't have to tailor anything they only implemented it on the MB. The headphone amp is "tailored" by it's manufacture.

The headphone amp of the V2 has a 10 Ohm output impedance compared to the 1 Ohm of the original design. I've been told that it shouldn't make a difference in most cases, but you haven't told us what headphones you are using(?). Maybe yours has an exceptionally freaky impedance curve and low sensitivity? But then again, that would probably have the opposite effect on the bass?

I was using low sensitive earbuds from panasonic. I don't know what effect can a 10 Ohm output impedance does but to me it sounded muddy so that can be the source of the problem. I don't have it anymore so cannot test it with other headphones.

I didn't know that the second version had a 10 Ohm output impedance or I would not have bought it in the first place.

This is not meant as an attack on you as a person or your skills, but you still haven't given any information that rules out the possibility of all of this simply being your head messing with you.

I don't want to be like you, disrespectful, so I will not comment this part.
 

Killingbeans

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What measurements, the ones that are outdated for the "v1"?

Yes, but the V2 hardware was not redesigned from scratch. In the part of the review you quoted yourself, Amir points out that the headphone amp has been changed. Nothing else. I can not for the love of anything holy imagine why Topping would redesign the amp and at the same time go: "You know what, why don't we just boost the bass like crazy while we're at it? Just for the heck of it!" It would make absolutely zero sense.

You know that there is code in the hardware right?

Yes, microcontrollers are not foreign creatures to me. But I don't see what that has to do with a headphone amp.

In laptops the amp is usually(?) integrated in an AIO DAC chip. It's not something that needs to be flashed with firmware, as far as I know?

Laptop manufactures don't have to tailor anything they only implemented it on the MB. The headphone amp is "tailored" by it's manufacture.

Why would the chip manufacture design it to have a non-flat frequency response? It would severely limit the range of implementations. Nobody does that. It would be bad for business o_O

I was using low sensitive earbuds from panasonic. I don't know what effect can a 10 Ohm output impedance does but to me it sounded muddy so that can be the source of the problem. I don't have it anymore so cannot test it with other headphones.

To be honest, I don't have enough knowledge about headphones to comment on the possibility without getting in over my head. Maybe @solderdude or someone other can chime in?

I don't want to be like you, disrespectful, so I will not comment this part.

I'm not trying to be disrespectful. Just attempting to make it clear why people are reacting to your posts the way they do :)
 
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jlpl

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Yes, but the V2 hardware was not redesigned from scratch. In the part of the review you quoted yourself, Amir points out that the headphone amp has been changed. Nothing else. I can not for the love of anything holy imagine why Topping would redesign the amp and at the same time go: "You know what, why don't we just boost the bass like crazy while we're at it? Just for the heck of it!" It would make absolutely zero sense.

Precisely, the headphone amp has been changed. So were are the measurements that you all advocate?

Why would the chip manufacture design it to have a non-flat frequency response? It would severely limit the range of implementations. Nobody does that. It would be bad for business o_O

So now we can change the frequency response with the hardware...

If the majority of people like excessive base with their gear, you are telling that manufactures should not implement to the desire of the majority? You clearly don't know nothing about business.
 

Killingbeans

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Precisely, the headphone amp has been changed. So were are the measurements that you all advocate?

From Topping's own web page (here):
2512336.jpg


If the majority of people like excessive base with their gear, you are telling that manufactures should not implement to the desire of the majority?

Of course not. But is that the reality of things? I've never seen people complain about their laptop or motherboard outputting too little bass. They always fix the "problem" by getting new headphones with high sensitivity and a crazy frequence response. It's never been the amp's job. Neither have I ever seen the PC manufacturers advertise their headphone outputs as having an extraordinaire amount of bass. If it was really a demand from the users, it would be presented as a selling point.

You clearly don't know nothing about business.

I guess I don't :D
 

jlpl

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From Topping's own web page (here):
2512336.jpg
That is the lineOut not the headphone output lol.

But I'm going to help you.

In the Should Topping send Amir a DX3Pro LDAC/V2 to test? thread, someone asked me if I could measure DX3Pro LDAC/V2. Considering that this unit was not in my purchase plan, I borrowed one from Topping.

View attachment 43710

View attachment 43711


From its Amazon price of $ 219.99, it seems that it should not be too much to complain about appearance, texture, build quality, etc.
But if you are critical, you can blame the quality of the RCA / COAX connector.
The touch of the surface treatment is very good, and I really like how it feels when touched --- the sound from the friction of the touch is not soft enough.
The encoder switch has good damping and positioning feel. However, the sound is slightly "fluffy", which is not good enough ...

Well, forget the nonsense above ... Measure it!

Part I: DAC
View attachment 43713

View attachment 43714

View attachment 43715

View attachment 43716View attachment 43717View attachment 43718View attachment 43719


Part 2: Headphone output

View attachment 43720
View attachment 43721

View attachment 43723

View attachment 43725


View attachment 43722

View attachment 43724

View attachment 43726

output impedance:

View attachment 43733

IMO: The headphone output is actually not good enough (sorry, this conclusion does not consider the price). But the DAC part is doing well.

The price is beyond reproach.

BTW: Bluetooth testing may have to wait a few days, my adapter has not arrived yet.


Quoting WolfX-700 - "IMO: The headphone output is actually not good enough..."

Link to the thread:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...measurements-of-topping-dx3pro-ldac-v2.10551/

If I had seen this before...

I rest my case.
 
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Killingbeans

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That is the lineOut not the headphone output lol.

Haha, you're right! :D I shouldn't post things a 2:00 AM :facepalm:

But I'm going to help you.

Thanks, but.... he doesn't measure the frequency response either?

Quoting WolfX-700 - "IMO: The headphone output is actually not good enough..."

If I had seen this before...

Not really enough to discourage my interest in the DX3 Pro. Might not be SOTA performance, but nothing I'd consider alarming.

That being said, it doesn't quite tick all of my personal boxes. I really wish there was more products out there that offered a similar package.

I rest my case.

Yeah, I still think the poor little DX3 Pro is being unfairly prosecuted, but I'll just leave the rest to the jury ;)
 
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habibi

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Has anyone here had issues with their remote control not working? I managed to find a new V1 and the remote is the only issue I have - it just doesn't work at all. I did make sure that I have the battery in correctly, and I tested it using my phone camera to see the IR beam coming out. Seems like the issue is on the receiving end. I'm just wondering if there's anything I can do to get it working
 

gorman

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Quoting WolfX-700 - "IMO: The headphone output is actually not good enough..."

Link to the thread:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...measurements-of-topping-dx3pro-ldac-v2.10551/

If I had seen this before...

I rest my case.
Unless you have low ohm headphones, the 10 ohm output resistance does not influence adversely the headphone output. As such, it's just a matter of making an informed buy. I wanted to use this with Sennheiser HD800, which are 300 ohms. As such the 10 ohm output resistance is pretty much irrelevant. People should do their homeworks before buying and then complaining (even more so when specs are widely available and published by the company itself). It's as simple as that.

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/06/measurements-topping-dx3-pro-v2-ldac.html
 
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