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Topping E50 Review (Balanced DAC)

audiofail

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I believe there is one minor issue with E50 that could, perhaps, be fixed with a firmware update.

I like to play with different settings, and upsampling PCM to DSD was one of the things that I have tried. There is no problem upsampling contents that are in multiples of 44.1 kHz resolution. The DAC also displays the upsampled frequencies correctly.
Upsampled toDisplayed frequency on the DAC
DSD 642.82
DSD 1285.64
DSD 25611.28
DSD 51222.57
The problem kicks in when I try to upsample contents that are in multiples of 48 kHz resolution, e.g., 48, 96, 192, 384. I could not hear anything when I was upsampling contents to DSD 512. I see no error message on the foobar2k and the playback time progresses as if there is no problem. On the DAC, however, the USB indicator kept on flashing.

First, I thought the included USB cable could be faulty/underspec'ed because it looked somewhat thin. Unfortunately, swapping the cable did not fix the problem. I tried other DSD upsampling resolutions on a whim and voila! I could hear the sound. However, the DAC incorrectly displays the upsampled frequencies.
Upsampled toDisplayed frequency on the DACCorrect frequency
DSD 645.64 (eqiv. to DSD 128)3.072
DSD 12811.28 (eqiv. to DSD 256)6.144
DSD 25622.57 (eqiv. to DSD 512)12.288
DSD 512No sound & flashing (perhaps sees as DSD 1024)24.576
So it appears as though the DAC incorrectly recognises the next DSD resolution as the correct resolution.
So with DSD 512, the DAC probably interprets it as a DSD 1024 resolution source and denies to playback the content though it is actually in DSD 512 resolution.

I hope this is an addressable issue...
 
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Toku

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I believe there is one minor issue with E50 that could, perhaps, be fixed with a firmware update.

I like to play with different settings, and upsampling PCM to DSD was one of the things that I have tried. There is no problem upsampling contents that are in multiples of 44.1 kHz resolution. The DAC also displays the upsampled frequencies correctly.
Upsampled toDisplayed frequency on the DAC
DSD 642.82
DSD 1285.64
DSD 25611.28
DSD 51222.57
The problem kicks in when I try to upsample contents that are in multiples of 48 kHz resolution, e.g., 48, 96, 192, 384. I could not hear anything when I was upsampling contents to DSD 512. I see no error message on the foobar2k and the playback time progresses as if there is no problem. On the DAC, however, the USB indicator kept on flashing.

First, I thought the included USB cable could be faulty/underspec'ed because it looked somewhat thin. Unfortunately, swapping the cable did not fix the problem. I tried other DSD upsampling resolutions on a whim and voila! I could hear the sound. However, the DAC incorrectly displays the upsampled frequencies.
Upsampled toDisplayed frequency on the DACCorrect frequency
DSD 645.64 (eqiv. to DSD 128)3.072
DSD 12811.28 (eqiv. to DSD 256)6.144
DSD 25622.57 (eqiv. to DSD 512)12.288
DSD 512No sound & flashing (perhaps sees as DSD 1024)24.576
So it appears as though the DAC incorrectly reconises the next DSD resolution as the correct resolution.
So with DSD 512, the DAC probably interprets it as a DSD 1024 resolution soruce and denies to playback the content though it is actually in DSD 512 resolution.

I hope this is an addressable issue...
I've been wondering like you, and I've looked it up before.
Unfortunately, most DACs can only play DSD files in the 44.1kHz series. 48kHz series cannot be played.
48kHz series DSD files do not generally exist as music products and are not sold.
The DAC chip has no such restrictions and can be technically done, but the firmware is not set that way.
The reason is not technical, but it seems that there are other causes such as license standards.
I have no particular complaints about this constraint.
 

audiofail

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I've been wondering like you, and I've looked it up before.
Unfortunately, most DACs can only play DSD files in the 44.1kHz series. 48kHz series cannot be played.
48kHz series DSD files do not generally exist as music products and are not sold.
The DAC chip has no such restrictions and can be technically done, but the firmware is not set that way.
The reason is not technical, but it seems that there are other causes such as license standards.
I have no particular complaints about this constraint.

Ah, bummer...
I suppose Gustard A18 is one of the DACs that can play 48 kHz DSD files. I was planning to replace my Gustard A18 with E50, but I guess I need to replan my setup.

Thank you so much for the quick reply!
 

bogi

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The problem kicks in when I try to upsample contents that are in multiples of 48 kHz resolution
I observed that 1st day I tried my E50, since I'm upsampling everything to DSD on the fly. For me it's no big issue - important is, that DSD128 at 6.1 and DSD256 at 12.2 plays. Many DACs are not able of that. It's pity that it disallows 24.5, but ... my PC is not enough powerful to reach 24.5MHz with hardest HQPlayer modulators, so I don't have an use case for it now.

I tried that a year ago with E30 - it was able of 48k DSD rates too, but had troubles to switch between 44.1k and 48k sample rate families in DSD mode. E50 switches without issues.


The reason is not technical, but it seems that there are other causes such as license standards.
I don't think that there could be something like license disallowing a particular DSD rate. If such a thing would exist, I think it would be already mentioned in endless DSD vs PCM discussions I was following already many years ago. I rather believe that DAC firmware developers didn't count with such an use case. IMO firmware update could fix that behavior as well as enable 24.5MHz.

I suppose Gustard A18 is one of the DACs that can play 48 kHz DSD files. I was planning to replace my Gustard A18 with E50, but I guess I need to replan my setup.
It's only what's showed on display ... The difference against A18 comes rather from other DAC chip used. Is there something you dislike on A18? Which area would you like to improve?
 
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audiofail

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I observed that 1st day I tried my E50, since I'm upsampling everything to DSD on the fly. For me it's no big issue - important is, that DSD128 at 6.1 and DSD256 at 12.2 plays. Many DACs are not able of that. It's pity that it disallows 24.5, but ... my PC is not enough powerful to reach 24.5MHz with hardest HQPlayer modulators, so I don't have an use case for it now.

I tried that a year ago with E30 - it was able of 48k DSD rates too, but had troubles to switch between 44.1k and 48k sample rate families in DSD mode. E50 switches without issues.


I don't think that there could be something like license disallowing a particular DSD rate. If such a thing would exist, I think it would be already mentioned in endless DSD vs PCM discussions I was following already many years ago. I rather believe that DAC firmware developers didn't count with such an use case. IMO firmware update could fix that behavior as well as enable 24.5MHz.


It's only what's showed on display ... The difference against A18 comes rather from other DAC chip used. Is there something you dislike on A18? Which area would you like to improve?
My library is full of 48 & 96 kHz contents so I hope Topping addresses this if it can be fixed with a firmware update.

I have no complaints on A18. I have been planning to move A18 to my living room so I was on a hunt for a new DAC for my desktop. Oh well, I suppose I will stick with DSD 256 upsampling for the time being...
 

vitty0425

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Thanks for another great review! And great value for money product, Topping!
  • Could someone add the E50 to the list of recommended electronics index?
  • Has anyone used the E50 with a source like a noisy smart LG TV using Toslink or Optical connection to see if it suffers the same issue with the Topping D90SE? Apologies if this has been mentioned before.
  • Is the pre-amp section in the E50 comparable to the D90SE?
 
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aftermast

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Thanks for another great review! And great value for money product, Topping!
  • Could someone add the E50 to the list of recommended electronics index?
  • Has anyone used the E50 with a source like a noisy smart LG TV using Toslink or Optical connection to see if it suffers the same issue with the Topping D90SE? Apologies if this has been mentioned before.
  • Is the pre-amp section in the E50 comparable to the D90SE?

I just got the E50 and tried to hook it up to my Sony 900h tv through Toslink. I either get static if the tv is set to multi-channel or silence if it is set to PCM. I'd like to get this working. I don't actually know what the issue is with the D90SE.
 

aftermast

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Does anyone know if the E50's preamp volume control can be adjusted by a Raspberry Pi? I'm running piCoreplayer and would like to use the app volume control and have it be synced with the E50's volume.
 

cschun86

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Is the remote control must be pointed almost directly to the E50 then only it will work?
I found my unit is slightly off-angle, it has no response on E50.
 

bogi

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Does anyone know if the E50's preamp volume control can be adjusted by a Raspberry Pi? I'm running piCoreplayer and would like to use the app volume control and have it be synced with the E50's volume.
Quite generally: There are 2 possibilities for volume control when using computer software player and DAC:
a) Volume control in DAC (the so called preamp function)
b) Volume control of software player

Usually, software players perform volume control (along with any other wished DSP) with much higher resolution algorithms than DAC. Processing on computers is usually performed in 64bit or even 80bit (Linux, MacOS) floating point precision and only the processing result is rounded (and optionally dithered) to match lower resolution of DAC digital transport interface (usually 32bit fixed point).

IMO the only advantage of DAC volume control is possibility to use remote control provided with DAC.

Advantage of software volume control are not only higher precision algorithms but the main advantage is safe ability to avoid clipping inside the DAC chip. Most of DACs are subject of intersample overflow during their internal oversampling when they are fed with recordings mastered up to 0dB level. If DAC doesn't have any additional internal headroom for values above 0dB (that's the usual case) and if DAC volume control is placed after the first oversampling stage, it cannot prevent that internal clipping. Some DACs can prevent that but you would need to know implementation details. The safe solution is software volume control. See also https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nd-dacs-with-volume-controls.5432/post-120678

What I wanted to say: It is not always a good solution to stick on DAC volume control.
 

wetowne

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Does anyone know if the E50's preamp volume control can be adjusted by a Raspberry Pi? I'm running piCoreplayer and would like to use the app volume control and have it be synced with the E50's volume.
I run a Pi with The E50 but I use Volumio. With Volumio control of hardware volume of the E50 is not possible. I am not familiar with piCore but with Volumio the software volume control option truncates bits. In order to maintain bit perfection I don't use it. I use the remote of the E50 for control.
 

kchap

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I run a Pi with The E50 but I use Volumio. With Volumio control of hardware volume of the E50 is not possible. I am not familiar with piCore but with Volumio the software volume control option truncates bits. In order to maintain bit perfection I don't use it. I use the remote of the E50 for control.
I find it disappointing the E50 does not support 'Hardware' Volume control over the USB; the D10B does. It's not a serious issue, as I use it with the L50. I adjust the volume via the L50, but I would still like the hardware option.

Regarding the software option, I have been using Volumio 3.xxx beta for about a month, the official release is slatted for the 7th December. On 3.xxx you can enable Audio Resampling. To keep the processing overheads low select the 24 bit (or 32 bit if your DAC supports it) and leave the other options as native. The affects of a 24/32 bit volume control are inaudible as @bogi pointed out.

You can enable Audio Resampling on Volumio 2.xxx. I forget what options it had.
 

kchap

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D10B does? How do you control it?
Simple:
1638059753488.png

I access Volumio on a browser; phone let of PC. Whatever is to hand.
Edit, Brain fade: phone, tablet or PC.
 
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Walter

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I find it disappointing the E50 does not support 'Hardware' Volume control over the USB; the D10B does. It's not a serious issue, as I use it with the L50. I adjust the volume via the L50, but I would still like the hardware option.

Regarding the software option, I have been using Volumio 3.xxx beta for about a month, the official release is slatted for the 7th December. On 3.xxx you can enable Audio Resampling. To keep the processing overheads low select the 24 bit (or 32 bit if your DAC supports it) and leave the other options as native. The affects of a 24/32 bit volume control are inaudible as @bogi pointed out.

You can enable Audio Resampling on Volumio 2.xxx. I forget what options it had.
Does anyone know if this is also possible from within desktop Linux distros, like Linux Mint?
 

kchap

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Does anyone know if this is also possible from within desktop Linux distros, like Linux Mint?
If you mean SW Volume control I'm pretty there are other apps that have the SW volume control but I've only have experience with MOode and Volumio.
 

half_dog

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When E50 is running via ASIO on Win10 I can't control its volume on Windows, only by the software which is controlling the E50 - Foobar2000 in this case.
 

aftermast

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Just another reason why I do not like MQA!

I was just going to peel the sticker off but now I'm considering returning the E50. I bet MQA is part of the reason this isn't implemented. Similar to Khadas Tone Boards. Hardware volume control implemented on the first one but not the 2nd that supports MQA. For Khadas they were looking at updating through firmware but as far as I know this didn't happen.
 
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