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Topping DX3 Pro+ Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

jani80k

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I did some A/B testing.
m500 (3rd harmonics issue fixed by audiophonics) via xlr
dx3 pro+ via rca
both connected to sp200.
listening to songs on tidal switching back and forth between units.
m500 wins by a landslide... much more refined sound, wider soundstage, less harsh treble, fuller bass.
then at work I compared the dx3 with my e10k. again not even close. e10k sounds much more natural.
all dx3 has going for it is clean sound but clearly when you watch youtube or listen to songs on tidal, voices sound as if someone EQ boosted the treble too much and music sounds thin as if someone reduced the bass. the letter "S" almost hurts in videos where people talk.
m500 and sp200 also measure well in terms of distortion.
 

Killingbeans

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Don't bite my head off, but... did you do any volume matching before the A/Bs?
 

jani80k

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Don't bite my head off, but... did you do any volume matching before the A/Bs?
yes.
It's really obvious.
Headphone out and connected to AMP both have the same unpleasant sound signature.
At least this copy is not good. Maybe they replaced chips or whatever but it is really not good sounding.
It's not even funny M500 runs circles around it. Much more natural brilliant, yet pleasant sound. DX3 sounds squeezed, tinny and a bit off.
 

Killingbeans

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Tone generator + multimeter, or just "ear balling" it?

It doesn't really make any sense. I don't see why the DX3 Pro+ would have rolled off bass and a peak in the treble.

@amirm doesn't measure the frequency reponse of DACs because it most likely would just be the same ruler flat line every time (I assume that's the reason). I don't blame him, but sometime it would be nice to have something like that to point to. I see a lot people claiming transducer -like frequency responses in electronics where non of that can possibly be present.

EDIT: I see that he included a flat frequency response in the latest DAC review. Nice! :)
 
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jani80k

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ear balling. but the difference is really obvious. it sounds like differently recorded/mastered songs

I attached a head-fi review from 2019 where a guy describes it exactly like I see it.
Screenshot_20220204-214056_Chrome.jpg

as mentioned, my e10k sound much more pleasing and I cant stop listening to it. dx3 hurts my ears almost. just not a good device for listening to music. man better options out there. I dont think it punches above its price point.
 
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Killingbeans

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ear balling. but the difference is really obvious. it sounds like differently recorded/mastered songs

It doesn't take much to get that effect. You'd be surprised.

Or rather, if you looked at the output with an oscilloscope you'd probably be surprised at how bad our hearing is at judging things like that.

I attached a head-fi review from 2019 where a guy describes it exactly like I see it.

But not quite? You said that both RCA out and the headphone out were terrible. He says that the RCA out is terrible, but the headphone out is fine.

Actively picking out similar subjective impressions from other people is the perfect way to feed a confirmation bias.
 

jani80k

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yes you are right. I did not read carefully because the description almost fit what I am experiencing.
What can I say. I am not making this up. I am really didappointed because I wanted to give the device to someone together with a second pair of HD58X I have.
I will return the DX3 and look for a different solution.
 

Bow_Wazoo

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@jani80k

There are 2 possibilities.

1. You're in the wrong community.

2. You forgot to treat the contacts of the DX3PRO with this

Screenshot_20220203-123422_Samsung Internet.jpg
 
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radix

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I just got my DCA Aeon 2 Noire today and started listening on the DX3Pro+. As far as I can tell, it sounds fine. I'm listening at -30 dB (high gain) and -17 dB on low gain using the Oratory Harman EQ settings with Roon (with Roon Q) and Spotify (with SoundSource EQ).

I've not noticed any distortion or clipping listening to things like the xx, dead can dance, Lorde. I listened to some female vocal (dasi karnamrita, melody gardot, eva cassidy) and detected no distortion even at -20 dB high gain, but that's too loud for me to spend much time at.

I have an RME ADI2 Dac arriving later today that I'll compare it to. As the DX3Pro+ is 1.5W @ 33 ohm, the same as the RME, I'm not expecting a huge difference. My Neumann KH750/KH80s will like the balanced outs, though.
 

Killingbeans

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What can I say. I am not making this up.

I'm not accusing you of making it up. There's nothing dishonest about perceptual bias, and the effect is very real.

And again; small differences in volume can f¤¤k with your brain in ways you wouldn't believe.
 

jani80k

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I found out sth interesting.
When I compare headphone out vs headphone out --> SMSL M500 wins.
When I compare DX3 Pro RCA to SMSL M500 XLR both connected to SMSL SP200 --> SMSL SM500 also wins.
BUT When I compare headphone 6,3mm headphone jack of SP200 with XLR connected M500 to headphone jack of DX3, they sound pretty much the same. Difference is negligible.
Could it be that the headphone out of the M500 is doing some sort of EQing so that it sounds "better" than that of DX3 in comparison.
Could it be that the RCA cable does not transfer the signal as good as the XLR or the RCA out of the DX3 lacks behind the XLR out so that when I compare them on the SMSL SP200 the M500 wins.
So I picked "unfair" comparisons both times. Headphone jack of DX3 seems on par with that of SP200.
I also have an explanation why the TiN T2 sounded worse on the DX3 vs the E10K. The T2s are a treble heavy bass lacking in ear and the E10K is a bit dark so it could have balanced the TiN T2 better than the neutral output of the DX3.
These are just theories haha..
I am not ruling out it could be bias on my behalf and I am questioning myself of course.
 

radix

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When I compare headphone out vs headphone out --> SMSL M500 wins.
When I compare DX3 Pro RCA to SMSL M500 XLR both connected to SMSL SP200 --> SMSL SM500 also wins.
BUT When I compare headphone 6,3mm headphone jack of SP200 with XLR connected M500 to headphone jack of DX3, they sound pretty much the same. Difference is negligible.

That's a lot of apples and oranges.

I would try an RCA Y cable from the M500 to both amps and compare them with the 1/4" outputs. That's an even comparison.

Doing one on RCA and one on XLR likely causes imbalances. I don't know if the M500 is driving the RCA from the XLR + phase or if it has separate line amps. If it's off the + phase, then your XLR is imbalanced and the RCA is likely thrown off some too.

If you want to compare the SP200 balanced vs 1/4" headphone output, I'd first compare it to itself and see if you notice any difference. I don't think its a true balanced amp (i.e. it's a convenience socket).
 

Killingbeans

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Could it be that the headphone out of the M500 is doing some sort of EQing so that it sounds "better" than that of DX3 in comparison.

Not very likely. Getting a flat frequency response from a headphone amp is not difficult for an engineer, and neiter Topping nor SMSL are known for deliberately voicing products like that.
 

sjeesjie

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I'm not accusing you of making it up. There's nothing dishonest about perceptual bias, and the effect is very real.

And again; small differences in volume can f¤¤k with your brain in ways you wouldn't believe.
This is so very true. I had a Chord Qutest before and a DX3Pro. I always thought the Qutest was better until I really sat for some comparisons. Just by ear. Being honest, the Topping was better because of the user interface. Soundwise? Almost indistinguishable. At least not enough to trust my brains and ears about it.
 

sjeesjie

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yes.
It's really obvious.
Headphone out and connected to AMP both have the same unpleasant sound signature.
At least this copy is not good. Maybe they replaced chips or whatever but it is really not good sounding.
It's not even funny M500 runs circles around it. Much more natural brilliant, yet pleasant sound. DX3 sounds squeezed, tinny and a bit off.
Why did you buy it in the first place?
 

jani80k

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jani80k

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I know this is a stupid question - but is there something like a burn in ?

It seems that my issues have become much less after testing the unit for a day and a half...
maybe it is my brain getting used to it...
 

Killingbeans

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maybe it is my brain getting used to it...

Yep. That's what burn-in actually is.

I think most manufacturers who paint a picture of burn-in as a physical phenomena are perfectly aware of the fact that it's just the brain doing its thing, but the former sells better. Whatever keeps the customers from complaining over nothing is fine, as long as it works :D
 
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Galke6

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Is the Bluetooth a receiver/transmitter or is only a receiver?
 

jani80k

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in this video for example the voice of the dude is scratchy on the dx3. it is not on the smsl/fiio.
 
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