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Topping D30 still the best ~$100 DAC?

sonci

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#41
with all due respect but if you have never listen to a standalone cd player, or a HiFi Dac, then your opinion is null.. Test them all day and night a Topping will never equal Benchmark, or even a Nad or Musical Fidelity..
and by hifi dac I mean smth built by a respected manufacture who also built cd players, or Professional audio manufactures, nothing against chinese and apart D30 never heard any other, considering Line Magnetic is chinese.
IMO if you spend all that money on buying 10 100$ dacs, you better get one 1k dac.
 

Veri

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#42
with all due respect but if you have never listen to a standalone cd player, or a HiFi Dac, then your opinion is null.. Test them all day and night a Topping will never equal Benchmark, or even a Nad or Musical Fidelity..
and by hifi dac I mean smth built by a respected manufacture who also built cd players, or Professional audio manufactures, nothing against chinese and apart D30 never heard any other, considering Line Magnetic is chinese.
IMO if you spend all that money on buying 10 100$ dacs, you better get one 1k dac.
So a product with branding from a respected manufacturer will automatically sound that much better? I mean I believe benchmark goes above and beyond in terms of engineering their products, as does NAD I'm sure, but my old Musical Fidelity DAC is indiscernible from a budget cheap Topping or a Khadas. At that point, I'm very sceptical that the increased performance of Benchmark/NAD is audible at all.

Getting the best of the best is fine and all, but there's no need to discriminate against cheap stuff if you only heard the D30 and no other. The D30 has a very comparable chip to the MacBooks of the last few years, and yes there's room of improvement (imo). But there's better DACs than the Topping D30 out there that are also quite affordable :D
 

derp1n

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#43
with all due respect but if you have never listen to a standalone cd player, or a HiFi Dac, then your opinion is null.. Test them all day and night a Topping will never equal Benchmark, or even a Nad or Musical Fidelity..
and by hifi dac I mean smth built by a respected manufacture who also built cd players, or Professional audio manufactures, nothing against chinese and apart D30 never heard any other, considering Line Magnetic is chinese.
IMO if you spend all that money on buying 10 100$ dacs, you better get one 1k dac.
Unfortunately I've listened to a higher end, more expensive DAC than you have... and therefore your opinion is null.
 
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#44
Well, if I had a chance I would give my best to do as much quantifiable tests as I can and try to understand them. But the fact is that I can't always understand everything I encounter and sometimes it's very difficult to come up with a good testing methods that will prove or explain some effects. So I guess if I don't know how to test it or explain it, I'm trying to learn more about it and find someone who can. That's why I'm here anyway.

I know this is a sensitive topic and there's a lot of bogus impressions going around. I rally don't want to start another long discussion or change your mind. I would just like if we could stay open to the idea that every test is limited to a certain degree and there may be something we missed or didn't know how to measure, or we didn't really realized how to "provoke" device to show us that particular side (but in reality it may happen more often than not).

Anyway, I always strive to connect the dots and explain to myself why is something the way it is... but I don't always succeed.
Did you ever looked into your roomacoustics an did a proper room correction measurment there i found the largest difference in sound quality not between (quality) dac's.
 
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#45
I have more expensive equipment than the D30 at hand (both DACs and disc players) and I can tell you that the D30 doesn't fall back, in fact it is more transparent than a much more expensive Musical Fidelity DAC and a mid-tier Marantz CD player. Many "high end" manufacturers sell equipment that is non neutral sounding and has some kind of brand tuning (f.e. Marantz house sound tends to the warm side of things).

A complete different thing is industrial design and looks, obviously expensive equipment wins there, but nowadays there are cheap headphone amplifiers and DACs that can compete sometimes at 1/10 the price, the markup in the high end hifi market is usually obscene (I'm not talking about Marantz precisely, they sell pretty affordable stuff).

Usually the larger differences are found in headphones and speakers, there's still a long way to go for chinese manufacturers to reach the level of Sennheiser, AKG, Beyer, Audeze, Focal, … . The occidental manufacturers are still exploiting this technology and knowledge advantage with high markups, but someday things may change.
 
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#47
Did you ever looked into your roomacoustics an did a proper room correction measurment there i found the largest difference in sound quality not between (quality) dac's.
Did a little bit (there are some nasty things there) and I plan to do more... but that's a different topic. Just to be clear I don't change DACs to find something special, I really do it out of sheer fun and curiosity. They're small, cheap, resell quickly.... I'm just enjoying the whole thing.
 

sonci

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#48
I have more expensive equipment than the D30 at hand (both DACs and disc players) and I can tell you that the D30 doesn't fall back, in fact it is more transparent than a much more expensive Musical Fidelity DAC and a mid-tier Marantz CD player. Many "high end" manufacturers sell equipment that is non neutral sounding and has some kind of brand tuning (f.e. Marantz house sound tends to the warm side of things).



.
If Neutral, means more difficulty to separate instruments, flat sound, and more and more then ok.
The thing is that no audiophile cd player sound as bad as a D30, with whatever dac, NOS or not, plain simple, and by Bad I mean smth that it doesn't make you tip toeing or enjoying the music, but instead you want to do smth else.
so enjoy your transparent dac, but your music can sound much better than that..
IMO no speakers can correct a bad source, and the source sometimes can be the single most important link in audio.
 
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#49
That's your opinion and is as respectable as anyone else's, but measurements tell otherwise, and that's why I find these forums interesting, you can find all kinds of subjective opinions elsewhere (I won't put names), so suit yourself.
 

Roen

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#50
If Neutral, means more difficulty to separate instruments, flat sound, and more and more then ok.
The thing is that no audiophile cd player sound as bad as a D30, with whatever dac, NOS or not, plain simple, and by Bad I mean smth that it doesn't make you tip toeing or enjoying the music, but instead you want to do smth else.
so enjoy your transparent dac, but your music can sound much better than that..
IMO no speakers can correct a bad source, and the source sometimes can be the single most important link in audio.
The other (very distinct and very probable) possibility is that the audiophile devices you've listened to don't measure to flat reference and that's something you like and are accustomed to.

Now that you listen to reference equipment, you don't like it.

My favorite DD IEMs are far from reference, but I do have a set of analytical flat reference IEMs which I use to study certain parts of music. I need the rest of my chain to be as close to reference as possible. I generally control final sound by the speaker I use.

Unless you can find a way to quantify better sound, you're not going to get many people to subscribe to your opinions.
 

Roen

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#52
You are kidding right?? The Topping is the reference?
Have you ever listened to live music? Live Music has nothing to do with your Reference!
Enjoy your graphics, I only need the music,
:)
All reference means is accurate reproduction of source material.

It has nothing to do with being musical.

Live, by definition, is not reference relative to source material. It’s one of the furthest away from source material reference you can get. Live performance is reference to itself, by definition.

All objective data can do is prize accuracy, since we can’t objectively measure what each person considers “musical”.

I don’t think you’re in the right forum for what you want.

Then again, I know I’m not here to find out about musical gear. Only accurate gear. Just to add, if anyone is here and using the graphs of high sinad and flat FR as evidence of "musicality", you're doing it wrong.
 
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#53
If Neutral, means more difficulty to separate instruments, flat sound, and more and more then ok.
The thing is that no audiophile cd player sound as bad as a D30, with whatever dac, NOS or not, plain simple, and by Bad I mean smth that it doesn't make you tip toeing or enjoying the music, but instead you want to do smth else.
so enjoy your transparent dac, but your music can sound much better than that..
IMO no speakers can correct a bad source, and the source sometimes can be the single most important link in audio.
 
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#54
Plenty of "audiophile" CD players sound as "bad" as the Topping, because they sound the same. (Or even worse.) "Separate instruments" and the like are the domain of speakers, not DACs. There is damned little a DAC can do for imaging, "depth," and the rest because 1s are 1s, and 0s are 0s. What I've seen on this site is measured differences in DACs that, by and large, are inaudible. There are outliers, of course, but they tend to suffer from power supply problems and audible distortion. Do those affect imaging? I suppose in the most extreme cases they would. But the acoustic properties you mention are simply not the job of the DAC. They are characteristics of rooms and speakers, which vary wildly compared to DACs. Which audibly vary little.

Unless you're talking NOS or mid-'80s.
 

sonci

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#55
Plenty of "audiophile" CD players sound as "bad" as the Topping, because they sound the same. (Or even worse.) "Separate instruments" and the like are the domain of speakers, not DACs. There is damned little a DAC can do for imaging, "depth," and the rest because 1s are 1s, and 0s are 0s. What I've seen on this site is measured differences in DACs that, by and large, are inaudible. There are outliers, of course, but they tend to suffer from power supply problems and audible distortion. Do those affect imaging? I suppose in the most extreme cases they would. But the acoustic properties you mention are simply not the job of the DAC. They are characteristics of rooms and speakers, which vary wildly compared to DACs. Which audibly vary little.

Unless you're talking NOS or mid-'80s.
No, that’s exactly what a dac does.
I’ve always thought that the speakers are the most important part in the chain, but they probably are the most easy component to tell apart, not the most important.
If your source is bad then speakers can’t help. Well the 0 and 1 are bit exact but the timing may be wrong.
I enjoy Amir measurement, because if a dac measure bad it doesn’t deserve a chance, but I don’t agree when he says that the differences are not audible..
I can’t tell apart my cd players if I listen for few seconds blind, but I know their sound caracteristics after listening to each of them, for years.
 
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#56
No, that’s exactly what a dac does.
I’ve always thought that the speakers are the most important part in the chain, but they probably are the most easy component to tell apart, not the most important.
If your source is bad then speakers can’t help ...
IMHO, for the Hi-Fi setups - like many other setups we deal with in our daily life, we feel good and satisfied when they are properly balanced from the 1st ring to the last one in the chain.
For no reason owners - let me say of the $150K Utopia Focal' speakers, would consider one of the Toppings as their 1st ring of their chains, no matter how good or impressive it's measurements are ...
And this is true for each level you look at in the society.
I design, manufacture, and sell (yes, sometime it happens ... :p) packaging machineries. My "premium brand customers" want to pack their "premium items" by means of "premium machineries", exactly as the owners of $150K Utopia Focal' speakers want to have a $25K DAC as source.

Being the Hi-Fi a passion based on Hi-Tech items, I feel perfectly conformable in purchasing and testing new devices, provided they are judged as "well engineered and technically-sound", no matter how their down-scale cost might be with regards to the total cost of my setup.
But for no reason, not anymore, I will purchase a device that has been judged as "poor engineered and with technical faults" no matter how good it might be judged for it's "presumably good sonority" by others.

I strongly believe that a device with an optimized technical content cannot fail on it's return of investment in terms of quality at all level.

Going back to our DACs : being the analog section different from a device to another, you are right, they not sound all the same.
For the timing of the 0 and 1 bits, @amirm 's review demonstrates that timing differences are not audible.
Can you hear the distortion that the USB link may add to your music ? Some people think they can. I am among these people, I prefer the SPDIF over the USB, but I am perfectly aware it is placebo ... o_O
The experts say that - on average, digital links deliver one bit error for every 1,000.000.000.000 bits sent. You can't possibly hear that, sorry.
OK, now you are going to tell us that you can hear the difference in clock jitter produced by that inexpensive DAC over the expensive one ... @amirm 's audio analyzer might detect the differences, but not our ears ... :cool:
AFAIHU, any distortion in the entire setup, if any, it's on the analog side ...;)
 

sonci

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#57
IMHO, for the Hi-Fi setups - like many other setups we deal with in our daily life, we feel good and satisfied when they are properly balanced from the 1st ring to the last one in the chain.
For no reason owners - let me say of the $150K Utopia Focal' speakers, would consider one of the Toppings as their 1st ring of their chains, no matter how good or impressive it's measurements are ...
And this is true for each level you look at in the society.
I design, manufacture, and sell (yes, sometime it happens ... :p) packaging machineries. My "premium brand customers" want to pack their "premium items" by means of "premium machineries", exactly as the owners of $150K Utopia Focal' speakers want to have a $25K DAC as source.

Being the Hi-Fi a passion based on Hi-Tech items, I feel perfectly conformable in purchasing and testing new devices, provided they are judged as "well engineered and technically-sound", no matter how their down-scale cost might be with regards to the total cost of my setup.
But for no reason, not anymore, I will purchase a device that has been judged as "poor engineered and with technical faults" no matter how good it might be judged for it's "presumably good sonority" by others.

I strongly believe that a device with an optimized technical content cannot fail on it's return of investment in terms of quality at all level.

Going back to our DACs : being the analog section different from a device to another, you are right, they not sound all the same.
For the timing of the 0 and 1 bits, @amirm 's review demonstrates that timing differences are not audible.
Can you hear the distortion that the USB link may add to your music ? Some people think they can. I am among these people, I prefer the SPDIF over the USB, but I am perfectly aware it is placebo ... o_O
The experts say that - on average, digital links deliver one bit error for every 1,000.000.000.000 bits sent. You can't possibly hear that, sorry.
OK, now you are going to tell us that you can hear the difference in clock jitter produced by that inexpensive DAC over the expensive one ... @amirm 's audio analyzer might detect the differences, but not our ears ... :cool:
AFAIHU, any distortion in the entire setup, if any, it's on the analog side ...;)
I’m not an audio engineer, and probably what you say is right, also I believe that’s it should be practically impossible to tell apart 2 high end dacs, say a dCS and a Benchmark, BUT in the moment you hear the highs or the guitar, or even the bass on a cheap dac, you feel smth is not right.
I got the D30 and for some time I enjoyed the spidf and the usb input, but in the moment I put back a cd player, music kicked again.
It may be that the Topping was a later revision and not what Amir measured, but I’m not going to spend more money on cheap dacs.
 

Roen

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#60
No, that’s exactly what a dac does.
I’ve always thought that the speakers are the most important part in the chain, but they probably are the most easy component to tell apart, not the most important.
If your source is bad then speakers can’t help. Well the 0 and 1 are bit exact but the timing may be wrong.
I enjoy Amir measurement, because if a dac measure bad it doesn’t deserve a chance, but I don’t agree when he says that the differences are not audible..
I can’t tell apart my cd players if I listen for few seconds blind, but I know their sound caracteristics after listening to each of them, for years.
What amp did you connect to the Topping between your speakers / headphones? Which Topping model did you have?
 

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