• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Topping D90LE - "Valve" and "Transistor" effects measurements

Rja4000

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
1,646
Likes
1,922
Location
Liège, Belgium
Hi

I've performed a few quick measurements with the Topping D90LE

DAC 5V at Max level (USB in, 48kHz, Right Channel)
(ADC: E1DA ADC 4.5V Mono, measured with Virtins Multi Instrument 3.9.6)

"Standard" mode

1655929520394.png


In "Valve" mode
We see a big 2nd harmonic peak (0.32%), with a more limited 3rd harmonic (0.001%)


1655929568223.png


In "Transistor" mode
We see a limited 2nd harmonic peak (0.03%), with 3rd harmonic 10 times below (0.003%) - but 3 times higher than in the "Valve" mode.

1655929619335.png


NB: I can't get more than around 122 dB SINAD.
This is most probably due in part to the low impedance of the E1DA ADC (especially in Mono mode): the output of the D90LE peaks around 4.5Vrms in 5V mode under such a heavy load (around 850 ohm). Or we just reach the limits of the E1DA ADC.
My cabling may also count for a few tenths of dBs.
Every detail counts at such incredibly low distortion and noise levels.

EDIT 2022-06-27:
I re-measured SINAD with a notch filter and it scored at 126.4dB


Full measurement details may be seen in attached pictures.
 

Attachments

  • D90LE 5V Normal R -= E1DA ADC R 4.5V Mono.png
    D90LE 5V Normal R -= E1DA ADC R 4.5V Mono.png
    159.1 KB · Views: 152
  • D90LE 5V Transistor R -= E1DA ADC R 4.5V Mono.png
    D90LE 5V Transistor R -= E1DA ADC R 4.5V Mono.png
    160.8 KB · Views: 149
  • D90LE 5V Valve R -= E1DA ADC R 4.5V Mono.png
    D90LE 5V Valve R -= E1DA ADC R 4.5V Mono.png
    159.4 KB · Views: 154
Last edited:

Toni Mas

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Messages
74
Likes
77
Hi

I've performed a few quick measurements with the Topping D90LE

DAC 5V at Max level (USB in, 48kHz, Right Channel)
(ADC: E1DA ADC 4.5V Mono, measured with Virtins Multi Instrument 3.9.6)

"Standard" mode

View attachment 214131

In "Valve" mode
We see a big 2nd harmonic peak (0.32%), with a more limited 3rd harmonic (0.001%)


View attachment 214132

In "Transistor" mode
We see a limited 2nd harmonic peak (0.03%), with 3rd harmonic 10 times below (0.003%) :rolleyes:- but 3 times hgher than in the "Valve" mode.

View attachment 214133

NB: I can't get more than around 122 dB SINAD.
This is most probably due in part to the low impedance of the E1DA ADC (especially in Mono mode): the output of the D90LE peaks around 4.5Vrms in 5V mode under such a heavy load (around 850 ohm).
My cabling may also count for a few tenths of dBs.
Every detail counts at such incredibly low distortion and noise levels.

Full measurement details may be seen in attached pictures.
Interesting, but how do the 3 preset sound flavours actually sound? Are we really free to choose our own favourite H2/H3/H... profile, regardless to sinad perfection? What do we need measurements for? Give a rational base to subjective preferences, forgetting about any kind of theoretical absolute technical perfection ?

Obviously, from a business friendly point of view, absolute technical perfection is more a problem than anything else...

Will brands like Topping be the pioneers of the coming new Frontier of audio subjectivism? Or simply will try to make business and take It as It comes?:rolleyes:
 
Last edited:

AndreaT

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
Messages
288
Likes
522
Location
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Interesting and informative. I still wonder how would you choose a mode that has 10exp6 more distortion on a fine tuned DAC. Is it maybe to justify your previous $20K spent on a tube preamp/amp combo that glows in the dark and sounds horrible?
 

jae

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
873
Likes
1,033
Exactly what I was looking to see, thanks! Maybe time to invest in a Cosmos APU? ;)
 
Joined
May 7, 2022
Messages
25
Likes
102
Interesting and informative. I still wonder how would you choose a mode that has 10exp6 more distortion on a fine tuned DAC. Is it maybe to justify your previous $20K spent on a tube preamp/amp combo that glows in the dark and sounds horrible?
I always thought it would be a cool product idea for someone to release a custom distortion generator. Ideally digital in and out so it could be placed in-line before your DAC but analog could also work.

Something that lets you dial in specific 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc order distortion just to play with how it effects sound.
 

jae

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
873
Likes
1,033
I always thought it would be a cool product idea for someone to release a custom distortion generator. Ideally digital in and out so it could be placed in-line before your DAC but analog could also work.

Something that lets you dial in specific 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc order distortion just to play with how it effects sound.
I would say in this day and age it's just more practical to use software at the source to achieve this. Infinite possibilities, higher fidelity, more control of the signal, 1 less physical box and less cables.
 

theREALdotnet

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
427
Likes
594
@Rja4000 since you apparently have the D90LE, would you mind giving your impression on the remote control performance? Is it on the weak side like other Topping products (i.e. having to be well within 2m and having to point right at the device), or have they improved/relocated the receiver on the DAC?
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
15,877
Likes
26,636
I always thought it would be a cool product idea for someone to release a custom distortion generator. Ideally digital in and out so it could be placed in-line before your DAC but analog could also work.

Something that lets you dial in specific 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc order distortion just to play with how it effects sound.
@TuteTibiImperes
There is free software that can do that. An ASR member pkane wrote it. You create your distortion profile then you can run music thru it and hear what it sounds like.

 

ppataki

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
550
Likes
566
Location
Budapest

PeteL

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
2,503
Likes
2,539
Interesting and informative. I still wonder how would you choose a mode that has 10exp6 more distortion on a fine tuned DAC. Is it maybe to justify your previous $20K spent on a tube preamp/amp combo that glows in the dark and sounds horrible?
I think it is exactly the opposite, it removes any justification to spend xk on a tube preamp, and if this harmonic distortion was inaudible it would be useless. It's for people that like that sound. "Sound horrible" is just subjective.
 

dib

Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2020
Messages
20
Likes
25
I wonder if it sounds more euphonic in tube mode with the increased 2nd harmonic distortion and if it's jarring in transistor mode compared between them and between normal mode; assuming no distortion is the best; If something meant to sound in a particular way, It should have been created that way during the music production and besides, audio gear should emulate musical instruments and vocals, not electronic components...
 

PeteL

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
2,503
Likes
2,539
I wonder if it sounds more euphonic in tube mode with the increased 2nd harmonic distortion and if it's jarring in transistor mode compared between them and between normal mode; assuming no distortion is the best; If something meant to sound in a particular way, It should have been created that way during the music production and besides, audio gear should emulate musical instruments and vocals, not electronic components...
The beauty of it is that it can be disengaged. It's like saying it shouldn't be allowed to add pepper in your soup because if it tasted better the person who made the recipe would have done it in the first place. If it taste better to me it doesn't have to do so for everybody. You know, taste, preference, flavor, it's still a thing. Look at all the different headphones tonality out there. Yes there are preference curves like Harman, but you are allowed to choose what you like. When the day comes where everything sounds exactly the same, by definition this hobby will cease to exist, Sites like here will not exist, this community will not exist, there will be no discussions to have. How fun is that?
 
OP
R

Rja4000

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
1,646
Likes
1,922
Location
Liège, Belgium
I wonder if it sounds more euphonic in tube mode
Well, with the measurements above in hand, it's easy to try yourself.

Find a free plugin that allows adding harmonic distortion to taste (setting the exact amount of each harmonic), record some tracks with and without distortion added, load that in Foobar with ABX plugin and test by yourself.

Then please come back here and share the result. :)
 
Last edited:

KSTR

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
2,190
Likes
4,809
Location
Berlin, Germany
We should be aware that "typical tube sound" (whatever that is) from a real hardware amp might be more than just stable and frequency independant harmonic distortion which is what that DAC emulates, most likely with the H2/H3 distortion compensation of the ESS DAC chip used (as does the ESS version of the RME ADI-2 DAC).

Another important aspect is that this added distortion can easily lead to alisasing components for high frequency signals which obviously a real hardware does not do. I have not checked whether the ESS compensation is free of this but I do know that (especially older) plugins generate significant aliasing as they do not properly apply the required upsample&filter --> distort --> filter&downsample process.
 
Top Bottom