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Topping PA5 Review (Amplifier)

garbulky

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What? How on earth could they accomplish that?
Coz of your good reviews. You are the only site I am aware of that consistently reviews Topping. Your critical perspective and the earning good panthers are probably really good PR.
 
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DanielT

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"Measures more or less equal" is an extremely unfair statement. As outlined by the measurements the difference is substantial. If you want to argue about the audibility and the price/performance ratio it's a different thing, but measurements are objective.
You're absolutely right there is nothing that measures the same. Not even the same gadget from measurement to measurement.:)
 

Billy Budapest

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Your positive reviews increase demand. Topping knew the PA5 was going to score well here and generate buzz, it would be silly off them to not capitalize on that knowledge, and clearly this is reflected in the price. I don’t mean it to come across as a negative, but I feel there’s some truth to it.
Increasing demand does not increase or decrease margins. Rather, margins are part of the cost of the product.
 
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Billy Budapest

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I ran an audio repair shop for eight years back in the 1970s and I don't recall even one instance of this sort of defect in the literally thousands of amps and receivers from the 50+ brands of gear for which we were factory-authorized.

It's a failure. Period. The fact that it's an easily-correctable failure doesn't make it anything close to "just maintenance" in my book, but of course YMMV.
You don’t recall ever having to tighten the nuts of binding posts? That’s hard to believe!
 

F1308

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I'd be willing to bet that sales of amps in the "desktop" form factors exceed the number of rack-mountable amps sold by huge margin -- and the Chinese makers are all about sales volume.
I bet 95% of world population wonders what rack-mountable or desktop amps are used for when they are mostly using smartphones and eraplugs when moving and Bluetooth loudspeakers to pair their smartphones to when at home.

Add that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with Lossless Bluetooth is coming in a matter of weeks...
 

Doodski

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I bet 95% of world population wonders what rack-mountable or desktop amps are used for when they are mostly using smartphones and eraplugs when moving and Bluetooth loudspeakers to pair their smartphones to when at home.

Add that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with Lossless Bluetooth is coming in a matter of weeks...
Yes, I noticed that to be the case here too. I have friends that are a generation or two younger and they all have small bluetooth speakers and extra internet access in the back yard for their connections. They could not care less about having a ghetto blaster or a stereo.
 

F1308

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I'm 62 and can hear 15K.
MIDI goes from 0 to 127.

Those 128 notes range from 8.18 Hz to 13289.75 Hz when A4 is tuned 440Hz.

The lowest A4 tuning ever used according to historical recordings was 392 Hz, known as Versailles tuning. This means MIDI 0 will be 7.28 Hz and MIDI 127 will reach 11839.96 Hz.

On the contrary, highest A4 is 485 Hz and comes from some bag pipes. Based on this, MIDI 0 sounds 9.01 Hz and MIDI 127 will be 14648.83 Hz.

But the highest A4 for orchestra was found in Venice, tuned 466 Hz, expanding MIDI from 8.66 Hz to 14075.05 Hz.

You can relax as you get older and older in relationship to music, no worries at all, everything there will be heard, and then even thank God as you happily miss the hissing those powered monitors make all day.
 
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Bruce Morgen

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Yes, I noticed that to be the case here too. I have friends that are a generation or two younger and they all have small bluetooth speakers and extra internet access in the back yard for their connections. They could not care less about having a ghetto blaster or a stereo.

...and yet companies like Topping -- and, yes, Benchmark -- somehow manage to make a living, albeit not a Samsung/Harman- or Sony-class living.
 

Labjr

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You don’t recall ever having to tighten the nuts of binding posts? That’s hard to believe!
I did a lot of service on hi-fi years ago and rarely saw loose binding posts. I certainly don't remember any specific time when it occurred. Probably because of better mechanical design. They were keyed so the chassis had to be punched, not drilled. Or were made in pairs as a unit. Thus, they wouldn't try to spin when you tightened them.
 

mdsimon2

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I'm new to speakers so don't really understand most of the measurements. Is it possible to read off how much noise the amp makes from amrim's measurements when there's either 1. no input signal, and 2. a very quiet input signal fed into the amp? I'm looking for an amp for nearfield use, and am extremely sensitive to hiss and would like as little as possible in both situations.

  • a SNR of 107dB @ 5W was measured. Does that mean that at 0W and at 0.001W there would still be an SNR of 107dB, so any noise would be at a level of -107dB? (edit: I guess the answer is no, because at full power the SNR is 121 dB, so therefore the SNR at 0W must be much lower)
  • I beleive the first measurement, a 1kHz sine wave @ 0.5V shows noise at -120dB. Does this mean that at 0V and 0.001V noise will be at the same level (-120dB)?

An important thing to consider is that once you get to this level of amplifier performance it is quite possible your DAC noise will have a much greater impact than amplifier noise. Fortunately the low gain of the PA5 actually helps quite a bit here because it will amplify the DAC noise less than a higher gain amplifier. See below for some calculations demonstrating the combined impact of DAC and amplifier noise.

Let's take a DAC like the MOTU Ultralite Mk5 which has a dynamic range of around 116 dB at 4.2 V. This implies 4.2 V x 10^(-116/20) = 6.7 uV of noise at the DAC output.

If you multiply this noise by 19 dB amplifier gain for the PA5 you end up with a noise contribution from the DAC at the amplifier output of 6.7 uV x 10^(19/20) = 59 uV.

Now let's look at the PA5 itself which has dynamic range of around 107 dB at 5 W in to 4 ohms. This implies sqrt(4 x 5) x 10^(-107/20) = 20 uV at the amplifier output. Clearly the DAC has a much larger noise contribution.

You can then sum these values to determine total residual noise at the amplifier output. Assuming the noise is uncorrelated they will combine as root of sum squared. So total noise at the amplifier output is sqrt (59^2 + 20^2) = 63 uV. This combined noise value is the most helpful in understanding whether you will have hiss issues. For example based on experimentation with different gear I know that noise levels in the mid-100 uV range are good for my setup to not have any noticeable hiss so this would be absolutely fine for me.

Just as a fun exercise if you take the combined noise from the DAC and the amplifier and calculate an effective dynamic range for a power level of 5 W into 4 ohms you can see how much the DAC degrades performance. Combined dynamic range is 20 x log(sqrt(4 x 5) / 63 x 10^-6) = 97 dB, so we have lost about 10 dB of performance.

Michael
 
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Maciekw

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The desktop amplifier designation limits what it can be utilized for and lends a smallness factor to it.
Lifestyle product intonates that it's sophisticated, versatile, powerful although in a small form factor and beautiful in it's simplicity.
Of which the PA5 is all those things. I envision many different peeps employing the PA5 in different environments and that it's LED'less design (I'm assuming it has no LED because none of the pics I've seen have a illuminated LED.) will assist it's ability to hide and blend into the home and work environments. :D
There is a tiny led that shines a white light. Too bad it is not orange to keep the color scheme of the dac e50
 

Billy Budapest

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I did a lot of service on hi-fi years ago and rarely saw loose binding posts. I certainly don't remember any specific time when it occurred. Probably because of better mechanical design. They were keyed so the chassis had to be punched, not drilled. Or were made in pairs as a unit. Thus, they wouldn't try to spin when you tightened them.
I have had to tighten them on Conrad-Johnson and Cairn amplifiers, to name two. With repeated use of speaker binding posts, it’s pretty easy for them to come loose.
 

Kaval

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Those who have bought PA5 could ask Topping to disclose the Class D chip used in this amp.

After all, they are the owners of PA5 and they may well have the right to know from Topping what chip they used in it. Right? Or am I missing something?

This may well put an end to the never-ending speculation regarding the chip model.
 

voodooless

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After all, they are the owners of PA5 and they may well have the right to know from Topping what chip they used in it. Right? Or am I missing something?
I doubt that in China consumers have any rights no matter where they come from :facepalm:
 

BDWoody

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After all, they are the owners of PA5 and they may well have the right to know from Topping what chip they used in it. Right?

Why?
 

timing3435

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My PA5 just came in. Out of the box sounds pretty good.
Spatial Audio X5 speaker
Matrix Audio Element X - Tidal Streaming
Topping PA5
Nothing fancy cables

The glockenspiel on Little Wing by Jim Hendrix sounds very good
Resonance on the piano pieces are lifelike
Guitar squeak is life like

I will try with Freya+ pre
 
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