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Topping Pre90 Review (preamplifier)

Leonarend

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Hi Yyzsb,

Why is the pre90 a bad combination with the coda n8? I happen to own both and I think the pairing is fine. I also own different pre amps from Ayre and Naim. Both are excellent (Ayre gives an incredible soundstage) but the transparency of the topping pre 90 is pretty amazing. The only thing is that I can’t really get the volume muted to zero and the soundstage could be wider. But perhaps that has more to do with the source. Cheers Leon
 

Kal Rubinson

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If you want you can check what is the effect of the digital volume control of the DAC versus analog stepped volume of the preamp by setting volume to -6dB on the Pre90 (unity gain, what comes in goes out) and use the digital volume on the DAC.
The setting of -6db is equal to unity gain only if you have the output set to XLR+RCA and you are using the XLR outputs. In no other configuration is that true.
Then reverse this by going full volume on the DAC and lowering the volume on the Pre90. Compare both and check the differences between volumes.
I would not expect to hear any differences unless the compared gains are different.
 

Matias

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I would not expect to hear any differences unless the compared gains are different.
Depending on the system this could be some 20-30 dB gain in SNR. Just saying this should not be insignificant.
 

Kal Rubinson

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Depending on the system this could be some 20-30 dB gain in SNR. Just saying this should not be insignificant.
Sorry. I was thinking in principle and in terms of pairs of devices with comparable SNRs in which cases it would not be significant. I am not aware of the differences among the specific devices listed.
 

redjr

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Just picked up pre90 with the recent 15% off sale and it sounds great with powered Elac Navis speakers.
How do you like the Navis? I've had the Uni-fi UB5 for the past couple of years and absolutely love their sound paired with a subwoofer. This Christmas I'm going to change it up. My son is giving me the Navis. My first go at powered speakers in my main listening space. I do have to say they are very modern looking though. Can't wait to hear them in my environment. Christmas afternoon will be fun. It'll be sad giving up my power amp. Maybe I'll run both for a while. :)

I've also thought about getting the pre90 too. The specs are phenomenal. That may come into play since my new DAC only has one analog(SE) in.
 

yyzsb

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Hi Yyzsb,

Why is the pre90 a bad combination with the coda n8? I happen to own both and I think the pairing is fine. I also own different pre amps from Ayre and Naim. Both are excellent (Ayre gives an incredible soundstage) but the transparency of the topping pre 90 is pretty amazing. The only thing is that I can’t really get the volume muted to zero and the soundstage could be wider. But perhaps that has more to do with the source. Cheers Leon
On my setup I could not get the volume to scale properly. I also think the volume never completely shut off even at the lowest position. This was some time back and there have been some new amps come and go since then. My memory is a little soft on this now. I do know that I had hoped to replace a Benchmark HPA4 with the pre90. I sold the HPA4 before testing with the CODA #8. The pre90 + CODA #8 combo was so annoying to me that I ended up getting the Benchmark LA4 and took the pre90 to my Benchmark AHB2 system.

The pre90 sounds great with the Parasound A21+ and Benchmark AHB2. With the D-Sonic M3a 800s stereo amp, the CODA #8, and LSA Voyager 350 GAN amp the pre90 had volume issues for me. The sound was too loud and the volume adjustments were not properly changing. It was always sounding too loud.

I am sure there is an easy technical explanation for this. Whatever the case I am now happy with the pre90 and AHB2.

I have 3 preamps, Topping pre90, Benchmark LA4, CODA 07x. If the LA4 had dual XLR outputs as the CODA 07x I would not have gotten the 07x. I like the 07x a lot but the LA4 is my fav.
 

Leonarend

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The LA4 is def on my wishlist to try. Agree on the volume, since I faced the same issue. Also sometimes I can hear the cd playing while I have it switched to the other input . But soundwise its excellent.
 

yyzsb

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I have 3 external DACs and 2 of them are very popular on this site, the Topping D90SE and Benchmark DAC3B. My best DAC, by a lot, is the $3K Musetec 005. I sold my Gustard X26 Pro to buy the Musetec 005. The Gustard was good but the Musetec is incredible. Someone will likely send one in to have it tested here. It won't be mine; I would miss it too much.
 

misterdog

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Also sometimes I can hear the cd playing while I have it switched to the other input . But soundwise its excellent.

I used to have that problem until I found that one channel of my phono stage was wired out of phase to the other.
Given that I had wired the XLR's I cannot find anyone to blame but myself :facepalm::facepalm:.

I did have to solder the connections up inside a cupboard though....
 
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stgrim

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The setting of -6db is equal to unity gain only if you have the output set to XLR+RCA and you are using the XLR outputs. In no other configuration is that true.

I would not expect to hear any differences unless the compared gains are different.

How do I find out the unity gain setting when output is set to XLR only and I'm using XLR inputs only if it is not - 6db?
 

Kal Rubinson

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How do I find out the unity gain setting when output is set to XLR only and I'm using XLR inputs only if it is not - 6db?
With any input, if output is set to XLR only, unity gain is 0dB.
 

lordhumungous

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My experience is that a preamp ALWAYS makes a DAC sound better. I have a Benchmark LA4, Topping pre90 (selling if anyone wants one), a CODA 07x. Adding the preamp improved the Gustard X26 Pro DAC (now sold) and the Topping D90SE DAC. I also hate digital volume controls. My Benchmark DAC3B does not have a volume control which I attribute as a positive feature.
That is absolutely my experience too and why I dont use the dacs as a preamp if they have that capability.
 

Angsty

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I may be redundant in saying this, but I'm glad to see that @Kal Rubinson gave a favorable review of the Topping Pre90 in the Feb 2022 edition of Stereophile magazine. Comparing the Topping to a $17,500 Pass Labs XP-32 was a jolt to the audiophile community! John Atkinson essentially confirmed the great measurements that Amir found earlier. I believe this is the first review of a Topping product in Stereophile - a great start!
 

neukrisz

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Can I connect directly a headphones with 40 ohms impedance from the outputs of the Pre90?
As I remember the output impedance is around 40 ohm.
Am I right?
Thanks!
 

essence

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Picked up two units to replace the buffer stage of my purifi amp. Hopefully it pairs nicely with okto dac8.
 

Michal

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Could any of the Pre90 users confirm that the Pre90 has a balance adjustment?
There is information only in the table and nothing else and the remote control does not have this function.
 

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