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Topping PA3s Review (Desktop Amplifier)

Trokox

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I bought one. I have a pair of kef Q150 and a zen dac v2 to RCA on topping PA3S and I can't listen louder than 11 o'clock at the potentiometer...it already sounds very loud and clear.
I'm very happy with this little amp ... I noticed that it doesn't have a standby function ... just only turn off. weird
Thanks for your impressions
 

nwboater

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I bought one. I have a pair of kef Q150 and a zen dac v2 to RCA on topping PA3S and I can't listen louder than 11 o'clock at the potentiometer...it already sounds very loud and clear.
I'm very happy with this little amp ... I noticed that it doesn't have a standby function ... just only turn off. weird

Thanks for the info. I'm wondering how long it took you to get it?
 

AndyB

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Received mine today, hooked it up to a pair of klipsch rf7's and a yamaha wxc-50 as a source.
No real audible difference so far with the Marantz pm-68, but a far smaller footprint.
 

Trokox

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Received mine today, hooked it up to a pair of klipsch rf7's and a yamaha wxc-50 as a source.
No real audible difference so far with the Marantz pm-68, but a far smaller footprint.
Thanks for sharing your impressions.
 

ModDIY

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I have a friend who tells me he is very satisfied with the PA3s. But there was a hissing problem on one channel with the RCA input, subsequently it decreased and ok for now.

Its PA3s is connected with a DAC Topping DX3.

Soon I am going to his place and we will do an AB comparison with my Sabaj A20a.
 

Trokox

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I have a friend who tells me he is very satisfied with the PA3s. But there was a hissing problem on one channel with the RCA input, subsequently it decreased and ok for now.

Its PA3s is connected with a DAC Topping DX3.

Soon I am going to his place and we will do an AB comparison with my Sabaj A20a.
Excellent friend . I await your impressions of the comparison
 

brandonhall

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Circling back on this thread as I've got the Sabaj A20a and Topping PA3s here for evaluation. Importantly, I'm using RCAs for both at the moment. Subjectively, they both sound similar. At max volume, the Topping is silent and the Sabaj has a background noise.

The Sabaj has to be set to -40db (min is -60db) to be completely silent and becomes noticeable around -20db. This is important: Using an SPL meter, -20db on the Sabaj has a similar volume level to the Topping fully maxed. In other words, the Sabaj will play much louder at the cost of distortion. Topping's design won't let you distort the unit.

Lastly, at -0db, the Sabaj is obnoxiously loud while sitting silently but it will play much louder than the Topping.

TLDR; The Topping limits the output power thus preventing any distortion. The Sabaj has no limits and will allow generous amounts of distortion. When the volumes are similar (not exact), they basically sound the same.
 
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ModDIY

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Circling back on this thread as I've got the Sabaj A20a and Topping PA3s here for evaluation. Importantly, I'm using RCAs for both at the moment. Subjectively, they both sound similar and with all volume maxed out the Topping is silent but there's a major difference.

The Sabaj has to be set to -40db (min is -60db) to be completely silent and becomes noticeable around -20db. This is important: Using an SPL meter, -20db on the Sabaj has a similar volume level to the Topping fully maxed. In other words, the Sabaj will play much louder at the cost of distortion. Topping's design won't let you distort the unit.

Lastly, at -0db, the Sabaj is obnoxiously loud while sitting silently but it will play much louder than the Topping.

TLDR; The Topping limits the output power thus preventing any distortion. The Sabaj has no limits and will allow generous amounts of distortion. When the volumes are similar (not exact), they basically sound the same.

I use the XLR and RCA inputs, usually XLR. Indeed even with RCA, I leave the Sabaj volume at -20 db, and sit in my chair at 3.5m and speakers of 89db (with ribbon tweeter) and I hear no whistling.

Yes it can play very loud, I never turn up the volume of the amplifier as soon as I hear the distortion (sane for classe AB amplifier).

In short to do it again I would buy it again, for an integrated SMPS, XLR inputs, sub output and remote control. But if you don't need all of that, Topping pa3s is a great deal.

It was I who convinced my friend to buy the PA3s.
 

Trokox

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Circling back on this thread as I've got the Sabaj A20a and Topping PA3s here for evaluation. Importantly, I'm using RCAs for both at the moment. Subjectively, they both sound similar and with all volume maxed out the Topping is silent but there's a major difference.

The Sabaj has to be set to -40db (min is -60db) to be completely silent and becomes noticeable around -20db. This is important: Using an SPL meter, -20db on the Sabaj has a similar volume level to the Topping fully maxed. In other words, the Sabaj will play much louder at the cost of distortion. Topping's design won't let you distort the unit.

Lastly, at -0db, the Sabaj is obnoxiously loud while sitting silently but it will play much louder than the Topping.

TLDR; The Topping limits the output power thus preventing any distortion. The Sabaj has no limits and will allow generous amounts of distortion. When the volumes are similar (not exact), they basically sound the same.
Excellent friend, for your impressions I think the Pa3s is better, the advantage of the a20a would be the connectivity. The only thing that worries me is the lack of power from the Pa3s, could you take your speakers to 100 db spl when you gave maximum volume to the Topping?
 

Toku

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Circling back on this thread as I've got the Sabaj A20a and Topping PA3s here for evaluation. Importantly, I'm using RCAs for both at the moment. Subjectively, they both sound similar. At max volume, the Topping is silent and the Sabaj has a background noise.

The Sabaj has to be set to -40db (min is -60db) to be completely silent and becomes noticeable around -20db. This is important: Using an SPL meter, -20db on the Sabaj has a similar volume level to the Topping fully maxed. In other words, the Sabaj will play much louder at the cost of distortion. Topping's design won't let you distort the unit.

Lastly, at -0db, the Sabaj is obnoxiously loud while sitting silently but it will play much louder than the Topping.

TLDR; The Topping limits the output power thus preventing any distortion. The Sabaj has no limits and will allow generous amounts of distortion. When the volumes are similar (not exact), they basically sound the same.
Your A20a noise problem is exactly the same as my A20a. Immediately after purchasing the product, I discovered this noise and reported the situation to Sabaj in detail. But they didn't take this issue seriously.
We are discussing this issue in the forums below. Please read the post from everyone once. I also post a lot.

Since this noise changes depending on the volume volume, it can be seen that it is mixed from the circuit before the volume circuit. Also, from the type of noise mixed in, I think that it is caused by the switching noise generated from the power supply unit or the noise of the amplifier output.
Due to the design of the housing, the A20a has a structure in which the power supply board and speaker output wiring are very close to the input amplifier. I presume that the result is strong noise induction.
The intensity of the symptoms depends on each A20a. Also, the symptom is not constant, such as when it occurs only on RCA or when it occurs on both RCA / XLR like me.
If this problem is solved, the A20a will be a really good amplifier, but Sabaj's support is disappointing. I want you to think more seriously about this issue.
Currently, the most stable operation of Dual MA12070 amplifiers is PA3s and AO200.

AUDIO SCIENCE REVIEW
Dual Merus MA12070 Amplifier Sabaj A20 fully balanced : pictures inside )


diyAudio Forrums
DUAL Merus MA12070 fully balanced Amplifier pictures inside

 

brandonhall

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Excellent friend, for your impressions I think the Pa3s is better, the advantage of the a20a would be the connectivity. The only thing that worries me is the lack of power from the Pa3s, could you take your speakers to 100 db spl when you gave maximum volume to the Topping?
I'm not going to test at that level since I don't have hearing protection. In general, I'd say they make plenty of sound for a nearfield desktop setup. I'd be hesitant to use this amp in a home theater situation.
 

brandonhall

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I use the XLR and RCA inputs, usually XLR. Indeed even with RCA, I leave the Sabaj volume at -20 db, and sit in my chair at 3.5m and speakers of 89db (with ribbon tweeter) and I hear no whistling.

Yes it can play very loud, I never turn up the volume of the amplifier as soon as I hear the distortion (sane for classe AB amplifier).

In short to do it again I would buy it again, for an integrated SMPS, XLR inputs, sub output and remote control. But if you don't need all of that, Topping pa3s is a great deal.

It was I who convinced my friend to buy the PA3s.
I've got a sub, so the sub out is important to me. I also like the integrated power supply without a brick. I was also a fan of the Sabaj DAC and the MQA playback. Anyway, when I swapped the RCAs for balanced cables, the noise completely disappeared. Problem solved.
 

brandonhall

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Your A20a noise problem is exactly the same as my A20a. Immediately after purchasing the product, I discovered this noise and reported the situation to Sabaj in detail. But they didn't take this issue seriously.
We are discussing this issue in the forums below. Please read the post from everyone once. I also post a lot.

Since this noise changes depending on the volume volume, it can be seen that it is mixed from the circuit before the volume circuit. Also, from the type of noise mixed in, I think that it is caused by the switching noise generated from the power supply unit or the noise of the amplifier output.
Due to the design of the housing, the A20a has a structure in which the power supply board and speaker output wiring are very close to the input amplifier. I presume that the result is strong noise induction.
The intensity of the symptoms depends on each A20a. Also, the symptom is not constant, such as when it occurs only on RCA or when it occurs on both RCA / XLR like me.
If this problem is solved, the A20a will be a really good amplifier, but Sabaj's support is disappointing. I want you to think more seriously about this issue.
Currently, the most stable operation of Dual MA12070 amplifiers is PA3s and AO200.

AUDIO SCIENCE REVIEW
Dual Merus MA12070 Amplifier Sabaj A20 fully balanced : pictures inside )


diyAudio Forrums
DUAL Merus MA12070 fully balanced Amplifier pictures inside

I absolutely agree that there is a fundamental design problem with the Sabaj A20a. I'll check out those other threads. I think the question is this: Is the SMSL AO200 + DO200 worth the extra $150~ over the Sabaj stack. You get a better screen and better implementation with fancy new remotes. I think the answer is probably yes
 

Trokox

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I'm not going to test at that level since I don't have hearing protection. In general, I'd say they make plenty of sound for a nearfield desktop setup. I'd be hesitant to use this amp in a home theater situation.
Thanks for your reply friend
 

craig

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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:

View attachment 156814

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:

View attachment 156815

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:

View attachment 156827

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

View attachment 156817

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:

View attachment 156818

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:

View attachment 156819

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

Crosstalk performance is above average:

View attachment 156828

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

View attachment 156829

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

View attachment 156822

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

View attachment 156823

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

View attachment 156824

So no competition for larger amplifiers.

Varying the frequency shows fair bit of ups and downs:

View attachment 156825

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

View attachment 156826

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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I enjoyed the review very much and purchased the PA3s. Paired it with the Topping E30 dac and use it's remote to control volume. I am driving Infinity Overture 2's that have internal woofer amps so they have 93DB sensitivity and don't require lots of power. I think they sound great. Better than the Marantz PM5005 used previously.

A couple of questions for the group. I have a pair of AR 308HO bi-amp able speakers and I am considering using a pair of PA3s's to power them. Will an rca y-connector from each E30 channel to each PA3s left and right input be correct? A single amp will sit on top of and power each speaker, so the speaker wires can be quite short. Will there be a problem with line signal strength or impedance because of the split?

Also does an RCA to TRS cable exist/work?
 
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Billy Budapest

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Thisw is poor, again, same as for many cheap class D amplifiers.

Unfortunately, Hypex Ncore and Purifi remain the only well behaving class D amplifiers. Still a lot to learn, @JohnYang1997 .
Nah. Wait for it. This is just an exercise from one of our new engineers.
And the wait is over with the PA5! I think it’s time for @pma to eat his words!
 
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Toku

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There is no dispute that both Ncore and Purifi are excellent amplifiers, but if there is a product that can achieve the same performance at a much lower price, I would like to buy it and support it.
 
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