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Topping D90 Balanced USB DAC Review

Jimbob54

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Rather than derail the conversation about Topping's D90 any further with MQA stuff, it might be better if anyone who's interested checks out this wonderful article that reviews MQA in a very objective and balanced way: https://www.wifihifi.ca/LatestNewsH...osGreatDebate:DoesMQAImproveSoundQuality.html

It's a little dated but it goes over MQA in a clear and concise way. Some of the pro-MQA arguments make me want to get the MQA version of the D90 (just in case).:D
Given the source Im not sure this won't derail things further.

But it's got to be better chat than endless delivery status updates
 

Pluto

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I'm concerned that a lot of the sonic benefits that people are hearing with MQA are mainly due to different mastering and not because of the technical aspects of MQA folding/unfolding/time smear correction
I honestly do not believe that any mainstream record company would pay for an additional master to MQA specs. unless and until MQA becomes a significant money-spinner because either i) MQA Ltd. subsidize same to promote their system or ii) MQA prints sell in sufficient quantity to justify the process.

If the owner of the recording chooses to make 24/96 available to punters, I don't really see how the sell for MQA can work. And how on earth is MQA supposed to correct “time smear”, whatever “time smear” is supposed to be? Either MQA is a semi-encrypted approach to wrapping / compressing the data with which it is being fed, in such a way that only an MQA licensed device can fully unwrap it OR the moment it professes to be able to correct an alleged fault (“time smear”), it is being given the wherewithal to alter something or other – and that is not encouraging.

Music publishers may find that MQA's DRM like features are irresistible
The evidence appears to be that the profit in music sales is insufficient to sustain the new model of artiste self-promotion. The Sonys of this world like to deal with relatively few acts who are selling millions. When music sales involved physical product, the record companies and their distribution chains were relevant. If you are a potential million-seller now, the biggest problem is putting in place the means of taking the money and sending out the files in exchange for that money.

The idea of handling thousands of bedroom performers whose lifetime ambition is to make a thousand sales, is not in the Sony purview.

Are the DRM aspects of MQA really going to stop distribution of the material? How many bits do you get without the benefit of an MQA licensed device?
 

Celty

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Just put in order with Apos sunday night tracking state won't be available until next week, what is so special about them?
Anyone get it earlier then 1 week.
I have to Echo Veri, my dealings with Apos have been top notch, an excellent vendor.
 

GeorgeWalk

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I have to Echo Veri, my dealings with Apos have been top notch, an excellent vendor.
Adding to the response. I have bought a bunch of things from Apos. They have some of the best customer support people around. Shipping has always been prompt and on time. I have never had a problem with price matching either. They are very responsive to questions pre and post sale. I am looking forward to buying a Topping A90 from them in the near future.
 

hmscott

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Just put in order with Apos sunday night tracking state won't be available until next week, what is so special about them?
Anyone get it earlier then 1 week.
From Sunday to Sunday, that's a bit slower than normal for an in stock item.

The Sunday of your order would have been Monday in China - did they acknowledge the order after you made it on Sunday? A day later, or?

If they had the product in stock they would have boxed it up and called the courier to take it to the shipping aggregator - it could all happen the same day - depends when on Sunday (Monday their time) you made the order.

Often distributors have to order the item from the warehouse of the product vendor and wait for delivery from them - that can be the same day, next day, or longer - if the warehouse needs restocking of that item.

Then they've had (their) M-T-W-(Thu) - today being their about to start Thursday - 8:58am right now.

If you are being told tracking info won't be till next week - your Sunday, their Monday - then the courier hasn't picked it up yet - it will be picked up Friday.

Usually tracking comes a day or two after it's picked up by the courier.

It all sounds normal for a non-stocked item. It's not unusual for China distributors to not have immediate stock on hand as their lines of access to product are reliable and fast.

It's all gotten better than it was weeks and months ago, but it's still not back to normal:

"[Apos] Order Fulfillment
We continue to fulfill more than 99% of orders within one business day. Where possible, we have been pushing our warehouse colleagues to fulfill more orders within the same business day, just to buy us time in case of delays from the shipping network.

As we’ve stated in our previous COVID-19 updates, our Shenzhen Fulfillment Center has implemented multiple check-points to ensure the health and safety of our staff. All areas are being sanitized and the staff is required to wear masks and other protective gear while processing any orders. We’ve also included an additional step of disinfectant spray on all shipments before courier pickup.

Out of an abundance of caution, we have also been including one-time disinfectant wipes in all shipments starting Monday, March 30. We understand that shipments go through many contact points, and the wipes are for you to use as an additional safeguard should you feel the need to do so."
https://apos.audio/blogs/news/apos-audio-covid-19-coronavirus-update-may-8-2020

Once the package(s) are in the delivery company hands - you have a tracking number that shows it's in their facility and not "waiting to be picked up", DHL have been beating their own estimated delivery dates reliably over the last few weeks.

Their day has started - it's now 9:15am across China. :)
 
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I find D90 sounds harsh or bright everytime I turn on the unit (accumulated 6-hour usage), I need to tune down my integrated amplifier volume, after 5 to 10 minutes, the harsh sound will go away. Is that normal? What phenomena is this ?
 

hmscott

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I find D90 sounds harsh or bright everytime I turn on the unit (accumulated 6-hour usage), I need to tune down my integrated amplifier volume, after 5 to 10 minutes, the harsh sound will go away. Is that normal? What phenomena is this ?
How observant of you :)

Yes, that is known as the "warming up effect", and actually that warming-up can be a permanent requirement whereby you will want to "warm-up" the device each time before you start listening.

Typically, you'll find that after 100-150 hours that harshness will be gone without warm-up being required. Others swear their set up sounds better left powered on all of the time. Not only AMP's / Pre-amps, but DAC's too.

One of the places you hear about "burn-in" most is at small boutique audio specialty houses. Why is that? Because they are audiophile enthusiasts themselves that have the luxury of having access to brand new units as well as "burned in" units, and newly opened boxes that customers return without allowing burn-in time to pass.

It's hard to convince someone to keep a device past their return period to allow "burn-in"... really they aren't trying to rip you off - as the purchaser you simply need to accelerate your "burn-in" efforts during your available return time period so you have enough time to accomplish "burn-in" and decide if you are keeping the device, or not.

It's as simple as listening to a unit that has gone through 100-150 hours of burn-in, and compare the sound against a brand new unit right out of the box.

The harshness is clear when that seemingly obvious test is performed. It's mind bogglingly obvious, but no one hardly ever realizes this and tries it out for themselves. Go do your favorite audio boutique - when Covid-19 is finally over - and ask them to let you compare your brand new unit against a demo unit with 100+ hours of run time on it. Then you'll know what to expect.

When I hear people say, "It's all in the mind", I have to laugh when I think "it's all in their mind", as in my mind I know exactly what I've seen and experienced first hand hundreds of times - that's what's in my mind. :)

I was fortunate, having an interest in audio from a pre-teen time through getting a job as a youth and being able to afford "electronics" of various kinds - including audiophile equipment. I made friends with the guys selling the equipment and they enjoyed showing me the "ropes" of the business, including letting me A/B brand new out of the box equipment vs demo equipment.

Over the years I've continued this pursuit through many set up's over many decades and knowing early on what I learned as a youth I was able to experience the same comradery with many others in the business and confirmed many times the value of giving burn-in time to all sorts of equipment.

Then there's the engineering, manufacturing, quality assurance and long term support of digital and audio equipement before I switched to software in the 80's. Then that experience helped me find and troubleshoot "burned in" equipment - that was working and stopped working en masse - root cause debugging in hardware and software. It's all related.

Please let us know when you think the turn on sound is good to listen to, and how long it was to "break-in". :)
 
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Keep listening and let us know when you think the turn on sound is good to listen to, and how long it was to "break-in". :)
I did not aware such phenomena from my previous DAC , DAC Magic and DX3 Pro, or could it be the AK4499 DAC itself.

From my observation, D90 is more detailed than my previous DACs, I can differentiate poor and good recordings easily, not solely from the music format.

Ya, will observe more along the musical journey whether equipment or mind "burn in" . Enjoy the music. Cheers.
 

hmscott

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I did not aware such phenomena from my previous DAC , DAC Magic and DX3 Pro, or could it be the AK4499 DAC itself.

From my observation, D90 is more detailed than my previous DACs, I can differentiate poor and good recordings easily, not solely from the music format.

Ya, will observe more along the musical journey whether equipment or mind "burn in" . Enjoy the music. Cheers.
The better the instrument, the lower the noise floor, the better the discernment possible - and the easier it is for the other "faults" to step into view.

The process can be enlightening, with the results well worth sticking with the process - a lot of fun in the end, which is really the beginning.

After 2 weeks and more doing that with the FiiO M15 - it's now broken in and a joy to spend time listening.

Right now I'm breaking in a new TinHifi P1 with the M15... it's gotten better even after 24 hours...but I'm still burning in half the time without them in my ears... perhaps in a few more days and I'll be ready to switch to the D90 MQA / A90 to see what's what with them.
 
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hmscott

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Well, with D90 good recording sounds excellent while bad recording, well, sounds bad.
The same may happen with headphones and IEM's - good and bad recordings showing their faults will sound different, it can also take time to acclimate to the new combinations.
 
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The better the instrument, the lower the noise floor, the better the discernment possible - and the easier it is for the other "faults" to step into view.

The process can be enlightening, with the results well worth sticking with the process - a lot of fun in the end, which is really the beginning.

After 2 weeks and more doing that with the FiiO M15 - it's now broken in and a joy to spend time listening.

Right now I'm breaking in a new TinHifi P1 with the M15... it's gotten better even after 24 hours...a few more days and I'll be ready to switch to the D90 MQA / A90 to see what's what with them.
Forgot to mention, I observe this from speaker system. Headphone system (HE4XX and HD650) with A90 should be much easier to distinguish LOL.

Enjoy your "break in" while listening. My DAP is WM1A with 300+ hr, was told the sound will actually shine after 500hr +, usually I listen during the break-in period.
 
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Hang on, this is ASR.... The last few posts wouldn't be out of place on one of the many audiophile nonsense forums.
Regrettably if I initiate my audio observation about the D90, well, I love science, I love audio, I am an Electrical Engineer (power not in audio), it's not about audiophile and I am not qualify to that "standard", listening music is my hobby, love to explore headphone/IEM with simple "estimate" calculation to shortlist amplifier vise versa.

SPL IEM_headphone(1).png
 

hmscott

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Hang on, this is ASR.... The last few posts wouldn't be out of place on one of the many audiophile nonsense forums.
Thanks for your subjective response, at least I don't see any test equipment sitting next to you or any graphs or charts accompanying your post.

Human to human, I've used more test equipment and done more scientific engineering evaluations than most humans, and I'm telling you - all that matters in the end is human judgement.

I still have to read the graphs and compile the code to get the results I'm paid to produce. They want my subjective opinion based on hands on experience.

And, that's what I am sharing here.

Listen and learn, give it time for all to unfold, not everything happens at the beginning of the story, and the end comes all too soon, no sense to rush it, or chase things off before they've had time to - burn-in. ;)
Regrettably if I initiate my audio observation about the D90, well, I love science, I love audio, I am an Electrical Engineer (power not in audio), it's not about audiophile and I am not qualify to that "standard", listening music is my hobby, love to explore headphone/IEM with simple "estimate" calculation to shortlist amplifier vise versa.

View attachment 67091
Hey, you've already got @tw99 beat - your 1 chart ahead of the Zero I've seen him post here on ASR. ;)

I'm here to find and help generate the test measurements of audio equipment we all enjoy, but that's only a small fraction of the time spent enjoying listening to the same equipment. I love seeing how the equipment measures to help explain what I am hearing, but what I am hearing is the only instrument of measure I have 99% of the time, so I better learn how it works, how to best and most efficiently use it as enjoyably as I can.

And, that's what counts in the end, enjoying our time in this hobby as best we can, not chasing people away before you even know them.
 
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hmscott

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Are you 100% certain of this? I ask because my reading of the WASAPI specification* is that exclusivity is requested (or not) when an audio stream is commenced and cannot be changed until that stream is stopped.

Please feel free to prove me wrong, but right now I remain confident that although the playback software may happily accept the command to change from/to exclusive mode while playing, nothing can actually change until the current stream is stopped.

*All assuming that “allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” is selected within control panel
Yes, I have "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device":
Sound Properties for M15 device.JPG

The Tidal Settings in the File Menu takes you to the settings dialog:
After selecting DAC go into More Settings.JPG

^^^ then click the Streaming Tab to select the Sound Output device for exclusive use,
and then click (More Settings) to get into this dialog:
Tidal Windows 10 - all enabled for MQA support.JPG

When I toggle the Tidal "Use Exclusive Mode" option in the Tidal Streaming settings dialog the FiiO M15 USB DAC mode display changes from 384k/32bit to indicate the change, in this case to 88.2khz/32bit, and if I toggle the "Use Exclusive Mode" off while the Master Track is playing the FiiO M15 USB DAC mode display changes back to 384k/32bit.
And, here is the youtube playback error when Tidal has Exclusive Mode use:
Youtube error when Tidal in Exclusive Mode.JPG

Immediately as I disable "Exclusive Mode" toggle in Tidal I can refresh that youtube page and it will begin playing with audio.

I'll report back when I hook up the D90 MQA and see if that works the same.
 
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tw99

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A lot of these older review threads degenerate into audiophile bollocks, because they get picked up by new equipment owners who've found them on a google search. Subjective articles about a theoretical "warm up effect" should be irrelevant on this site.
 

hmscott

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A lot of these older review threads degenerate into audiophile bollocks, because they get picked up by new equipment owners who've found them on a google search. Subjective articles about a theoretical "warm up effect" should be irrelevant on this site.
Fair enough, I've seen your work. :)

That's not me and I don't think that's @auronthas either, but I'll leave that up to him to decide.
 

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