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Topping E30 DAC Review

companyja

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Here's a somewhat troubling discovery I found - I was applying some EQ with EQ APO for a while and just for fun I wanted to see how badly my phase was butchered since EQ APO uses minimum phase IIR filters - what I discovered, however, is that on the test-run I re-did with the E30/L30 stack and EQ APO turned off, the phase was inverted! I quickly plugged in my Fiio X3 III portable DAP to check whether my focusrite interface or the E30 was going nuts, but the X3 III phase was not inverted. I then put the E30 in standby manually, woke it up, re-tested it and the phase was back to non-inverted.

Obviously, I'm applying EQ so I'm not like 100% bothered by linear phase response, but after confirming that I can apparently hear the difference between inverted and non-inverted absolute polarity on that blind listening test thingy, it is a bit annoying to find out that apparently the E30 can still invert phase...randomly? I'm going to keep it running the whole day and re-test in the evening, maybe see if it happens when the PC restarts, and whatnot. Maybe someone can test theirs if they are very bored. My unit is a 2101xx with the thesycon driver.

Bonus image: here's the phase response with and without EQ - it's inverted in both cases here but oof ouch my beautiful phase slope gets hit by a hammer when the EQ switches on hahah

 
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My mileage so far with the E30 vs the Fiio K3:

As the Fiio K3 is quite portable I bought it for the workplace, with a CAL. When the pandemic set in I added a Sundara for at home - the K3 couldn't cut this powerwise so I added an iFi Zen Can, which nicely opened up things, and added also some bass with its XBass feature to the Sundara. I recently replaced the Fiio K3 with the E30, making visually for one ugly combo together with the Zen Can.

Compared to the K3 in this setup the E30 is much more revealing and spacious, music is much less "in your head", instruments seem much further apart. More separation and clarity is added overall, but especially to the voices and highs, that also seem a tad bit more forward, both of which something the Sundara has no lack of by itself. So apart from visual aesthetics a decent step forward. Not sure if I would make sense to replace the Zen Can with eg an L30, I suspect the Can produces quite some distortion at higher power, but it seems to drive the Sundara quite nicely (can't improve on the quality of the stream produced by the work laptop anyway)

Meanwhile my ears are also burned in, so swapping the Sundara for another headphone in this setup makes everything sound like it's played through cheesecloth - the Koss kph30i and CAL do sound ok - the Sundara much better though. Otherwise no pops or crackles or malfunctions, the E30 functioned flawlessly out of the box. As always, YMMV.
 

yodog

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yeah there's next to no chance i can tell these apart in a blind test.
filter 3 just adds a thickening type effect to the bass. Hence the term “short delay.” The best way i can describe it is it adds a short delay of reverb/echo/thickening of I believe all the frequencies. However I can only truly consistently identify and notice it with mid to low bass type beats and sounds. Filter 4 does the same thing but it’s based off the slower filter 2. Filter 5 does not have this effect, which also if you look at the name of the filter, it doesn’t have “short delay” written in its title.
 
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filter 3 just adds a thickening type effect to the bass. Hence the term “short delay.” The best way i can describe it is it adds a short delay of reverb/echo/thickening of I believe all the frequencies. However I can only truly consistently identify and notice it with mid to low bass type beats and sounds. Filter 4 does the same thing but it’s based off the slower filter 2. Filter 5 does not have this effect, which also if you look at the name of the filter, it doesn’t have “short delay” written in its title.
I just stuck with sharp 1 because it's supposedly the best
 
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I just stuck with sharp 1 because it's supposedly the best
I've been trying Filter 5 and it seems to lessen bass "boominess" to some extent. I am running a SONY amp that has bass enhancement, which I like to keep turned on but with some music it does overcompensate. Filter 5 appears to help with that but I need to do more testing.
 
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got everything running now, my Braun turntable is working well after some compatibility issues & running it through the Puffin to E30 via Toslink sounds sweet, L30 goes straight into the Quad 450 and I'm happy out....until I have the cash for RME ADI DAC but that'll take a while
Who knew? I thought brAun made coffee makers? ;-)
 
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Has anyone been able to tell the difference between filters 1 and 3?
I cannot perceive the slightest difference between any of the E30s filters despite trying really hard. I'm very surprised to read that there are people saying that they can.

I know, I am old and deaf and my equipment isn't resolving enough. All of which is true, but I would like to see some blind-testing of this claim nevertheless.
 

yodog

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I cannot perceive the slightest difference between any of the E30s filters despite trying really hard. I'm very surprised to read that there are people saying that they can.

I know, I am old and deaf and my equipment isn't resolving enough. All of which is true, but I would like to see some blind-testing of this claim nevertheless.
All I know is, filter 5 is a filter that sounds much different. “Less bass” would be one of the obvious effects. That and the high end isn’t as ear piercing. The main reason why I like filter 5 is the timing/perception of tempo
 
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All I know is, filter 5 is a filter that sounds much different. “Less bass” would be one of the obvious effects. That and the high end isn’t as ear piercing. The main reason why I like filter 5 is the timing/perception of tempo
I can't say I have found the high end 'piercing' on any of the filters. swapping to some other DACs in a sighted, completely uncontrolled comparison I did think the E30 had some slight glassiness on piano chords that was not there on the other DACs (Soncoz, Soekris). But I would not describe it as 'piercing' or unpleasant in any way. That was with filter 1 engaged on the E30.

Hoping to test this finding blind and level matched at some point but of course doing that properly is not trivial and until I do that I am not attaching any weight to that finding. The brain is easily fooled.
 

yodog

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Yes I agree. Take what I say with a lake of salt. Filter 1 for me had an epic mid range presence, not exactly a piercing top end which was my mistake in description. However filter 1 although in my system it does seem to play the loudest of all the filters, it also seemed to be the most flat/2D sounding, with the exception of the midrange which is very pronounced and detailed.

If only we could get the midrange of filter 1 or filter 3, with the overall frequency response of filter 2 or filter 4, with the timing of filter 5, would we have a really epic DAC.

I do really wonder how the Topping D90 sounds. Sadly though, seems to have gone up in price or is hard to find to purchase...

The D70S seems overpriced / too close in price to do the D90. I wonder if they will ever make an E90 or E100. I hope someday they will add these new features:

-independent subwoofer(s) RCA/XLR outputs with a 0ms-30ms(millisecond) time delay adjustment and an adjustable LPF (low pass filter) with slope order configurability.
-ability to apply a HPF (high pass filter) on the main L and R channel outputs, with more than just the standard 80hz crossover setting (40hz/50hz/60hz/70hz/90hz/100hz, and slope order settings options would be nice)
-airplay 2 capability
-option to completely turn off the screen
-feature WBT/Neutrik/ETI Research connectors
-gain adjustment settings to accommodate single ended and balanced interfacing equipment
-setting to lift the ground pin on the XLR inputs
-implement a volume knob (circular) solution that is fully machined aluminum and not plastic
-create intuitive PC/MAC compatible software that allows the user to make basic crossover filter/slope adjustments and other settings adjustments
-implement a soft start circuit
-hire a different person to handle the Topping manuals in hopes to improve the layouts ease of legibility and reduce end user set-up confusion and increase brand confidence levels
-Scrap MQA implementation due failed compatibility and abilities to use MQA from all receiving inputs and outputs. (MQA is a sham and unnecessary mass extortion in my opinion anyways)
-Create a matching powerful stereo amplifier for driving floorstanding loudspeakers in a very large room with measuring specs that match the DAC and doubles in RMS output power when halving the load impedance. (120+db SNR) at a price that is unprecedented.
-Update the dull black and silver anodized aluminum finish to something more attractive and more refined
-Create a DAC that is significant and/or expensive enough that Stereophile does a full review with measurements.
-Redesign the remote to have significantly improved off-axis response, ergonomics, and most importantly intuitiveness
-Change the auto standby enabled or disabled labeling. In its current form, it says “A-O” or “A-C” which I personally believe they are meaning to say “Auto-Open” and “Auto-Closed” which needs to be corrected and simplified in terms that it’s target audience comprehends and understands the English language. Or change to universal symbols that are not language specific.
-collaborate with other audio companies to create an even more superior product such as working with Isoacoustics and creating custom low profile DAC feet or with KEMET’s EMC division and integrate their flex suppressor sheets into the Topping DAC chassis.

too many things they could and should be doing. I still wonder why they don’t and haven’t. Seems to me like a no brainer considering the huge shift in increased home audio demand due to public fear of covid, whether that assessment of fear is correct or not is not appropriate for me to say but what is pretty certain is that more, and significantly more people across the world have been and will be staying home more often and as a result have an increased desire to create their own space to listen to music and watch movies. So my list of suggestions for Topping though sounds far fetched by a long shot, in reality I would wager would be quite beneficial if said suggestions are indeed further looked at and at least attempted to be incorporated into their future products for the expanding demand of high quality, in-home audio and video.
 

paulvan302

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May 3, 2021
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Hello all,
The improved E30 arrived from Topping yesterday and is now testing the operation.
The S / N of the E30 I purchased is 191173 ****, and the S / N of the E30 that I received from Topping this time is 191173 ****, which seems to be the product of the same production lot. The firmware version was the same as V1.06.

The test files were randomly switched using PCM44.1kHz to PCM768kHz and DSD2.8 to DSD22.5.

The test was first done with the firmware still at V1.06, then updated to V1.07 and retested. Below are the results so far.

1. Sound is frequently interrupted when playing DSD2.8
Completely improved.

2. Previously reported pop noise when stopping playback
It was improved.

3. Strange display when switching songs
It has been improved, but in rare cases, the Err display may appear for a moment.

4. When DSD is played after E30 is factory reset, a big pop noise occurs at the same time as the playback starts.
Not improved.

5. On rare occasions, when DSD is played after the PrE <> DAC switching operation, a large pop or noise occurs for a moment when the song starts playing.
Not improved.

6. In rare cases, when switching songs to PCM <> DSD, continuous noise is played at high volume.
Not improved.

7. It reacts to the remote controls of other companies.
It was improved.
Previously, the E30 also responded when operating the SMSL or SONY remote control nearby.

Although 1 was the biggest problem, it has been completely improved, and now you can purchase E30 with confidence. However, many ASR members have reported that the DSD2.8 problem has not occurred, and it is possible that the improved E30 is already on the market. Problems 3 to 6 in the back are minor defects, and I think they will be further improved in the future.

From the explanation of Topping so far, it seems that the problem of E30 this time is due to the program written in the MCU (Micro Control Unit).
The MCU is an IC that controls all the operations of the DAC. In the E30, STM8S005C6T6 from STMicro is used as the MCU.
The program is written in the EEPROM inside the MCU chip. I imagine that Topping rewrites the program by connecting a special tool to the board. Now you can understand what Topping said that if you send your E30 to China, we'll fix it and send it back immediately.
Hey I was wondering how you managed to dissemble the topping e30 dac, needing to replace some caps so just curious.
 

paulvan302

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Thank you very much for your review, Amir!

This product is not so easy to disassemble. You need to heat the glass and then tear it off. Then you can see the screws on the front panel. In this process, the glass is relatively easy to damage.
Hey I'm looking to dissemble the e30 as I'm needing to replace some caps. Would you advise any particular tools to remove the front glass and any specific techniques to do so?
 
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