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Topping PA3s Review (Desktop Amplifier)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Topping PA3s balanced integrated power amplifier. It was sent to me by the company. It is not announced yet and I forgot to ask how much it will cost. It is in similar form factor to PA3 which I reviewed before and that one cost $120.

I think Topping has really nailed the look of budget desktop products in this style, bringing some much needed elegance to the design:

Topping PA3s Review Balanced Amplifier.jpg


Even the power/input selector feels elegant to touch with a reassuring relay click.

And yes, there is balanced input now in the form of TRS connectors which is very common in Pro space:

Topping PA3s Review Back Panel Balanced Amplifier.jpg


As noted, you can actually select between them so you have dual inputs, albeit, in different formats (balanced and unbalanced).

As you see, a rather large and high current external power supply is provided which likely sets the limit of how much it can output. Unlike other budget amps in this class, it is branded by Topping and safety certifications seem legit.

In use, the amplifier ran cool and at room temperature even after all of my tests. Its protection circuit never intruded and the amp was comfortable being pushed well into clipping with no shut down, etc.

Topping PA3s Measurements
I performed all of my testing using balanced inputs. Here is our usual dashboard:

Topping PA3s Measurements Balanced Amplifier.png


SINAD which represents sum of distortion and noise is well above average for all amplifiers tested let alone budget ones:

best desktop amplifier.png


Company specifications is 0.0045% which is basically what I achieved.

Teasing out noise versus distortion, we see that this is a very quiet amplifier:

Topping PA3s Measurements SNR Balanced Amplifier.png


Achieving full 16 bit dynamic range is very difficult for most amplifiers and PA3s delivers on that. Part of the reason for good performance here is that the amplifier gain is lower than what is common at 20 dB. This is actually fine though as full power can be achieved at under 2 volts with balanced input which any desktop DAC can produce. So might as well put that higher input voltage to good use and improve amplifier noise performance.

I am always nervous running frequency response tests on class D amplifiers, worried that they should have variations at high frequencies. The PA3s put my worries aside:

Topping PA3s Measurements Frequency Response Balanced Amplifier.png


Seems like the output filter is inside the feedback loop which is nice.

Crosstalk performance is above average:

Topping PA3s Measurements Crosstalk Balanced Amplifier.png


Multitone shows 17 bits of distortion-free range across full audible band:

Topping PA3s Measurements Multitone Balanced Amplifier.png


Let's get into power measurements starting with 4 ohm load:

Topping PA3s Measurements Power into 4 ohm Balanced Amplifier.png


Ah, this is on the low side and gets (naturally) lower at 8 ohm:

Topping PA3s Measurements Power into 8 ohm Balanced Amplifier.png


Allowing for more distortion at 4 ohm gives a bit more power:

Topping PA3s Measurements Peak and Max Power into 4 ohm Balanced Amplifier.png


So no competition for larger amplifiers.

Varying the frequency shows fair bit of ups and downs:

Topping PA3s Measurements Power into 4 ohm vs Frequency Balanced Amplifier.png


Finally, out of band switching noise is kept low although its baseline is higher than I expected:

Topping PA3s Measurements FFT Spectrum Balanced Amplifier.png


Conclusions
Up until now, I have not been a fan of Topping power (speaker) amplifiers. Their performance was simply not that good. With the advent of new chip-based amplifiers with better performance, Topping had fallen behind even more. Here, it seems they have taken a standard platform and really optimize it as they do with their DACs. This shows in very low noise level, nice crosstalk and excellent frequency response. My only miss is the amount of power available if you were to use this for main hi-fi system.

Overall, I am happy to recommend the Topping PA3s amplifier. Welcome to the games Topping! :)

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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DHT 845

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Topping, now make SOTA, current efficient (class AB / D with GaN technology) monoblock amplifiers for your best DACs and Pre90.
 

respice finem

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For small setups, like a PC desktop setup, this would probably be enough power.
That said, there is meanwhile competition for such application, like the better equipped Loxjie

Sidenote: 26V hmm... the PSU might be hard to replace if it failed.
 

GimeDsp

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very nice, I am happy enough with my PA3 to not upgrade to this, but for my living room set up I am interested in what else is coming around!
 

Tangband

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Nice to see a good amplifier from Topping. :)

It seems that class D is now dominating the best buy area up to 300 dollars, and better than almost all AVR amplifiers except for power.
Topping has equipped the PA3s with two independent MA12070 class D power amplifier chips for each channel.16BDC366-31A2-40A7-B743-5B7C73B62D3A.jpeg
 
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