• 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 many 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 4.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 18 5.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 96 29.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 195 60.4%

  • Total voters
    323

JyPay

Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2024
Messages
17
Likes
37
Location
Meru - France
I want to thank you all guys here : you helped me to make my choice on this amp. It sound very good for my music taste and I enjoy it very much. As a plus is in my budget range. Special thanks for @amirm for all the tests made all this times.

Now the question is : what would be the best pre-amplifier to pair with this amp with a similar ratio quality/budget ?

I listen my music from streaming platform with the Fosi Audio P3 and CDs with my old Philips CD782 player.
My speakers are the Toid's Epic speakers in standfloor configuration.

Thank you
 

Yorkshire Mouth

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,409
Likes
1,352
Location
God's County - Yorkshire
I want to thank you all guys here : you helped me to make my choice on this amp. It sound very good for my music taste and I enjoy it very much. As a plus is in my budget range. Special thanks for @amirm for all the tests made all this times.

Now the question is : what would be the best pre-amplifier to pair with this amp with a similar ratio quality/budget ?

I listen my music from streaming platform with the Fosi Audio P3 and CDs with my old Philips CD782 player.
My speakers are the Toid's Epic speakers in standfloor configuration.

Thank you

I’d wait for the upcoming WiiM Ultra.

Indeed, that’s exactly what I’m doing to pair with this amp.
 

john11

Active Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
216
Likes
38
Or a risk assessment on the possibility of capacitor failure and ejection of flammable electrolyte - and how that is contained by whatever enclosure the capacitor isn't in.
This is extreme madness. Just about every piece of hardware on the planet contains capacitors, yet we do not see houses burning down, we do not see flammable electrolyte being chucked everywhere
 

Sokel

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
6,366
Likes
6,505
This is extreme madness. Just about every piece of hardware on the planet contains capacitors, yet we do not see houses burning down, we do not see flammable electrolyte being chucked everywhere
We don't?

Fire.PNG



(hope those kind of mods are reported to the insurance company as it's their absolute delight to search and find stuff like that,even at your social networks)
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
7,992
Likes
13,586
Location
UK/Cheshire
The added capacitor is extremely unlikely to be the cause of anything audible,
Particularly the case with this amp - which is so good it is already audibly perfect. Even if the capacitor measurably improved the noise or distortion (and there is absolutely no reason to think it will) that change will be inaudible.
 

jeffbook

Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
140
Likes
195
Location
Columbus, Ohio
Wish I could see more posts on pa5ii or amplifier in general in this thread
The thread has gone completely off topic. I would be interested in seeing if there is any indication that reliability has improved over the PA5 to this point in time. Therefore, any reports on problems with the PA5 ii would be useful for those of us who might be considering purchasing this amp.
 

audioje

Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2023
Messages
58
Likes
53
The thread has gone completely off topic. I would be interested in seeing if there is any indication that reliability has improved over the PA5 to this point in time. Therefore, any reports on problems with the PA5 ii would be useful for those of us who might be considering purchasing this amp.
This may not help much but mine is going strong after 2 months haha. I use it more than 10 hours a day.
 

john11

Active Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
216
Likes
38
The thread has gone completely off topic. I would be interested in seeing if there is any indication that reliability has improved over the PA5 to this point in time. Therefore, any reports on problems with the PA5 ii would be useful for those of us who might be considering purchasing this amp.
I have the PA5 II and the PA3, both sound very similar to each other.
I would go for the PA3 because it is cheaper with slightly less power. If power is not a concern then the PA3 is better. As for reliability i have had no problems with the PA5 II.
If power is a concern and you need more go for a hypex NC122MP based amp. If you want even more power the hypex NC252MP, both very good reliable alternatives at a good price
But i do have to caution you, with today's modern hardware the level of performance is very good for very little money. Look at things like the apple dongle, for $9 it competes will against dacs ten times its price. If you look at the PA5 II it competes well against some of the high end hypex.
You really should look at the speakers, which will make more of an impact than any other hardware, also room correction and room treatments / dampening. Amps all sound the same when you get to a certain level
 

BDWoody

Chief Cat Herder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
7,113
Likes
23,739
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
Wish I could see more posts on pa5ii or amplifier in general in this thread

Did a bit of cleanup. Lots of off-topic posts moved to a better place.
 

jeffbook

Active Member
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
140
Likes
195
Location
Columbus, Ohio
I have the PA5 II and the PA3, both sound very similar to each other.
I would go for the PA3 because it is cheaper with slightly less power. If power is not a concern then the PA3 is better. As for reliability i have had no problems with the PA5 II.
If power is a concern and you need more go for a hypex NC122MP based amp. If you want even more power the hypex NC252MP, both very good reliable alternatives at a good price
But i do have to caution you, with today's modern hardware the level of performance is very good for very little money. Look at things like the apple dongle, for $9 it competes will against dacs ten times its price. If you look at the PA5 II it competes well against some of the high end hypex.
You really should look at the speakers, which will make more of an impact than any other hardware, also room correction and room treatments / dampening. Amps all sound the same when you get to a certain level
Thanks for your response.

Speakers are not a concern. I have a design heavily based on the Linkwitz LX521. I am looking for an amp to replace an old Adcom GFA535 to drive the tweeters. The remainder of the system is driven by Hypex nCore modules. I feel that the Topping PA5 ii would be ideal for the tweeters in this active system, Just concerned about reliability, and your post is very helpful to me.
 

Dave Bullet

Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2022
Messages
70
Likes
100
Incase anyone is looking to buy - Shenzenaudio has a "spring sale" on for another 7 days. Normal RRP is USD$249, now $216 here:

Ps: I am not affiliated with Shenzenaudio in anyway, but I have purchased from them in the past.
 

cptsantos

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2024
Messages
24
Likes
4
I have ordered a WiiM Pro Plus and a Topping PA5 II and have been testing this combo for a few days now. Let’s call this setup A. My goal was to compare setup A with my Sonos Connect Amp (ZP120) (setup B).
Both setups are connected to a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 220s. Tested sources were lossless CD quality files from local library and lossless audio on Deezer.

With no EQ, setup A sounded like if my speakers didn’t have woofers. Setup B, with no EQ sounded immediately more balanced. I then tried to adjust EQ (on setup A) and loudness/bass/treble (on setup B) to try to get the best sound out of both.

Setup A is able to play louder than setup B but it lacks something in the bass department. No combination of EQ compensates for this lacking of fullness in the low frequencies. I could get the lowest frequencies to be there but it’s like there was weak spots in the low frequency bands. Tried both parametric EQ and discrete frequencies EQ. No luck. No setting would give me the balanced full sound of the setup B. I also noticed that pushing frequencies way above zero on the parametric EQ resulted in having the audio compressed when played at high levels but I guess this is the way WiiM deals with avoiding distortion. To avoid this I EQed only below zero.

For curiosity purposes I also tested the WiiM with no EQ connected to the line-in of the Sonos Amp. Still no joy. The sound still lacks something in the lower frequencies.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a way to get a line level signal from the Sonos Amp to inject in the Topping PA5 II so I tested lossless Apple Music Air Play > LG TV > Topping PA5. Awful sound with audible distortion (even controlling the level out from the TV to a level comparable to the WiiM line out). I then tested the same thing but connected to the Sonos. I’d say it was slight better but still bad.

I’ve decided to return setup A (still on the 14 day period) as it has inferior quality (to my ears) compared to my old Sonos Amp.
My Sonos Amp was sometimes exhibiting interruptions of audio when streaming and it was slow responding to requests from the app so a bit painful to use. However, I’ve discovered that it was possible to downgrade the firmware from S2 to S1 and so I did it. It is now much faster with no interrupted audio. Happy :)

All this is to say that I’m disappointed with the performance of setup A despite the very good reviews they both have.
How can the Sonos sound so much better to my ears than setup A? I feel we are not measuring everything that matters in this tests. I know this testimonial of mine is very subjective but when I see the frequency response in @amirm tests and compare it with what I heard.. it just doesn’t match. Is it maybe dynamics? The time a certain frequency response takes to achieve a certain power level?

I tested lots of tracks that I know very well. Known hits from Placebo, Dream Theater, RHCP, RATM, Elton John, Dire Straits, Gregory Porter and others.

The Power of Equality by RHCP sounded very good with setup A with tight bass and excellent definition .. but when I switched to setup B .. God! It was heaven! Flea’s bass sounded excellent.

I’ll be very careful in the future when considering this less known brands for audio. I’ll have a listen first even if the reviews are excellent.
 

mike70

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
934
Likes
668
2 things to comment:

1) your speakers doesn't reproduce real bass, that speakers are 56 hz +/-3dB as specified by Wharfedale. You need a sub or good tower speakers to reproduce deep bass (under 60hz).

2) you listened blindly with levelled gain?

Psychoacoustics says that something with more gain is perceived with more bass, so, if you don't level the gain between the setups ... you're only lying to yourself. And ... add to that a sighted test, another "bad pattern".
 

Julf

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,069
Likes
4,098
Location
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
How can the Sonos sound so much better to my ears than setup A? I feel we are not measuring everything that matters in this tests.
The tests can't measure what happens between your ears. That is why listening tests aren't reliable unless properly controlled double blind procedures are followed.
it just doesn’t match. Is it maybe dynamics? The time a certain frequency response takes to achieve a certain power level?
Not quite sure what you mean by "The time a certain frequency response takes to achieve a certain power level" - it sounds a bit like "the time a certain color takes to achieve a certain speed".

As @mike70 asked, did you match levels, and if so, how?
 

cptsantos

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2024
Messages
24
Likes
4
2 things to comment:

1) your speakers doesn't reproduce real bass, that speakers are 56 hz +/-3dB as specified by Wharfedale. You need a sub or good tower speakers to reproduce deep bass (under 60hz).

2) you listened blindly with levelled gain?

Psychoacoustics says that something with more gain is perceived with more bass, so, if you don't level the gain between the setups ... you're only lying to yourself. And ... add to that a sighted test, another "bad pattern".
1) True. Still, comparing between the 2 setups allows me to hear a difference.

2) No. I know it was not a very scientific approach. Regarding gain I’ve noticed that to compensate what was lacking in setup A I ended up putting more volume when listening.

When I buy things it’s because I’m convinced they will be good. I was convinced that setup A would sound better or at least as good as setup B and just compared the two because I felt something was lacking.
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
7,992
Likes
13,586
Location
UK/Cheshire
Is it maybe dynamics?
It is almost certainly due to failure to properly match levels. And bear in mind the Sonos Amp has quite a bit more power available.

Or - you have the true play DSP room correction feature on the Sonos amp - which may well make a huge difference in the bass area.


Or it could just be cognitive bias at play. This is a subconscious process, and has little to do with your conscious expectations.
 

cptsantos

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2024
Messages
24
Likes
4
The tests can't measure what happens between your ears. That is why listening tests aren't reliable unless properly controlled double blind procedures are followed.
I admit it was not a “properly controlled double blind procedure”. I was more focused on the end result: the satisfaction I get listening to music using both systems.
Not quite sure what you mean by "The time a certain frequency response takes to achieve a certain power level" - it sounds a bit like "the time a certain color takes to achieve a certain speed".
I was just trying to understand what’s really going on. When I see similar frequency response charts and similar multi tone charts and then ear two different things… something must be going on. What can it be? I don’t know. Could/should we do tests running small samples of real audio and try to measure the result? Maybe there are phenomena that we can’t detect measuring the way we do now.

As @mike70 asked, did you match levels, and if so, how?
No I didn’t. Not scientifically at least. But the difference between both systems with no EQ is so pronounced that it really is a no brainer. I would happily do a recording with proper level matching but I don’t have a good microphone (the best I have is maybe the iPhone).
 

cptsantos

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2024
Messages
24
Likes
4
It is almost certainly due to failure to properly match levels. And bear in mind the Sonos Amp has quite a bit more power available.
Ok, I have to dig into matching levels. My Sonos Amp is the older white one (former ZP120) so the power should be nearly the same (around 55W at 8ohm).
Or - you have the true play DSP room correction feature on the Sonos amp - which may well make a huge difference in the bass area.
i believe there is no room correction on this Sonos Amp. I reset it anyway before the comparison.
Or it could just be cognitive bias at play. This is a subconscious process, and has little to do with your conscious expectations.
Also possible if we’re talking about the EQed comparisons. But the flat EQ comparison is very noticeable.
 

antcollinet

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
7,992
Likes
13,586
Location
UK/Cheshire
No I didn’t. Not scientifically at least. But the difference between both systems with no EQ is so pronounced that it really is a no brainer. I would happily do a recording with proper level matching but I don’t have a good microphone (the best I have is maybe the iPhone).
You need to do level matching with a voltmeter at the speaker terminals using a test tone.

But the difference between both systems with no EQ is so pronounced that it really is a no brainer
That difference can easily be felt from level mismatch - or even from cognitive bias.

Though I'm still guessing you have some DSP going on in the Sonos Amp. Having said that - despite it's excellent measurements I'd not expect the Topping to sound significantly better than the Sonos, which is also a good amp, and the topping has less power. So if you'd just asked the question "would the Topping be a good upgrade to the Sonos?" I'd have answered "Probably not"


EDIT - what happens if you use the same Wiim into the line in of the Sonos? (You don't describe the Wiim as being the source for setup B). And I assume you are not moving the speakers between tests - just changing what is connected to them?

(Also struck out the "more power" comment - was looking at the wrong Sonos Amp)
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom