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Topping D90SE Review (Balanced DAC)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Topping D90SE flagship balanced USB DAC. It was sent to me by the company for testing and I believe costs US $899.

The D90SE comes in the same clothes as current class of Topping products which is just fine with me:

Topping D90SE Review Balanced USB DAC.jpg


We have the usual inputs and outputs including Bluetooth:

Topping D90SE Review Balanced USB back panel DAC.jpg


The architecture here is based on ESS ES9038PRO DAC instead of AKM silicon. Hopefully this means better availability of parts and DACs.

Topping D90SE DAC Measurements
Out of box output voltage is our standard 4 volts but there is also a setting to adjust that to 5 volt (see test of that later). Let's start with USB input and balanced XLR output:

Topping D90SE Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


Oh wow! We have a record breaker here when it comes to SINAD:
best balanced USB DAC review.png


best balanced USB DAC review high-end.png


The Audio Precision analyzer puts severe strain on getting such high numbers due to its own self-noise so I was surprised to see 123 dB limit broken. Distortion is down to an incredibly low -140 dB!

Switching to RCA output, we naturally lose some performance:

Topping D90SE Measurements RCA USB DAC.png


Noise level is kept to absolute minimum producing some of the best dynamic range numbers I have seen:

Topping D90SE Dynamic Range Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


Temporarily switching to 5 volt output we get:

Topping D90SE THD+N vs Level Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


So not a major change but if you have an amp that can accept it, you can push your noise floor down a bit more. Remember, while distortions are hard to hear, hiss from speakers or headphones is not.

Intermodulation distortion (really the noise aspect) sets a new benchmark:

Topping D90SE IMD Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


There was a time when DX3 Pro was the benchmark. See how much the D90SE beats it by. It is almost left in the dust!

Courtesy of resampling in ESS DAC, jitter is a forgotten word with either input:

Topping D90SE Jitter Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


Combined with the ultra noise floor, we can clearly resolve the low order bits of the 250Hz square wave at 24 bits! I had to remove the ASR logo to reveal them!

Linearity locked in and ran so perfectly, I had to scratch my eyes to believe it:

Topping D90SE LInearity Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


You have a choice of 7 filters and I was happy to see thee of them producing the correct filtering for 44.1 kHz sampling:

Topping D90SE Filter Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


Attenuation was so good that I had to lower the bottom of the scale to show where they bottom out.

The only puzzler was THD+N versus frequency:

Topping D90SE THD+N vs Frequency Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png


Seems like there is some kind of ESS signature going on with some filter setting. Getting the best performance required selecting filter #7 which has a bit of roll off in frequency response.

Multitone is nailed so hard that you could almost hear it nail screaming from being hit so hard:
Topping D90SE Multitone Measurements Balanced USB DAC.png



Conclusions
It is 3:00am but I had to stay up and post this review. It is not every day that every barrier we have seen in DACs gets shattered to new levels. We are seeing extreme attention to every aspect of this design to squeeze this much performance out of this ESS DAC. Just when we though the race was over, here comes one more over achiever! Those of you who have made it a hobby to upgrade the latest and greatest, here is another one for you! :)

At the risk of stating the very obvious, it is my absolute pleasure to recommend the Topping D90SE.

Note: this is a new product. If you are not an early adopter type of person, you may want others to go before you. My testing is focused on performance only, not reliability or functionality.

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

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Jimbob54

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Matias

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Congrats, @JohnYang1997 great performance at still real world pricing!
 

Puddingbuks

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Outstanding! Many congratulations, John Yang !

On a more general note: I can't prevent admiring how China is surpassing us, Westerners. You guys have the future ! Go on doing cutting-edge job like this!
Luckily there's more to life than SINAD.
 

JSmith

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The prototype tested by @WolfX-700 is very close in measurement to the tests on this unit;

https://www.l7audiolab.com/f/topping-d90se-dac-prototype/

Looks like a winner... but could be priced more competitively IMO.
And the 5v setting actually reaches 125db SINAD... what sorcery is this??
Look at the difference in the Vrms levels there... @amirm also mentioned here that he got the higher figure too.
Temporarily switching to 5 volt output we get:
index.php




JSmith
 

AudioSceptic

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Topping D90SE flagship balanced USB DAC. It was sent to me by the company for testing and I believe costs US $899.

The D90SE comes in the same clothes as current class of Topping products which is just fine with me:

View attachment 135755

We have the usual inputs and outputs including Bluetooth:

View attachment 135756

The architecture here is based on ESS ES9038PRO DAC instead of AKM silicon. Hopefully this means better availability of parts and DACs.

Topping D90SE DAC Measurements
Out of box output voltage is our standard 4 volts but there is also a setting to adjust that to 5 volt (see test of that later). Let's start with USB input and balanced XLR output:

View attachment 135757

Oh wow! We have a record breaker here when it comes to SINAD:
View attachment 135759

View attachment 135760

The Audio Precision analyzer puts severe strain on getting such high numbers due to its own self-noise so I was surprised to see 123 dB limit broken. Distortion is down to an incredibly low -140 dB!

Switching to RCA output, we naturally lose some performance:

View attachment 135761

Noise level is kept to absolute minimum producing some of the best dynamic range numbers I have seen:

View attachment 135763

Temporarily switching to 5 volt output we get:

View attachment 135764

So not a major change but if you have an amp that can accept it, you can push your noise floor down a bit more. Remember, while distortions are hard to hear, hiss from speakers or headphones is not.

Intermodulation distortion (really the noise aspect) sets a new benchmark:

View attachment 135765

There was a time when DX3 Pro was the benchmark. See how much the D90SE beats it by. It is almost left in the dust!

Courtesy of resampling in ESS DAC, jitter is a forgotten word with either input:

View attachment 135766

Combined with the ultra noise floor, we can clearly resolve the low order bits of the 250Hz square wave at 24 bits! I had to remove the ASR logo to reveal them!

Linearity locked in and ran so perfectly, I had to scratch my eyes to believe it:

View attachment 135767

You have a choice of 7 filters and I was happy to see thee of them producing the correct filtering for 44.1 kHz sampling:

View attachment 135768

Attenuation was so good that I had to lower the bottom of the scale to show where they bottom out.

The only puzzler was THD+N versus frequency:

View attachment 135769

Seems like there is some kind of ESS signature going on with some filter setting. Getting the best performance required selecting filter #7 which has a bit of roll off in frequency response.

Multitone is nailed so hard that you could almost hear it nail screaming from being hit so hard:
View attachment 135770


Conclusions
It is 3:00am but I had to stay up and post this review. It is not every day that every barrier we have seen in DACs gets shattered to new levels. We are seeing extreme attention to every aspect of this design to squeeze this much performance out of this ESS DAC. Just when we though the race was over, here comes one more over achiever! Those of you who have made it a hobby to upgrade the latest and greatest, here is another one for you! :)

At the risk of stating the very obvious, it is my absolute pleasure to recommend the Topping D90SE.

Note: this is a new product. If you are not an early adopter type of person, you may want others to go before you. My testing is focused on performance only, not reliability or functionality.

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

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Amazing. Is this the theoretical limit for DACs with current tech?

It's interesting to compare the filter options with the ESS9038Q2M DACs in the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital <https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ct-pre-box-s2-dac-headphone-amp-review.10085/>

Just what are the differences between the ESS Pro and the Q2M?
 

Helicopter

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Thanks Amir, and great work Topping!

This is really impressive performance, and of course it comes with a nice case, and selection of inputs and outputs.

Now that Topping has surpassed all other DACs tested at any price, is it time for a speaker amp that does the same?
 

Matias

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Now that Topping has surpassed all other DACs tested at any price, is it time for a speaker amp that does the same?
We are all waiting for their power amplifiers. And also an AV processor.
 

Cortes

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funny, I saw in the publicity of the product to advertise its preamp capabilties with some Genelecs. That's definitively a great jump upwards.


@Amir,

could you test the bluetooth?. More a more products have it. How BT progresses compared to USB?.
 
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