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Topping a90discrete

nonnyno

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Hi all,

I'm going nuts.

I decided to buy a topping a90d and D90se. The A90d turned up. The d90se arrives tomorrow. I decided to try an old smsl m500 with it using balanced interconnection. Plugged everything in and it worked. I'm waiting for the Dan Clark Stealths to arrive as well so plugged in a set of beyer dt770's single ended. I've got windows volume turned up to full. Jriver turned up to full. The smsl dac volume turned up to 40 (full). I'm having to turn the a90d up to 50 (50% volume) to get only moderate volume. Its set to high gain. What have I done wrong. The topping e50/l50 combo I tried got really loud at less than a half of this.

Any ideas. No options I choose are fixing this. The volume levels are much lower than the smsl can turn out on its own internal amp with the volume control set at much lower levels.
I've clearly missed something.

Any ideas?
 

NiagaraPete

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nonnyno

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or is it something to do with the discrete volume control. Is it linear or calibrated some way differently from a normal pot. I'm new to this. I like the looks of the machine and the display. In black the display info comes through really clearly. Its certainly quiet even when turned right up. Its just that I'm not used to turning volume controls up past midnight to drive them to uncomfortable levels.
 

Doodski

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The smsl dac volume turned up to 40 (full).
It seems the voltage output of the DAC is too low for the Topping to get to full output power. Wait till you get both Topping pieces connected and you should be good to go then.
 
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nonnyno

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It seems the voltage output of the DAC is too low for the Topping to get to full output power. Wait till you get both Topping pieces connected and you should be good to go then.
Right thank you for that. Will wait very impatiently ;->
 

staticV3

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Any ideas?
Use a multimeter and a 60Hz 0dBFS test file and measure the voltage at each part of the chain to diagnose the issue yourself.
A multimeter costs like $15 nowadays and takes all the guesswork out of the equation.
 

Doodski

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The M500 MK1 can output up to 6.8Vrms according to Amir's review, which is a good chunk higher than even the D90SE can do. I don't think that's the problem.
Hmmmz. What is your suspicion for the issue?
 
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nonnyno

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I would be veryyy excited too. Those DCA Stealth headphones should be sweeeT! :D Nice purchase.
Yeah well I tried the aeon 2 noire with an e50/l50 and decided it had to be returned to the vendor. It was so good that after reading a few reviews about the Stealth (Amir's and others) and the fact that it was an audible improvement on the Noires and then with Amir additional coquettish tempting with his comments on the d90se/a90d I thought sod it I'll go all in.

As I only have the a90d part I thought i'd try it with just the beyers and the a90d and the old smsl and imagine what a disappointment it was when the e50/l50 blew it out the water with the beyers (the topping stack went back yesterday). Clearly I jumped the gun prematurely and need to pace myself. Sigh I know I'm in my 50's but come on guys this is toy time.
 

staticV3

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I don't see a point in theorizing about it if it can be diagnosed easily and cheaply by the owner.
 
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nonnyno

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well it could if a i had a multimeter. b if I lived less than 60 miles from the nearest stores.
 

Doodski

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Yeah well I tried the aeon 2 noire with an e50/l50 and decided it had to be returned to the vendor. It was so good that after reading a few reviews about the Stealth (Amir's and others) and the fact that it was an audible improvement on the Noires and then with Amir additional coquettish tempting with his comments on the d90se/a90d I thought sod it I'll go all in.

As I only have the a90d part I thought i'd try it with just the beyers and the a90d and the old smsl and imagine what a disappointment it was when the e50/l50 blew it out the water with the beyers (the topping stack went back yesterday). Clearly I jumped the gun prematurely and need to pace myself. Sigh I know I'm in my 50's but come on guys this is toy time.
The Stealth are far out of my sensible retirement budget although I did a quick calculation and over the next decades I'll probably spend $2500+ on headphones and so the Stealth looks pretty good that way. I use headphones for several hours+ per day and they are a major part of my life so I can see a Stealth on my desktop.
 
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nonnyno

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that was my calculation. Once bought this is it until a component in the chain blows up. The aeon 2 noires sounded amazing with e50/l50 so I see no reason why this new stack cant improve on things. I'm sure i saw some posts on the volume control behaviour but I cant remember where. I wonder if thats the issue.
 

Doodski

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that was my calculation. Once bought this is it until a component in the chain blows up. The aeon 2 noires sounded amazing with e50/l50 so I see no reason why this new stack cant improve on things. I'm sure i saw some posts on the volume control behaviour but I cant remember where. I wonder if thats the issue.
I'm excited to see what the improvement is from the Aeon 2 Noire to the Stealth is in your new found experience. I reallly like lots of treble and not so much bass unless the headphone has some extraordinary abilities. So if you can post your impressions between the two headphones that would be sooper.
 
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nonnyno

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well obviously it will be a few days between listens so I cant make a direct comparison it will have to be from memory though I don't think my memory on this is so bad with only say a week between them. The Beyers are definitely not in the same league - not on the E50/l50 and not on the A90d with the smsl. I do hope there's not a problem with the amp though. I tend to just like to plug in and listen rather than fiddle. I'm buying this kit as a tool rather than for the enjoyment in fiddling. I will certainly endeavour to post my impressions though for what they're worth. I went with subjective reviews on the Noires and the e50/l50 stack and was worried till I heard them.
 

Doodski

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well obviously it will be a few days between listens so I cant make a direct comparison it will have to be from memory though I don't think my memory on this is so bad with only say a week between them. The Beyers are definitely not in the same league - not on the E50/l50 and not on the A90d with the smsl. I do hope there's not a problem with the amp though. I tend to just like to plug in and listen rather than fiddle. I'm buying this kit as a tool rather than for the enjoyment in fiddling.
I'm not a fiddler either. Even when I ran a tri'amp'd active home system I set it up for general listening and never touched the controls for several years afterwards. It sounded so good that fiddling was not req'd.
 
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nonnyno

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Well I got the d90se today and plugged it and ....

Nope still need to push the volume control to midnight to well over 40 to get any sort of decent volume and more like 50. At 60 it starts to become uncomfortable but unlike the e50/l50 stack it seems to need a much higher volume setting to get to volume levels which would deafen you. On the L50 at 50% volume I couldn't stand it. I typically listened at 25-30% and that was more than loud enough. Is my A90d a dud?

I will say that the combo is plenty quiet at volume. No humming or hiss. I do notice clicks if I turn the volume control whilst listening to music as per Amirs review.
The packaging on the 90 series kit is nicer and it does run cooler than the e50/l50 stack.

Overall though I must confess to being a little disappointed and am thinking of returning to the e50/l50 stack. I wonder if Amazon will permit another exchange. It seems like an extra £1000 ill spent

Have now switched it into DAC mode to disable the volume control as per a website rec.
 
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nonnyno

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ok so having set the d90se to dac mode and the output voltage to 5v the a90d is slightly better but still the l50 seems louder. Its not even like the beyer headphones are hard to drive.

The d90se though seems to be incredibly detailed. Its probably imagination as I'm going off memory but I swear I heard something extra in Elbow mirrorball.
 

staticV3

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Is my A90d a dud?
A multimeter can answer that question real quick. Random people on the internet on the other hand cannot. At least not with the amount of information you've given us.
Overall though I must confess to being a little dissapointed and am thinking of returning to the e50/l50 stack.
Different Amps will have different volume curves, so comparing e.g. "25%" of Amp 1 to "25%" of Amp 2 is not a valid approach.
For example, here is the volume curve of one DAC+Amp with two different Windows drivers. The same variation exists with the volume knobs of different Amps.
E1DA_9038_Volume_Curve.png
Just because "25%" is louder on Amp1 than on Amp2, doesn't mean that Amp1 is the better and more powerful Amp.
 
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