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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

tarikuz

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2019
Messages
22
Likes
14
Getting crazy... I had the A90, upgraded to A90d, very good sound but I have a strange problem... The old a90 mid gain half volume with Hifiman arya was so loud... A90D high gain, 64 is more or less equal... So it looks less power... P.S.: fw 1.4 volume curve 1. Any idea ?
 

Veri

Master Contributor
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Feb 6, 2018
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11,098
Getting crazy... I had the A90, upgraded to A90d, very good sound but I have a strange problem... The old a90 mid gain half volume with Hifiman arya was so loud... A90D high gain, 64 is more or less equal... So it looks less power... P.S.: fw 1.4 volume curve 1. Any idea ?
The gain curve is configurable!
 

raif71

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
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Gain curve? I wonder what gain curve I was on during my demo of a90d today at an audio shop. I noticed not much difference in volume when I changed gain from L to H. I suppose it was the gain curve setting...another learning curve eh.
 

tarikuz

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2019
Messages
22
Likes
14
I have High gain (gain button ore mote contlrol on the screen H), and curve setting 1 (button B) on remote. The Arya is connected by the xlr output with a balanced cable (see picture below).


20220924_180915.jpg
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
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2,115
Is the current firmware bug free?

Anyone have shorting issues (headphones pop) when unlugging single ended connector?

No random weird behaviour ?

My SMSL SP400 is rock solid more powerful and never needed a firmware update to be reliable lol

I need to get another headamp and both are similar price
 

Snoopy

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
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466
My SMSL SP400 is rock solid more powerful and never needed a firmware update to be reliable lol

Agree. The SP400 is a solid device and plenty powerful. I'm running mine in low gain.

I could recommend you the Singxer SA1 (I got that one as well).
 
Last edited:

Music1969

Major Contributor
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Feb 19, 2018
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Agree. The SP400 is a solid device and plenty powerful. I'm running mine in low gain. Plenty powerful.

I could recommend you the Singxer SA1 (I got that one as well).
Thanks , SA1 looks good but the resistor relay volume control of SP400 with perfect channel balance is hard to go back from
 

Snoopy

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Thanks , SA1 looks good but the resistor relay volume control of SP400 with perfect channel balance is hard to go back from
Yeah. In that case just get another SP400. It's just a amplifier after all. And it probably doesn't get cleaner than a THX amp :)

I have no issue with topping but they release a new device every other month Instead of fixing known issues. (That shouldn't have been there to begin with)
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
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but they release a new device every other month Instead of fixing known issues. (That shouldn't have been there to begin with)
And firmware updates for a headamp are a worry. Should not even be a thing tbh

DACs and streamers and DSP speakers i can understand

The A90d looks really cool though , visually
 

slsmaster

Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2022
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Ok after a decent amount of testin the A90D vs my A30Pro I'm pretty conclusive about my findings.

A90D hands down beats the A30Pro in sound quality in about every genre I tried. Main difference being a smoother more balanced sound with better instrument separation and positioning. Faster tracks tend to get a bit messy on the A30Pro where the A90D undoubtedly handles this better and with more grace.

What else is that the A30Pro sounds quite hot and in my face compared to the more relaxed and smooth A90D. My HD660s is known for having a bit hot upperbass and vocals. The A30Pro makes this worse, where the A90D has a less aggressive approach to these areas of the frequency range. Also tried the Mad Dogs (Fostex T50RP Mod) and same results.

All in all I really LOVE the A90D for it's sound. It's just a better amp for all the cans I tried on it with the D30Pro. Hands down a better listening experience all round without endlessly sharing my subjective opinion here. That said I send it back. Why? Because function wise it doesn't suite me for it's price. It doesn't have physical buttons on the front other than the knob which is very limited in usage. For the rest of it's function Toppings sends you their flimsy plastic remote that just doesn't work very intuitively and just feels like a cheap piece of plastic, squeeking, having gaps and just built poorly. As the main tool for controlling the amp I expect more at this price point. Also my A30Pro has a nice pass-through option to let my D30Pro directly send the signal to my speakers when the amp is off. Thus saving power and one less step in the chain to disrupt the sound. I don't need the pre-amp function of the A90D. The D30Pro is perfect as it is for this. And then the final nail in it's coffing which isn't it's fault, I just don't use the amp enough these days for listening to music to make it worth the swap. I mostly use my ADAM T5Vs and they are doign really well on the D30Pro by passthrough and sound better directly to the D30Pro than through the A90D. So all in all not the right pick for me.

Sounds better than A30Pro by quite a bit (hard to argue even subjectively.. Not just taste. Technically). Function wise lacking for my use case. Flimsy remote is embarrassing at this price point. Give us back the A90 switches instead of that LED volume thing..

View attachment 231104
Did you compare the Amps while volume matching?

I am asking because I mainly use my D30 Pro + A30 Pro stack with my EQed Arya SE and it’s stock 6.3mm cable, would an upgrade to the A90 Discrete make an audible benefit as both measure quite good?
 

Lupin

Addicted to Fun and Learning
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Feb 11, 2021
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800
Anyone have shorting issues (headphones pop) when unlugging single ended connector?
I would never hot plug an SE connector no mater the device.
Sure now days devices have protection circuits build in that should prevent damage with shorting... which is pretty much what you do when hot plugging an SE connector. But why take the chance.. I just never hot plug an SE connector.
 

DrDen

Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
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7
Did you compare the Amps while volume matching?

I am asking because I mainly use my D30 Pro + A30 Pro stack with my EQed Arya SE and it’s stock 6.3mm cable, would an upgrade to the A90 Discrete make an audible benefit as both measure quite good?
As A30pro is not balanced, there is no reason to upgrade the amp unless you upgrade the headphone cable to balanced one. Single ended is good enough on A30pro. IMHO.
 

Cidious

Active Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2019
Messages
148
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137
Did you compare the Amps while volume matching?

I am asking because I mainly use my D30 Pro + A30 Pro stack with my EQed Arya SE and it’s stock 6.3mm cable, would an upgrade to the A90 Discrete make an audible benefit as both measure quite good?
Yes of course. But they both just sound different. A90D is much smoother and more refined, A30Pro more hot and shouty. Best way to describe the differences. Both PLENTY of power. For music i'd blindly recommend the A90D in terms of listening fatigue, musical tonality etc. The A30Pro tends to fatigue a bit more after a while compared to the A90D. That said. If you have never heard the A90D next to the A30Pro then the A30Pro is a fine amp on it's own. Just not up to the level of the A90D for music. I think for other stuff like gaming, movies etc, it just doesn't matter which one you pick.

A30Pro is single ended but can take balanced cables. the Single ended amp in the A30Pro has plenty of power but feels slightly more brute forced and shouty compared to cranking up the volume with the A90D. The A30Pro sounds better with High Impedance headphones because it's switching to Class A. It will become smoother when it does that. My Beyers 600ohm T1 drivers sound great on both but the HD660s and Mr Speakers Mad Dogs definitely sound quite a bit better on the A90D.

I kept the A30Pro for funcionality (DAC Passthrough to active speakers) and because I just don't listen to music enough anymore, so it would be a bit wasted on me for my use case. For any music lover, GET THE A90D. It's just better overall in sound quality and listening experience.
 
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