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TOPPING D90 III Sabre DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 12 3.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 31 8.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 97 25.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 242 63.4%

  • Total voters
    382

anphex

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May be noob question: Will adding a similar budget master clock improve the sound quality from this DAC?
Nope, the clock generatores are already a solved problem and later DACs won't benefit at all from external clock.
 

DrCWO

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May be noob question: Will adding a similar budget master clock improve the sound quality from this DAC?
Probably not.
You must understand that the best DAC Clock source is an internal XTAL. Even better with temperature compensation.

Why:
An XTAL creates a stable steady frequency for the DAC Clock. Syncing the DAC Clock to any external source or to an external master clock the internal XTAL is turned off and a PLL (Phase Lock Loop) turned on instead of it to lock to this external source. Each PLL is a control loop that detects phase difference between input clock and the synthesized DAC Clock and controls the synthesized clock to follow the external clock. This increases Jitter of the DAC compared to a fixed XTAL DAC Clock.

I never understood why an external master clock should improve sound. It was made for syncronizing several devices in a studio to the same clock but decreases Jitter of the DAC.

Best DrCWO
 

sandeep_s300

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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:

View attachment 359016
interesting , as I had the D70 pro sabre and have sold a few months back. Wonder if I will hear better quality sound with the D90 III sabre , considering it has dual DAC and better sinad results.
 

sandeep_s300

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Probably not.
You must understand that the best DAC Clock source is an internal XTAL. Even better with temperature compensation.

Why:
An XTAL creates a stable steady frequency for the DAC Clock. Syncing the DAC Clock to any external source or to an external master clock the internal XTAL is turned off and a PLL (Phase Lock Loop) turned on instead of it to lock to this external source. Each PLL is a control loop that detects phase difference between input clock and the synthesized DAC Clock and controls the synthesized clock to follow the external clock. This increases Jitter of the DAC compared to a fixed XTAL DAC Clock.

I never understood why an external master clock should improve sound. It was made for syncronizing several devices in a studio to the same clock but decreases Jitter of the DAC.

Best DrCWO
Thank you for saving me a few grand :)
 

Lupin

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May be noob question: Will adding a similar budget master clock improve the sound quality from this DAC?
There would be something seriously wrong with the design of the DAC (or any other DAC) if it would... :rolleyes:
 

Purité Audio

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I am sure somebody has, the answer will almost certainly save you more cash.
Keith
 

MLaranjeiras

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the TOPPING D90 III Sabre balanced stereo DAC. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $899.
View attachment 342759
As you can see, the design is what we have know about most of the Topping products. I do wish at this price that we had a high resolution display that showed VU meters and such. Usability would be better that way although the included remote is easy to use. Back panel is as you would expect:
View attachment 342760
Nice to see Topping continuing to provide trigger support for automatic turn on of the downstream amplifiers and such.

TOPPING D90 III Sabre Measurements
The DAC has two output setting modes. One that provides max of 5 volts nominal and one that is 4 volts. For fairness I tested using the latter. DAC was allowed to warm up which improved its performance by about 1 dB.

As usual, we start with our dashboard:
View attachment 342762
This is the best performance we have seen from Topping and is in a virtual tie with the previous king of DAC SINAD measurements:
View attachment 342763

RCA performance is still superb and fully transparent:
View attachment 342764

Dynamic range is exceptional as you would imagine as it is setting the SINAD:
View attachment 342765

Multitone shows the exceptionally low distortion:
View attachment 342766

As does 50 Hz response for compatibility with other sites using it:
View attachment 342767

Jitter could be a hair better given the performance elsewhere:
View attachment 342768

IMD performance is excellent:
View attachment 342769

Linearity is perfect:
View attachment 342770

We have the typical filters but I would stay with default (F3):
View attachment 342771
View attachment 342772

The filter selection impacts wideband THD+N measurements so I stayed with the default:
View attachment 342773

Story is told....

Conclusions
Topping aimed to capture the top spot in the rankings and it got there, besting every other DAC it has produced, albeit with very small margin. If the cost is not a concern and you are buying a new DAC, might as well opt for D90 III.

I am happy to recommend the TOPPING D90 III Sabre.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
I really like this brand! The question in my mind remains: What do I really get changing my Topping E50 for these flagships from Topping? Also, for the same money I can buy a Lumin D2. Any comments about these dilemas will be gratefully enjoyed.
 

MLaranjeiras

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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.
This conclusion makes the lauching of "flagships" a pure nonsense, I realized.
 

Boduke

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Does it measure better with 4v or 5v xlr output power if paired with a topping a90d?
 

Boduke

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Another question: if connected via i2s to topping u90, what should be the choice of master clock on the bridge between 22&24 and 44&45? I didn't find anything particolar about this surfing on the internet
 

nagster

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Simple measurements and pictures of D90III. Bought new on Amazon last month.
 

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whydan

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Has anyone compared the D90 III with the DX flagship model with AKM DAC?
Hello, there.
I did compare D90III with DX9 and D90se / D90 MQA MOD.
IMHO, D90 III sounds more balance to me but the detail sound I preferred DX9 more.
It's hard to explain the difference between those two with my limited English proficiency..
Both D90III and DX9 are good, so you may consider if you need a combination DAC or just DAC.
If you didn't have headphone amp, maybe D90III + A70pro will be a better solution.
581184.jpg
 
Last edited:

sandeep_s300

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Hello, there.
I did compare D90III with DX9 and D90se / D90 MQA MOD.
IMHO, D90 III sounds more balance to me but the detail sound I preferred DX9 more.
It's hard to explain the difference between those two with my limited English proficiency..
Both D90III and DX9 are good, so you may consider if you need a combination DAC or just DAC.
If you didn't have headphone amp, maybe D90III + A70pro will be a better solution.
View attachment 371001
Thanks for sharing. I don’t use headphone - the only time I get to use earphone are during my session in gym :) Last topping I used was hooked directly to a 7 channel Sunfire power amp that drives my m&k s300 speakers . I am considering building a 2 channel hypex ncx500 power amp with 990 opamp and pair that with my S300 fronts and topping 90 iii sabre dac. I love the sound of sabre dacs since I first listened through Oppo BD players
 

whydan

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Thanks for sharing. I don’t use headphone - the only time I get to use earphone are during my session in gym :) Last topping I used was hooked directly to a 7 channel Sunfire power amp that drives my m&k s300 speakers . I am considering building a 2 channel hypex ncx500 power amp with 990 opamp and pair that with my S300 fronts and topping 90 iii sabre dac. I love the sound of sabre dacs since I first listened through Oppo BD players
I don't have experience on Sunfire power amp but it looks good to use NCx500 with D90 III.
D90 III sounds different with OPPO BD players, D90 III will be more clean, better sound stage and vivid sound than OPPO.
I am quiet familar with OPPO BD players cause I did OPPO MOD since BDP-103D to UDP-203 and Sonica DAC in TW.
 

sandeep_s300

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I don't have experience on Sunfire power amp but it looks good to use NCx500 with D90 III.
D90 III sounds different with OPPO BD players, D90 III will be more clean, better sound stage and vivid sound than OPPO.
I am quiet familar with OPPO BD players cause I did OPPO MOD since BDP-103D to UDP-203 and Sonica DAC in TW.
Yes, very positive about it: I have tried the d70 sabre with nc500 without any special opamp and it blew my Sunfire with marantz AV8805 preamp combo even using dedicated two channel setup of these. Expecting audible improvement with ncx500 and d90 iii as it have dedicated dac for each channel .
 
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