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Topping D70s MQA Review (DAC)

Martin

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It's just my opinion, and is not subjective at all, I could notice an audible difference. I listened to the same track twice in order to make sure of this.

I was hesitating to post my opinion here because almost everyone on this forum thinks that all DACs that measure well sound the same. This is simply not true, at least with my equipment I have noticed it.

I have no interest in telling any lies, I'm just telling my experience. And you should respect the opinion of others who don't think like you.

Try it blind and level matched then report your results.

Martin
 
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Rockdog

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I think the problem is with my tube amplifier. The amp already introduces a little distortion to the sound as you know, but I'm already used to that distortion with a digital source. However, if you pair it with the D70s the distortion is even greater due to its inherent warmth and analog sounding. It is possible that with a solid state amp the D70s would be much more enjoyable for me. So, I didn't say before that the D70s is worse than the D90, just that the D70s is not a good match for my tube amp and my ears. And I insist: they don't sound exactly the same if you have the right equipment to reveal this difference (Sandu is absolutely right with his review).

PS. I forgot to say that both DACs had the same configuration: Preamp mode OFF (pure DAC mode), Bluetooth OFF, PCM Filter Mode 3, and only USB input and XLR output were enabled. So test conditions were exactly the same.
This brings up the often cited equipment matching thing..I'm a 40 year audiophile who has succumbed to the various unproven screeds at times, like many of us here. Equipment matching? I've come to the reasoned conclusion that the best path to equipment matching is to put the most flat FR and accurate equipment at every point in the chain as possible. If you have to "equipment match" you're chasing a very elusive path, if system accuracy is your goal. It means at least one or more of your components is well off the accurate mark. The exception being possibly a tube power amp to particular speakers because of some amp's funky output impedances or impedance issues between components. Nearly all modern well testing equipment should "match" well, including most tube amps to most speakers.

All things being equal, your tube power amp shouldn't be a determining factor of a D70 vs. a D90 at all. In fact, with their objective measurements, they are, without a doubt, identical sounding. I'd put dollars to donuts that if you did a level matched blind test there's about zero chance you'd tell them apart. The power of suggestion is what sells $20k amps over $2k amps. The power of suggestion is what has you convinced the two DACS sound different.

Trust me, this is the hardest hurdle to jump in curing the audiofoolery disease. I feel your pain..I've been there.

I have a Primaluna tube preamp. I've been contemplating replacing it or removing it for a straight SS path, but the little second harmonic distortion generator has a lovely warm and "fat" sound that I like. It's more subtle than a power amp I think, but regardless I aim all other components at objective accuracy. I can promise you, the two DACs would sound identical in my system, as they would in yours. This illustrates the challenge of reading ASR. Hopefully you won't get bodyslammed too hard here!
 

MBL'er

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Without taking sides in the discussion, in my system the Soncoz SGD1 and the D70S sound differently, one of the two (I do not specify which) is leaner in the lower frequencies (bass) with more presence and "grit" with voices and the other is more present in the lower frequencies and more even in the "presence" frequencies. It is not a matter of output level, as they are in the same ballpark, but of frequencies presentation. Of course, same cables, same songs, same pre input and cd player benchmark in A/B mode.

I do not know if @boblo allowed proper run-in as both the Soncoz and the D70S changed a bit over the first weeks of usage, acquiring some "roundness".

Having said that, they both are very capable and enjoyable machines, probably each more at ease with specific types of music and less with other. And also system's bass performance might lean towards one or the other.

Now please fry me. No OGM oil, if possible.

M
 

boblo

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Try it


Try it blind and level matched then report your results.

Martin
I no longer have the D70s, I returned it as I said before. What is a 'level matched test'? My amp was set at the same volume level and both DACs were set at max. with preamp mode off. Test conditions were identical. The fact is that I could not stand D70s for more than 5 minutes, whereas I listened to a D90 (non MQA version) for several days without fatigue and I was very pleased with it.
 

nimar

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Someone like the EU needs to pass a law for trolls, making it mandatory that they clearly express that they are a troll before making any statement as otherwise I find it very very difficult to tell the earnest comments apart from people taking the piss.

I think I need a timeout from the internet, it's getting to me.
 

Rockdog

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Without taking sides in the discussion, in my system the Soncoz SGD1 and the D70S sound differently, one of the two (I do not specify which) is leaner in the lower frequencies (bass) with more presence and "grit" with voices and the other is more present in the lower frequencies and more even in the "presence" frequencies. It is not a matter of output level, as they are in the same ballpark, but of frequencies presentation. Of course, same cables, same songs, same pre input and cd player benchmark in A/B mode.

I do not know if @boblo allowed proper run-in as both the Soncoz and the D70S changed a bit over the first weeks of usage, acquiring some "roundness".

Having said that, they both are very capable and enjoyable machines, probably each more at ease with specific types of music and less with other. And also system's bass performance might lean towards one or the other.

Now please fry me. No OGM oil, if possible.

M
Trust me, you just took sides.. :)

I too have experienced roundness, unfortunately in all the wrong places!
 

culliford

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Hi people! :) Recently got my D70s and it's awesome, however I'm getting a "popping sound" about 3 seconds after I stop/pause the source audio which is annoying. Does anyone else have this problem or do you think is my unit defective?

I have tested:
- Switching input from usb (sound from windows computer) and bluetooth (from cell phone). Also tried another usb cable.
- Switched my RCA output between two different amps and different headphones (to rule out they cause it). Don't have any XLR cable atm to test with.
- Switched to another power socket (I use the supplied power cable)
- Also tried turning off automatic standby, changed from preamp mode to dac mode, also different filter modes.
But I'm always getting the same popping sound after stopping audio.
 

MBL'er

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Trust me, you just took sides.. :)

I too have experienced roundness, unfortunately in all the wrong places!

No, I did not take any sides, just reporting my personal findings in view of the discussion, as I think that changing equipment too quickly prevents from understanding its real character. Even if I understand that return windows dictate most decisions.

BTW, I really hope that after your experience, you are still in one piece.

Best,

M
 

culliford

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Hi people! :) Recently got my D70s and it's awesome, however I'm getting a "popping sound" about 3 seconds after I stop/pause the source audio which is annoying. Does anyone else have this problem or do you think is my unit defective?

I have tested:
- Switching input from usb (sound from windows computer) and bluetooth (from cell phone). Also tried another usb cable.
- Switched my RCA output between two different amps and different headphones (to rule out they cause it). Don't have any XLR cable atm to test with.
- Switched to another power socket (I use the supplied power cable)
- Also tried turning off automatic standby, changed from preamp mode to dac mode, also different filter modes.
But I'm always getting the same popping sound after stopping audio.
I believe I might have found a working solution, by increasing the source's volume and dialing down the the amp from 2 o'clock to ~12:30 o'clock the pop is (close to) inaudible. Not sure why the pop happens in the first place though. Anyway I'm happy now.
 

Rockdog

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No, I did not take any sides, just reporting my personal findings in view of the discussion, as I think that changing equipment too quickly prevents from understanding its real character. Even if I understand that return windows dictate most decisions.

BTW, I really hope that after your experience, you are still in one piece.

Best,

M
Oh, I'm in one piece, just a bigger one..

Look, I'm honestly not being hostile because it was a journey getting past subjectivity for me too.. but saying "in the same ballpark" on level matching is not good enough for comparing SQ in two different components. They need to be matched to SPL as closely as possible with an accurate mic. A minor SPL difference will yield wildly different impressions. That's not my opinion, it's well established in research. (check out the psychoacoustic threads for some great reading on the science of how we hear. I'd also suggest getting Floyd Toole's book as a starting point.)

Next would be the run-in comment. There may be some very subtle differences in a component that is "run-in", but that would be so subtle as to be impossible to hear, in all except rare cases. Then you need to ask yourself why a properly engineered piece would change sound over time, and if it did would that not eventually degrade its performance in short order. Additionally, speaker run-in is pretty much complete nonsense. Run-in, in almost all cases, involves the person becoming acclimated to the sound of the component, not the component changing. That can and has been proven with double-blind listening tests and measurements as well, both electronics and speakers.

Compared to all of our other senses, hearing is perhaps the most prone to impression, suggestion, the influence of others, even things like what we're seeing with our eyes at the time of evaluation. Thus, why companies can sell things like $600 nano connection juice when $20 DeOxit works exactly the same way. It's not going to happen, but I'd bet a paycheck that if you did a proper blind test of the two DACs you'd not be able to distinguish them.

Best to you also,

D
 

BDWoody

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Try it blind and level matched then report your results.

Martin

Once again, we have that pesky anecdote isn't evidence thing going on...
 

Rockdog

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Once again, we have that pesky anecdote isn't evidence thing going on...

Like most newer members that have made the turn... I feel like I'm doing a public service.. Changing the world to a better place... The personal satisfaction, the selfless service to others, brings immense joy..
 

boblo

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Someone like the EU needs to pass a law for trolls, making it mandatory that they clearly express that they are a troll before making any statement as otherwise I find it very very difficult to tell the earnest comments apart from people taking the piss.

I think I need a timeout from the internet, it's getting to me.
Thank you for your tolerance. The one who is behaving like a troll is you with your intolerance and disrespectful attitude.

For unbelievers, please read this excerpt from Sandu's D90 MQA review (soundnews.net):
Topping is using a very advanced Altera Max II FPGA that together with two Accusilicon AS318 femtosecond clocks will extract the best performance out of the AK4499. It is important to know that the Altera FPGA is infused with Topping own code so obviously the same hardware with different software code can sound very different, hence the substantial difference in sound quality between various DACs with the same components.

So my guess is that D70s FPGA code is not the same as D90's. That would be one possible explanation for this 'mystery'.
 
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Veri

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Topping is using a very advanced Altera Max II FPGA that together with two Accusilicon AS318 femtosecond clocks will extract the best performance out of the AK4499. It is important to know that the Altera FPGA is infused with Topping own code so obviously the same hardware with different software code can sound very different, hence the substantial difference in sound quality between various DACs with the same components.

So my guess is that D70s FPGA code is not the same as D90's. That would be one possible explanation for this 'mystery'.
I can assure you D70s and D90 Altera FPGA code will be essentially identical. All it does is reclocking to the AKM DAC chip. It's all too easy to theorize, but there's nothing truthful behind "soundnews" 's claims...
 
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boblo

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I can assure you D70s and D90 Altera FPGA code will be essentially identicam. All it does is reclocking to the AKM DAC chip. It's all too easy to theorize, but there's nothing truthful behind "soundnews" 's claims...
How can you be so sure of that?
 

Noob

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I no longer have the D70s, I returned it as I said before. What is a 'level matched test'? My amp was set at the same volume level and both DACs were set at max. with preamp mode off. Test conditions were identical. The fact is that I could not stand D70s for more than 5 minutes, whereas I listened to a D90 (non MQA version) for several days without fatigue and I was very pleased with it.
By your own admission, test conditions were not identical. The D70s has a higher voltage output at line level than the D90.

But this detail doesn't matter. You have a product that you enjoy, and you have no need to change it.
 

boblo

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The D70s has a higher voltage output at line level than the D90.
Yes, I was using the XLR output and I know it has a higher voltage (5V vs 4V on D90, right?). But I don't know how the line level could affect the sound signature. In my tests, the D70s seemed to have a more analog sound, let's say a 'dirtier' sound, whereas the D90 seemed to have a 'cleaner' sound, a more 'digital' sound. As I'm used to listen to my CD player, the latter was a lot more comfortable for me. Keep in mind I didn't say in any moment that D70s is worse or inferior to D90. For me they are different. And I said that it's very likely that pairing the D70s with a solid state amp the result would be much better for me.

Thank you for your constructive criticism. In this way I am willing to engage in polite debate. I'm not going to argue with trolls.
 

BDWoody

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For unbelievers, please read this excerpt from Sandu's D90 MQA review (soundnews.net):
Topping is using a very advanced Altera Max II FPGA that together with two Accusilicon AS318 femtosecond clocks will extract the best performance out of the AK4499. It is important to know that the Altera FPGA is infused with Topping own code so obviously the same hardware with different software code can sound very different, hence the substantial difference in sound quality between various DACs with the same components.

Still not a believer...

Saying it sounds different doesn't mean that it actually does.

Evidence would be needed, and so far no one has obliged.

Evidence would be filter matched, volume matched blind test (can't peek to see what's playing), normal room with normal music, with 19/20 identified correctly...or similar.

Less than that, and we give the brain too many ways to influence what we end up hearing.

The louder one tends to be preferred, as just one example, even if it is at a level that isn't clearly louder. 1% off in the match is enough to screw things up, so some care (hassle) is involved in the entire process.

Despite offers of significant $$, nobody has been able to get beyond simple uncontrolled anecdote when it comes to competent DAC's. The differences really are almost unfathomable small.
 

Rockdog

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Yes, I was using the XLR output and I know it has a higher voltage (5V vs 4V on D90, right?). But I don't know how the line level could affect the sound signature. In my tests, the D70s seemed to have a more analog sound, let's say a 'dirtier' sound, whereas the D90 seemed to have a 'cleaner' sound, a more 'digital' sound. As I'm used to listen to my CD player, the latter was a lot more comfortable for me. Keep in mind I didn't say in any moment that D70s is worse or inferior to D90. For me they are different. And I said that it's very likely that pairing the D70s with a solid state amp the result would be much better for me.

Thank you for your constructive criticism. In this way I am willing to engage in polite debate. I'm not going to argue with trolls.
Boblo, as an honestly friendly suggestion please read some of the threads I mentioned earlier and read a few chapters of Toole's book. It will take a while to start shifting your thinking a little but it will be much more productive and eye opening than arguing things against well established norms here. If you're arguing level matching to compare components your just grinding wheels against firmly established science and will only get grief here for it. You're not going to win any argument against level matching or burn in, this I can guarantee you.

This site will eventually save you money and move you toward a more reality based way of choosing how to spend that money, if you stick with it and get some foundational understanding. Like I say, I was stuck there too. Meanwhile, you have a great DAC. Even if it is identical sounding..:)

Take care.
 

Noob

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Boblo, as an honestly friendly suggestion please read some of the threads I mentioned earlier and read a few chapters of Toole's book. It will take a while to start shifting your thinking a little but it will be much more productive and eye opening than arguing things against well established norms here. If you're arguing level matching to compare components your just grinding wheels against firmly established science and will only get grief here for it. You're not going to win any argument against level matching or burn in, this I can guarantee you.

This site will eventually save you money and move you toward a more reality based way of choosing how to spend that money, if you stick with it and get some foundational understanding. Like I say, I was stuck there too. Meanwhile, you have a great DAC. Even if it is identical sounding..:)

Take care.
What kind of "burn in" are you referencing? Transducer burn-in is very real, and I have measured it on several occasions.

(Pro tip: re-do your room EQ every couple months or so after getting new speakers till the drivers stabilize. Also re-do the eq when the weather significantly changes as temperature and humidity will significantly affect how your speakers perform in your room.

Not necessary if your listening room has very good temperature and humidity control.)

Burn in of cables on the other hand is nonsense for standard conductors like copper, silver, and aluminium unless we are talking about corrosion, in which case conductivity gets worse and not better.

There might be some very exotic conductor used in scientific applications that changes it's conductivity under sustained load, but I doubt someone would use such a conductor in an audio cable, at least I have never heard of it.

There are some amps or DACs that need to warm-up to a certain temperature before operating at optimal performance, but that is different from burn-in, and should only take a few minutes at most.

As for tubes, they do burn-in, but that just means the tube needs to be replaced. Tubes are designed to work best when new and typically only degrade with use, similarly to light bulbs.
 
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