• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

TOPPING D90 III Sabre DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 12 3.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 30 7.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 97 25.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 241 63.4%

  • Total voters
    380

restorer-john

Grand Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
12,880
Likes
39,531
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
There’s one caveat however, the declared default PCM filter for each of those DACs is different.

What is the measurment bandwidth for that plot? It needs to 200kHz to produce meaningful harmonic distortion numbers for 20kHz.
 

Music1969

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
4,696
Likes
2,873
This is part of what I have been talking about for some time now. The Dashboard for SINAD is just at one frequency. Even the Linearity test uses one frequency and looks at a products deviation from that tone. The performance across various tones could paint a whole different picture and THD sweeps like this one showing "average SINAD" would make for an entirely new metric where "technical excellence" is truly measured in a different way.
I believe that with this type of expansion on testing and new ways of ranking things; we might be able to quell some of the "subjective vs objective" fight that has always been such a hot topic.
Multitone distortion free range ranking would be more useful than single tone.

The data is a there , someone would need to go through every DAC and amp amir measured and rank them lol
 

srkbear

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
1,044
Likes
1,467
Location
Dallas, TX
For completely meaningless and petty reasons I keep getting cranky that my d90se keeps moving down the list. I’ve decided that I’m not going to be moved until we topple 124!
 
Last edited:

Null-Test

New Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2024
Messages
4
Likes
1
That graph is for the D90 III Sabre DAC, but it seems you’ve forgotten to also include the same ‘THD vs Frequency’ measurement graph, as performed by Topping, for the D70 Pro Sabre DAC.

In fact, as per Topping’s own measurements the D70 Pro Sabre exhibits, also in that regard, worse measured performance than the D90 III Sabre, where a more pronounced rising with frequency can be seen, reaching 2x the THD @ 20kHz:

View attachment 352357

There’s one caveat however, the declared default PCM filter for each of those DACs is different. The owner’s manual clearly states that, in the case of the D70 Pro Sabre, the default filter is “F-1: Minimum Phase”, whereas for the D90 III Sabre the default filter is “F-3: Linear Phase Fast Roll-off”.

Assuming that this difference is not a typo from Topping, there should be a good reason for using a filter that doesn’t even provide a flat frequency response across the audible spectrum as default, which is the case for “Minimum Phase”.

It’s also reasonable to assume that Topping would choose whatever filter could give the best measured ‘THD vs Frequency’ performance for each DAC, as a way of advertising it!

Finally, from amirm graphs one can realize that what it is considered to be the default, at least stated as such, PCM filter used for both DACs measurements is “F-3: Linear Phase Fast Roll-off”.

Maybe @amirm could clarify this!

@amirm Could you please clarify why you have used a different “default” filter from what it is stated on Topping owner’s manual, while performing your measurements of the D70 Pro Sabre DAC and despite the fact that you’ve called it F1 and, in case of the D90 III Sabre, F3, as specifically mentioned on the owner’s manual of each DAC?

Meaning, you were probably aware of that difference… were you?
 

agnostic

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
5
Likes
0
Technically perfect.

At this price range I would start looking into eg RME with tons of features, good HP amp, excellent customer support and quality.

If Topping wants to play in that league they have to work on the latter two.

Edit. Or even latter 5 ie everything but SINAD ;-)
You can get A90 HP amp/Pre + D90III DAC at a lower cost than RME with tons of features.
 

Jimster480

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
2,927
Likes
2,105
Location
Tampa Bay
You can get A90 HP amp/Pre + D90III DAC at a lower cost than RME with tons of features.
Depends on which RME. The cheaper ones are $1299 or can be found used for $899. Definitely not as much headphone power but also maybe not needed for lots of headphones.
 

MLaranjeiras

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2021
Messages
241
Likes
113
Topping are like the guy who insists on firebreathing at a party. Cool trick pal, please stop. That Chord goon with the quadrillion tap filters, Topping with infinite SINAD... I would rather have a tone control.
As I posted on another thread, in the end of the day, once being both E50 and D90 III having perfect measurements, what might count d’be a blind test between them to realize or not that paying four times more we’d listen any relevant gain.
 

DLS79

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
811
Likes
1,050
Location
United States
As I posted on another thread, in the end of the day, once being both E50 and D90 III having perfect measurements, what might count d’be a blind test between them to realize or not that paying four times more we’d listen any relevant gain.

As I've mentioned many times before, even with DACSs there's more than just measurements that determine what's the price should be. For example I/O options.

4841156.jpg


8597530.jpg
 

Descartes

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 27, 2020
Messages
2,197
Likes
1,127
The Topping D90 III Sabre + Topping LA 90 would make a killer stereo system!
 

Lupin

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
590
Likes
982
As I've mentioned many times before, even with DACSs there's more than just measurements that determine what's the price should be. For example I/O options.
More specifically I/O options that matter to the person who is looking to purchase a DAC.
There is no audible difference between the E50 and D90 III Sabre, personally the I/O options that the D90 III Sable offers over the E50 are not worth 4x the price of the E50 to me.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
7
This might be a silly question, but does the LLVDS input take normal HDMI audio? If this were the receiver of an eARC audio signal, would it play? And if so, would that be limited to unencoded audio signals or would dolby atmos work too?
 

El_Arte

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
50
Likes
31
I'm honestly not sure what the purpose of this device is... there are too many of the same devices on the market with the same performance for years now. I feel like they are just making these just to make them. What about adding some new features in some way? Doing inbuilt DSP or something?

It’s the “people on staff” conundrum.

You employ a bunch of talented EEs, you don’t want and you cannot keep paying them to sit on their hands, so you ask them to keep grinding the benchmarks while reducing the BOM costs.

It’s either that or you say “that’s it, we reached a definitive/temporary limit, you can all stay home until we know any better”.
 

DLS79

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
811
Likes
1,050
Location
United States
It’s the “people on staff” conundrum.

You employ a bunch of talented EEs, you don’t want and you cannot keep paying them to sit on their hands, so you ask them to keep grinding the benchmarks while reducing the BOM costs.

It’s either that or you say “that’s it, we reached a definitive/temporary limit, you can all stay home until we know any better”.

I'm non an EE, but that's what my work is like. When I'm in-between big projects I'm either doing research to make systems better, or I'm helping/teaching people more junior than myself.
 

Null-Test

New Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2024
Messages
4
Likes
1
More specifically I/O options that matter to the person who is looking to purchase a DAC.
There is no audible difference between the E50 and D90 III Sabre, personally the I/O options that the D90 III Sable offers over the E50 are not worth 4x the price of the E50 to me.

It’s not only about the I/O options available. After having both D70 Pro Sabre and D90 III Sabre, side-by-side, I can say the case quality and touch feeling of the latter is miles better than that of the former.

As for the sound quality, I went by amirm measurements to justify the more enjoyable listening experience I’ve perceived from the D70 Pro Sabre. It’s simply better, more satisfying, listening to music though the D70 Pro Sabre!

Objectively, amirm measurements show that the D70 Pro Sabre exhibits a better Multitone test performance and better THD+Noise vs Frequency, when compared to the D90 III Sabre, since he has used the same - “Linear Phase Fast Roll-off” - PCM filter (not the default one in the case of the D70 Pro Sabre, mind you) in both DACs measurements.

I truly believe that these are the single set of measurements that better correlate with the perceived sound quality, thus if I had to establish a DAC performance hierarchy I would do so based on those two criteria, as opposed to evaluate what’s happening at a single frequency value like SINAD @ 1kHz - not that meaningful if analyzed in isolation!

So, my Monkey choice goes to:

IMG_1699.jpeg
 

sandeep_s300

Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2023
Messages
17
Likes
3
May be noob question: Will adding a similar budget master clock improve the sound quality from this DAC?
 
Top Bottom