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Topping D90SE Review (Balanced DAC)

Toku

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I encountered switching regulators in 1971 while working in development and design at a Japanese company. Unfortunately, the technology available at the time did not provide satisfactory performance. However, its compact size and high power efficiency made it attractive. Since then, I have repeatedly tried switching regulators. I have posted my opinion as a summary of that experience.
So, when I tried to explain the advantages of switching regulators in response to your question, I found a completely similar opinion to mine on the Benchmark website, so please refer to it.


However, there is a widespread legend among audiophiles that transformer power supplies are high-quality and high-performance, and audio manufacturers are selling products that use transformer power supplies. However, in most cases, it seems that the secondary side of the transformer uses a switching power supply circuit rather than a linear power supply circuit.
 

bec143

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Related to an earlier question about how good is good. Maybe this should be in my external dac / wiim pro thread so fell feee to ll ove it

Real question coming up. This is now the chart topping dac (pun intended) and quite affordable.

do you think there is an audible benedit to using this with a Wiim pro plus, instead of the internal dac? This takes the expense out of the question. If the best measuring dac doesn't make any improvement , than I suppose the answer is to never consider an external dac with it?
 

rcstevensonaz

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do you think there is an audible benedit to using this with a Wiim pro plus, instead of the internal dac? This takes the expense out of the question. If the best measuring dac doesn't make any improvement , than I suppose the answer is to never consider an external dac with it?
I do the opposite. I have a WiiM Pro (network streamer) that sends the digital audio (volume=100%) to my Topping D90 (DAC). The entire reason for buying the Topping D90 is because it is a top-end DAC*.

* Note: I am not touching the question of which DAC is "better sounding". Simply pointing out that you spend the $$$ on the D90 because nothing else is going to materially improve on its DAC sound quality and feature set (until perhaps jumping up to much high cost DAC with more robust set of desired features).
 

bec143

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I do the opposite. I have a WiiM Pro (network streamer) that sends the digital audio (volume=100%) to my Topping D90 (DAC). The entire reason for buying the Topping D90 is because it is a top-end DAC*.

* Note: I am not touching the question of which DAC is "better sounding". Simply pointing out that you spend the $$$ on the D90 because nothing else is going to materially improve on its DAC sound quality and feature set (until perhaps jumping up to much high cost DAC with more robust set of desired features).
I was thinking specifically of streaming services. digital out from Wiim to DAC,
 

rcstevensonaz

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I was thinking specifically of streaming services. digital out from Wiim to DAC,
Then I completely misunderstood your comment — I thought you were asking about having the WiiM provide the DAC function, sending analog audio stream to the Topping D90SE.

On the other hand, if you are having the WiiM send the digital stream to another DAC (e.g., Topping D90SE), you only need the WiiM Pro and there is less reason to pay for the upgraded DAC in the WiiM Pro Plus.
 

bec143

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Then I completely misunderstood your comment — I thought you were asking about having the WiiM provide the DAC function, sending analog audio stream to the Topping D90SE.

On the other hand, if you are having the WiiM send the digital stream to another DAC (e.g., Topping D90SE), you only need the WiiM Pro and there is less reason to pay for the upgraded DAC in the WiiM Pro Plus.
yes- thats my question. Is the Topping that much better than the internal Wiim DAC that its worth adding it?
 

Purité Audio

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The pro ‘plus’ is as good as anything, audibly transparent.
Keith
 

blanc

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Why does Topping sell its own linear power supply P50 if switching regulators are good enough? Sales strategy?
 

Toku

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Why does Topping sell its own linear power supply P50 if switching regulators are good enough? Sales strategy?
This is because many audiophiles have a preconceived notion that linear power supplies are superior to switching power supplies.
 

Killingbeans

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Why does Topping sell its own linear power supply P50 if switching regulators are good enough? Sales strategy?

Supply and demand. Often people demand things that only make sense in fairy tale land.
 

Angsty

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Why does Topping sell its own linear power supply P50 if switching regulators are good enough? Sales strategy?
The main companions to the P50 are the A50 and D50s, neither of which ship with a power supply. You are supposed to use an existing phone charger to power them. The P50 will power more than one device simultaneously.

They could have made a cheaper power supply in the P50 using an SMPS unit. However, they also have components in their parts bin from DACs that had linear power supplies, like the D70s. So, I can see marketing and manufacturing reasons for making the P50 linear.

Neither PS design is inherently better than the other in all applications. Sometimes a linear power supply is exactly the right choice - it just depends on what the designer and company are trying to optimize.
 

blanc

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The DSD playback IMO is a bit of a disappointment considering the PCM results if DSD is important for you.
'''
AKM DACs like the RME ADI-2 Pro FS R Black Edition typically look very good maintaining low noise level with DSD playback. While I have not had the chance to try one out, it might not be unreasonable to consider that the Topping D90 predecessor with its AKM AK4499 DAC might be a significantly better DSD option.
 

MadHatter37

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Finally got around to measuring the Topping D90SE and Gustard X16 filters in the stack setup. Here's the amplitude response for the seven different Topping filters:

View attachment 155337

The colors that REW ended up picking are not great, but these are in order, from top to bottom:
  • Mode 1 - Fast roll off apodizing
  • Mode 2 - Slow roll off minimum
  • Mode 3 - Fast roll off minimum (default)
  • Mode 4 - Slow roll off linear
  • Mode 5 - Fast roll off linear
  • Mode 6 - Brick-wall
  • Mode 7 - Fast roll off corrected minimum
Here's the same plot for the Gustard's three filter choices:

View attachment 155338

From the plots, it's clear that this is a proper subset of the Topping filter options:
  • L-FAST (same as Mode 5 - Fast roll off linear)
  • M-SLOW (same as Mode 2 - Slow roll off minimum)
  • H-FAST (same as Mode 7 - Fast roll off corrected minimum)
I'll just compare the time-domain response of these three, but if you're interested in looking at the others, feel free to download my REW *.mdat file here.

Here's Topping vs. Gustard (in that order) for Fast roll off linear / L-FAST. I'm showing the step and impulse response. For these plots, I'm looking at the length and degree of pre/post-ringing:

View attachment 155339
View attachment 155340

Not identical, but pretty darn close. Here's the same for Slow roll off minimum / M-SLOW:

View attachment 155341
View attachment 155342

Finally, here's Fast roll off corrected minimum / H-FAST:

View attachment 155343
View attachment 155344

Not sure how audible any of this stuff is, but of the three, H-FAST (Mode 7 on the Topping) appears to have no pre-ringing, while post-ringing is not terrible. From what I understand humans tend to be more sensitive to pre-ringing (which does not occur in nature except on Star Trek) than post-ringing, so this seems like a reasonable tradeoff.

At the end of the day, you get to choose which you prefer if you have one of these DACs. Again, feel free to download my REW data file to see the rest of the Topping filters. If you want to use my limits settings to match the captures here, select "%" instead of "dBFS" on the "Impulse" tab and use these limit settings:
View attachment 155348
For the rest of my listening, I'll leave the Topping on Mode 7 and the Gustard on H-FAST. The amplitude response looks funky (when zoomed in), but I can't hear to 20 kHz anyway, so a half a dB of roll-off at 16 kHz doe not bother me in the least. Enjoy.

Edit: I've fixed the zip file containing my REW *.mdat file. Did this late last night and mistakenly used `gzip` instead of `zip`. Sorry. Also, I created these plots using the latest beta version of REW. I've not tested, but I would not be surprised if the production release of REW fails to open this file, which kind-of sucks. It only takes a few minutes to create an account on AV NIRVANA so that you can download the beta, but sorry for the inconvenience.
I’m curious if some of these results are impacted by other gear in your signal chain or REW upper frequency limits, calibration of signal inputs, or other artifacts. The response curves don’t match those posted by AmirM, so Im not sure if that impacts the time domain measurements.
 

zhgutov

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I’m curious if some of these results are impacted by other gear in your signal chain or REW upper frequency limits, calibration of signal inputs, or other artifacts. The response curves don’t match those posted by AmirM, so Im not sure if that impacts the time domain measurements.
They definitely are impacted by other gear.
 

Dgob

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Hi All,

I was wondering what choices people made in set-up when deciding between the Sound Mode options of:

OFF,
Valve Sound or
Transistor Sound?

I might well have missed this earlier in the thread. If so, could someone point me to the appropriate page?

If not, any feedback on preferences and (if possible) reasons for choices would be appreciated.

Many thanks
 

ErVikingo

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Hi All,

I was wondering what choices people made in set-up when deciding between the Sound Mode options of:

OFF,
Valve Sound or
Transistor Sound?

I might well have missed this earlier in the thread. If so, could someone point me to the appropriate page?

If not, any feedback on preferences and (if possible) reasons for choices would be appreciated.

Many thanks
FWIW I keep it OFF so as not add any coloring to the music.

Its a matter of personal taste and perhaps the timbre or tone of your system.
 

Dgob

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FWIW I keep it OFF so as not add any coloring to the music.

Its a matter of personal taste and perhaps the timbre or tone of your system.
To be honest, I do the same. I experimented with the 'valve' and the 'transistor' options and couldn't understand how these really were high fidelity options.

I imagine that some do use these and am curious to know how and why. I expect that you are correct and it will be taste and system dependent, but would love to hear from anyone who has a different experience with those alternative options.

Many thanks
 
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