• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Topping DX3 Pro+ - Quiet mains hum on RCA output

Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
I just bought a "used - as new" DX3 Pro+ via Amazon (Aoshida-Audio-DE), the price was low enough to take the risk (99.50€).

I resolved to thoroughly test it right away and I've found a possible defect (or maybe a design weakness?).

When I only have a toslink input connected (+ power & cinch on the back), there is a quiet hum on the cinch outputs while the headphone output is completely clean.
The hum goes away when I connect a USB cable (because that provides grounding?), it does not depend on which input is actually selected.

Somewhat annoyingly, the power amp I'm using for testing has a quiet mains hum (+ a buzz) of its own, I can't tell if the DX3 Pro+ hum fully goes away when USB is connected or if it just gets quiet enough to drown in the power amps hum. The hum does however clearly get louder (+~6-10db) when I disconnect the USB cable.
Grounding the DX3Pro+ through the metal body or the screws on the back (straight to a Schuko ground contact) doesn't change anything either.

Unfortunately, I only have access to a short ****** unshielded cinch cable right now (the power amp is connected to my Apogee Mini-DAC with an XLR/cinch cable), I'll have access to a Lake People G109 headphone amp, properly shielded cables and the Speakers the DX3Pro+ is actually intended to be used with (Adam T5V) next week, getting rid of my power amps own hum should make things clearer.

There is one thing I could try now, though. I have another external power supply, that I could try (it's working fine supplying my Apogee DAC):

Screenshot 2024-04-27 at 12-52-25 image.webp (WEBP-Grafik 1000 × 1000 Pixel).png


Here are the specs compared to the Topping power supply (right):

20240427_122605(2).jpg
20240427_131146(1).jpg


This should work, right? Both center positive, the Voltcraft can be switched to 15VDC.

I once mixed up two barrel plugs behind my desk and accidentally connected AC to the 6-14VDC input of my Apogee DAC (result was fixable but not cheaply), so I'm careful about that sort of thing now...
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
8,130
Likes
13,825
Location
UK/Cheshire
What do you mean by "cinch"? Are you talking about the RCA output?

Im guessing your amp is not grounded (only two main pins connected to it)? If so you might cure both hums by connecting a ground wire to the amp or to the DAC. I wouldn't expect a different PSU to help, though properly shielded interconnect might.
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
What do you mean by "cinch"? Are you talking about the RCA output?

Im guessing your amp is not grounded (only two main pins connected to it)? If so you might cure both hums by connecting a ground wire to the amp or to the DAC. I wouldn't expect a different PSU to help, though properly shielded interconnect might.
Yes, RCA.
The Amp is indeed not grounded.


Just to start with, there were some surge protectors used in the setup, removing those seems to have changed the behaviour.
I'm probably mostly testing the amps behaviour now, I'll be able to test the DX3Pro+ more cleanly next week with the Lake People G109.
(While this unit is/was intended for someone else, I also ordered one for myself)

I've spent the last hour A/B-testing, I have a number of noise sample to upload now...
I recorded very close to the left speaker, either between tweeter & mid driver or right in the base port.
I used my phone (LG V30) to record, very high, fixed gain setting.

For grounding, I connected one of the rear case screws of the Amp directly to the Schuko ground contact on a power strip. For A/B-testing, I plugged the plug of that power strip into the power strip that both Amp and DAC are connected to. The PC the DAC was connected to by USB is also plugged into that power strip.


Grounded vs ungrounded Amp (optical input only):
Amp ungrounded, DAC connected by RCA, only optical source connected (tweeter/mid):
Amp ungrounded, DAC connected by RCA, only optical source connected (base):

Amp grounded, DAC connected by RCA, only optical source connected (tweeter/mid):
Amp grounded, DAC connected by RCA, only optical source connected (base):

In this configuration, grounding the Amp seems to make things worse.


Connecting USB while ungrounded:
Amp ungrounded, DAC connected by RCA, plugging in USB at ~0:09 (tweeter/mid):
Amp ungrounded, DAC connected by RCA, plugging in USB at ~0:09 (base):

The hum gets louder when connecting USB, the higher frequency noise changes charakter but not volume.


Connecting USB while grounded:
Amp grounded, DAC connected by RCA, plugging in USB at ~0:05 (tweeter/mid):
Amp grounded, DAC connected by RCA, plugging in USB at ~0:08 (base):

With the Amp grounded, connecting USB makes things *much* worse.


Disconnecting the RCA connection (-->Amp off-->disconnect-->Amp on-->):
Amp ungrounded, USB connected (tweeter/mid):
Amp grounded, USB connected (tweeter/mid):

Ungrounded, disconnecting the source makes things worse.
Grounded, it makes things better.


Nothing connected to the Amp, going from ungrounded to grounded at ~0:05:


I'm fully confused now.
Without a source connected, grounding the amp helps but with a source connected, it hurts.
Just a little with only the optical input connected on the DX3Pro+ but a lot with USB connected.

I can't seem to reproduce the original behaviour (with surge protectors in the mix), going from optical only to USB. USB makes things worse now.

The PC the USB cable is going to is on the same power strip as Amp and DAC, should I change that and see if that changes anything? (different outlet would be easy, different circuit hard but possible.)
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
Quick update:
I switched back to my Apogee Mini-Dac. RCA to the Amp, toslink from the PC, also on the same power strip.
Should be equivalent to the Topping with only toslink connected. The Apogee has no USB, so no way to compare on that front.

With the Apogee, hum and other noise is like it was with the Topping and toslink only *but* it doesn't make any difference if the Amp is grounded or ungrounded.
This was the setup when I originally tried to diagnose the Amps hum problem (I decided that I was fine with not fixing it back then, didn't seem worth the effort).

The Topping is clearly making some difference here.
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
8,130
Likes
13,825
Location
UK/Cheshire
1 - Try grounding the DAC instead of the amp - ideally make sure ground is connected to any of the interconnect shields.

2 - Check interconnect routing. Make sure power cables are kept away from interonnect. Try to keep interconnect as far away from amp transformer as possible. Make sure no wires are coiled.

Are there any other connections to any device (including PC). If so disconnect everything not needed to get sound to the amp from one single source.
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
1.
Grounding DAC (ungrounded->grounded->ungrounded->...) - Amp ungrounded, toslink only:
tweeter/mid:
base:

With USB connected to the PC, there is zero difference between the DAC being ungrounded & grounded.

2.
Already done as best I can.

There are no other connections, the Amp only has one input.

Power: PC, Amp, DAC - all on the same outlet through a power strip.
Signal: RCA DAC->Amp, Toslink PC->DAC, USB PC->DAC (when connected)


I'll the alternative power supply next.
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
8,130
Likes
13,825
Location
UK/Cheshire
On final thing I can think of to try. How about a good solid ground connection between DAC and Amp.
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
Amp & DAC ungrounded, toslink only (tweeter/mid):
Topping:
Voltcraft:

Amp & DAC ungrounded, toslink only (base):
Topping:
Voltcraft:
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
On final thing I can think of to try. How about a good solid ground connection between DAC and Amp.

Amp ungrounded, toslink only (tweeter/mid) - Amp to DAC ground connection (using rear case screws, starting disconnected):
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
I think I'm done testing with this problematic Amp, I'll get back to it, when I have the Lake People G109 at hand.
That thing is dead quiet and it will we a simple setup.

There's nothing here that can be clearly attributed to the DX3Pro+ rather than whatever is actually wrong with the Sherwood AM-8500.
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
About time for an update...

With the Lake People G109, the output is completely clean.
In the intended setup for the first unit, there's still some noise that clearly originates in the PC power supply.

PC --[USB]--> DX3Pro+ --[RCA]--> Adam T5V
With everything connected to the same power outlet, there is an interference noise that clearly depends on the PC load (e.g. immediate change on mouse movement, etc.) but no hum.
I connected the PC to a different power outlet (same circuit but at the other end of the flat), the result was a much quiter interference noise but a pronounced 50Hz hum.

In both setups, noise/hum competely disappear when I disconnect the USB cable. It doesn't depend on the selected input, the noise/hum is the same on all inputs as long as the USB connection to the PC (and the RCA connection to the speaker) exists.

The 2nd unit I ordered has arrived and behaves identically in all respects (while the 1st unit had some finger prints etc., the 2nd unit appears entirely unused)

I'm wondering if a USB opto-insolator would work.
The cheap ones seem to be based on an ADUM3160/4160 chip, I'm assuming that the DX3Pro+ won't work properly on a 12Mbps connection.
Isolator based on ADUM3165/4165 or TI ISOUSB211 should work, the only one I could find is the DSD Tech SH-G01B (/SH-G01L) for ~40€.

In my setup (with the 2nd unit), I have a Toslink output on the PC, so I can just switch if it bothers me.
Adding a sound card with a toslink output to the other setup might be the easier solution. I could just pick up a used Asus Xonar SE for ~20€.
 
Last edited:

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
8,130
Likes
13,825
Location
UK/Cheshire
I'm wondering if a USB opto-insolator would work.
Almost certainly. Topping do a recommended one (HS01). Many cheaper ones only support lower USB speeds.

Alterantively get a cheap USB to Toslink device. This will completely eliminate the problem also.
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
The HS01 seems to be discontinued (was ~70€), would have to be the HS02 ( +100€). Given that I paid 99.50€ a piece for the DX3Pro+, that would be annoying.
In my setup, the noise isn't audible unless I get very close to the speakers and I can always switch to my Mainboard's toslink output (Realtek ALC1220).

I just picked up a used Asus Xonar SE (also Realtek ALC1220) for 15€ (from a commercial seller, so with 12 months warranty) for the other setup.


I guess it's time to put my old Apogee Mini-DAC up for sale now...
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
8,130
Likes
13,825
Location
UK/Cheshire
and I can always switch to my Mainboard's toslink output

That would then be your best bet for solving the problem. And in case you are worried, there is nothing audible that USB can bring, that can't be delivered by Toslink.
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
That would then be your best bet for solving the problem. And in case you are worried, there is nothing audible that USB can bring, that can't be delivered by Toslink.
Yeah, I wired USB & toslink in parallel from the start.
In the other setup, there's a CD player connected by toslink which doesn't have a coax output, so I picked up one of these on AliExpress (0.94€, lol):

71L5cp2Y--L._AC_SL1471_.jpg
 
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
Being slightly annoyed that the ALC1220 doesn't support 176.4kHz, I looked at the effect of the USB connection again and noticed, that the noise my power amp itself produces isn't constant. It's louder straight after power on and takes a bit of time to reach a steady state.

This probably confused my earlier observations so I'll repeat some of them.

This is the mic level inside the base port of the left speaker. From shortly before power on, starting with USB disconnected. The spike on the right is me plugging in the USB cable.

Screenshot_20240604-045746(1)(1).jpg


The amp takes ~20s to reach steady state. Plugging in USB makes a tiny difference at most.
Mic gain was maxed out (see the spike from plugging in USB, that's with the DX3Pro+ ~3.5m away while the mic is literally inside the speaker) and there was some background noise I couldn't get rid of (birds chirping outside, it was ~5am), so there may be no difference at all (listening to the recording, I can't tell the difference).

I'll repeat this with the mid driver and tweeter.
 
Last edited:
OP
Kaktus_Kontrafaktus
Joined
Nov 21, 2019
Messages
74
Likes
11
Location
Bremen, EU
Same thing with the mid driver (mic at ~5cm from the center of the membrane), both clips are from the same recording, so there's no difference at all in settings, mic position, etc and the amp was clearly at steady state.

With USB disconnected: https://vocaroo.com/1k4utAJDf4q1

With USB connected: https://vocaroo.com/166bb5NDuOOn

Clearly cleaner with USB connected.
 
Top Bottom