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Topping A90 Discrete Review (Headphone Amp & Preamp)

Rate this Headphone Amp/Pre-amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 7 2.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 9 3.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 41 16.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 198 77.6%

  • Total voters
    255

Arnas

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2020
Messages
59
Likes
44
Wrong. No clue if you would consider Ukraine as "west" but flux labs offers stepped relay volume control, more power and also discrete design at 100$ less.
What about measurements? If its like Soloist 3x then its all just good looking amp.
This and Singxer measure great.
 

Toni Mas

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
61
Likes
58
You get low THD+Noise for a high price, unknown reliability and zero chance of a repair.

Repeatedly buying replacement gadgets every year or so adds up. Enough people here reacted to this review by saying they will immediately buy one.

My audiophile very high quality, very well measuring, does everything all-in-one electronics (streamer to amplifier) is now 12 years old, I bought it 6 years ago and had it factory upgraded. It cost a bunch at the time, but has amortised/depreciated by about $3,000 over 6 years. That's $500 per annum, which is small change if you like opera. My vinyl system is 10 years old and in the past I used many items for 10+ years.

So you mean self repair, or..? If I buy this from a retailer in Europe, I get standard 2 year warranty with repairs etc. As long as you don't buy straight from shenzhen/aliexpress etc, I don't see any problem.
Not only Shenzhen/AliExpress might become a nightmare in case you receive a faulty unit, or simply realize that you made the wrong choice...
 

DWI

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Messages
506
Likes
408
Not only Shenzhen/AliExpress might become a nightmare in case you receive a faulty unit, or simply realize that you made the wrong choice...
So far the only source in the UK appears to be Aoyima's eBay account, direct from China.

The only thing I bought direct from China failed after a few months. cost me $100. I've always considered reliability to be a major issue as I like to own things a long time, so I tend not to buy anything that hasn't been on the market for at least a few years, sometimes a lot longer. Plus, after a few years you get to see resale values, which tells me how popular something is and the likely cost of ownership, which often I consider more important than the actual price. I never buy anything without a demonstration or that I cannot return. I don't like wrong choices.
 

Oukkidoukki

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
427
Likes
182
If somebody get this and have A90 would be fun to hear can you spot some different vibes in sound.
 

junki

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2018
Messages
54
Likes
38
Not only Shenzhen/AliExpress might become a nightmare in case you receive a faulty unit, or simply realize that you made the wrong choice...
I have an old D50 dac that failed to power on a couple of years ago out of warranty. I emailed Topping and they responded that since it was out of warranty, the service fee would be $30, and I'd handle shipping to, and they'd handle shipping back to me. They provided mailing instructions (including customs declaration instructions), and I shipped it to them via USPS. Three weeks later, they emailed me saying my unit was ready to come home and charged me $30. I paid via PayPal, and they shipped it to me via DHL. It's been working like new since then.
 
Last edited:

kchap

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
362
Likes
341
Location
Melbourne, Oz
I'm tending towards digital volume control in my steamer and just using the the volume control on the headphone amp as a coarse control. As DACs creep towards 23-24 bit dynamic range I would be happy with an HPA that something like 0 - 20dB attenuation in 5dB steps.
 

Hemi

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
54
Location
California
What about measurements? If its like Soloist 3x then its all just good looking amp.
This and Singxer measure great.
In 2021, I sent my Flux FA-12 to Amir. You can read the review here.
I now own the Volot – their flagship. It weighs like a tank and produces 16 watts per channel @ 32 Ohm. I love this monster!

index.php
 

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
464
Likes
709
See this is what I'm about. Love that new volume indicator, pretty creative for an analogue device. Loved stepped attenuators or digital volume control (every damn pot I've used in amps develops scratchy static, and I am not going to disassemble a pot to clean the oxidation layers that keep forming that are supposedly responsible for this). The performance is awesome (never seen close to 1W at 300ohm impedance on any device reviewed, that's sick). No clipping/going into protection even down to 32ohm loads? NICE. And finally nice I/O (with expansion possible for those that want it). All in all, great job.

Same experience I had. My Parasound Halo P5 had the volume pot replaced twice due to static noise. After the second repair I sold it. As soon I found the P6 had a Burr Brown analog resistor ladder volume control I purchased it. This is by far the best volume control I have had in any pre amp. Took sometime to get used to it as it behaves logarithmically and non linear, though. I’m hopping the A90D volume control is at least as good as the one in my Parasound Halo P6.
 

tritopia

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2022
Messages
16
Likes
23
Yes, lets cheer things getting more and more pricey! Great thinking!

You read it wrong. The performance of the Pre90 has been added with features such as a headphone amplifier, which means that the price cannot be cheaper than the Pre90.
I ordered this with the intention of using it as a preamplifier. It has the same preamplifier and the same price as the Pre90, so there is no reason to buy the Pre90 on purpose.

12V trigger is a bonus!!!

JohnYang's answer was in response to my opinion.
 

GeekyBastard

Active Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
213
Likes
426
Apparently Topping used some ''old modules'' from the A90D, I wonder what's the meaning of ''old module'' though. (A90D旧模块 stickers)
Teardown.jpg
 

cheapmessiah

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
141
Likes
96
Location
Mordor
Apparently Topping used some ''old modules'' from the A90D, I wonder what's the meaning of ''old module'' though. (A90D旧模块 stickers)
Teardown.jpg
Wouldn't it be funny if someone de-capped those discrete modules and there was a TI opamp in it
 

Nordling

New Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2021
Messages
4
Likes
12
Location
North of the Netherlands
Does anyone know what the input impedance is? There are different opinions about the relatively low input impedance of the Topping Pre90 @10kOhms (single ended) and 2.2kOhms (balanced).
About the input impedance of the Topping A90 Discrete, I asked Topping, and they responded quickly: 10kOhms for SE and 2kOhms for balanced. So it's the same as with the A90 and Pre90.

Single endedBalanced
- Topping A9010k Ohms2k Ohms
- Topping A90 Discrete10k Ohms2k Ohms
- Topping Pre9010k Ohms2.2k Ohms
 

Snoopy

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
612
Likes
310
Would this amp or the smsl SP400 be better for low impedance headphones? I'm still waiting for a response about that 20 Ohm protection thing the amp does
 

roderickvd

Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
14
Likes
13
Location
The Netherlands
About the input impedance of the Topping A90 Discrete, I asked Topping, and they responded quickly: 10kOhms for SE and 2kOhms for balanced. So it's the same as with the A90 and Pre90.

Single endedBalanced
- Topping A9010k Ohms2k Ohms
- Topping A90 Discrete10k Ohms2k Ohms
- Topping Pre9010k Ohms2.2k Ohms
Again? Why so low? Not that it’s difficult or particularly expensive to have much better/higher input impedance even into the 1 Meg range!
 

junki

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2018
Messages
54
Likes
38
Would this amp or the smsl SP400 be better for low impedance headphones? I'm still waiting for a response about that 20 Ohm protection thing the amp does
For low impedance loads (32 Ohms or less), this unit seems more capable of delivering high wattage, which it must do so via current at such low impedances. However, experientially, both are likely indistinguishable.
 

Lupin

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
453
Likes
694
I emailed Topping to congratulate them on the A90D and to ask that they implement R2R volume control into their A30Pro and release it as A30Pro SE or something. One of their product people replied that they will discuss that suggestion internally.
How do you fit that volume control in the small chassis of the A30Pro?
Sure you can make the chassis bigger but that would require very expensive (re)tooling unless they reuse the chassis of the A90 which beats the whole purpose and price point of the A30Pro. Also the D30Pro would loose it's matching AMP when they make the chassis bigger.

I understand where you come from but from a practical and financial point of view it is never going to happen.
 
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