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Topping E50 Review (Balanced DAC)

Eneko

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Usually you want to have a product portfolio as small and clearly defined as possible to be well positioned according to marketing laws.
When a potential customer sees too many similar products it get stuck and may easily resolve his dilemma by looking elsewhere.
As is often the case, Apple has been for decades the best lead to follow in this regard, they had the internal rule to always have all the lineup exposed on a single “apple store” table, what couldn’t fit was out. Now, you may have doubt about the quality of Apple offer, but no sane person will doubt their marketing skills.

So, no, the Topping offer is a true disaster from that point of view. Fortunately you can’t go wrong whit Topping products in terms of quality.
I agree if you arrive to have too many. I don’t think it is the case. There are not two products that are indistinguishable, and therefore I think many people will still have the feeling of choosing. Moreover, this community is quite comfortable over fitting, so I don’t think that their offer feels saturated (yet)
 

Paolo

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People will either buy whatever fits the budget or whatever the newest.
Only thing that confuses some people is to choose between a stack and a combo.

Yep, as long as the audiophile market stays in the niche realm, where prospects are willing to spend time in forums, it will work.
At the same time a simpler line-up should produce benefits and more sales. In absence of that a different website architecture, defined by user cases instead of hard to decipher lists of products with similar names would be useful for less patient customers.
 

vkvedam

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Good work @JohnYang1997, would E line be taking over from D line of products? Just make sure that you don't end up being an HTC in the Android arena, no pun intended :)
 

Bernd

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I love how the MQA logo is a sticker. ;)
I think, that is because of the ESS Chip that has MQA encoding built into the hardware! When Topping ordered the case to be built, they probably has AKM's in their project planning pipeline. Adding a sticker is the cheapest option to adapt.
 

JohnYang1997

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Good work @JohnYang1997, would E line be taking over from D line of products? Just make sure that you don't end up being an HTC in the Android arena, no pun intended :)
E and L lines are meant to be lower cost, efficiently designed with performance/price ratio maximized.

A and D series are in general for new designs, more premium products with still good performance/price but more about new cool stuff.

And it's expected for E and L lines to be more popular.

Of course D10 series is an exception. But to me it serves an purpose. D10 Balanced already started to make sense with E50 and L50 lauch. It will make more sense when more different products coming.

I have lots of concepts and visions. Some things are actually planned in 2019 and won't be released before next year.
 

Plod990

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E and L lines are meant to be lower cost, efficiently designed with performance/price ratio maximized.

A and D series are in general for new designs, more premium products with still good performance/price but more about new cool stuff.

And it's expected for E and L lines to be more popular.

Of course D10 series is an exception. But to me it serves an purpose. D10 Balanced already started to make sense with E50 and L50 lauch. It will make more sense when more different products coming.

I have lots of concepts and visions. Some things are actually planned in 2019 and won't be released before next year.
John,

Is a replacement for the DX3 Pro planned? Something like a slimmed down EX5 with a smaller form factor. Usb input only - balanced outs, MQA and bluetooth not requifed.
 

Lupin

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AKM is out of the question for the foreseeable future so why not more CL based DACs! So far we only have one and the rest is all ESS based, divide and conquer :D;)
 

usersky

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I don't get why such products (dac/headphone amps) still keep getting released other than for measuring them as a sport. OTOH some real value like an included PEQ generally keeps missing. Wondering about another 1.3dB really makes no more sense to me at this point.
 

Yorkshire Mouth

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I don't get why such products (dac/headphone amps) still keep getting released other than for measuring them as a sport. OTOH some real value like an included PEQ generally keeps missing. Wondering about another 1.3dB really makes no more sense to me at this point.

I largely agree.

I believe there is a last bit of ‘mopping up’ here, with features, etc. Unlike the D10s this has both balanced and SE outputs. And there’s no Bluetooth in, so who knows if that’s on the cards for the future.

But yes. Some once thought that DACs “are 0s & 1s, so must all sound the same”, and that was wrong.

But now it appears to be more or less right, at least for these products.

Where to now, Columbus?
 
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respice finem

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I don't get why such products (dac/headphone amps) still keep getting released other than for measuring them as a sport. OTOH some real value like an included PEQ generally keeps missing. Wondering about another 1.3dB really makes no more sense to me at this point.
From the viewpoint of already having one (or several) this is certainly so. New buyers may find something (like price at this performance level) that lets them decide to buy this model or another. Then there's marketing, only a handful of manufacturers in any branch have the "guts" to make one model for 10 years or so, to avoid the impression of stagnation. Complex stuff, decided maybe more by sales people than by engineers.
 

JohnYang1997

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From the viewpoint of already having one (or several) this is certainly so. New buyers may find something (like price at this performance level) that lets them decide to buy this model or another. Then there's marketing, only a handful of manufacturers in any branch have the "guts" to make one model for 10 years or so, to avoid the impression of stagnation. Complex stuff, decided maybe more by sales people than by engineers.
Customers often are under the impression of manufacturer designs a product at a time until it gets released. That couldn't be more inaccurate. It's not their fault but that's that.
There are many different products under work at the same time. Many products won't be released 1 year after they are planned, some times 2 years.
 

JohnYang1997

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So L50 to E50 via TRS and then active speakers to L50 via rca passtrough?
Thanks
If your active speakers accept XLR or TRS then you should connect to L50's TRS passthrough. And E50 to L50 via TRS.

If your speakers only accepts RCA. Then you also need to connect E50's rca to L50. So both RCA and TRS are connected between E50 and L50.
 

HorizonsEdge

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For the people asking why a brand would have so many good products that are hard to put apart and pick one… well, my opinion (and I may be completely wrong) is that it is about marketing. Having many products to pick from (of the same brand) puts you in the mental frame of which one to pick. You stop considering other brands since the decision is already hard enough considering only one brand (that you already trust).

Having so many products with a short shelf life is confusing to the consumer and expensive from a marketing and production stand point. While I have no idea what the tooling and manufacturing costs might be they are clearly not prohibitive but I would imagine that they are not efficient and as such Topping is leaving profit on the table.

I own an original D30. Solid product. I avidly read the reviews here and basically Topping has paralyzed me. Every 2-3 months there is something new that has a marginal improvement in performance. In my mind, one of these days they are going to actually come up with something NEW due to their churn. So I will not buy any of these slightly different products. Maybe I am the wrong demographic and they are targeting new users? If so, I do not see them being less confused than me and perhaps looking elsewhere to avoid the clutter.

Spectacular engineering meets mediocre planning and marketing. It is why most startups fail. Not a risk here but I definitely see market share risk due to the muddy waters.
 

Lupin

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You don't say! Don't worry, more to come.
Just bought a D30Pro/A30Pro stack so don't expect to see anymore of my money for at least 5 years :)

That being said I'm always interested to see with what you come up next.
 

HorizonsEdge

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I agree if you arrive to have too many. I don’t think it is the case. There are not two products that are indistinguishable, and therefore I think many people will still have the feeling of choosing. Moreover, this community is quite comfortable over fitting, so I don’t think that their offer feels saturated (yet)

For the common application of DAC they are indistinguishable. All the special feature are niche.
 

Saponetto

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A giant leap forward respect on the revered E30... Fine job, @JohnYang1997!

if I didn't get just some weeks ago my D30 Pro, this would be my favourite purchase!
 
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