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Topping A90 Discrete Review (Headphone Amp & Preamp)

Rate this Headphone Amp/Pre-amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 12 3.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 12 3.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 58 16.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 263 76.2%

  • Total voters
    345

registlse

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2022
Messages
8
Likes
7
Wouldn’t it be possible by an update to lower the brightness? The 1 is good but a little high and the 3 is only useful if you put the amp in front of the sun...
 

Veri

Master Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
8,962
Likes
11,096
@JohnYang1997

Can you reveal some technical details
(for the nerds) about the current NFCA modules?
I don't think he can (will) since S.M.S.L.s current head/amp products feature an amplification design that is over 99% the exact same as original L30.
So L30 II and the other optimised designs will (try to) be kept closed source I reckon. Copycats everywhere :p
 

zhgutov

New Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
3
Likes
2
Has anyone measured crosstalk under the load for A90 Discrete?
Something like that:
crosstalk-under-the-load.png


@amirm, do you still have this amp?
 
Last edited:

Music1969

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
3,649
Likes
2,115
How is reliability of this thing?

I worry when a pure analogue headphone amp needs firmware updates...

Very happy with my reliable SMSL SP400 (featuring THX AAA-888) with perfect resistor ladder volume control

I love the look and features of this Topping but reliability seems to be thing with their headamps sadly
 

BenF

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 20, 2019
Messages
73
Likes
125
Location
Vienna
I'm more confused about the A90D + D90SE with DT1990. Feels like money spend on the wrong end.

i would go with a topping DX5 and spend more money on the headphones
I love my DT1990 more than ATH-R70x or DanClark Aeon RT... it's a very fine pair of headphones. You can get rid of their treble spicyness with a passive filter or EQ. And they are nearly indestructible.
 

Arnas

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2020
Messages
85
Likes
107
How is reliability of this thing?

I worry when a pure analogue headphone amp needs firmware updates...

Very happy with my reliable SMSL SP400 (featuring THX AAA-888) with perfect resistor ladder volume control

I love the look and features of this Topping but reliability seems to be thing with their headamps sadly
More possible functions can be added and if there is some bug that was unnoticed can be fixed.
I think every amp and dac should update possibility.
 

Atanasi

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
601
Likes
623
I worry when a pure analogue headphone amp needs firmware updates...
The amp has features like remote control and mapping volume steps to actual volumes using different curves. The control part of the device is not purely analogue.
 

Mattx

Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2021
Messages
12
Likes
11
I love my DT1990 more than ATH-R70x or DanClark Aeon RT... it's a very fine pair of headphones. You can get rid of their treble spicyness with a passive filter or EQ. And they are nearly indestructible.
Indeed. I feel that the DT1990pro is painted way to negative. I like it more than my HD660s. Treble perception is hugely influenced by age and how much abuse your ears have had, e.g. nightlife. Was worried about the treble too but with some slight eq in a few places the treble is more than fine for me.

Hope Amirm will measure and review the 1990 one day.
 

mrjayviper

Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2022
Messages
55
Likes
2
Love using this amp on my focal clear, Sony mdr- z1r and Shure 1540
 

reter

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
1
Indeed. I feel that the DT1990pro is painted way to negative. I like it more than my HD660s. Treble perception is hugely influenced by age and how much abuse your ears have had, e.g. nightlife. Was worried about the treble too but with some slight eq in a few places the treble is more than fine for me.

Hope Amirm will measure and review the 1990 one day.
what do you mean by abuse of your ears in nightlife? i'm curious
 

bigLP

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
66
Likes
64
Location
Rochester, NY
I finally got around to comparing the A90 D and my schiit freya s. This was as pre amp only, not HP amp though. Listening was not blind, but observations were kept private until end. I level matched(72 db) using a chesky test tone and cell phone app. then used a cd quality chesky recording, node 2i to modius e to pre amps to ATI 542 ncore to ls50.. All balanced. I told my son to listen to tonality of instruments and "image", which I purposely didnt define.
My 21 year old son and I listened to same 30 seconds of music 12 times on the a90d in high gain. It took about 30 seconds to switch cords. Then 12 times on schiit freya s in its active mode. I told him to write down, in short phrases, how the two compared.
we both noted: more bass for a90D, slightly hot treble for Freya, cellos sounded more prominent on a90d, violins on schiit(elevated highs?). schiit wider, bigger image
contradictions: subjectively we preferred different pre amps, I distinctly noticed a smaller more forward image on the a 90d and better and better bass extension. I thought the schiit's image depth was subjectively better, but more diffuse.......my son said he did not really understand my lingo or agree with what i heard. he thought they both sounded good, and not real different in the end.
On tuesday i will cover rack, so it is blind for my son. Same process, but only 6 plays each. by memory and his own written description i will see if he can tell them apart.

I'm pretty sure i wouldn't sell either. I've had no operational problems with a90D, but have not even listened to the headphone amps..........
Whoops, forgot to post the next comparison; a blind listening test on my son. On two occasions, 2 and 4 days after the original comparison I put a pillow case over the two preamps before my son even arrived. I told him to try and identify which pre I played first based on memory and his notes. He didnt guess correctly either day. On each of those days, after the initial attempt at blindly identify the pre I switched back and forth between the two by changing the wires, causing a 20 second delay or so between each sample. I told him the first two samples are the different pres, but after that it is "random". A,B,A,A,B,B,A,B
He was 3/6 on both days. Not drawing any conclusions from the whole thing, other than they are not really too different and I dont think there are any golden ears in my family.
It might be important to note I hear nothing above 12k, my son 18k.
 

Zenairis

Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2021
Messages
28
Likes
30
This is hard to say they're very close to one another in terms of both tonality and performance with the power leaning more toward the A90D. I want to say there is some slight difference in transparency favoring the A90D but it's difficult to say I've only had my unit on for a hour. It feels more noticeable on the Dan Clark Stealth than it does the Susvara though. I've been listening to both and I need to use mine for a while longer a hour is no where near enough to make a judgement.

I'd say the biggest reason to upgrade is for Susvara or Stealth users since they're both power hungry cans. Which is the primary reason for upgrading.
Kindly Greeting everyone from ASR!
Does anyone do A/B A90 and A90D with D90SE(LE)?
In particular with DT1990.
Is A90D REALLY have better clarity on mid's and high's than regular A90 when connected to same DAC - D90SE(LE)?
Thanks in advance for YOUR response's!
 

mrjayviper

Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2022
Messages
55
Likes
2
is this amp a full balanced design? (that is both +/- outputs of 180degrees out-of-phase of each other)

Thanks
 
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