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Topping EX5 or DX5?

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I'm in the market for a DAC/HPAMP combo which will be used mainly as a DAC/PREAMP for my ADAM T8V studio monitors which I will be using for watching movies on my TV, house parties and sometimes for headphone listening sessions on my computer desk.

Having done some research, it seems my best two options are either the Topping EX5 or the DX5 models.

The latter is the newer model and seems to be a bit better in terms of performance from the reviews but is it worth the 100$ extra? I'm struggling to get to the 450$ asking price as that is more than half what I paid for my monitors and was wondering if there would be a noticeable difference in SQ.

That being said, my headphones are Audeze LCD-4z and they are incredibly hungry for current and I love listening to them loudly so maybe the jump from 1.3 to 1.9W into 32 ohm (headphones are 16 Ohm) would be better suited for my listening needs.
 

audiofun

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topping dx3 is the best. there's nothing dx5 / ex5 can do but dx3 cannot. it also has higher power output than dx5/ex5.
 
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drummerdimitri
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topping dx3 is the best. there's nothing dx5 / ex5 can do but dx3 cannot. it also has higher power output than dx5/ex5.
That could be true, however given the lack of a 4 pin XLR headphone output, it is not suitable for my needs as I can't stand dealing with adapters and it just ruins the cleanliness of the setup.
 

Berwhale

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topping dx3 is the best. there's nothing dx5 / ex5 can do but dx3 cannot. it also has higher power output than dx5/ex5.

The EX5 and DX5 have balanced line outputs, the DX3 doesn't. Balanced line outputs can help remove or avoid ground loops...

I 'sidegraded' my desktop setup from a Topping D50s/A50s stack to an EX5 to get rid of a very audible ground loop issue after introducing some new studio monitors into my desktop setup. My previous monitors had 2 pin power, the new ones were 3 pin which added a path to ground through the RCA signal cables.

I could fix the issue with a USB isolator between PC and DAC or changing to an optical connection between the PC and DAC, bit both of these introduced other compromises, the EX5 was a better solution for me as it's a single box with integrated PSU and 'proper' pre-amp functionality.
 
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drummerdimitri
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The EX5 and DX5 have balanced line outputs, the DX3 doesn't. Balanced line outputs can help remove or avoid ground loops...

I 'sidegraded' my desktop setup from a Topping D50s/A50s stack to an EX5 to get rid of a very audible ground loop issue after introducing some new studio monitors into my desktop setup. My previous monitors had 2 pin power, the new ones were 3 pin which added a path to ground through the RCA signal cables.

I could fix the issue with a USB isolator between PC and DAC or changing to an optical connection between the PC and DAC, bit both of these introduced other compromises, the EX5 was a better solution for me as it's a single box with integrated PSU and 'proper' pre-amp functionality.
That's another very important difference between the two units. I've spent far too much time battling with ground loops on complicated setups and having balanced XLR outputs is indispensable to me because it helps eliminate them.
 

terryforsythe

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topping dx3 is the best. there's nothing dx5 / ex5 can do but dx3 cannot. it also has higher power output than dx5/ex5.
OP's post: ... "That being said, my headphones are Audeze LCD-4z and they are incredibly hungry for current and I love listening to them loudly so maybe the jump from 1.3 to 1.9W into 32 ohm (headphones are 16 Ohm) would be better suited for my listening needs."

Amir's review of the Topping DX3 Pro+: ... "It doesn't have infinite capability as far as low impedance headphones are concerned so for that, you need to step up to myriad of other options from Topping." ...
 

rarewolf

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That could be true, however given the lack of a 4 pin XLR headphone output, it is not suitable for my needs as I can't stand dealing with adapters and it just ruins the cleanliness of the setup.

The DX5’s XLR output, according to the block diagram, comes from the same amplifier. Further, if you examine the power specs, SE and XLR are identical. Even further, I haven’t yet found where Topping describes this XLR output as “balanced”. This has led to statements like “the XLR is just there for convenience”. Personally, this doesn’t make much sense to me, but I’d be the last to suggest that you trust this XLR output to be doing what you believe it does just because it XLR.
 

Berwhale

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If I had to pick between the EX5 and DX5 today, I would probably go for the Sabaj a20d (2022 version)...

 

audiofun

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I already explained very clearly that one can simply get balanced output from any unbalanced DAC with just an additional resistor:


and you can remove ground loop 100%.
balanced is an input feature, not output.
 

Berwhale

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I already explained very clearly that one can simply get balanced output from any unbalanced DAC with just an additional resistor:


and you can remove ground loop 100%.
balanced is an input feature, not output.

Then you need change your previous comment to...

"there's nothing dx5 / ex5 can do but dx3 + a modified cable, matched to the dx3 cannot."
 

rarewolf

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I already explained very clearly that one can simply get balanced output from any unbalanced DAC with just an additional resistor:
[…]

and you can remove ground loop 100%.
balanced is an input feature, not output.

Functionally speaking and for desktop HP amps, you may be correct.

However, if you examine the specs for a Topping amp for which the XLR HP output is clearly stated as “balanced”, e.g., the Topping L50, you’ll note the power out nearly doubles that for SE. This is not true for the DX5’s XLR.

I also agree with you that a balanced output rarely adds anything to an endpoint speaker device, the only exception being the few IEMs (e.g., some planars) that will scale their performance for low power amplifiers (e.g., dongles) if its balanced connector offers more power (e.g., the L&P W2)
 

staticV3

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DX5 is a terrible choice if you want to drive 16Ω planars:
Topping AIO_ Maximum Output Power before clipping (knee) vs Load (2) (1).png
Data is from L7Audiolab.com
 
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drummerdimitri
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DX5 is a terrible choice if you want to drive 16 planars:
View attachment 226956
Data is from L7Audiolab.com
This graph changes everything.

I now have trust issues when trying to deduce how much power a headphone amp can put out into a 16 Ω load.

I always thought that if they rated the power at say 2W into 32Ω, it would automatically mean that it would output even more power into 16 Ω and less into higher impedances but I guess that's not the case?

How do I chose a suitable headphone amp for a 16 Ω load if the manufacturer doesn't state the power levels into such a load? Am I missing something here?
 

rarewolf

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This graph changes everything.

I now have trust issues when trying to deduce how much power a headphone amp can put out into a 16 Ω load.

I always thought that if they rated the power at say 2W into 32Ω, it would automatically mean that it would output even more power into 16 Ω and less into higher impedances but I guess that's not the case?

How do I chose a suitable headphone amp for a 16 Ω load if the manufacturer doesn't state the power levels into such a load? Am I missing something here?

As the graph would imply, the DX3Pro+ works great with my Sennheiser IE600 IEMs, even though they hardly need that much power…
 
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drummerdimitri
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DX5 is a terrible choice if you want to drive 16Ω planars:
View attachment 226956
Data is from L7Audiolab.com
After further investagation, it seems like the DX5 should be able to output around 1.1W into a 16Ω load before clipping if you use the V2/I formula to calculate power.

I've attached the graph that was posted in Amir's review for your reference.

There seems to be a huge discrepancy between the graph you posted showing around 200 mW of max output into 16 Ω before clipping vs. the 1.1W which makes a lot more sense to me.
 

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  • Topping DX5 Measurements Stereo Power vs impedance Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png
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Berwhale

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Functionally speaking and for desktop HP amps, you may be correct.

However, if you examine the specs for a Topping amp for which the XLR HP output is clearly stated as “balanced”, e.g., the Topping L50, you’ll note the power out nearly doubles that for SE. This is not true for the DX5’s XLR.

I also agree with you that a balanced output rarely adds anything to an endpoint speaker device, the only exception being the few IEMs (e.g., some planars) that will scale their performance for low power amplifiers (e.g., dongles) if its balanced connector offers more power (e.g., the L&P W2)

You are confusing a discussion regarding balanced line outputs with one about balanced headphone outputs. Audiofun's point (and mine about ground loops) is made about the former, not the later.
 

rarewolf

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You are confusing a discussion regarding balanced line outputs with one about balanced headphone outputs. Audiofun's point (and mine about ground loops) is made about the former, not the later.

Apparently, I’m not the only one. Doesn’t the OP refer to powering his Audeze LCD-4z headphones?
 

Berwhale

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There seems to be a huge discrepancy between the graph you posted showing around 200 mW of max output into 16 Ω before clipping

200mW into your headphones should deliver 120dB SPL which is painfully loud.
 

Berwhale

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Apparently, I’m not the only one. Doesn’t the OP refer to powering his Audeze LCD-4z headphones?

Yes, after mentioning a requirement to connect them to studio monitors in the 1st line of his post.
 

staticV3

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After further investagation, it seems like the DX5 should be able to output around 1.1W into a 16Ω load before clipping if you use the V2/I formula to calculate power.
WolfX-700 did a proper, high resolution power sweep at 16Ω.
His DX5 clipped at around 0.22W at that load:
THDN-Ratio-vs-Measured-Level-3.jpg
 
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