• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). 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 Review (Amplifier)

nagster

Active Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
244
Likes
383
I was was using it today with my E50 at max and using the knob to adjust volume today. No louder really than normal and my room temp is the same. It was warmer to the touch. Just kinda warm with my Pre controlling volume to kinda hot today. I use it for hours while working from home.

The only other variable is that I was using Filter 2 which does roll off later than 1 and 3. Just 44.1khz on the DAC though.
If the conditions such as PA5 output, usage time and room temperature are the same, there should be no difference in PA5 temperature.
But you have come across a mystery.
A controlled blind test or measurement is needed to determine if it is a fact or a misunderstanding.
However, when it comes to temperature, a thermometer is clearly better than a finger.

Prepare a multimeter like this link. Must be compatible with thermocouples.
(If you can prepare an infrared thermometer etc., you do not need a thermocouple.)

Play music and adjust the volume of E50 and PA5 to the usual position. Then do not touch the volume.
Turn off the power of PA5.
Remove the speaker cable from the PA5.
Attach the multimeter test leads to the speaker terminal of PA5.
Set the multimeter to the ACV range.
Set the volume of youtube and OS to 100%.
Turn on the PA5, play a test tone and note the voltage.
100Hz
1kHz
If the multimeter voltage is low, switch to the ACmV range.

As long as the voltage is the same, the temperature can be compared regardless of the combination of the volume positions of E50 and PA5.

The thermocouple measures the temperature of PA5. Fix it on the surface where the temperature is likely to be the highest.
When making comparative measurements, fix them in the same position each time.
Record the temperature one hour after playback. Record the room temperature at the same time.
Even if the room temperature changes, comparisons are possible to some extent.
In any case, please arrange the conditions as much as possible.
 

MAB

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
280
Likes
484
Location
Portland, OR, USA
I keep searching the Internet for such a sustained and growing list of PA5 failure reports and the only links I get are to ASR and specifically to this and the poll thread. Amazon reviews are still largely positive. Apos reviews are all positive with one exception, someone who references ASR. Apos' answer was "Based on what we are seeing, there's a very small percentage of PA5 with the issue you described." There is one problem post on the Klipsch community site -- and the poster is an ASR member. There is one person on AV Nirvana's community site who says "There have been quite a few posts about reliability issues with this unit, but I've not had any problems so far." And, he is an ASR member from the poll thread.
Quality and reliability issues tend to concentrate. They obey social laws more than anything, even if the failure is a physical one... If you look at conference proceedings on the subject or mission statements from companies that do have good quality, you see discussions about journey and culture. And you see that most sightings come from customer (illustrated with lots of Venn diagrams:facepalm:). You are seeing herding around a quality issue here. The quality issue is real. ASR provides a forum, including a thread that was started by an member specifically about the fails:
This has created a herding effect. Other sites do not host in this way, and do not feature an attempt to have a neutral discussion of the performance or the potential issues. The stats on fail rate on the forum are undoubtedly exaggerated. But the issue is real. Could be a batch, a rev, a firmware, a sub-population. We don't know.

Also, I attempted to leave a review on Shenzhen Audio about the exceptionally bad customer service over what should be a simple return; the review was never posted. My post on Shenzhen Audio's Facebook page was deleted or demoted within an hour. Apos has at least a few reviews, including:
1656101134111.png



So there are other factors that cause this site to feature.

ASR got us into this by providing glowing technical reviews on performance;), and a forum to discuss the quality issues on a new product:mad:. Topping will need to lean heavily on customer return data from the resellers, and by my judgement that is where things are likely going the most sideways. The fact that Shenzhen Audio have so badly mishandled my return, and don't seem to have proper customer records of my purchase or any aspect of the return means that Topping will have a very hard time making fundamental improvements to the product. It seems some of the other resellers also ghost the customer when something goes wrong but perhaps Apos is working with customers, and working with Topping to improve the product and limit the losses to all, but I really have no way of telling. The fact that Topping isn't leveraging this forum to improve quality in the same way they have leveraged to improve SINAD is a bit odd. (John Yang, still not responding to my messages:confused: about my PA5, FYI, it's still bad, reseller still in surreal state, what's up??? And there is a thread you could actually join and add value to the ecosystem here... And perhaps learn.)
 

Attachments

  • 1656098078329.png
    1656098078329.png
    205.7 KB · Views: 56
Last edited:

tonycollinet

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 4, 2021
Messages
2,261
Likes
3,236
Location
UK/Cheshire
Not sure why the reports made right here in ASR aren't enough for you. There's enough indication in these posts from various forum members to be able to say: there appears to be a problem with the PA5's reliability. There is a non-trivial number of reports of PA5 failure.

The main seller of the PA5 on Amazon (USA), Aoshida HiFi Us, has a whopping total of 34 reviews. Re: the PA5, I doubt very much that Topping sells many thousands of units. The number of purchasers is, I suspect, relatively small, particularly when compared to mainstream amp manufacturers like Yamaha.

So I don't find it that surprising that the internet isn't abuzz with talk of the Topping PA5. It's a niche product for a niche audience.
Topping needs to be selling many 1000's - at least 10'sK, probably 100'sK in order to make money at this price level. Sure here, we've had quite a number of reports of a consistent problem. But we simply have NO idea whether that represents a normal failure rate of around 1% or below, or an unacceptable level of 10%+. We DO NOT have the data. Only speculation.
 

Stinius

Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2022
Messages
6
Likes
5
"reale" Is that French?
Thank you for noticing me that I spelled one word wrong.
It should be "Real" in English
"Reale" is Norwegian, but means the same.
I guess that you agree in the rest of my post since you only focuse on the spelling of one word.

I see that some have problems understanding my post.
I'm not surprised.
 

REK2575

Active Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2019
Messages
217
Likes
288
Location
Cambridge, MA
Topping needs to be selling many 1000's - at least 10'sK, probably 100'sK in order to make money at this price level. Sure here, we've had quite a number of reports of a consistent problem. But we simply have NO idea whether that represents a normal failure rate of around 1% or below, or an unacceptable level of 10%+. We DO NOT have the data. Only speculation.

Sorry, this is not convincing. There's no way Topping is selling 100s of thousands of these units. And the pricepoint for the PA5 is pretty obviously inflated at $350. I cannot believe the profit margin on the PA5 is razor thin at this price. I suspect it's pretty healthy. I have a Yamaha S301 that cost me a similar amount, and there I could believe Yamaha needs to sell high volume to make a profit. The PA5 is a toy by comparison. My first thought when I unpackaged my PA5 was, 'I paid $350 for this?' For a miniature desktop amp with an external power supply? I didn't keep it long and was glad to get my $350 back.

So yes, we're speculating. Maybe @JohnYang could pop in and give us some hard data and address the issues at hand. But he's obviously too busy hawking Topping's other new shiny toys, like the similarly overpriced LA90.
 

IPunchCholla

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
394
Likes
419
Sorry, this is not convincing. There's no way Topping is selling 100s of thousands of these units. And the pricepoint for the PA5 is pretty obviously inflated at $350. I cannot believe the profit margin on the PA5 is razor thin at this price. I suspect it's pretty healthy. I have a Yamaha S301 that cost me a similar amount, and there I could believe Yamaha needs to sell high volume to make a profit. The PA5 is a toy by comparison. My first thought when I unpackaged my PA5 was, 'I paid $350 for this?' For a miniature desktop amp with an external power supply? I didn't keep it long and was glad to get my $350 back.

So yes, we're speculating. Maybe @JohnYang could pop in and give us some hard data and address the issues at hand. But he's obviously too busy hawking Topping's other new shiny toys, like the similarly overpriced LA90.
What does size have to do with anything? I get it when it’s Class A or B, but for D?

I just repaired a class A. The heat those Mossfets put out us insane. Even for a five watt amp. When you’re running at about 20% efficiency, most the energy is going to heat. So you need big heat sinks, beefy construction. But the actual electronics aren’t any larger than what could easily fit in the topping case. But we’ve come to associate big amps with quality.

Class Ds are super efficient by comparison, at around 90% for Hypex, I believe. This means you only need to manage losses of around 10 percent. Your thermal constraints are less, meaning no need for as much cooling. Drop the heat sinks and you can suddenly do so much more with a small form factor. That doesn’t make it a toy. It makes it efficient.

I just replaced my 2010 Mac Pro with a 2020 M1 mini. Except for 3D, it is two to four times more powerful. This also was made possible by controlling the thermal needs of the electronics. The mini and the PA5 are not toys.

Which is not to say Topping didn’t push the envelop for thermal issues.
 
Last edited:

B&WTube

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2020
Messages
80
Likes
94
Sorry, this is not convincing. There's no way Topping is selling 100s of thousands of these units. And the pricepoint for the PA5 is pretty obviously inflated at $350. I cannot believe the profit margin on the PA5 is razor thin at this price. I suspect it's pretty healthy. I have a Yamaha S301 that cost me a similar amount, and there I could believe Yamaha needs to sell high volume to make a profit. The PA5 is a toy by comparison. My first thought when I unpackaged my PA5 was, 'I paid $350 for this?' For a miniature desktop amp with an external power supply? I didn't keep it long and was glad to get my $350 back.
Agreed- they are making great margins. You can buy small run boutique stuff and come in less (what I have decided to do after seeing this mess). Once back in stock- a JLE board and Connex PSU is $250 (or MicroAudio for $55more) , and you have a better product that has gone through countless iterations of development and better parts. These are small run, from different venders and still cheaper. Large runs in a Chinese factory should have great margins.
 

IPunchCholla

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
394
Likes
419
Agreed- they are making great margins. You can buy small run boutique stuff and come in less (what I have decided to do after seeing this mess). Once back in stock- a JLE board and Connex PSU is $250 (or MicroAudio for $55more) , and you have a better product that has gone through countless iterations of development and better parts. These are small run, from different venders and still cheaper. Large runs in a Chinese factory should have great margins.
The JLE boards look interesting. Have you seen any measurements of them or know brands that use them?
 

Walter

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 25, 2020
Messages
801
Likes
1,073
The JLE boards look interesting. Have you seen any measurements of them or know brands that use them?
 

Paco De Lucia

Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
57
Likes
110
Sorry, this is not convincing. There's no way Topping is selling 100s of thousands of these units. And the pricepoint for the PA5 is pretty obviously inflated at $350. I cannot believe the profit margin on the PA5 is razor thin at this price. I suspect it's pretty healthy. I have a Yamaha S301 that cost me a similar amount, and there I could believe Yamaha needs to sell high volume to make a profit. The PA5 is a toy by comparison. My first thought when I unpackaged my PA5 was, 'I paid $350 for this?' For a miniature desktop amp with an external power supply? I didn't keep it long and was glad to get my $350 back.

So yes, we're speculating. Maybe @JohnYang could pop in and give us some hard data and address the issues at hand. But he's obviously too busy hawking Topping's other new shiny toys, like the similarly overpriced LA90.
I wouldn't say it's over priced. What we have here is a series of almost unique products in the history of hifi. Equipment that has been designed to measure extremely well. Not common in ether the professional or consumer audio market. only really a thing in lab instruments. So these new pre amps and little switching amps are a new market.
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
38
Likes
16
Is it safe to leave the PA5 on all the time? Obviously there's a fair few people having issues but I had read some theories turning on/off might be a bigger risk.

Any guidance from someone with knowledge on amps would be ace. Thanks.
 

Paco De Lucia

Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
57
Likes
110
has anyone counted the separate users on ASR that have had issues ? like an earlier poster said, all the problems seem to have coalesced here at ASR. we should do a poll, i know highly inaccurate but its a start
 

MarcosCh

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
1,088
Likes
768
Paco! Estás vivo!!!

Here is your poll

 

Rottmannash

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
2,034
Likes
1,652
Location
Nashville
Thank you for noticing me that I spelled one word wrong.
It should be "Real" in English
"Reale" is Norwegian, but means the same.
I guess that you agree in the rest of my post since you only focuse on the spelling of one word.

I see that some have problems understanding my post.
I'm not surprised.
actually no, I didn't agree with the rest of your post but your tone persuaded me to comment on your odd spelling-childish on my part, I know but...
 

pma

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 23, 2019
Messages
3,090
Likes
6,241
Location
Prague
Hi Pavel
Well said and as you say "As of the current status of tests, they are close to pointless" In my opinion they are not close to pointless, but absulutally pointless. 1kHz SINAD is as meaningless as you can get it when measuring an amplifier.
Let us see some reale measurements.

All the best
Stein
Hi Stein,
Nice to see you here.

Cheers,
Pavel
 

IPunchCholla

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
394
Likes
419
Agreed- they are making great margins. You can buy small run boutique stuff and come in less (what I have decided to do after seeing this mess). Once back in stock- a JLE board and Connex PSU is $250 (or MicroAudio for $55more) , and you have a better product that has gone through countless iterations of development and better parts. These are small run, from different venders and still cheaper. Large runs in a Chinese factory should have great margins.
I can't say I know much about pricing in consumer electronics, but this is backwards from how you need to think as a business. Average profitability in consumer electronics is 3.49%. Quick calculation is Topping products across their product line average at $333. So assuming Topping is near average, They get about $11.62 per item sold. Assuming I'm Topping's sole owner and am fine making what I make now (which I wouldn't be with the risks involved), I would need to sell about 10,000 units across my product line. If I was the owner I would be looking at something like 10 times that to make the risks worthwhile.

So my guess is sales of the PA5 are in the thousands to lower 5 figures.
 

pjug

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
1,581
Likes
1,341
I can't say I know much about pricing in consumer electronics, but this is backwards from how you need to think as a business. Average profitability in consumer electronics is 3.49%. Quick calculation is Topping products across their product line average at $333. So assuming Topping is near average, They get about $11.62 per item sold. Assuming I'm Topping's sole owner and am fine making what I make now (which I wouldn't be with the risks involved), I would need to sell about 10,000 units across my product line. If I was the owner I would be looking at something like 10 times that to make the risks worthwhile.

So my guess is sales of the PA5 are in the thousands to lower 5 figures.
I don't know much about it either, but of course there is nothing binding them to 3.49%. I can't imagine most audio companies would be able to operate with such a low profit margin.
 

IPunchCholla

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
394
Likes
419
I don't know much about it either, but of course there is nothing binding them to 3.49%. I can't imagine most audio companies would be able to operate with such a low profit margin.
That's the average profit margin in consumer electronics. Net margin is 16%, Gross is 56%. Harman's was 5.9% last quarter. Apple's was 26%
 

pjug

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
1,581
Likes
1,341
That's the average profit margin in consumer electronics. Net margin is 16%, Gross is 56%. Harman's was 5.9% last quarter. Apple's was 26%
I understood the 3.49% number you gave was an average. But that was the number you used to say therefore Topping was selling so many units. At your number of about $12 profit per device, even 10K units would just be $120K profit. I think they must be making a much better margin than that, otherwise it does not look like good business to me. (Unless they are selling an order of magnitude more devices than your guess, which I doubt.)
 
Top Bottom