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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 29.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 181 60.5%

  • Total voters
    299

antcollinet

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Still, in real world we rarely see more than a couple of db improvement with balanced vs single ended signals. And very often there is no improvement at all... even the opposite in poorly designed circuits.
Theory is correct, implementation is another story.
You are taliking in test conditions, not in real world. The test conditions are carefully set up to not introduce ground noise. In the absense of ground noise, the only benefit of balanced comes from a higher SNR resulting - typically - from the higher output voltage.

However ground noise is sometimes very difficult to eliminate in real world setups, as evidenced by the number of posts we get here asking how to eliminate hum/hiss. Note this is a system problem, not a device problem, and all my statements were referring to system SNR, and included the phrase "when ground noise dominated"
 
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rhoneyman

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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)?
You can change the settings on the AXA35 to remember volume level. Check the manual.
 

VVR

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You are taliking in test conditions, not in real world. The test conditions are carefully set up to not introduce ground noise. In the absense of ground noise, the only benefit of balanced comes from a higher SNR resulting - typically - from the higher output voltage.

However ground noise is sometimes very difficult to eliminate in real world setups, as evidenced by the number of posts we get here asking how to eliminate hum/hiss. Note this is a system problem, not a device problem, and all my statements were referring to system SNR, and included the phrase "when ground noise dominated"
No doubt. We are running only LVDS signals in our labs just because of ground issues and ground bouncing in high energy physics experiments.
In so called real setups, either you do only balanced or not. If part of the system is balanced, as is with many hifi systems, I'm not so sure about the benefits. Once the noise or the interference are in and considered valid signal the benefits of balancing after that are small... Theory is correct, the implementation - it depends... Anyway, OT again.
 

antcollinet

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Once the noise or the interference are in and considered valid signal the benefits of balancing after that are small
This is true - but above we are not talking about some unbalanced connections mixed with balanced - but about wiring an RCA to Balanced cable as pseudo differential - like this (from Bruno's article)

Screenshot 2023-11-23 at 08.38.00.png
 

Kwesi

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The PA5 II was on Black Week Sale at Audiphonics for ~200€, so I coud not resist and bought one as a possible replacement of a Sony TA-F530ES to drive these little speakers here:

1700830100430.png


They're somehow demanding to the amp due to their impedance minimum of ~2,7 Ohm in the fundamentals; despite their small size they suck somewhat current, and I had reservations if the small PA5 II is capable to deliver. Also the speakers have a pretty clear sound, so I was not sure If the sound tips over to sharpness due to the slighly increased distortion and "grass" in the IMD spectrum at higher Frequencies.

Well, my fears were not confirmed and I'm more than pleased with the result; max amp power and max speaker output are pretty good matched (no need for the "Plus", but also not much headroom left) and the sound is just smooth and transparent as it should be! No sign of harshess and very nice control of the woofers working near xlim. (Source is Tidal "Hifi" on my PC, optical out via Asus Xonar DX with resampling 44,1 --> 192 kHz connected to a SMSL C100 with AKM4493 DAC)

The old Sony introduces a little "roughness" to the mids and a bid "muddyness" to the fundamentals which is gone now without any disadvantages. So perfomance wise I really can recommend the PA5 II; reliability --> time will tell....
 
Last edited:

MAB

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The PA5 II was on Black Week Sale at Audiphonics for ~200€, so I coud not resist and bought one as a possible replacement of a Sony TA-F530ES to drive these little speakers here:

View attachment 329013

They're somehow demanding to the amp due to their impedance minimum of ~2,7 Ohm in the fundamentals; despite their small size they suck somewhat current, and I had reservations if the small PA5 II is capable to deliver. Also the speakers have a pretty clear sound, so I was not sure If the sound tips over to sharpness due to the slighly increased distortion and "grass" in the IMD spectrum at higher Frequencies.

Well, my fears were not confirmed and I'm more than pleased with the result; max amp power and max speaker output are pretty good matched (no need for the "Plus", but also not mutch headroom left) and the sound is just smooth and transparent as it should be! No sign of harshess and very nice control of the woofers working near xlim. (Source is Tidal "Hifi" on my PC, optical out via Asus Xonar DX with resampling 44,1 --> 192 kHz connected to a SMSL C100 with AKM4493 DAC)

The old Sony introduces a little "roughness" to the mids and a bid "muddyness" to the fundamentals which is gone now without any disadvantages. So perfomance wise I really can recommend the PA5 II; reliability --> time will tell....
That looks like a very nice two-way. I see you used passive series notch filters for the driver resonances as discussed in the PuriFi whitepaper.
I like using a series notch rather than DSP (or just ignoring the artifact). For instance here is a Seas magnesium cone woofer (with one of the more dramatic peaks I know of) passive vs. DSP notch:
I am glad the PA5 II is working well. We all have our fingers crossed on the reliability!
 

wavetrade

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The PA5 II was on Black Week Sale at Audiphonics for ~200€, so I coud not resist and bought one as a possible replacement of a Sony TA-F530ES to drive these little speakers here:

View attachment 329013

They're somehow demanding to the amp due to their impedance minimum of ~2,7 Ohm in the fundamentals; despite their small size they suck somewhat current, and I had reservations if the small PA5 II is capable to deliver. Also the speakers have a pretty clear sound, so I was not sure If the sound tips over to sharpness due to the slighly increased distortion and "grass" in the IMD spectrum at higher Frequencies.

Well, my fears were not confirmed and I'm more than pleased with the result; max amp power and max speaker output are pretty good matched (no need for the "Plus", but also not mutch headroom left) and the sound is just smooth and transparent as it should be! No sign of harshess and very nice control of the woofers working near xlim. (Source is Tidal "Hifi" on my PC, optical out via Asus Xonar DX with resampling 44,1 --> 192 kHz connected to a SMSL C100 with AKM4493 DAC)

The old Sony introduces a little "roughness" to the mids and a bid "muddyness" to the fundamentals which is gone now without any disadvantages. So perfomance wise I really can recommend the PA5 II; reliability --> time will tell....
The PA5 II seems to do a great job delivering power as I am running LS50 Meta's with mine. I recently got a Audiophonics Ncx500 based amp and I still feel like I like the sound out of the PA5 a little better. Surprised me as I expected a lot of the Ncx500. I think I made a mistake turning the gain down to 19db though as I recently put it back to 25db and feel the sound really improved. I need to start a thread asking if there is more tp the amp gain than just having the right voltage coming out of the dac.
 

staticV3

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I need to start a thread asking if there is more tp the amp gain than just having the right voltage coming out of the dac.
There is not.
Unless you precisely matched the volume with a multimeter and test tone, it is likely that you just played a little louder when you put the gain back to 25dB, which will inevitably sound better.
 

wavetrade

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There is not.
Unless you precisely matched the volume with a multimeter and test tone, it is likely that you just played a little louder when you put the gain back to 25dB, which will inevitably sound better.
But I did level up the volume using REW with a Umik and test tone. To me it sounds better throughout the volume range at 25db gain. I dunno... but I am glad that I am liking the new amp better now.
 

staticV3

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But I did level up the volume using REW with a Umik and test tone. To me it sounds better throughout the volume range at 25db gain. I dunno... but I am glad that I am liking the new amp better now.
You could try recording some music with either gain, then analyzing the recordings with Deltawave.

If there's any difference besides volume, then Deltawave will tell you.
 
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wavetrade

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You could try recording some music with either gain, then analyzing the recordings with Deltawave.

If there's any difference besides volume, then Deltawave will tell you.
Thank you, I like this tip a lot. Would honestly like to know if it is all in my head or not. I had hit a point where this system, with the PA5 II, just sounded dreamy good. Toe tapping listen for hours good. Then the new amp arrived and I just never got to magic place again until I tried going back to the Audiophonics default of 25db. Now it is right where I hoped it would be. I briefly read that there could be an impedance change with changing gains. More research for another time. Some Elac Carina 243's just arrived and I am content to listen and enjoy for a bit. The new speakers sound really good.
 

jdjung

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Update: bought this little gem in August and it's going strong. I've left it on for three days with no issues. In terms of heat even when left on for days, it just gets warm. Sounds amazing to my ears so am pretty happy with my three set Topping stack.
 

Leo_Torres

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Hi to everyone, I am a complete newby, so I'm sorry if my questions are a bit silly.

I am building a setup using both JDS-Labs DAC, Amp and EQ and am considering this amplifier as an option. Therefore my first question: Could we consider as of today that it is safe to purchase the PA II plus?
I have read in this thread about "sudden deaths", but is it a massive phenomena, like it was with the previous editions?

Also I would like to hear your opinion on using the Topping PA5 II with the Polk signature elite es20. There is a mismatch with the impedance (Toppin amp --> 4 Ohms / Polk speakers ---> 8 ohms) The WATTs however seem fine (Topping 100-140w / Polk 20w-150w recommended amplification) Is this a reasonable combination?

Thank you very much in advance!
 

Julf

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Also I would like to hear your opinion on using the Topping PA5 II with the Polk signature elite es20. There is a mismatch with the impedance (Toppin amp --> 4 Ohms / Polk speakers ---> 8 ohms) The WATTs however seem fine (Topping 100-140w / Polk 20w-150w recommended amplification) Is this a reasonable combination?
An amp with 4 Ω output impedance spec has no problem driving a 8 Ω load - you just won't get full power out of the amp, but even in worst case, the difference is 3 dB, typically much less. As to power (Watts) the Topping should be fine.
 

Leo_Torres

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An amp with 4 Ω output impedance spec has no problem driving a 8 Ω load - you just won't get full power out of the amp, but even in worst case, the difference is 3 dB, typically much less. As to power (Watts) the Topping should be fine.
Cheers!
 

wavetrade

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Hi to everyone, I am a complete newby, so I'm sorry if my questions are a bit silly.

I am building a setup using both JDS-Labs DAC, Amp and EQ and am considering this amplifier as an option. Therefore my first question: Could we consider as of today that it is safe to purchase the PA II plus?
I have read in this thread about "sudden deaths", but is it a massive phenomena, like it was with the previous editions?

Also I would like to hear your opinion on using the Topping PA5 II with the Polk signature elite es20. There is a mismatch with the impedance (Toppin amp --> 4 Ohms / Polk speakers ---> 8 ohms) The WATTs however seem fine (Topping 100-140w / Polk 20w-150w recommended amplification) Is this a reasonable combination?

Thank you very much in advance!
I sure like my PA5 II and have had it turned on for 3 months straight now without any problems. I have been using it to drive ls50 meta speakers, and a few weeks of Elac Carina bookshelfs, and never felt underpowered. But I don't listen really loud. At my usual listening levels I think it sounds just as good as the Audiophonics Ncx500 amp I have in the other room.
 

jdjung

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Hi to everyone, I am a complete newby, so I'm sorry if my questions are a bit silly.

I am building a setup using both JDS-Labs DAC, Amp and EQ and am considering this amplifier as an option. Therefore my first question: Could we consider as of today that it is safe to purchase the PA II plus?
I have read in this thread about "sudden deaths", but is it a massive phenomena, like it was with the previous editions?

Why not the Topping E50, PA5 II, and the L50 headphone amp. I'm a sucker for matching equipment that stacks but there is no matching eq. JDS Labs customer service is amazing and John Seaber known for his design of one of the first and most popular amps (The first Atom which was also sold on Drop) is an amazing choice. John Seaber's design of the first Atom amp punched way above it's price back in the days. JDS labs is much better customer support vs. Toppings better measurements. It's a tough choice . Especially because JDS lab's stacks are sexy as well!
 

Power Pop 23

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The review for the original Topping PA5 was posted on November 21, 2021 and the polling thread about any problems with the PA5 appeared on April 22. 2002.

Amir reviewed the Topping PA5 II on August 22, 2023. There 'appears' to be fewer reported problems with the PA5 II - so far. As the owner of a still working 'PA5', I would wait longer before purchasing a PA5 II - the time to wait depending on how much effort 'you' would have expend to obtain warranty service from your location - if necessary.
 
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