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Topping A90 Discrete Review (Headphone Amp & Preamp)

Rate this Headphone Amp/Pre-amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 16 3.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 14 3.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 70 17.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 306 75.4%

  • Total voters
    406

maruko

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
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Funny. The story is similar to the E70 vs E70V.

And that worked in my favor nicely as I recently picked up an Apos Certified E70 for $261 shipped to my door. (Thanks to all those E70V guys that heard a difference and pushed the absolutely stellar E70 to the price cellar)

My A90 is a helluva amp and all the reports of glitchy A90D are concerning. Nice to have confirming reports to rid the idea of replacing an A90 with A90D.
Switching between the two after long listening sessions, left me with always the same impression: A90 more clean, focused, delicate and precise. A90D darker in the midrange and a bit less refined. Now They are equally fast and punchy to my ears.

I ended up preferring the A90 with some recordings and A90D with others.

But in my blind test I was not able to discern between the two. Although, I think, i wasn’t totally focused and relaxed during that test. Or maybe this is what I like to think

Other people claim they were able to discern which was which in blind test.
 
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escalibur

Active Member
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Jul 2, 2018
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161
Fyi,

Topping's official statement as an email reply regarding the '-5 error code':

The A90D display of -5 indicates that the headphone protection was triggered by detecting a DC voltage exceeding the threshold. If left unprotected, the headphones may be damaged.
If the A90D is not connected to any input, power off for 5 minutes and then restart and no longer show -5, this means that the DC voltage introduced from the input. Generally speaking, there is more DC voltage for low frequency sounds. And the higher the gain and volume settings, the greater the amplification, will lead to the DC voltage is more amplified, more than a certain amount will trigger this protection.

If this happens frequently, it is recommended that can change songs or turn down the volume or gain.

My amp is working again. I will monitor the situation in case I face the same error code again.
 

hamsuplo

New Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
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0
Looks like I got my -5 error code after been using this since 9/22. Reaching out to my reseller for assistance as rebooting with nothing plugged in did not fix the issue.
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
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New A70PRO looks better performance

20k ohm input impedance.

SMSL SP400 has 47k ohm input impedance but at least a good move by Topping.

Stellar low gain performance by the Topping, especially 50mV output.

Like to see relay based volume control - pots are a thing of the past.

No need for A90D anymore? I prefer looks of A90D though. Love the dot matrix volume display

 

Veri

Master Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2018
Messages
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12,040
New A70PRO looks better performance

20k ohm input impedance.

SMSL SP400 has 47k ohm input impedance but at least a good move by Topping.

Stellar low gain performance by the Topping, especially 50mV output.

Like to see relay based volume control - pots are a thing of the past.

No need for A90D anymore? I prefer looks of A90D though. Love the dot matrix volume display

Guessing A70 Pro is not discrete, not that it "matters".
 

dsnyder0cnn

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
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801
Interested in what upstream of the DAC method you use to adjust channel balance
I use Roon, which has a flexible DSP engine and 64-bit implementation. So, it's easy to compensate there as needed in a transparent way.
 
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escalibur

Active Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2018
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161
Guessing A70 Pro is not discrete, not that it "matters".
I would be more worried about the durability of the display. For some reason I would still prefer physical buttons over displays because something tells me that those displays wont last 'forever'.
 

xellyeo

New Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2023
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0
hi, i have a problem with my a90d amplifier. i can get up to 72 on the display, on the standard curve with my lcd x connected via xlr (i think i should be deaf). My Dac is topping e30 I know there is some rule of 1:8 impedance so it may be it but I don't know how to check it.
 

inscythe

Member
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Sep 25, 2021
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Sigh, I just had the permanent -5 error code on my unit yesterday. I went down to my local distributor expecting a quick replacement and instead I was told that the unit needs to be sent back to manufacturer with a lead time of 4-8 weeks. This is my primary amp, so I won't be able to use a huge portion of my gears while the A90D is away.

Tried the fix mentioned earlier (turn off, disconnect all inputs, turn on), no luck.

Pretty disappointing really...
 
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inscythe

Member
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Sep 25, 2021
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Looks like I got my -5 error code after been using this since 9/22. Reaching out to my reseller for assistance as rebooting with nothing plugged in did not fix the issue.
How did it go with your reseller? Did you get yours replaced? I've used mine since October 2022.
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
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Sigh, I just had the permanent -5 error code on my unit yesterday. I went down to my local distributor expecting a quick replacement and instead I was told that the unit needs to be sent back to manufacturer with a lead time of 4-8 weeks. This is my primary amp, so I won't be able to use a huge portion of my gears while the A90D is away.

Pretty disappointing really...

This is pretty typical though.

Immediate replacement is normally only for DOA - depends which country you are in, can be 3 days after delivery, can be 1 week.

Outside of fault on arrival, normal warranty process has to happen (sent for repair).

Some big brands can repair in your country but Topping will obviously have to go back to China.

If people want service centres around the world, they will need to pay higher for Topping gears.

If you want prices to stay low, need to accept longer repair times and other inconveniences.
 

inscythe

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Sep 25, 2021
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If you want prices to stay low, need to accept longer repair times and other inconveniences
Sure, I can accept it. I don't have to be happy about it though.

Looking at the purchasing time of my unit and @hamsuplo 's, seems like the fault came out at around the same age of the device, around 8 months. It is yet to be seen if this is a common problem given the low sample size of 2, but I do think it is within Topping's power to give a standing instruction for replacement to its distributor for customers facing the same issue if the problem ever became more common. They did similar thing with L30 last time after all...
 
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Music1969

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They did similar thing with L30 last time after all...

Yes I'm not hinting above that this is the only way - sometimes retailers and distributors make exceptions.

Above, I'm only saying what the normal warranty process is.

Hope it all gets resolved for you soon !
 

inscythe

Member
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Sep 25, 2021
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Also my advice for anyone buying Topping is to wait 6 months after its release, for problems to be fixed.

Like this -5 error code was fixed and new units don't suffer
Mine came with FW 2.4 out of the box, so I probably got one of the later batches of 2022. Looking at the trends in this thread, it seems that only the first few of batches have this particular issue and newer 2023 batches seem fine. I do have an optimistic hunch that this is something they fixed in later batches, but on the extremely pessimistic side, it may be a time-related trigger that later batches might eventually encounter. I do honestly hope it is the former.

I use my A90D almost daily since my purchase, and I enjoyed it very much... That's why this is quite devastating to me personally.
 
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