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Topping A90 Discrete Review (Headphone Amp & Preamp)

Rate this Headphone Amp/Pre-amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 9 3.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 9 3.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 49 17.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 220 76.7%

  • Total voters
    287

tomtrp

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
70
Likes
48
At these levels of excellence it's transparent for humans. Select the one your prefer and forgot the other, or buy the 2 because it's your pleasure. But frankly speaking, if you are concerned buy the preamp question, you already have an A90, so buy this one to complete your collection.
I generally agree with you. However, if you look at the cross talk performance, the A90 Discrete has a solid improvement from -102~-105 of A90 to -113~-116. Though -102~-105 should be transparent, but it will be interesting to see if people can tell the difference as lots of people in hifi community claim that A90 has a relative small soundstage which may be related to the cross talk performance. I know their subjective listening tests are not controlled and not valuable at all, but I don't think it is scientific to deny all the phenomenons by saying other people are just imagining the difference and therefore no need to do tests anymore. This is mind laziness in the disguise of science, not science itself. Hence a proper controlled test between the two is interesting to have.
 

Oukkidoukki

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
428
Likes
184
So how about se out vs balanced, is balanced somehow wider and better In a90d? They clame this phenomenon in many reviews for similar devices. Why then worlds leading companys like Beyerdynamic, Senheiser and Akg only do se phones? Is it so that se is more thrutful but balanced enhance something and make it more wow even though it is not as truthful? Also what comes to relative small soundstage in a90……it might be the dac….my 02 jds is clearly wider when adi 2 is feeding it compared to smsl su8.
 

Human Bass

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
402
Likes
419
Guys what exactly is the difference between volume pot control and a ladder relay type thingy? Which is better and which does the A90d have? Also does the d90se çome with a remote?
The latter is better (more precise, perfect channel matching) and also what the a90d has.
 

iamsms

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2020
Messages
25
Likes
105
I wonder why they keep giving us the 4.4mm balanced input instead of a 3.5mm single ended one. I would love to be able to plug in my IEMs without using an adapter. For balanced output, XLR should be enough imo.

Looks like a nice unit otherwise, although I agree that physical buttons on a desktop unit would have been great.
 

gavin898

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Messages
2
Likes
0
Are the discrete components for each channel a better technology than op amps? Hope someone who get their hands on the Discrete can compare with A90.
 

tritopia

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2022
Messages
41
Likes
47
I wonder why they keep giving us the 4.4mm balanced input instead of a 3.5mm single ended one. I would love to be able to plug in my IEMs without using an adapter. For balanced output, XLR should be enough imo.

Looks like a nice unit otherwise, although I agree that physical buttons on a desktop unit would have been great.
It is enough to provide only one SE support terminal. There's no reason to deliberately offer two at the expense of circuit complexity.
If only one terminal is supported, it is better to use the 6.35 terminal. Devices that support 3.5 can be connected using a gender.
 

Hipster Doofus

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
79
Likes
112
Thanks both to Top and Amir.

CAN I use this as a pre amp and use the balanced outputs for my amp and the rca for a sub.
 

roderickvd

Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
16
Location
The Netherlands
So how about se out vs balanced, is balanced somehow wider and better In a90d? They clame this phenomenon in many reviews for similar devices. Why then worlds leading companys like Beyerdynamic, Senheiser and Akg only do se phones? Is it so that se is more thrutful but balanced enhance something and make it more wow even though it is not as truthful? Also what comes to relative small soundstage in a90……it might be the dac….my 02 jds is clearly wider when adi 2 is feeding it compared to smsl su8.
But they do. At least I know that Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser offer balanced options, 4.4mm or XLR-4, on some but not all of their models.

Enough has been written on the electrical properties of balanced out: higher impedance (bad), higher voltage swing (good but not always necessary).
 

Oukkidoukki

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
428
Likes
184
Thanks both to Top and Amir.

CAN I use this as a pre amp and use the balanced outputs for my amp and the rca for a sub.
Yes for the balanced out part. And if pre amp in a90d really is in pre90 level, according to soundnews guy, it might make your dac sound better compared to using its digital volume ( you keep your dac in dac mode/full volume). Maybe someone van confirm if this is true or not. Don’t know if rca to sub is smart thing to do.
 

nagster

Active Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
243
Likes
380
Thanks both to Top and Amir.

CAN I use this as a pre amp and use the balanced outputs for my amp and the rca for a sub.
From the user manual.
a90d_manual_01.png
 

renaudrenaud

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
935
Likes
1,877
Location
Paris
I generally agree with you. However, if you look at the cross talk performance, the A90 Discrete has a solid improvement from -102~-105 of A90 to -113~-116. Though -102~-105 should be transparent, but it will be interesting to see if people can tell the difference as lots of people in hifi community claim that A90 has a relative small soundstage which may be related to the cross talk performance. I know their subjective listening tests are not controlled and not valuable at all, but I don't think it is scientific to deny all the phenomenons by saying other people are just imagining the difference and therefore no need to do tests anymore. This is mind laziness in the disguise of science, not science itself. Hence a proper controlled test between the two is interesting to have.
I generally agree with you... However...

No frankly speaking, I am a bit tired by the golden ears. Most if the time you can caught them in adoration about something and when the measurements are produced you cannot understand why.

From my point of view, I just buy when the equipment is measured by Amir since I have discovered this website.

And I have sold all the equipment accumulated since years and years to these golden ears.

No more reputation on a brand or extremely positive article from the specialized press. They sell their literature and ads pages.

Just figures. From my point of view it's not laziness disguised in science, it's just the fact I don't care at all what the golden ears are thinking about this excellent measured item.

I do not want to waste my time in these debates, I just want to listen to music via transparent equipment. And the best point is that it's not expensive at all.
 

nonnyno

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2022
Messages
70
Likes
64
the new display will look a bit odd when stacked with the d90se. I wonder if they’re going to revise that too.
 

tritopia

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2022
Messages
41
Likes
47
I am trying to connect the 12V trigger terminal of A90D and LA90. Can I use a 3.5 TRS cable? Or do I have to use only the 3.5 TS cable? It's a pity that there are no instructions on this content in the manual.
 

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
488
Likes
756
I am trying to connect the 12V trigger terminal of A90D and LA90. Can I use a 3.5 TRS cable? Or do I have to use only the 3.5 TS cable? It's a pity that there are no instructions on this content in the manual.
It should work with a stereo or mono 3.5 mm cable. I would try mono first, though. However, I think @JohnYang1997 is the right person to answer your question.
 

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
488
Likes
756
I am trying to connect the 12V trigger terminal of A90D and LA90. Can I use a 3.5 TRS cable? Or do I have to use only the 3.5 TS cable? It's a pity that there are no instructions on this content in the manual.

Check this out!!!

Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 10.11.19 PM.png

According to the User Manual, you can use a Stereo 3.5 mm cable. Also, make sure to set the Trigger Mode Setting to OUT as by default is set to IN so if you connect the A90D to the LA90, the LA90 is not going to turn ON because the A90D by default comes with the Trigger set as IN.
 

tritopia

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2022
Messages
41
Likes
47
Check this out!!!

View attachment 215446
According to the User Manual, you can use a Stereo 3.5 mm cable. Also, make sure to set the Trigger Mode Setting to OUT as by default is set to IN so if you connect th
Check this out!!!

View attachment 215446
According to the User Manual, you can use a Stereo 3.5 mm cable. Also, make sure to set the Trigger Mode Setting to OUT as by default is set to IN so if you connect the A90D to the LA90, the LA90 is not going to turn ON because the A90D by default comes with the Trigger set as



Thank you so much!!! ;)
 

carlcamper

Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2020
Messages
90
Likes
87
Location
Cavite, Philippines
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