• 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). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Topping D90SE Review (Balanced DAC)

G-rig

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2021
Messages
84
Likes
17
I can see the the RME with the AKM chip becoming the 'Garrad' of DACs. People will pay over odds to get hold of one. In a handmade Oak case, with Ebony and Rosewood inlay. The case costing10 times the price of the original DAC.
Screw that, no audible sound difference, get whatever one is cheapest. Talking about the housing though, a mate has an Evo 150, it's awesome. Probably worth it as an end game, better than stuffing around with a lot of other crap
 

MaximXXL

Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2021
Messages
12
Likes
0
OK, the restaurant is closed after taking this request:
Amir, this is my first post on the forum and I wanted to thank you for the great job you are doing - it breaks stereotypes!
I have a question about the measurement technique. So, we see excellent jitter that Topping D90SE demonstrates when receiving a signal at any of its inputs (usb, coax, toslink). Q: does the output jitter depend on the input jitter? If "yes", then it is logical to supplement the measurement technique in order to obtain the input jitter change factor, isn't it? Ideally, it will be 0, of course. I ask you to forgive me in advance if my question is technically illiterate - I'm not an engineer, sorry.
 
Last edited:

Headphonista

Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
8
Likes
1
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.
Hi ... FYI, I get very similar issues with the SMSL M500.

Described here.
 

G-rig

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2021
Messages
84
Likes
17
I just assumed the maximum is 44.1 or 48kHz on any non-mqa DAC?

I was keen on MQA as it sounds good on my ifi zen DAC, however since hooking up the RME I don't care so much :)
 

Headphonista

Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
8
Likes
1
The Tidal desktop app is a “decoder” and can do the “first unfold” to either 88.1 or 96 kHz. Does your RME show you the input frequency?

The “full decoder” implemented in the XMOS chips of SMSL and Topping DACs is supposed to be support both the first and a second unfold, if there is any additional data encoded … but in fact for many 44.1/88.2 tracks it seems to be failing somehow.
 

G-rig

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2021
Messages
84
Likes
17
is a “decoder” and can do the “first unfold” to either 88.1 or 96 kHz. Does your RME show you the input frequency?

The “full decoder” implemented in the XMOS chips of SMSL and Topping DACs is supposed to be support both the first and a second unfold, if there is any additional data encoded … but in fact for many 44.1
Hi mate, got a bit busy to reply earlier but it was enough motivation to connect to PC and test it out.
any track in particular? The first thing I tried is saying 48kHz on Tidal straight from the PC. I got it for use with the active monitor setup with RPi4 over ethernet which is sounding great (still 48 i think). Will test a few tracks ta. ps. I've heard the headphone amp in the ADI-2 is decent, just comparing to my Matrix M-stage (a THX 789 would be great if the RME was in the same room :p).
 
Last edited:

Headphonista

Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2021
Messages
8
Likes
1
Hi mate, got a bit busy to reply earlier but it was enough motivation to connect to PC and test it out.
any track in particular? The first thing I tried is saying 48kHz on Tidal straight from the PC. I got it for use with the active monitor setup with RPi4 over ethernet which is sounding great (still 48 i think). Will test a few tracks ta. ps. I've heard the headphone amp in the ADI-2 is decent, just comparing to my Matrix M-stage (a THX 789 would be great
Hi,

For example, all the tracks on the Eagles "The Studio Albums 1972-1979” compilation are 48/96/192. An MQA DAC can decode those to 192 kHz (two “unfolds”) and sounds great. When connected to a regular non-MQA DAC the app itself is able to do one unfold and outputs 96 kHz. This also sounds great.

Strangely the exact same tracks on the individual studio albums are 44.1/88.2 … maybe some mistake by the studio? The app is able to do one unfold to 88.2 kHz and send that to a non-MQA DAC, and sounds great. Playing through an MQA full decoder DAC should be able to do at least one unfold, but it doesn’t. The output is 44.1 and (to me) it sounds noticeably bad.

I have confirmed this issue on my SMSL M500 and curious to know if this is an issue with all the SMSL and Topping DACs. I suspect it is.
 
Last edited:

Rottmannash

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
1,529
Likes
1,161
Location
Nashville
Hi,

For example, all the tracks on the Eagles "The Studio Albums 1972-1979” compilation are 48/96/192. An MQA DAC can decode those to 192 kHz (two “unfolds”) and sounds great. When connected to a regular non-MQA DAC the app itself is able to do one unfold and outputs 96 kHz. This also sounds great.

Strangely the exact same tracks on the individual studio albums are 44.1/88.2 … maybe some mistake by the studio? The app is able to do one unfold to 88.2 kHz and send that to a non-MQA DAC, and sounds great. Playing through an MQA full decoder DAC should be able to do at least one unfold, but it doesn’t. The output is 44.1 and (to me) it sounds noticeably bad.

I have confirmed this issue on my SMSL M500 and curious to know if this is an issue with all the Chi-Fi DACs. I suspect it is.
"Chi-fi" again?? Please stop using that term.
 

AdamG247

The Spice must flow…
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
1,810
Likes
3,797
Still waiting on my Chi-Fi refund from Amazon - they got to send it back to China first
never again haha
Hi G-rig and Welcome to ASR. If you don’t mind please refrain from using the term Chi-Fi in the future. We have a global audience and many take offense to this term. Thank you for your understanding.
 

G-rig

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2021
Messages
84
Likes
17
Hi G-rig and Welcome to ASR. If you don’t mind please refrain from using the term Chi-Fi in the future. We have a global audience and many take offense to this term. Thank you for your understanding.
Ah ok no worries. I thought it was a common term and more funny than offensive but that's fair enough ;).

I'm not exactly bagging the products as they usually offer a feature rich product for a reasonable price, just have some quirks and may not always work as you'd hope compared to the big brands. Topping etc used to be very cheap traditionally but no doubt demand has driven the price up, but seems they have improved the quality and features too.
 

Guacamolly

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
11
Likes
5
You have to enable "EXCLUSIVE MODE & MQA PASSTHROUGH" in the sound output settings into tidal desktop app so it can unfold everything.

As for the bitrate chill m8 and let tidal set it up automatically.
If it's MQA 44.1khz let it be, If it's MQA 192khz hooray :). You can't have better then what Tidal offers bitrate wise.
My D90se do the job properly. w/o any issue up-to-date.

If you still have problems, update your XMOS software
 

G-rig

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2021
Messages
84
Likes
17
No worries mate, just didn't work as easily as the iFi but then again isn't an MQA deck. I am not too worried really as it sounds fantasic anyway with my monitors which is the main reason i got it. Qobuz comes through at 96-192kHz fine. Just more settings on the ADI-2.
The point is, I don't think you can expect 88kHz with a non-mqa DAC but will test the Eagles later. Not hooked up to the PC anymore, the controls are a bit over the top and still got a perfectly good iFi Zen and Matrix amp for the PC setup (for now) :p. Would be nice to get a stackable components the same width (THX 789 one day).

Nothing against China, I've got a knock off Pagani watch that is great quality, they're very good at copying things
 
Last edited:

Victor BR

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
6
Just received it to test it against my Top bucks Accuphase DC-950 that uses two of this ESS chip but has serious restrictions when compared to the cheap Topping D90SE.
Found this insteresting article and setting tips here:
 

Victor BR

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
6
Once more astonished by this sub 1K DAC. Setting it for pure DAC (no pre amp) XLR output only, Bluetooth off, FTIR 7 for PCM and 5V got me almost 70% sound pleasure compared to my 13 times more expensive Accuphase DC950 that uses two D90SE chips one for each channel and a beefy power supply.
Accuphase also do not have MQA, Bluetooth, DSD1024 via I2S and PCM 32/768. Chinese Hi End Is top notch. And for 900 bucks!
 

Attachments

  • 07F57F22-2F2C-415C-9816-CA9B4D347DC6.jpeg
    07F57F22-2F2C-415C-9816-CA9B4D347DC6.jpeg
    125.2 KB · Views: 52
  • image.jpg
    image.jpg
    185.7 KB · Views: 51

nhs

Active Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
115
Likes
55
Once more astonished by this sub 1K DAC. Setting it for pure DAC (no pre amp) XLR output only, Bluetooth off, FTIR 7 for PCM and 5V got me almost 70% sound pleasure compared to my 13 times more expensive Accuphase DC950 that uses two D90SE chips one for each channel and a beefy power supply.
Accuphase also do not have MQA, Bluetooth, DSD1024 via I2S and PCM 32/768. Chinese Hi End Is top notch. And for 900 bucks!
Just a question, what shall we understand your phrase with "... almost 70% sound pleasure compared to ..."? Define 70% sound ... please!
 

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
336
Likes
449
Just a question, what shall we understand your phrase with "... almost 70% sound pleasure compared to ..."? Define 70% sound ... please!
I was wondering the same. How you come with a 70% rating number?
 

Victor BR

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
6
Just trying to compare soundstage, detail definition and physical presence of the musicians and emphasizing how this D90SE is good compared to Accuphase top notch. Not any scientific measurement used here.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Messages
95
Likes
194
Location
Italia
Just trying to compare soundstage, detail definition and physical presence of the musicians and emphasizing how this D90SE is good compared to Accuphase top notch. Not any scientific measurement used here.
Just confirmation bias, anchoring bias and maybe a smattering of false consensus effect then! Don’t worry, none of us are immune (unless we get all scientific and abx our observations!).
 
Top Bottom