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Topping PA5 Review (Amplifier)

SaltyCDogg

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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.
I've not had a lot of luck buying KFC and then demanding they tell me the secret blend of herbs and spices.
 

Labjr

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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.
Shouldn't happen right out of the box. The binding posts on this amp are cheesy.
 

Dj7675

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This has to be one of the most unusual, off the rails review threads in a while ...
-Referring to this as a "toy" amplifier when clearly it performs very well
-Complaining about everything from form factor, connections etc. This is about as ideal of a desktop amp as you can get. And for many it would work well in a main system for speakers with high sensitivity. I can only guess, but it seems that there will be more amps coming with possibly different form factors, connections, features etc, but the level of complaints regarding this is amazing IMO.
-Complaints about price... really? A company invests and designs an amp with these features and performance and there are those saying $349 is too expensive. Wow. Price is set by the market. If it is priced to high, it won't sell and pricing will be adjusted as the market changes. But armchair pricing here by some is just silly. People stating.. this thing should only cost us x$... that just isn't how the world works..
-A membes claiming an ASR Sinad Tax- literally one of the dumbest things I have heard here. Somehow implying that a well designed and measuring product is someone more expensive because of ASR
Maybe a combination of Topping / Class D haters? Not sure but this review thread has had some of the most head scratching comments I have seen here.
 

maty

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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...

Can you try with orchestral recordings? please.

And "Hotel California"

Eagles - Hotel California (1976) Vinyl, Asylum Records, Original US

Analyzed: Eagles / Hotel California {US}
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR15 -1.23 dB -18.96 dB 6:30 01-A1 Hotel California
DR13 -1.53 dB -18.50 dB 5:05 02-A2 New Kid In Town
DR15 -0.01 dB -17.36 dB 4:46 03-A3 Life In The Fast Lane
DR13 -2.38 dB -20.72 dB 4:57 04-A4 Wasted Time
DR11 -6.44 dB -22.97 dB 1:24 05-B1 Wasted Time (Reprise)
DR14 -1.16 dB -17.66 dB 4:10 06-B2 Victim Of Love
DR16 -1.85 dB -21.91 dB 3:58 07-B3 Pretty Maids All In A Row
DR14 -0.47 dB -17.22 dB 5:11 08-B4 Try And Love Again
DR13 -1.12 dB -18.71 dB 7:22 09-B5 The Last Resort
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks: 9
Official DR value: DR14
 
Last edited:

maty

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Trokox

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This has to be one of the most unusual, off the rails review threads in a while ...
-Referring to this as a "toy" amplifier when clearly it performs very well
-Complaining about everything from form factor, connections etc. This is about as ideal of a desktop amp as you can get. And for many it would work well in a main system for speakers with high sensitivity. I can only guess, but it seems that there will be more amps coming with possibly different form factors, connections, features etc, but the level of complaints regarding this is amazing IMO.
-Complaints about price... really? A company invests and designs an amp with these features and performance and there are those saying $349 is too expensive. Wow. Price is set by the market. If it is priced to high, it won't sell and pricing will be adjusted as the market changes. But armchair pricing here by some is just silly. People stating.. this thing should only cost us x$... that just isn't how the world works..
-A membes claiming an ASR Sinad Tax- literally one of the dumbest things I have heard here. Somehow implying that a well designed and measuring product is someone more expensive because of ASR
Maybe a combination of Topping / Class D haters? Not sure but this review thread has had some of the most head scratching comments I have seen here.
According to you, some hate Topping and others hate paying more than $ 100 for an amplifier, a bit of everything in this forum, they do not end up accepting that the product has a stellar performance and that it has an excellent quality price. is that I have not seen them criticize much more expensive amplifiers and with mediocre performance but this amplifier even criticizes the colors.
 

pjug

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Maciekw

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I doubt that in China consumers have any rights no matter where they come from :facepalm:
I bought a bottle of coca cola. I own it. I wonder if consumer rights regulations in the European Union or the United States will force the manufacturer to tell me the ingredients in this drink.
And as for the discussion, I'm surprised how some people try to discredit this little amplifier. What's the issue?
 

voodooless

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I bought a bottle of coca cola. I own it. I wonder if consumer rights regulations in the European Union or the United States will force the manufacturer to tell me the ingredients in this drink.
It’s right there on the bottle… they just won’t tell you the formula to mix them together to get the exact taste ;)
 

bsas

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I bought a bottle of coca cola. I own it. I wonder if consumer rights regulations in the European Union or the United States will force the manufacturer to tell me the ingredients in this drink.
And as for the discussion, I'm surprised how some people try to discredit this little amplifier. What's the issue?

The issue is cheap stake people that want the amp to cost $100 or more less. People that fail to understand the basics of economics, manufacturing and pricing, and people that have more free time to complain on forums than to actually listen to music :p... If you don't like a product, just don't buy it. But, if you do that silently and a bunch of people that like it buy a lot and the product is a success, you just don't get this personal vendetta revenge feeling so you need to steam over the Internet...
 

F1308

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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
Thank you very much, indeed.
Lovely.
Did I say thank you...?
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
 

water6

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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
Incredible, thanks so much for the detailed response with calculations, I've learnt a lot from it.
 

tmtomh

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I absolutely believe a NC122MP will meet its 125 watt @ 4 ohm rating at the conditions specified in the Hypex datasheet (1 kHz, 1% THD+N) and they have AP test results to back it up. The NC122MP is in a really weird space as it is usually only marginally cheaper than a NC252MP. Both Audiophonics and Buckeye offer NC252MP amps for $500 and Buckeye can be even more affordable than this if you need multiple amps ($780 for a 4 channel!).

The Topping is definitely an interesting proposition and I think the noise performance definitely sets it apart from other amps but it certainly is a bit power limited.

Michael

Fair enough RE the NC112MP - although by the same token, if I read Amir's review correctly, the PA5 achieves sustained (not peak) max power of just over 116wpc into 4 ohms at 1% THD, which is for all intents and purposes identical to the 122MP's 125wpc into 4 ohms at 1%THD. So if the PA5 would seem to be no more power-limited than a 122MP-based amp, while producing equal or superior levels of noise, crosstalk, and so on, yes?
 

quadrobust

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Some of these comments are really nasty. A company can determine its markup and part of its markup may likely raise resources for more product development. If a Chinese company makes a dollar does that upset you? Look at the mark-ups on high end boutique products assembled in the USA. Have you looked at the prices of Bel Canto products and a host of the others.
A bit hypocritical if you ask me when people demand that stuff from China has to be cheap just because it’s made in China, then turn around ridiculing the products from China for making whatever compromise to deliver at that price point.
 
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mdsimon2

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Fair enough RE the NC112MP - although by the same token, if I read Amir's review correctly, the PA5 achieves sustained (not peak) max power of just over 116wpc into 4 ohms at 1% THD, which is for all intents and purposes identical to the 122MP's 125wpc into 4 ohms at 1%THD. So if the PA5 would seem to be no more power-limited than a 122MP-based amp, while producing equal or superior levels of noise, crosstalk, and so on, yes?

Agree that NC122MP and PA5 are roughly even on power output and I would consider both rather power limited. As far as I can tell the NC122MP is not very popular and I imagine power output (for the price) is a primary reason. Agree that PA5 will outperform NC122MP in terms of noise but I imagine NC122MP has less frequency response variability in to complex loads and has better higher frequency distortion performance than the PA5. I am sure that both sound great when used within their power limits.

Personally I would opt for a NC252MP over either as it is not that much more expensive, I like to have more power on tap, I run DIY active speakers so having an adjustable volume knob is a liability, prefer an in-chassis power supply and I know it will give me excellent system noise performance as I long as I use a reasonably low noise DAC (>108 dB DR at 2 V).

Michael
 

pma

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Agree that NC122MP and PA5 are roughly even on power output and I would consider both rather power limited. As far as I can tell the NC122MP is not very popular and I imagine power output (for the price) is a primary reason. Agree that PA5 will outperform NC122MP in terms of noise but I imagine NC122MP has less frequency response variability in to complex loads and has better higher frequency distortion performance than the PA5. I am sure that both sound great when used within their power limits.

Personally I would opt for a NC252MP over either as it is not that much more expensive, I like to have more power on tap, I run DIY active speakers so having an adjustable volume knob is a liability, prefer an in-chassis power supply and I know it will give me excellent system noise performance as I long as I use a reasonably low noise DAC (>108 dB DR at 2 V).

Michael
My reasoning would be similar, though PA5 may have a bit better 1kHz THD+N, at higher frequencies is NC122MP better, it will be more load invariant including complex load, better in HF intermodulation CCIF test, and it keeps lower distortion up to higher power than PA5, the usable power is higher.

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and I prefer mechanical design of the Audiophonics MPA-S125NC for these reasons:

1) bigger speaker binding posts. Small binding posts of AIYIMA A07, Topping PA03 and PA5 make it difficult to use with thicker speaker wires or latching banana plugs. I myself cannot use the A07 in my main system without using an adapter for speaker cables (in fact additional binding posts with a piece of wire), because the distance of speaker terminals of the A07 is too small.

2) I prefer XLR connectors to 6.3 mm TRS. Though both are reliable, the XLRs are safer for a simple reason - TRS when unplugged at one side leaves the Tip (T) pin, which is connected to +live signal exposed to random contact with metal cases in the vicinity and there may be a static discharge or voltage difference that may destroy output of the connected DAC or preamp. These have almost never an overvoltage or ESD protection. Such scenario cannot happen with XLR connectors as their pins are covered. And, the XLR always connects pin 1 (ground) first, which is also important. All in all, XLRs are safer for use than TRS. TRS are rather good for PA systems that have usually better protection of input and output circuits than the consumer audio.

3) Built in power supply with standard IEC mains plug is a big advantage of NC122MP/MPA-S125NC.

I can see no technical reason why I should prefer the Topping PA5 over MPA-S125NC.
 

Wirrunna

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I have a PA5 on order, must be on a slow boat from China as it is not due at the retailer until the 10th. I intend to use it on my tri-amped K-Horns along side a pair of Audiophonics NC122MP amps, the PA5 will replace the NAD power amp section of a NAD 725BEE receiver, leaving the NAD as a pre amp and tuner feeding a pair of miniDSP 2X4HD for eq, phase correction and xover. The Audiophonics amps turn on with the 12v trigger signal from the NAD so the PA5 will be on even when it is not being used. Tri amping efficient horn loaded speakers does not need high powered amps, just low noise like the PA5.
 

Mulder

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3) Built in power supply with standard IEC mains plug is a big advantage of NC122MP/MPA-S125NC.

While I agree with most of what you say, the wiring does not look too smooth in that amplifier. The conductors that connect to the speaker posts look really tangled, and the mains in - is it even safe?
 
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