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Topping A90 Headphone Amplifier Review

hmscott

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Finally got my A90 after months of waiting it to arrive at local distributor. Mine has butter smooth volume pot, no play on it.
Medium gain is all I need for beyer dt880 600Ohm.
Thanks for that info, I was wondering - as that's about what my A90 needs to drive a 250 ohm DT880 Chrome - although I usually run it on H Gain 9-10 - what volume position on the dial does the DT800 600 ohm need on your A90 at H Gain?
And then you have those youtube videos claiming you need a vintage receiver or a speaker amp for optimal sound.
It's weird actually, as I didn't think the DT880 250 ohm would work on a vanilla PC headphone output, but sure enough it works find on a Gigabyte motherboard back panel 3.5mm (green) audio output. As does a DT770 16 ohm... makes you wonder, right? The impedance matters, but each amplifier device interface interacts differently.

The best idea is to try it and see how it works before giving up. :)
 
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Thanks for that info, I was wondering - as that's about what my A90 needs to drive a 250 ohm DT880 Chrome - although I usually run it on H Gain 9-10 - what volume position on the dial does the DT800 600 ohm need on your A90 at H Gain?

It's weird actually, as I didn't think the DT880 250 ohm would work on a vanilla PC headphone output, but sure enough it works find on a Gigabyte motherboard back panel 3.5mm (green) audio output. As does a DT770 16 ohm... makes you wonder, right? The impedance matters, but each amplifier device interface interacts differently.

The best idea is to try it and see how it works before giving up. :)
What song are you listening with dt880? I will try the high gain with the same some song later.
 

hmscott

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What song are you listening with dt880? I will try the high gain with the same some song later.
I've already passed on the DT880 250 ohm to my friend - she doesn't like swapping headphones back and forth so I'm gonna go from memory - here are some playlists I listened to the DT 880 250 ohm @ H Gain on the A90.

Here's a Tidal 192khz Playlist https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/bd51ad45-df8a-4333-8615-d7526b80b70a

Here's an Amazon HD list: https://music.amazon.com/playlists/B08684DMF5?ref=dm_sh_0dd0-3b5f-ed4d-835c-0498d

I listened deep into the tidal playlist of 192khz MQA masters, and at least 1/2 way through the Amazon HD list skipping through my favorites as UltraHD tracks.

I also played around with the D90 in PRE mode dropping -6dB, -9dB, etc, -30dB, seeing how the A90 Gain settings affected the sound at the matched output level, which also let me use more range in the A90 volume control. I'll update if I can wrangle the DT880 250 ohm's back for more details and comparison.

I'm thinking of getting a DT990 600 ohm, or a DT880 600 ohm, been cruising the German Beyerdynamic site and custom builds to get what I want - it's hard to find a 600 ohm premium (I like the headband, no sharp horns) in black otherwise here in the US. I emailed Beyerdynamic DE a while back, no answer yet.
 
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I've already passed on the DT880 250 ohm to my friend - she doesn't like swapping headphones back and forth so I'm gonna go from memory - here are some playlists I listened to the DT 880 250 ohm @ H Gain on the A90.

Here's a Tidal 192khz Playlist https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/bd51ad45-df8a-4333-8615-d7526b80b70a

Here's an Amazon HD list: https://music.amazon.com/playlists/B08684DMF5?ref=dm_sh_0dd0-3b5f-ed4d-835c-0498d

I listened deep into the tidal playlist of 192khz MQA masters, and at least 1/2 way through the Amazon HD list skipping through my favorites as UltraHD tracks.

I also played around with the D90 in PRE mode dropping -6dB, -9dB, etc, -30dB, seeing how the A90 Gain settings affected the sound at the matched output level, which also let me use more range in the A90 volume control. I'll update if I can wrangle the DT880 250 ohm's back for more details and comparison.

I'm thinking of getting a DT990 600 ohm, or a DT880 600 ohm, been cruising the German Beyerdynamic site and custom builds to get what I want - it's hard to find a 600 ohm premium (I like the headband, no sharp horns) in black otherwise here in the US. I emailed Beyerdynamic DE a while back, no answer yet.
For high gain, listening Beatle's Here Comes the Sun (24bit/96KHz Qobuz), I only need volume pot at 9.
D90 is in DAC mode, connected to A90 with short XLR cable.

Really like what I hear from the D90+A90 and DT880. Sounds smooth to me, no need EQ anymore. Next gotta try Sennheiser HD650 and Oppo PM1.
 
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I also played around with the D90 in PRE mode dropping -6dB, -9dB, etc, -30dB, seeing how the A90 Gain settings affected the sound at the matched output level, which also let me use more range in the A90 volume control. I'll update if I can wrangle the DT880 250 ohm's back for more details and comparison.
So are you saying that L M H gain settings on the A90 behave differently when volume matched from the D90 PRE?
 

frogmeat69

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For high gain, listening Beatle's Here Comes the Sun (24bit/96KHz Qobuz), I only need volume pot at 9.
D90 is in DAC mode, connected to A90 with short XLR cable.

Really like what I hear from the D90+A90 and DT880. Sounds smooth to me, no need EQ anymore. Next gotta try Sennheiser HD650 and Oppo PM1.
I kinda regret selling my PM1's, even though I sold them for more than I paid for them, even before they were discontinued.

I also sold my DT880, but I have the T1 2nd gen and Amiron Home, and they both sound great on my A90 / RME ADI-2 combo.
 

hmscott

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I kinda regret selling my PM1's, even though I sold them for more than I paid for them, even before they were discontinued.

I also sold my DT880, but I have the T1 2nd gen and Amiron Home, and they both sound great on my A90 / RME ADI-2 combo.
If you had to choose between the T1 2nd gen and the Amiron Home wired, which would you choose? I'm trying to decide which one to get. :)
 
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hmscott

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So are you saying that L M H gain settings on the A90 behave differently when volume matched from the D90 PRE?
Listen for yourself - Explore the options, it's all part of the fun. :)
For high gain, listening Beatle's Here Comes the Sun (24bit/96KHz Qobuz), I only need volume pot at 9.
D90 is in DAC mode, connected to A90 with short XLR cable.

Really like what I hear from the D90+A90 and DT880. Sounds smooth to me, no need EQ anymore. Next gotta try Sennheiser HD650 and Oppo PM1.
That's great, it's wild how the 600 ohm and 250 ohm DT880 follow about the same range on M / H Gain - the 250 ohm also works in L Gain as well, a bit past 12 o'clock on the volume dial.
 
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hmscott

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Yeah, for sure, but was genuinely interested in what you found. I don’t even know - should they even be the same?
I was seriously saying you need to experiment with it yourself, don't be afraid to explore H Gain - starting with the volume all the way down of course - and explore L Gain on normally hard to drive headphones. Explore the range of options for getting the same output level available with the A90 and D90.

Changing the drive of the D90 into the A90 headphone amp can also produce interesting results. The D90 in PRE mode from -3.0dB all the way down to -30dB can drive the A90 adequately with low noise, and allow you room to explore L / M / H Gain with sensitive IEM's.

I can't tell you what you will hear - that's up to your ears, headphones, and ability to listen, but if you have the time - don't we all these days - it's worth exploring the range of gain / drive options for each IEM and headphone.

I find it takes some time to acclimate to the new setting even at the same effective output level. I've found it enjoyable to not necessarily drive the A90 so hard or drive the headphones so hard, back off the volume level output to your ears a bit more than you think necessary and let your ears adjust to the lowered volume and then try that same volume level at each Gain setting adjusting the drive of the A90 as needed to give you enough range on the volume dial.

I hope that helps explain what I said earlier in more detail, explore all the options. :)
 
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Ddd

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Since some only post when they have issue with RCA. So I am here to report that I don't have issue with D90 and A90 connected through RCA. Even with high gain, max volume and HD650 connected to 4.4mm.
Happy for you!

Well.. Not everyone can hear it even maybe it is there. Some people ears are more sensitive towards it maybe? Haha but just gonna XLR connect them and issue solved! Enjoy!
 

Veri

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I have my D90 MQA connected to the Smyth A16 Realizer and the A16 connected to the A90... no noise and the pairing is heaven... you should hear the glorious 12 channels per ear in full ATMOS mode...
Any pictures of your set-up? In any case now THAT is something I'd be willing to pay money for to hear for myself :D ;)
 
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This is the Smyth A16 Realiser stack with the Topping D90 MQA feeding the A16 and the A16 feeding the Topping A90 Amp... The preset loaded into the A16 is the 24 ch Dolby ATMOS speaker setup from the Surrey Recording Studio... so with the A90 Amp feeding the HD800 headphones a Full Atmos 24 ch ( 12 ch per ear ) and virtualized sub woofer in a configuration of 15.1.8 ... I think it sounds fantastic...


IMG_1793s.jpg
 
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Hey ASR, question with the a90. Long time lurker/learner, but now I’m head scratching a bit.
A90 arrived and I found it isn’t performing on my Focal Stellia as well as my M15 dap. There is bass missing in comparison and less ‘slam’.

That said, the desktop set up is using a PS Audio NuWave DSD dac. I know this dac isn’t favoured here, but could it be the culprit vs. a dap with the new AK4499 chip?

My only other guess is since the Stellia is low impedance, perhaps the M15 has a higher current that opens up the bass on the headphone better.

Setup is New MacBook > USB > PS Audio > short RCA > Topping > Balanced to Stellia.

Thanks,
 

Racheski

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This is the Smyth A16 Realizer stack with the Topping D90 MQA feeding the A16 and the A16 feeding the Topping A90 Amp... The preset loaded into the A16 is the 24 ch Dolby ATMOS speaker setup from the Surrey Recording Studio... so with the A90 Amp feeding the HD800 headphones a Full Atmos 24 ch ( 12 ch per ear ) and virtualized sub woofer in a configuration of 15.1.8 ... I think it sounds fantastic... View attachment 76631
That looks insane! But how does the HD800 present all of these different channels if there is only a L and R driver?
 

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