• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Topping PA5 II Stereo Amplifier Review

Rate this stereo amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 14 4.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 16 5.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 88 29.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 180 60.4%

  • Total voters
    298

wavetrade

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2023
Messages
64
Likes
43
I just got a pair of Oberon 1's and can confirm they are very bright on the highs. I am currently deciding whether or not they are too bright for my taste. I started my Dali experience with the Spektor 1's, which absolutely blew me away for their price and size. I liked them so much that it inspired me to step up to the Oberon. I am starting to think I should of just stuck with the Spektor's. They sounded a touch more "boxy" but imaged extremely well and were never too bright.
 

MAB

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
2,056
Likes
4,631
Location
Portland, OR, USA
He didn't say the test was blind.
Yes. In fact, @piccolo2k2 even mentioned that they had a predisposed notion of how the amp should sound:
I have seen some review where it is mentioned that it is a device with a somewhat analytical and dry sound signature, so this could be the reason for my experience.

Amps can sound different, but they need to have dramatically different specifications or operating conditions. Archimago shows real differences between a Hypex and a Pass 1st Watt for instance:
The actual differences are small, but real, and likely audible. The amps couldn't be much more different though. Not sure which one I would enjoy more, likely the Hypex at low power because of the elevated treble and bass if asked, but IDK.

Also, Benchmark references the ability for people to hear differences between their awesome amp and a massively mal-adjusted Class A/B amp.
In this case, Benchmark is extremely misleading comparing their gear to a broken piece. But I am pretty sure I would be able to hear how broken the Class A/B amp sounded in their test.
Of course, these two Topping siblings are not odd enough to show a meaningful difference to anything but an broken amp or a really corner-case like the 1st Watt. Most amps will fall into the boring category of sounding the same, like these examples in a study by Clark and Masters in Jan 1987 Stereo Review:

Another thing on imaging and soundstage... Floyd Toole has commented on these perceived phenomena many times. For instance in a test of cartridges:
The quote:
It is an interesting trait of the human ego that most of us, most of the time, know how certain things should be. Stereo is no exception. In spite if the fact that recordings are created, by and large, from multi-track tapes (or at least multiple microphones in acoustically foreign environments), many folks persist in believing that two speakers in a room are capable of rendering positions, dimensions, and ambience that, to them, should be perceived as realistic. Fortunately, humans have good imaginations, because occasionally this miserably imperfect system works amazingly well.
- Floyd Toole, Phono Cartridges, A Comparison of Images and Realities from Audio Scene Canada - Aug 1980
 
Last edited:

piccolo2k2

New Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2023
Messages
2
Likes
1
First of all, thank you for the responses. Indeed, I confirm that the Obleron speakers emphasize the high frequencies too much, at least in comparison to other speakers I have or have had, such as the Monitor Audio Bronze 1 or Wharfedale Diamond 220. At first, I thought this was a positive feature, but over time, it has become somewhat annoying, and I had to adjust them with an EQ.

In fact, my intention in purchasing the PA5 II plus (besides achieving an improvement in sound quality, which, as mentioned before, is hard to notice) was to have some flexibility when choosing speakers in the future (of a similar size) while using a tiny desktop amplifier. What I mean is that there are some models, like the Monitor Audio Silver 50 7G, which recommend a power range between 40 - 100 W (I understand at 8 Ohms), and although the PA3s theoretically can deliver power within that range, I thought it might be pushing the limit, and the PA5 would provide much more headroom.

That's why I was concerned about not noticing a significant power difference between the two amplifiers, and while it is true that my way of estimating it was completely improvised and wrong, it seems, based on what I've read in the previous comments, that in practice, the differences are rather small.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB

MAB

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
2,056
Likes
4,631
Location
Portland, OR, USA
First of all, thank you for the responses. Indeed, I confirm that the Obleron speakers emphasize the high frequencies too much, at least in comparison to other speakers I have or have had, such as the Monitor Audio Bronze 1 or Wharfedale Diamond 220. At first, I thought this was a positive feature, but over time, it has become somewhat annoying, and I had to adjust them with an EQ.

In fact, my intention in purchasing the PA5 II plus (besides achieving an improvement in sound quality, which, as mentioned before, is hard to notice) was to have some flexibility when choosing speakers in the future (of a similar size) while using a tiny desktop amplifier. What I mean is that there are some models, like the Monitor Audio Silver 50 7G, which recommend a power range between 40 - 100 W (I understand at 8 Ohms), and although the PA3s theoretically can deliver power within that range, I thought it might be pushing the limit, and the PA5 would provide much more headroom.

That's why I was concerned about not noticing a significant power difference between the two amplifiers, and while it is true that my way of estimating it was completely improvised and wrong, it seems, based on what I've read in the previous comments, that in practice, the differences are rather small.
You have two low-noise and low-distortion amps!
The drawback is low-power on these two.
And, in the case of the Dali just a bit of treble EQ could improve the on-axis response a bit. Software PEQ plus a mic like a UMIK-1 could actually allow you to generate a target more to your liking, and allow you to evaluate what changes are making meaningful improvements.
And to get bass, larger woofers / subwoofers are the path!:cool:
Even the differences in the Pass 1st W and the Hypex aren't going to dramatically change the in-room response or allow you to tailor or 'pair' your kit to your room!
 

JeremyFife

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 8, 2022
Messages
630
Likes
730
Location
Scotland
First of all, thank you for the responses. Indeed, I confirm that the Obleron speakers emphasize the high frequencies too much, at least in comparison to other speakers I have or have had, such as the Monitor Audio Bronze 1 or Wharfedale Diamond 220. At first, I thought this was a positive feature, but over time, it has become somewhat annoying, and I had to adjust them with an EQ.

In fact, my intention in purchasing the PA5 II plus (besides achieving an improvement in sound quality, which, as mentioned before, is hard to notice) was to have some flexibility when choosing speakers in the future (of a similar size) while using a tiny desktop amplifier. What I mean is that there are some models, like the Monitor Audio Silver 50 7G, which recommend a power range between 40 - 100 W (I understand at 8 Ohms), and although the PA3s theoretically can deliver power within that range, I thought it might be pushing the limit, and the PA5 would provide much more headroom.

That's why I was concerned about not noticing a significant power difference between the two amplifiers, and while it is true that my way of estimating it was completely improvised and wrong, it seems, based on what I've read in the previous comments, that in practice, the differences are rather small.
Hi, it sounds like you are on the right track - you have EQ'd your Dalis and now you have confirmed that changing amps doesn't make a significant difference.
Leave the amps alone for a while - return your PA5 II, or keep it, the Toppings are both clean amps.
If you want to change your sound then start researching new speakers, or a subwoofer ... after you upgrade the speakers if you notice a lack of power (amp has to be turned up full, or you start hearing the distorted sound of your amp clipping) them think about a more powerful amp. You might not need it!
 

kazz

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2023
Messages
1
Likes
0
Quick question for PA5 II owners: Does the amplifier retain the last used volume level when it's powered off and then powered on again, or does it reset to the factory default volume level like some other amplifiers do (Cambridge Audio AXA35)?
 

Guddu

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 10, 2020
Messages
628
Likes
470
Quick question for PA5 II owners: Does the amplifier retain the last used volume level when it's powered off and then powered on again, or does it reset to the factory default volume level like some other amplifiers do (Cambridge Audio AXA35)?
Volume is adjustable with knob on front only manually, no digital/remote.
Power on/off has nothing to do with it.
 

Guddu

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 10, 2020
Messages
628
Likes
470
Archimago’s Review
—————————-

Part I

Part II
 

RhubarbRansom

New Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2023
Messages
2
Likes
0
As a less experienced practitioner of “high fidelity” audio, I was hoping for a bit of friendly input to the following problem. Despite working my way through the review, 30 pages of comments, as well as Archimago's linked review just above, I’ve – somewhat futilely – tried to make sense of the suitability of this PA5 vs. the higher powered PA7 for my needs.

For context I've purchased “Phantom K-80” in-ceiling speakers from Dali, which specify 6 Ohm impedance with 87 dB Sensitivity (2.83V/1m). The company note 50–200 W as “recommended amp. power”. In a roughly 22 m^2 room with a typical 2–3 m distance from the speakers to the listening position, I'm now considering getting the Topping D10 balanced DAC, and then pairing it with either the PA5 II Plus or the PA7.

Based on some sort of estimate of “normal listening” at 70–80 dB SPL, I’m sort of guessing the PA5 would be adequate, but then I’m a bit in doubt on how to interpret the speaker company’s power recommendation and the infamous extra headroom often mentioned in relation to classical music. Is it perfectly adequate to roam around the lower edges of the power recommendation from the speaker company, or would be a safer bet for a new purchase to go a bit more towards the higher end of the power recommendation (fx with the PA7 or the older Hypex model often mentioned in the thread as an alternative to Topping for reliability reasons)?

If the questions make sense, I would appreciate any input. Thanks :)
 

JeremyFife

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 8, 2022
Messages
630
Likes
730
Location
Scotland
As a less experienced practitioner of “high fidelity” audio, I was hoping for a bit of friendly input to the following problem. Despite working my way through the review, 30 pages of comments, as well as Archimago's linked review just above, I’ve – somewhat futilely – tried to make sense of the suitability of this PA5 vs. the higher powered PA7 for my needs.

For context I've purchased “Phantom K-80” in-ceiling speakers from Dali, which specify 6 Ohm impedance with 87 dB Sensitivity (2.83V/1m). The company note 50–200 W as “recommended amp. power”. In a roughly 22 m^2 room with a typical 2–3 m distance from the speakers to the listening position, I'm now considering getting the Topping D10 balanced DAC, and then pairing it with either the PA5 II Plus or the PA7.

Based on some sort of estimate of “normal listening” at 70–80 dB SPL, I’m sort of guessing the PA5 would be adequate, but then I’m a bit in doubt on how to interpret the speaker company’s power recommendation and the infamous extra headroom often mentioned in relation to classical music. Is it perfectly adequate to roam around the lower edges of the power recommendation from the speaker company, or would be a safer bet for a new purchase to go a bit more towards the higher end of the power recommendation (fx with the PA7 or the older Hypex model often mentioned in the thread as an alternative to Topping for reliability reasons)?

If the questions make sense, I would appreciate any input. Thanks :)
I'm going to give an answer and also state that I can't give you the answer you need ...

This calculator (there are others) https://www.crownaudio.com/en/tools/calculators#amp_power_required is useful.
For your requirements; 87dB speakers giving 80 dBSPL at 3m with 6dB headroom (quite a bit) needs just 7W. This rises to 71W if you whacked the volume up to 90 dBSPL
... so the PA5 II is bang on for your normal listening plus a good bit but may struggle if you go properly hooligan.

The caveat is that I have no idea if these calculations apply with in-ceiling speakers. I'd assume they are still correct but it's outside of my knowledge.
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
7,171
Likes
11,861
Location
UK/Cheshire
I'm going to give an answer and also state that I can't give you the answer you need ...

This calculator (there are others) https://www.crownaudio.com/en/tools/calculators#amp_power_required is useful.
For your requirements; 87dB speakers giving 80 dBSPL at 3m with 6dB headroom (quite a bit) needs just 7W. This rises to 71W if you whacked the volume up to 90 dBSPL
... so the PA5 II is bang on for your normal listening plus a good bit but may struggle if you go properly hooligan.

The caveat is that I have no idea if these calculations apply with in-ceiling speakers. I'd assume they are still correct but it's outside of my knowledge.
For classical, 6db Headroom is not enough. I'd be looking for 10 to 15 db headroom. Also bear in mind that with 6ohm speakers, the sensitivity rating is at 1.5W, so more like 85.5 at 1W

For 80dB listening level gives
25W for 10db Headroom

up to

80W for 15dB headroom.

I think Id be leaning towards the higher power amp.
 
Last edited:

rsqt

Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2023
Messages
37
Likes
15
Location
Germany
Manufacturer are always kidding with 2,83V/1m. Some even with 4Ohm speakers at 2,83V. It is a bad behavior.
Times ago they wrote 1W/1m. That was fair.

So I love my 114dB 1W/1m speakers even more. 1W is enough in 99% of the listening time.
 

RhubarbRansom

New Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2023
Messages
2
Likes
0
Thank you for the input :)

It sounds like the PA7 will be the more "worry free" solution for both classical music and the more rare occasions where the volume gets turned up a bit more.

In the PA5 review (as well as on Topping's site) they highlight how quiet the PA5 in operation and when turning on and off. Would any of you have experience with the power on and off pop for the PA5 and PA7 respectively? I don't see power on and off pop test for the PA7.
 

VVR

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2023
Messages
21
Likes
28
PA5 II doesn't have any pop.
I don't see why PA7 would be different. It has just two amp ICs vs single IC in PA5.
 

Julf

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
2,985
Likes
3,977
Location
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
For classical, 6db Headroom is not enough. I'd be looking for 10 to 15 db headroom. Also bear in mind that with 6ohm speakers, the sensitivity rating is at 1.5W, so more like 85.5 at 1W

For 80dB listening level gives
25W for 10db Headroom

up to

80W for 15dB headroom.

I think Id be leaning towards the higher power amp.
On the other hand, the added dynamics in classical music (compared to contemporary popular music) comes not from louder peaks, but from lower average volume.
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
7,171
Likes
11,861
Location
UK/Cheshire
On the other hand, the added dynamics in classical music (compared to contemporary popular music) comes not from louder peaks, but from lower average volume.
Doesn't that mean most people will want to listen to that low - between - the - peaks volume at their normal listening level, and have the dynamic peaks loud?

I know I do.
 

Julf

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
2,985
Likes
3,977
Location
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Doesn't that mean most people will want to listen to that low - between - the - peaks volume at their normal listening level, and have the dynamic peaks loud?

I know I do.
A lot of people listen at a volume where the peaks don't get too loud for their ears/spouse/kids/neighbors.
 

Sokel

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
5,559
Likes
5,474
A lot of people listen at a volume where the peaks don't get too loud for their ears/spouse/kids/neighbors.
Look at the av. level,the max level and then look at the peaks.
Classical is no joke.


and in fun level:

 
Top Bottom