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Topping E50 Review (Balanced DAC)

lemmy_collins

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https://www.l7audiolab.com/f/ifi-gryphon/ :D
Apple to apples, Topping E50 seems better. But I have no clue if that strange behavior could somehow be a problem during music reproduction...
For sure I won't use it as a measurement device...

imho, BP and GTO are _NOT_ good filters ! I guess some audio artifacts could be audible depending on the amplifier / speakers the device is plugged on.

Even the default filter rejection isn't that good outside of the audio bandwidth, 70dB is not sufficient.

So yes, this DAC is probably not transparent !
 

MLaranjeiras

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HOW? There is no review on ifi.

If sounds "smoother" then is NOT transparent.
Remember my ears might have deceived me. But, for me, it is a really good equipment. If I’d have it before the Topping E50, maybe my opinion could be diferent.
 

lemmy_collins

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Remember my ears might have deceived me. But, for me, it is a really good equipment. If I’d have it before the Topping E50, maybe my opinion could be diferent.
to be crystal clear: non transparent device can be enjoayble, the "extreme" example i've in mind are guitar amplifiers where most people love lamps _BECAUSE_ they are not transparent... IMHO a hifi device must be transparent (as in "high fidelity") because some colorations sound great for one kind of music and not for another. If your sound system is transparent, you can then choose which effect to add in a controlled manner and not the one the manufacturer had choose.
But the main point is your enjoying your music after all !
 

MLaranjeiras

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to be crystal clear: non transparent device can be enjoayble, the "extreme" example i've in mind are guitar amplifiers where most people love lamps _BECAUSE_ they are not transparent... IMHO a hifi device must be transparent (as in "high fidelity") because some colorations sound great for one kind of music and not for another. If your sound system is transparent, you can then choose which effect to add in a controlled manner and not the one the manufacturer had choose.
But the main point is your enjoying your music after all !
This is it!
 

DIYguy

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Newcomer here, but long time forum reader, so please pardon me... :)

I have an E50, recently purchased based primarily per Amir's superb reviews (I am a big fan), and love it other than one glaring flaw.
I have contacted Topping regarding it in great detail but suspect that they may already have grown tired of hearing from me.
Please allow me to describe the problem here to see if anyone else has had the same issue.

I am driving the E50 from a Raspberry Pi4B and MoOde streaming setup.
All software and firmware including MoOde, ALSA, MPD and the E50 itself are the latest/current versions.
The E50 is powered by the same heavily filtered 5V supply as the Pi, and it powers on and off with the Pi simultaneously, and with the system as a whole via a master power hub.
Its outputs feed into a Marantz amp using the single-ended DAC outputs and then on to speakers or headphones as needed.

In A-O setup mode (timeout timer active, auto power on) the unit will power up into an inert state ("off") and during the MoOde boot process it will turn on as expected.
However, if I then search for something to play for more than 60 elapsed seconds, the DAC powers itself off.
When attempting to play anything it then takes at least two or sometimes three tries (with error messages popping up) to get it to do anything.
Or to touch the front panel button on the E50 to "wake it up" before play.
And about half the time the MoOde setup reverts to the Pi audio jack when the E50 goes to sleep because the E50 is no longer enumerated in the available options list.
So far, this may be perfectly normal behavior in the "auto power on, auto timeout mode".
I get that.

Topping suggested I try the A-C setup mode (continuous operation, no timeout timer).
Fair enough, but it does not actually resolve the problem, as I have explained to them in detail.
The issue is that in "continuous" mode it still powers up on an inert state.
In other words, it will not power on to an active state regardless of what other options are configured in the E50, and certainly not with streaming output.
This is not exactly what one would expect from a "continuous" configuration and it makes no sense at all (to me anyway).
This requires the remote control to be used, or to touch the front panel button, to turn the DAC on every time power is cycled.
If this is not done before the MoOde software completes its booting the E50 will not be recognized or listed as an available output option.
FWIW, I also tried this with Volumio with the same results, so it is not just MoOde being weird.

Nothing in the streamer software settings works around this issue other than "play upon power up", and the A-O mode, which is a somewhat cheesy solution IMHO.
If this were installed into an A/V rack in a closet somewhere it would be a complete and total PITA to deal with.

I also tried connecting a far cheaper DAC/headphone amp to it (which uses a PCM2706 USB interface and ES9023 DAC chip).
It always powers up as "on", never times out, and works every time it is asked to with no issues whatsoever.
This happens regardless of elapsed idle intervals or power up sequences.
So it is definitely an issue within the E50 itself.

My questions are-
Is anyone else seeing this issue or do I have a defective E50?
Does Topping's very brief 60 second idle timeout seem reasonable to anyone? I think it should be more like 10 minutes, if at all.
Why is the timeout and auto power down needed for such a low power device anyway? What's the point?
Is there some reason that I am not grasping why such an otherwise excellent device should power up "off" (particularly when continuous mode has been selected)?

Makes absolutely no sense to me, and so far there are no working suggestions from Topping.
The solution seems very simple- in A-C mode, power up "ready and active" and stay that way.
In my mind this is a firmware bug.

Sorry for the novella, I just wanted to present the entire situation for your consideration.

Thanks.
 

Toku

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I don't think it's a problem with Topping E50.
The first thing you should do in order to investigate the problem is to connect it to another PC and see how it works.
In order to operate the Topping E50, it is necessary to always supply 5V power.
Therefore, please do not turn off the E50's 5V power supply even if the PC power is turned off.

The E50, like a TV, requires a minimum power supply for its automatic features to work.
The 60 seconds of idle time mentioned in the question seems to be due to the settings on your PC side, not on the E50 side.
 
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DIYguy

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I don't think it's a problem with Topping E50.
The first thing you should do in order to investigate the problem is to connect it to another PC and see how it works.
In order to operate the Topping E50, it is necessary to always supply 5V power.
Therefore, please do not turn off the E50's 5V power supply even if the PC power is turned off.
Thank you for your very rapid response.
Yes, I have tried the E50 connected to both a Windows-based computer and two different Raspberry Pi computers running different software, and even different Pi OS versions.
The exact same behavior happens with all of them, so it is without any doubt something within the E50 or its firmware.
There is no question regarding that.
In fact you do not even need to connect it to any computing device to easily demonstrate the problem when configured in the A-C mode.
My only application for the E50 is as part of a streaming device input to my stereo system.
It is unreasonable for it to be powered up for the 90%+ of the time while it is not being listened to.
My streaming setup is based upon the Raspberry Pi, it is not using a PC.

If the E50 is required to be powered at all times, that should have been clearly stated in the specifications or in its operating manual.
It is a total deal-breaker for me, and I would suspect that it could be for many other potential purchasers as well.
Had I known that in advance I would never have purchased it because I consider that to be a totally unreasonable requirement and waste of energy.
In the 50-odd years I have been buying, using, repairing (and even designing) audio equipment, this is the only piece of equipment I have ever owned or used that has possibly had such an operating requirement.

Again, thank you for your kind response.
However, if Topping will not recognize it as a bug and fix it I will simply sell it and purchase something else that does not have such an obvious operational and logical defect.
I have a friend (a YouTube presenter himself) who has a Topping D10s that does not have this problem for example.
And yes I totally understand that the D10s is a USB-powered device rather than having a separate power input like the E50.

Once again, thank you so much for your reply.
I do appreciate it. :)
 
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DIYguy

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I don't think it's a problem with Topping E50.
The first thing you should do in order to investigate the problem is to connect it to another PC and see how it works.
In order to operate the Topping E50, it is necessary to always supply 5V power.
Therefore, please do not turn off the E50's 5V power supply even if the PC power is turned off.

The E50, like a TV, requires a minimum power supply for its automatic features to work.
The 60 seconds of idle time mentioned in the question seems to be due to the settings on your PC side, not on the E50 side.
Oh, and I need to mention that the 60 seconds is absolutely a "feature" that is intentionally built into the E50's firmware.
To me it is incredibly dumb and should be more like 10 minutes if such a thing is a "must-have".
It is in fact specifically mentioned both on Topping's website page for the E50 and in its user's manual.
It has absolutely nothing to do with the device feeding audio into it other than some PCs perhaps stretching the timeout by continuously sending "zero volume" packets to it.
The Pi software can do this too ("keep alive option") but with either computing device it still does not have any effect upon the power-on behavior in the A-C mode.

Thanks, but I have never, ever owned a television that had to be powered in at all times to retain its settings including "smart" televisions that are only a year or so old.
We have random power outages around here all the time, and believe me that if our televisions lost their settings every time the power went out, I'd know it.

I have now heard back from Topping and they are not going to do anything about the problem.
So I will be ordering a different DAC immediately and putting the E50 up for sale shortly.
Perhaps someone else will not object to such an absurd "feature" or behavior.
I do wish that Amir's review would have mentioned such an obvious thing (if he even realized it),
Regardless, I remain a loyal fan of his reviews and of this forum.

Thanks again..!
 
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Toku

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Sembra che ci sia una discrepanza nella comprensione.
Utilizzo due E50 insieme a tre diversi PC Windows 11 e non vedo nessuno dei comportamenti che affermi.
Infatti, se il PC viene spento e la comunicazione viene interrotta, l'E50 andrà in modalità di sospensione dopo 1 minuto in base alle impostazioni del firmware. Quando si riavvia il PC, la comunicazione verrà ripristinata e l'E50 si riattiverà e inizierà a funzionare.
Se l'E50 entra in modalità di sospensione durante l'avvio del PC, si tratta di un problema causato da un'impostazione che interrompe la comunicazione se non è presente alcun processo di elaborazione attivo sul lato PC.
 

DIYguy

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There seems to be a discrepancy in understanding. I use two E50s along with three different Windows 11 PCs and I don't see any of the behaviors you claim. In fact, if the PC is turned off and communication is interrupted, the E50 will go into sleep mode after 1 minute based on the firmware settings. When you restart your PC, communication will be restored and the E50 will wake up and start working. If the E50 goes into sleep mode while the PC is booting, this is an issue caused by a setting that stops communication if there is no active processing on the PC side.
There is no misunderstanding.
When in A-C mode the E50 (the only one I have) will NOT turn on automatically when the source device (no matter what it is) starts up.
In the A-O mode, yes it will, but then the internal E50 timeout causes other issues.

Please understand, my only application for this device does not involve a PC in any form whatsoever.
So whether it works with your PCs or not is completely irrelevant.
Perhaps if it did involve a PC I would not have felt the need to post this conversation.
And yet an inexpensive DAC/headphone amp (less than half the price) works perfectly in my application.

You said earlier that the 1 minute sleep timeout was in the sending device, not the E50.
I showed that it was in the E50 per Topping's own claims and literature.
Now you agree that this timeout is in the E50.
There was no misunderstanding from my end.

This device has a logical flaw in the way it behaves.
It would be very simple to fix, but Topping is not going to fix it, and as it stands the problem annoys me greatly.
I have already ordered something else and will likely be selling the E50 within the next few days.
I am completely done with this thing.
Life is much too short to deal with petty annoyances such as this.

But thank you for your replies.
 
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Aldoszx

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I have a similar issue with my E50.
I am using Roon and Ropieee endpoint.

After entering standby, first attempt to play something from Roon gave me an error, the device could not be found.
I have to wait a few seconds for the E50 to become available and after that starts playing at second attempt.
So, I think there is a firmware problem but Topping doesn't care about that.
 

Overseas

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Tried to follow all the story, my head is spinning. Thks God I am using the bloody thing in a simple chain with Wiim Pro and it is great. I just hope it will last. It is a 200 euro gadget, not a rocket.
 

DIYguy

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I have a similar issue with my E50.
I am using Roon and Ropieee endpoint.

After entering standby, first attempt to play something from Roon gave me an error, the device could not be found.
I have to wait a few seconds for the E50 to become available and after that starts playing at second attempt.
So, I think there is a firmware problem but Topping doesn't care about that.
Yes..!
While I am very sorry to hear that you are having this problem, it is also good to hear that someone besides myself both has the same problem and also feels that it is an genuine fault.
I have experienced the exact same poor behavior that you are experiencing, but while using MoOde.
Your description of the problem is perfect.
It is absolutely a result of their firmware and its failure to be available/online at all times.

Changing to the A-C mode will solve this particular problem for you.
Unfortunately, then it causes another problem because you will need to manually turn the E50 on every time it powers up.
If they want to go to a low power state for the DAC portion, OK, I can understand that.
But what they apparently are doing is to also shut off the USB portion as well.
That causes the other problems for the streaming device software, exactly as you are experiencing.

And yes, Topping apparently really does not care.
It is too bad because other than this issue I genuinely do like my E50 and really, really wish they would fix it.
In the meantime I have ordered a different DAC.
Not saying which one at the moment.
When I receive it I will post whether it resolves the issue or not.

Thanks!
 

Aldoszx

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So, it seems that is not related to a specific OS or audio player.
Your experience confirm that. Anyways, I will try to do another test, using also another audio player distro to fully confirm that.
In my opinion, this is a poor implementation of the standby feature in the firmware that could probably be solved easily by Topping.
I am surprised by the lack of reaction of Topping, even after I've send them an e-mail about that issue.
I think this is a problem that can be easily reproduced without asking about a ton of details !
Maybe, somebody will read our complains and I hope there will be a firmware update for E50, or at least a statement that this is normal from Topping point of view and nothing could be done !
 

DIYguy

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So, it seems that is not related to a specific OS or audio player.
Your experience confirm that. Anyways, I will try to do another test, using also another audio player distro to fully confirm that.
In my opinion, this is a poor implementation of the standby feature in the firmware that could probably be solved easily by Topping.
I am surprised by the lack of reaction of Topping, even after I've send them an e-mail about that issue.
I think this is a problem that can be easily reproduced without asking about a ton of details !
Maybe, somebody will read our complains and I hope there will be a firmware update for E50, or at least a statement that this is normal from Topping point of view and nothing could be done !
The solution (which I proposed to them in detail) is simply to power up in an "active" or "on" state when in the A-C setting mode and stay that way (see below).
Then because the A-C mode defeats the timeout timer it will remain active at all times until the DC power is removed.
Does it not make logical sense that if a user has chosen to defeat the timer that they would also want the until to power up in an active state?

The problem is very easily reproduced and you do not even need to plug the DAC's USB connection into anything to show it.
This also proves beyond doubt that the problem is in the E50 and not the fault of any streaming device.
Try this please-
  • Set the mode to A-C.
  • Disconnect the USB cable and power it on.
  • It will appear to very briefly power up into the "active" state (brighter pilot light at the bottom right of the display).
  • However within about half a second it goes into a standby state (dimmer light) and will remain that way until you touch the front panel button.
  • After touching the button to wake it up it will remain on (active state) for as long as you care to wait until you either touch and hold the button again or remove the DC power.
I verified this once again just now, and even after 10 minutes of no-USB-cable operation it remained "active".
However, I still had to manually turn it on as described above.

I sent Topping several emails about the problem too.
Their final response was more or less: "go away".

I spent my career developing industrial control hardware and software (I am retired now).
I know where I would start looking for a solution if I had access to the source code.
My best guess (I could be wrong) would be that the timeout timer is either uninitialized or improperly set to too large a value during power up.
So it triggers the timeout function the first time it is tested, even if the A-C mode is selected.
Then after that they are probably either continuously resetting the timer or defeating the timeout testing function (in the A-C mode only).
But by then it is too late and the unit has gone into standby mode.
The solution would be to reset the timer value immediately during the boot up code before it is tested for the first time whenever it is set to A-C mode.
In A-O (timeout) mode, do nothing, it does not matter because it will time out anyway.
The solution could come down to merely one or two lines of code in the power-up sequence.

Yes, this is a poor implementation and a genuine bug.
But what do I know?.
 

Toku

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The solution (which I proposed to them in detail) is simply to power up in an "active" or "on" state when in the A-C setting mode and stay that way (see below).
Then because the A-C mode defeats the timeout timer it will remain active at all times until the DC power is removed.
Does it not make logical sense that if a user has chosen to defeat the timer that they would also want the until to power up in an active state?

The problem is very easily reproduced and you do not even need to plug the DAC's USB connection into anything to show it.
This also proves beyond doubt that the problem is in the E50 and not the fault of any streaming device.
Try this please-
  • Set the mode to A-C.
  • Disconnect the USB cable and power it on.
  • It will appear to very briefly power up into the "active" state (brighter pilot light at the bottom right of the display).
  • However within about half a second it goes into a standby state (dimmer light) and will remain that way until you touch the front panel button.
  • After touching the button to wake it up it will remain on (active state) for as long as you care to wait until you either touch and hold the button again or remove the DC power.
I verified this once again just now, and even after 10 minutes of no-USB-cable operation it remained "active".
However, I still had to manually turn it on as described above.

I sent Topping several emails about the problem too.
Their final response was more or less: "go away".

I spent my career developing industrial control hardware and software (I am retired now).
I know where I would start looking for a solution if I had access to the source code.
My best guess (I could be wrong) would be that the timeout timer is either uninitialized or improperly set to too large a value during power up.
So it triggers the timeout function the first time it is tested, even if the A-C mode is selected.
Then after that they are probably either continuously resetting the timer or defeating the timeout testing function (in the A-C mode only).
But by then it is too late and the unit has gone into standby mode.
The solution would be to reset the timer value immediately during the boot up code before it is tested for the first time whenever it is set to A-C mode.
In A-O (timeout) mode, do nothing, it does not matter because it will time out anyway.
The solution could come down to merely one or two lines of code in the power-up sequence.

Yes, this is a poor implementation and a genuine bug.
But what do I know?.
ToppingE50's operation is very functional and I like it. But you don't seem to like the E50's behavior. I think the only way to solve the problem is to decode the firmware and rewrite the program yourself. Or you can replace it with another company's product such as SMSL.
 

DIYguy

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ToppingE50's operation is very functional and I like it. But you don't seem to like the E50's behavior. I think the only way to solve the problem is to decode the firmware and rewrite the program yourself. Or you can replace it with another company's product such as SMSL.
Thank you.
No, I do not care for its quirks, but otherwise I actually like the E50 very much.
Clearly, others are unhappy with its behavior as well, therefore it is not just me.
If using the E50 with a PC or Mac for a streaming source, you probably will not observe anything bad happening and will be extremely happy with it.
My application is a bit different.

Decoding their firmware, while indeed possible, could become a huge undertaking.
Therefore, I have already purchased a different DAC that is in transit to me at the present time.
I will post the differences between it and the E50 after it is received and tested later in the new week.
From what I have read about the new DAC it should work perfectly in my streamer environment.
Time will tell...

One size or flavor of almost anything cannot possibly fit all tastes and needs.
Thankfully there are usually choices and options to be had.
:)
 
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Aldoszx

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ToppingE50's operation is very functional and I like it. But you don't seem to like the E50's behavior. I think the only way to solve the problem is to decode the firmware and rewrite the program yourself. Or you can replace it with another company's product such as SMSL.
Thank you for your opinion. I am glad to see you like the functionality of E50. It is indeed a good product. Unfortunately, like @DIYguy also said, there are things that could, and must be improved in my (and not only) opinion.
There are indeed always another options, but we are not talking here about that !
We are talking about a product that we bought and are using it, not about something we can buy.
So, I think Topping must know if there are also some complains about their products, not only appreciations !
Regarding the firmware, if Topping does not want or have no interest in developing an improved firmware, maybe could provide the source code and that could be a solution for us, the small community of unhappy people.
 
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