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Topping D90SE Review (Balanced DAC)

L-Train

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Nov 17, 2018
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OK about the MQA part, I figured out what is happening but this does not mean what is happening is correct or incorrect. I simply do not know.

So let me explain what is happening now. In Kandace Springs "The Women Who Raised Me". Everything works to plan. When all the appropriate settings are done, we get MQA and a 96Khz sample rate. When we choose HiFi, the sample rate drops and the screen displays PCM as I would expect. The settings of pass through seems to not matter. So fine everything good so far.

Now when we choose the Stacey Kent's" I Know I Dream" which is also listed as Master according to Tidal, With the MQA settings, we get MQA on the D90SE screen but we only get a sample rate of 44.1. Now when we try to switch to PCM by choosing the settings that worked with Kandace Spring's album, the screen retains MQA. Even when we choose choose different Passthrough settings, the same data is listed on the screen of the D90SE.

So what is the deal, is Stacey's Kent's album a fake MQA? Or is it a variation of MQA? If it is the latter why does the not D90SE respond properly. I should get PCM with some setting of the four possible. I don't know if the issue is with Tidal or it is with the Topping D90SE. Until someone else has another MQA decoder that is working properly, I won't know.

Thus far, either Tidal's app ( fully updated Sept 18 2021) is messed up or The D90SE is not responding properly to the MQA or Non MQA instructions. in the stream.

As for the USB issues, I have spent hours trying to decipher what is going on. These are my conclusions so far and still not totally conclusive. It appears that on my particular PC, the quality of the USB output is different. When I use the ports on the MB header, I get more dropouts. I get superior results by using a port through the USB headers and through an extending cable to the rear of the PC. I have had results the opposite on printers before where the most trouble free data transmission was directly from the headers as compared to an extension of expansion card. I cannot conclude but the D90SE I have is exhibiting USB issues where previously my Khadas Tone Board and another DAC using an XMOS and XING adapter had no issues.

For my sample, I am seeing two issues what is causing it, I don't know.
Have you updated your motherboard's BIOS to the latest version? There have been many reports of USB dropouts with recent generations of the Ryzen platform, and have mostly been fixed with AGESA updates in recent BIOSes.
 

gallantus

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May 7, 2021
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Thinking about buying the D90SE as a second DAC. Can someone who has been following this thread summarized the known issues for the D90SE? Sorry, I don't think I can read 90 pages worth of posts, but if someone has been following this already, if you would be so kind to summarize all the known/reported issues.
 

dsnyder0cnn

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Dec 14, 2019
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Current state:

20210918_214738.jpg


Wish I had the Topping A90 in the stack, but my old THX AAA 789 amp is not terrible.

Doing a bit of a bake-off between the D90SE and my Gustard X16. I have levels matched to within 0.01 dB or so.

Gustard and Topping Level Matching - PCM.png


(Ignore the shape of the plots. That's just the native response of my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2).

There's really not much between these two...as expected. The Topping struggles with some MQA albums, like Katy Perry's Smile (don't judge me). The Gustard had minor clicks during soft passages on DSD until I updated the MCU firmware (fixed on new X16 DACs). None of the DACs I've tried under $1k are perfect, but these two definitely sound amazing.

Both are XLR via short cables into the Topping Pre90/Ext90, so the load should be identical. I'm not a big fan of A/B tests, but I thought this would be fun.

I can share plots of the different filters (amplitude and impulse) tomorrow if anyone is interested.

Edit: transport is the iFi ZEN Stream, but I now suspect that the skipping I heard on Ms. Perry's album is wonkyness in the iFi when the USB and S/PDIF outputs are grouped into the same zone in Roon. I'll switch to a pair of RPi4s running VitOS to see if the problem goes away.

20210918_221535.jpg
 
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Nettuno

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MQA is just for doing business with brand rights.
Tidal buys FLAC, WAV or AIFF files, compresses them with obvious data loss and asks for money from those who believe that decompressing Quality is better.
 

dsnyder0cnn

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Much as I love it, I had to drop the iFi ZEN Stream from the A/B rig. It does not seem to be stable when playing two zones through it at once.

I'm now using identical Raspberry Pi 4s running VitOS. No issues with dropouts in either zone now, and I can play up to DSD512. :)

20210919_075757.jpg
 

Mikett

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Sep 16, 2021
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Have you updated your motherboard's BIOS to the latest version? There have been many reports of USB dropouts with recent generations of the Ryzen platform, and have mostly been fixed with AGESA updates in recent BIOSes.
Thanks for this tip. I updated the hardware drivers as well as the BIOS. This appears to have solved the droput issue. I generally do not update unless it is causing an issue and since this MB is only about two years old or so and had been working fine I did not bother. It is a HTPC so is hardly loaded down with apps that might push it.

This only goes to show USB ports and how they are driven are not the same though they are supposed to be. Wonder how many DACs suffer from this when driven by a PC?

Now the MQA issue remains. I understand the MQA issue but why does it always show as MQA under all settings when one tries to decode as PCM?
 

dsnyder0cnn

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Wonder how many DACs suffer from this when driven by a PC?
Amir my disagree, but I suspect most do to some degree. The D90SE is flawless (so far) with a VitOS transport. I'm a big fan of using small, dedicated low power transports with USB DACs vs PCs or Macs.
 

jjnvdm

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Jul 19, 2021
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Location
Cape Town, South Africa
I also received mine in the mail this Monday, and so far it is mostly fine.

But, like others have said, I am having issues with dropouts when using it with my LG OLED tv via optical. I was expecting this since people mentioned it, but I wasn't prepared for how frequent they are, typically like once a minute or so it drops out for a split second.

What I wasn't expecting was similar dropouts when using I2S out of my pi2aes board. They are much less frequent, but still present, like maybe once an hour or so.

The only dropout free input is the USB from the same raspberry pi 4 I have the pi2aes plugged into.

There is a pretty detailed explanation of the issue in this avforums thread, with very useful detail in this post. This mainly seems to be an issue with ESS DAC chips and the default setting of their jitter reconstruction filters. LG TVs apparently have a very noisy digital stream on their optical outputs. However, other optical sources that have very noisy digital streams may also cause this issue.

The good news is that there is a fix for the ESS DAC chip issue that can be implemented by DAC manufacturers. For example, Audiolab, Arcam, Cambride Audio and JDS Labs have all provided settings in their ESS-based DACs for relaxing the default DPLL bandwidth of the ESS DACs and it has been confirmed in the avforums thread by users that it fixes the issue.

I hope Topping is watching this thread and that they would be willing to address this issue by providing a setting for the DPLL jitter bandwidth in their DACs similar to what other ESS-based DAC manufacturers have done. Or if someone on this forum has a more direct line of communication to Topping to make them aware of this issue and the fix that would be even better!

@JohnYang1997 If you could spare a moment it would be great to get your response to this post
 
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gallantus

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There is a pretty detailed explanation of the issue in this avforums thread, with very useful detail in this post. This mainly seems to be an issue with ESS DAC chips and the default setting of their jitter reconstruction filters. LG TVs apparently have a very noisy digital stream on their optical outputs. However, other optical sources that have very noisy digital streams may also cause this issue.

The good news is that there is a fix for the ESS DAC chip issue that can be implemented by DAC manufacturers. For example, Audiolab, Arcam, Cambride Audio and JDS Labs have all provided settings in their ESS-based DACs for relaxing the default DPLL bandwidth of the ESS DACs and it has been confirmed in the avforums thread by users that it fixes the issue.

I hope Topping is watching this thread and that they would be willing to address this issue by providing a setting for the DPLL jitter bandwidth in their DACs similar to what other ESS-based DAC manufacturers have done. Or if someone on this forum has a more direct line of communication to Topping to make them aware of this issue and the fix that would be even better!

@JohnYang1997 If you could spare a moment it would be great to get your response to this post

Does anyone else know of any issues with the D90SE? I plan to get it, but I want to make sure I do my research on the known issues with it first.
 

DawgSlaya

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Apr 9, 2021
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Does anyone else know of any issues with the D90SE? I plan to get it, but I want to make sure I do my research on the known issues with it first.

I've had trouble with making it play DSD1024 through IIS, which the specs said it could do.
Topping support said they were working on it 2 months ago, haven't heard back since.
Hoping it'll get fixed with a firmware update.

It's not a big deal really. There are no DSD1024 content out there, and I was just testing its capabilities for curiosity.

You should not let that issue keep you from getting it.
 

Rover

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Apr 21, 2020
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All D90SE owners with audio interruption problems .The address of the TOOPING support service.
We write everything to the address [email protected]. and @JohnYang1997
Maybe they will fix it with a new firmware.
 
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dsnyder0cnn

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Dec 14, 2019
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All D90SE owners with audio interruption problems .The address of the TOOPING support service.
We write everything to the address [email protected]. and @JohnYang1997
Maybe they will fix it with a new firmware.
Is it only MS Windows users who are experiencing these audio interruption problems? I've yet to reproduce anything like this from my Linux-based Roon endpoints. I've not tested the Topping with Windows (or macOS, for that matter), but I believe that @amirm uses a Windows PC for all of his measurements. Surprised that he did not encounter this issue.
 

Eddy H.

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Jul 29, 2021
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Is it only MS Windows users who are experiencing these audio interruption problems? I've yet to reproduce anything like this from my Linux-based Roon endpoints. I've not tested the Topping with Windows (or macOS, for that matter), but I believe that @amirm uses a Windows PC for all of his measurements. Surprised that he did not encounter this issue.
I don't have any problems with my old Toshiba laptop that came with windows 7 and is now on windows 10. My phone and Tab s7 works fine with USB also.
 

Archimago

New Member
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Mar 7, 2016
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Current state:

View attachment 154275

Wish I had the Topping A90 in the stack, but my old THX AAA 789 amp is not terrible.

Doing a bit of a bake-off between the D90SE and my Gustard X16. I have levels matched to within 0.01 dB or so.

View attachment 154277

(Ignore the shape of the plots. That's just the native response of my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2).

There's really not much between these two...as expected. The Topping struggles with some MQA albums, like Katy Perry's Smile (don't judge me). The Gustard had minor clicks during soft passages on DSD until I updated the MCU firmware (fixed on new X16 DACs). None of the DACs I've tried under $1k are perfect, but these two definitely sound amazing.

Both are XLR via short cables into the Topping Pre90/Ext90, so the load should be identical. I'm not a big fan of A/B tests, but I thought this would be fun.

I can share plots of the different filters (amplitude and impulse) tomorrow if anyone is interested.

Edit: transport is the iFi ZEN Stream, but I now suspect that the skipping I heard on Ms. Perry's album is wonkyness in the iFi when the USB and S/PDIF outputs are grouped into the same zone in Roon. I'll switch to a pair of RPi4s running VitOS to see if the problem goes away.

View attachment 154278

Nice @dsnyder0cnn. Suggest changing the Topping D90SE to Filter 5 "Fast-Roll Linear" (best IMO) to remove all that rippling in the frequency response from the apodizing filter (Filter 1).
 

jjnvdm

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Jul 19, 2021
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Location
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Is it only MS Windows users who are experiencing these audio interruption problems? I've yet to reproduce anything like this from my Linux-based Roon endpoints. I've not tested the Topping with Windows (or macOS, for that matter), but I believe that @amirm uses a Windows PC for all of his measurements. Surprised that he did not encounter this issue.

Please read the referenced avforums thread above. It is mostly users feeding their D90SE DACs from LG TVs using optical that are experiencing the dropout issue. Some users in this thread have reported dropouts when feeding the D90SE from a Bluesound Node 2i via optical/coax and another reporting dropouts from feeding it from the optical output from a Samsung TV.
 

Rover

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Apr 21, 2020
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So the issue happens when the TV or PS4 outputs to D90se. Got you.

However I can tell you how it is straightforward. E30 prior to SN2103 has AK4118 as SPDIF receiver. D90se has LC89091. It's an improvement from the CS8416 which was used in D30pro and newer E30 that have the issue too.

Question I have is, since I don't have Nintendo switch, do you know if you can connect your Nintendo to D90se? So that we can check both PS4 and switch.

Problem for you is that this to us is not a new issue and has been reported before. Although we are still gathering information for LC89091 implementation which we initially thought had no issue. So there's no way to improve the situation for the units being sold. If you are comfortable with the connections that don't have the issue then it's great, enjoy. If you feel it's too big of an inconvenience, you can make your decision to return the unit or not.

Another thing to notice is that the issue is not limited to us or the implementation. There are many devices that we have tested failed just as badly. The situation is suddenly worse now because the only chip that we know 100% doesn't have the issue is no longer available due to the AKM factory fire.
It is possible to solve this problem in the D90SE by providing a DPLL jitter band setting in their DACs, similar to what other ESS-based DAC manufacturers have done. SMSL,Audiolab, Arcam, Cambridge Audio and JDS Labs.....
Perhaps the qualifications of Topping engineers do not know how to do this?
 
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gallantus

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I've had trouble with making it play DSD1024 through IIS, which the specs said it could do.
Topping support said they were working on it 2 months ago, haven't heard back since.
Hoping it'll get fixed with a firmware update.

It's not a big deal really. There are no DSD1024 content out there, and I was just testing its capabilities for curiosity.

You should not let that issue keep you from getting it.
Does it work with DSD over I2S with lower sample rates? Up to what sample rates did DSD on I2S did it work till?
 
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