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Shenzhenaudio Topping EX5 Review (DAC and Headphone Amplifier)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Topping EX5 produced exclusively for Shenzhenaudio. The EX5 is slated to cost US $349.99 which it is released. The sample I have is from production run but is awaiting the manual for formal shipments. It was sent to me by Shenzhenaudio.

The EX5 goes into one of my favorite "skins" from Topping with the cute orange LED display:

Topping EX5 Review  XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.jpg


As you can see, this is a combination DAC and headphone amplifier. Note that the XLR style headphone out is for convenience and does not produce more power.

There are however and surprisingly so, balanced XLR outputs:

Topping EX5 Review Bluetooth  XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.jpg


We also have the now standard Bluetooth input.

The remote control cycles through four output modes which selectively turns on the different outputs for both on. I did not have the patience to decode all four modes. :) But I imagine this is very useful to control different output devices using the remote, making this a rather unique multi-function device.

The remote control buttons are a bit "overloaded" with "M" indicating gain mode of the headphone output rather than being "mute." But you get used to it.

The unit runs a bit warm to touch but nothing that concerns me.

Topping EX5 DAC Measurements
Let's start with our usual USB In and XLR out and see what we get:

Topping EX5 Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


And what we get is excellence from Topping as usual even at these rather budget prices. SINAD is in top 20 of all DACs tested:
Best headphone DAC amp review 2021.png



Best headphone DAC amp review 2021 zoom.png


Unbalanced output is essentially the same:
Topping EX5 Measurements RCA USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Dynamic range is excellent:

Topping EX5 Dynamic Range Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Intermodulation distortion (60 Hz and 7 kHz signals) is kept very much under control:

Topping EX5 IMD Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


It nicely beats the first incarnation of this packaging in DX3 Pro.

Multitone test shows super results despite the 32 tones involved:

Topping EX5 Multitone Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Jitter measurements show some very low level unwanted signals but they are way under audibility threshold:

Topping EX5 Jitter Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


The usual suite of DAC filters are provided with some "correct" ones which is strangely rare:

Topping EX5 DAC Filter Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Linearity is nailed:

Topping EX5 Linearity Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


THD+N versus frequency using wide band (90 kHz) capture is sensitive to type of filter you use as that determines how much of the unwanted ultrasonics are let through. Here are a couple of them:

Topping EX5 THD+N vs Frequency Measurements XLR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Topping EX5 Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Switching to headphone out, here is our very nice dashboard:

Topping EX5 Headphone Measurements USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Interestingly enough SINAD increases by a couple of dBs.

Signal to noise ratio at much reduced output level of 50 mv to simulate what you would get with a very sensitive IEM shows very low noise floor:

Topping EX5 Headphone 50 mv Measurements USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


best headphone amplifier review.png


Power versus distortion+noise shows extremely good performance:

Topping EX5 Power into 300 ohm Headphone Measurements USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Distortion and noise are so low that they almost fell off the bottom of this graph! My threshold is 100 mv here as far as power and we have more than that so you should have little problem driving high-impedance headphones.

Same is true of low impedance headphones:

Topping EX5 Power into 32 ohm Headphone Measurements USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


You get slight clipping right at the limit of 1 watt which is plenty for vast majority of headphones out there. Indeed, this is a capable of headphone amp no matter what load you throw at it:

Topping EX5 THD+N vs Load Headphone Measurements USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Output impedance has been going up and down in some Topping products of this class so good to see them target a near zero impedance yet again.

Topping EX5 Listening Tests
The EX5 produced exceptionally good performance with bot my Drop Ether CX and Sennheiser HD650. There was good amount of volume available in low gain and in high gain, it was skull rattling powerful for the second or so I cranked the volume up. Detail, bass performance, absence of distortion -- there were all there. If the sound sucks, it is your content.

Conclusions
I expect nothing but excellence from Topping and we get that here in EX5. The unique feature set of balanced output in this category product put a smile on my face as these devices are usually shipping with just RCA out. The small packaging with orange LCD is one of my favorites. So really, I have nothing to complain about. Shenzhenaudio and Topping have done a great job producing a very functional device with superb performance.

It is my pleasure to put Shenzhenaudio Topping EX5 on my recommended list.

Note: this is a brand new product. My testing is only limited to its performance, not functionality and reliability. If you are worried about any risks in this regard, you may want to wait until early adopters test it first.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

ririt

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Amir thanks for this nice review. Regarding the DAC part, can you please display your usual SINAD vs output voltage graph? it is super useful when you want to pair a DAC to a power amplifier.
 

respice finem

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Top measurements and functionality at a fair price point. That's what the market needs: competition.
Two remarks:
1. @amirm Adding "DAC and headphone amplifier" to the title would help people searching for reviews by "titles only".
2. The "double" brand name is too long the way it is, somehow ;)
 
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JohnYang1997

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Amir thanks for this nice review. Regarding the DAC part, can you please display your usual SINAD vs output voltage graph? it is super useful when you want to pair a DAC to a power amplifier.
That test usually was only performed when dashboard is not measured at full output level. You can alternatively look at the 300Ohm headphone output THD+N vs level.
 

jannek

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Skull rattling powerful? With the Ether CX? I can't believe that.
 

Francis Vaughan

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I would say that this is likely the true end game DAC. It does everything one could want and is going to be essentially perfect in real world use.
Almost a given I’ll be buying one or more. I already own a couple of DX3-Pro.
Only useful DSP is missing. Add that and the game totally changes.
 

Pdxwayne

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@amirm, when you turn it off, would it output DC via xlr and RCA? I am looking for lower cost alternative for my Gustard x16, which output DC when powered off.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Amir thanks for this nice review. Regarding the DAC part, can you please display your usual SINAD vs output voltage graph? it is super useful when you want to pair a DAC to a power amplifier.
I usually don't run that when the output capability is not above nominal. But I will see if I can measure it later.

BTW, you can use the headphone out for this purpose and that measurement is there. It can produce 6+ volt output.
 
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amirm

amirm

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2 queries:
=======

1) DAC chip used ?
2) Gains... L, M, H ?
1) I don't know. :)

2) I have to check to see if there was a medium gain.
 
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amirm

amirm

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@amirm, when you turn it off, would it output DC via xlr and RCA? I am looking for lower cost alternative for my Gustard x16, which output DC when powered off.
I had not heard of that scenario. Will have to check.
 

aandres_gm

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$350? Seriously, had I bought the D30Pro+A30Pro I would be punching in the air right now.
I bought the 30 Pro stack and I'm almost having buyer's remorse. I did need the analogue input, so there's that. But to think I basically paid twice the price for the looks of a stack and the analogue input to the amp is making me sad.

Think I may get this for my brother as a present. Along some Sundaras.
 
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