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Topping Pre90 Review (preamplifier)

nelamvr6

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My point is your experiences, and those of your peers, run counter to what I know from my CPU design courses. I'm sure you've read up on a ton of articles written by non-EE majors (gaming hardware experts), and thus you're building your knowledge base from that.

My point is, your experiences smack in the same group as people who think burning in cables or using cables for that matter make a difference in sound. Hence my flip a coin 500 times, there's going to areas there it's all heads and all tails.

What you said, about stability after running the CPU at 100% could just be a thermal thing, and has absolutely nothing to do with actual stability, which you can replicate by buying a better cooler. Because you've heated up the CPU prior, the CPU expands and the heatsink expand to squeeze each other better, thus improving the thermals in the CPU...

As I've said before - temperature plays a role in EE, and if you reduce temperature, you reduce resistance, and thus probably creating a higher voltage situation. Higher voltage naturally stabilizes the electron pump into transisters because voltage means pressure if you take water analogy. Transisters can now flood faster, thus become more stable as you increase the clock speed. That's why those -300C cpus can hit over 8ghz.

Well, I am not an electrical engineer, and I make no claims to be one. But I addressed the possibility that enhancement in contact with the thermal paste could account for the real-world results that I and other overclockers witnessed in an earlier post. A post which it appears you either didn't see or didn't read.

I don't believe that burn in with respect to audio gear is real, and I am sorry if you interpreted my post as arguing in favor of that belief.
 

nelamvr6

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Well, my Pre90 is now in my system, and it sounds wonderful straight out of the box, no burn in required.

Once again Apos Audio did an amazing job, I ordered it on 9/5/2021, I'm listening to it on 9/13/2021.
 

VeerK

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Well, my Pre90 is now in my system, and it sounds wonderful straight out of the box, no burn in required.

Once again Apos Audio did an amazing job, I ordered it on 9/5/2021, I'm listening to it on 9/13/2021.

thanks for the update on Apos, I’m hoping the negative reports on ASR were just one-offs. On the note of the Pre90, what ever happened to the matching power amps Topping was designing?
 

DHT 845

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Yes, when Topping monoblock amplifiers will be available?
 

misterdog

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I agree that volume control on Pre90 is not that perfect when using its remote.
That could be the only minus point in Pre90.

Pointing the remote below the unit rather than at it helps.
 

Shoaibexpert

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Ok, so the results (mine, subjective) are in for the Pre90+SMSL SU-9(flashed for 3rd Harmonic).

In terms of improvement, I'd put a number of 15% on it... specifically in areas of more specificity in instrument placement and tightening of vocal image. The bass seems less boomy but more extended and overall sound appears more balanced with treble elements being more clean and extended. I really can't tell where the sounds are coming from now (it was also the case with just the SU-9 in Pre-amp mode, but more so now). Sound stage width seems to have extended very slightly with little to no increase in sound stage height. Attack and decay appear to be more quicker. Depth seems to have improved which might be what's making it easy for vocals and instrument localization easier. Vocals also don't sound so much in your face anymore as they did...which I guess is a trait of SU-9 from what I've read. Music certainly more impactful now is what I feel...if I had to put a word to it, I'd say seems more 'effortless' now in it's presentation. Noise floor hasn't changed...(maybe slightly increased, actually...maybe placebo). Remote sensor blaster has a top pointing angle...so me pointing it down always hits it's mark...that is indeed a manufacturing defect.

It's not night and day by any means (like I experienced when I switched from PC USB audio to IFI Zen Stream) but I'm certainly keeping my Pre90, especially when I can let SU-9 operate in DAC only mode.

Equipment: Tidal HiFi-IFI Zen Stream-SMSL SU-9-Topping Pre90-NAD C298-KEF R7s+SVS SB-3000 Sub - AQ Forest USB cable+all Mogami 2543 balanced interconnects and Mogami W3104 speaker cables.

No shooting the messenger guys!
 
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Pdxwayne

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Ok, so the results (mine, subjective) are in for the Pre90+SMSL SU-9(flashed for 3rd Harmonic).

In terms of improvement, I'd put a number of 15% on it... specifically in areas of more specificity in instrument placement and tightening of vocal image. The bass seems less boomy but more extended and overall sound appears more balanced with treble elements being more clean and extended. I really can't tell where the sounds are coming from now (it was also the case with just the SU-9 in Pre-amp mode, but more so now). Sound stage width seems to have extended very slightly with little to no increase in sound stage height. Attack and decay appear to be more quicker. Depth seems to have improved which might be what's making it easy for vocals and instrument localization easier. Vocals also don't sound so much in your face anymore as they did...which I guess is a trait of SU-9 from what I've read. Music certainly more impactful now is what I feel...if I had to put a word to it, I'd say seems more 'effortless' now in it's presentation. Noise floor hasn't changed...(maybe slightly increased, actually...maybe placebo). Remote sensor blaster has a top pointing angle...so me pointing it down always hits it's mark...that is indeed a manufacturing defect.

It's not night and day by any means (like I experienced when I switched from USB audio to IFI Zen Stream) but I'm certainly keeping my Pre90, especially when I can let SU-9 operate in DAC only mode.

Equipment: Tidal HiFi-IFI Zen Stream-SMSL SU-9-Topping Pre90-NAD C298-KEF R7s+SVS SB-3000 Sub - AQ Forest USB cable+all Mogami 2543 balanced interconnects and Mogami W3104 speaker cables.

No shooting the messenger guys!
I have similar experience using a transparent preamp instead of using my DAC in preamp mode. I was told using my DAC as preamp is not optimal as it is lossy. So you are not alone in experiencing improvements once moving away from DAC preamp mode.
 

simplywyn

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I just bought a Pre90 after getting annoyingly haggled, I have to say this Pre90 has made a HUGE difference to my setup. Sound stage is wider, volume feels fuller, sound is more forward, the guitars strings HOLY they now feel like they're being plucked.

PRE90 has made a huge change to my system, I think the preamp in Topping D90 was just garbage.
 

raif71

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I just bought a Pre90 after getting annoyingly haggled, I have to say this Pre90 has made a HUGE difference to my setup. Sound stage is wider, volume feels fuller, sound is more forward, the guitars strings HOLY they now feel like they're being plucked.

PRE90 has made a huge change to my system, I think the preamp in Topping D90 was just garbage.
What's your setup with the pre90, what dac and amp did you use? I'm considering getting the pre90 too but it'll be for a few months or next year.
 

simplywyn

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What's your setup with the pre90, what dac and amp did you use? I'm considering getting the pre90 too but it'll be for a few months or next year.

I have a Topping D90, with a buckeye amp to Q950s. I have a Topping A90, so I tried that in pre-amp mode into the Q950s and I noticed a marked improvement so I decided to get a Pre90

Topping D90 alone has a weird behavior, the sound sounds great already but there are certain items that lack omph, and lots of lacking in terms of string plucking, spacial feeling. I didn't know the sound was flat until I plugged in my A90 (which made it slightly better). The Pre90 made is WAY better.

After adding the Pre90, HOLY COW. I turned out my favorite scene in Inception, the one where the dream collapses and the plates explode and such.

HOLY COW was the feeling, like I could hear a plate smash and exactly know which direction it came from. Before, the dynamics didn't feel so high.

Sometime the Pre definitely helped with.

Other sounds with strong guitar, and strings, and vocals really helped, also the audience now sounds far away, not so muddled with the music.

Something about it helps the overall sound.

Also the volume is very mechanical, it makes an audible tick tick tick when you adjust it, which I absolutely love.

Basically what the Pre90 did was bring out the spacing on all the notes, so it isn't so muddled (not sure how to explain it scientifically). It beefed up the highs, and mids, but kept the lows as is, clarity definitely increased throughout. This could also because I set the Topping D90 to pure DAC mode.
 
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Harmonie

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I just bought a Pre90 after getting annoyingly haggled, I have to say this Pre90 has made a HUGE difference to my setup. Sound stage is wider, volume feels fuller, sound is more forward, the guitars strings HOLY they now feel like they're being plucked.

PRE90 has made a huge change to my system, I think the preamp in Topping D90 was just garbage.

Though totally subjective, your post is tempting me. Since long in my consideration, I'll give it a try in some time :)
 

raif71

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Though totally subjective, your post is tempting me. Since long in my consideration, I'll give it a try in some time :)
Yes, it is very tempting indeed especially the "HOLY COW" statement :D. I will mainly get it to feed several DACs and have the pre90 give a boost to the Singxer SA-1 which I will keep at low gain instead of its high gain now.
 

simplywyn

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HOLY COW moment was when I heard strings pluck... I honestly though my speakers broke, the strings were so sharp and felt so physical. I'm listening to yoyo ma and I can FEEL the strings over his cello...

I don't know the right audiophile words to apply, but things have a physicality to it.

I would have similar conclusions as the rest, it increased quality by about 10%
 
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raif71

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HOLY COW moment was when I heard strings pluck... I honestly though my speakers broke, the strings were so sharp and felt so physical. I'm listening to yoyo ma and I can FEEL the strings over his cello...

I don't know the right audiophile words to apply, but things have a physicality to it.

I would have similar conclusions as the rest, it increased quality by about 10%
Did you get the ext90 too?
 

ohnonate

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Hi, Any advice would be good. I was looking into impedance compatibility and i was thinking if my current system could benefit from this Topping Pre 90. Or should i just leave it as it is?

Current system
Bluesound Node 21 Coax Out into a Denafrips Ares II and XLR out from the Ares II into XLR into to the active speakers. Any advice if you think by adding the Pre 90 into chain would help dramatically.

Also does it affect the sound if im using 2m long XLR cables appose to say 1m XLR cables?
 

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