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(Unofficial) Topping D50 III DAC review and measurements

Rja4000

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Here is a review and measurements of the recent
Topping D50 III DAC

_R9A6944_dxo_FHD.jpg


The D50 III is a small DAC.
From above, it looks like a square of approx 13x13cm .
I purchased it new from Audiophonics for around 230€ (pre-release discount included).
This is one of the cheapest DACs with balanced and unbalanced outputs, LDAC Bluetooth, SPDIF inputs, level control and remote.

It comes with usual connectors: USB, Optical and coaxial (RCA) SPDIF inputs, and of course a pair of unbalanced analog RCA outputs.
On top of that, it adds a pair of TRS balanced outputs.

_R9A6902_dxo_FHD.jpg

In the box, there is also a (bluetooth + IR) BC-15A remote, but NO power supply.
This for sure helped to lower the price.
The DAC may be powered from any USB source, so just a USB power cable is provided.
It worked for me from any USB power source I had at hand, including a power bank.

Interestingly, it also has a 12V Trigger output, to remotely power on an external power amplifier, as an example.
This is a very welcome addition for me.

I didn't find any "fixed level output mode". So everything here is done at 0dB level unless specified.

The display is quite small, as you may see, and hardly readable from a distance.

The remote allows to set the volume, select the digital input, the analog output, the filter, chose between 2 presets, mute and display light level.

Topping says it's built around a pair of ES9039EQ2M DAC chips.

Important notice:
I measured the D50 III with firmware 1.21.
Previous versions of firmware have a very serious issue. (Read more here)
If you receive your D50 III, check the firmware version and upgrade to the last version before doing anything else.



Measurements

Measures are performed with following equipment:
RME ADI-2/4 Pro SE, as the main ADC
For very low levels, I used the RME 12Mic-D Mic preamp/interface or the RME UFX III interface.
For this review, I used a trial version of Audio Precision APx 500 Flex 8.1.2, where possible
(What's better than actual measurements to test and understand a software ?)
All other measurements were done with my ususal software, Virtins Multi Instrument (now version 3.9.9.6).


There are some limitations and differences compared to Amir's testing with an Audio Precision APx555.
That's more than enough to get a good idea of the device performances though.
I'll post comments where such differences are most important.




SINAD measurement

NB: I don't own an Audio Precision analyzer.
Conditions are therefore not exactly the same, so please don't compare this directly to Amir's figures.
Any value approaching or above 120dB SINAD should be considered state of the art anyway.



TRS Balanced outputs 4V Dashboard

SINAD Dashboard 4V L (Crop).png


For this measurement, I used the APx 500 Flex software, with the RME ADI-2/4 Pro SE and an external E1DA APU notch filter.
I can only measure one channeml at a time,
This is left channel. Right channel is 0.14dB lower.



TRS Balanced outputs 5V Dashboard

At 5V, we get higher SINAD

SINAD Dashboard 5V L (Crop).png



RCA Unbalanced outputs 4V Dashboard

2024-04-11 20_56_47-Greenshot RCA 4V L (Crop).png



Bluetooth LDAC to TRS outputs 4V Dashboard

While at it, I also measured with Bluetooth LDAC

2024-04-11 15_44_11-Greenshot SINAD LDAC (Crop).png


Limitations we see here are typical of the LDAC Codec.


Dynamic range

Due to the way I perform this measurement, I was not able to use Audio Precision software directly for this measurement.

However, I now use the same CCIR-2k weighting AP uses.
NB: I forgot to re-measure Voltage. So voltage shown is not accurate. Should be around 4mV for -60dB at 4V.


The level you see in the plot is as seen by the RME UFX III I use as ADC for this measurement. It is set for 60dB gain, 0dBFS here is around -41.5dBu.



EDIT
After Amir published his own measurements, I re-checked Dynamic range figures.
Previous CCIR-2k figures were not correct - underestimated by approx 5.6dB (I was using CCIR-1k).

Here are the new measurements


4V CCIR-2k dynamic range

DR 4V CCIR-2k - Remeasured (Crop).png



Dynamic range (dB)Weighting
DACOutputRange(No)ACCIR-2k
D50 IIITRS4V128.6130.8126.8
D50 IIITRS5V130.5132.8129.0

All DR measured with 997Hz sine wave at -60dB, 20Hz-20kHz

Note that 132dB with A-Weighting is the figure Topping publishes in the D50 III Specs.


Linearity

2024-04-08 09_51_57-Linearity (ideal = 0 dB).png


Thanks to Amir, I was able to use his own project/template.
Values shoudl therefore be more in line with his results.



Multitone Measurements

2024-04-11 16_04_16-32 Tone Input Signal _ 192 kHz Sampling Rate.png


Text-book perfect


Sine 50Hz under 600 Ohm load measurement
(Torture test)

I ran this new test Amir added in the recent DAC measurements.

I run this test with an home-made 600 Ohm load.

2024-04-11 14_56_39-50 Hz into 600 Ohm Load 32k FFT_4 times average.png



Output impedance

TRS (balanced) output
Open circuit VoltageV1
3,9809​
Vrms
Load resistanceRL
614,3​
Ohm
Loaded circuit VoltageV2
3,4292​
Vrms
Zo=RL*(V1/V2-1)Zo
98,8
Ohm

RCA (unbalanced) output
Open circuit VoltageV1
2,0308​
Vrms
Load resistanceRL
614,2​
Ohm
Loaded circuit VoltageV2
1,8753​
Vrms
Zo=RL*(V1/V2-1)Zo
50,9
Ohm
(Reference)

Measured at 997Hz only, with a calibrated Brymen BM869s



IMD+N measurement

2024-04-10 11_15_31-Intermodulation Distortion (lower better).png


Excellent results: Very low noise and just a hint of distortion close to 0dBFS

A few comments about this measurement:
This should be much closer to Amir's measurement with Audio Precision than what I was measuring before.
AP is using IMD+Noise, not just IMD.



Jitter

2024-04-10 12_54_22-Jitter Noise and Spectrum 128k Point FFT, 16 Averages.png


Jitter performance is very close to text-book perfect !
All plots perfectly superpose for a perfect picture, whatever the source.


Filters comparison

D 50 III Filters 44.1kHz 120dB.png


D 50 III Filters 44.1kHz 10dB.png


Default filter is Mode 3 (the red plot), which is the one I've used for all other measurements.
EDIT: After a factory reset, Mode 1 is active. Mode 1 is also what the manual describes as the default value.
But all my tests where done with Mode 3.

Filters Impulse responses

I recorded each Filter's impulse timeplot
From which we may deduct each filter's name:

Mode 1: Minimum phase
Mode 2: Linear phase apodizing fast roll-off
Mode 3: Linear phase fast roll-off
Mode 4: Linear phase fast roll-off low ripple
Mode 5: Linear phase slow roll-off
Mode 6: Minimum phase fast roll-off
Mode 7: Minimum phase slow roll-off
Mode 8: Minimum phase slow roll-off low dispersion:

D50 III Impulse Mode 1.pngD50 III Impulse Mode 2.pngD50 III Impulse Mode 3.pngD50 III Impulse Mode 4.png

D50 III Impulse Mode 5.pngD50 III Impulse Mode 6.pngD50 III Impulse Mode 7.pngD50 III Impulse Mode 8.png

Measured with RME ADI-2/4 Pro se @768kHz with Virtins MultiInstrument 3.9.9.6
See also the "
ESS ES9039Q2M data sheet"


THD+N ratio vs Frequency (90kHz BW)

1713064554608.png

Here is what the noise at higher frequencies looks like:

2024-04-10 12_21_25-FFT Spectrum.png



Intersample overs

As I usually do now, I tested for intersample overs, up to +3dB overload, and distortion is showing only above +2.8dB or so.
This is excellent performance, and much better than the other Topping ESS DACs I have measured, almost on par with the RME performance.

I don't know if Intersample overshoots are actually a problem in real life, but not with this DAC anyway.

1713068768972.png



Parametric EQ functionality (USB input only)

The EQ requires an application called "Topping Tune"

2024-04-14 07_17_38-Topping Tune.png


It allows configuration of parametric EQ
Apparently, you may store various configurations locally (on your computer) or on the device.
You may have up to 10 bands in each Parametric EQ configuration.
And you may store up to 5 different configs in the device.

I initially had a short test of EQ, to check if that was working when using another source than USB - it does not.
I also checked if that was working when using USB from my Android smartphone - and it does.

Now, playing more with the App, I have to say it's quite buggy at that stage (v1.02).
It happens very often that you change a setting in the app on a device config but, even if it shows the proper curve on the app display, it's not actually activated in the device !
So it's probably better to configure your EQ locally and then export it to your device.

I've done a quick test to check how it matches RME EQ, as an example.

D50 III EQ Match to RME.png


As you may see, it matches pretty well.
This is here a 3 band PEQ test, with maximum gain (+12dB) and attenuation (-12dB) and different Q for each frequency.
The main mismatch is that the 100Hz peak seems to be at 105Hz on the Topping instead.

But what's the distortion/impact of such an EQ ?
As can be seen in this question I posted on Bluesound support, an EQ, even simple, if not properly implemented, may degrade your sound.

So I ran the Multitone 32 with that EQ in place:

D50 III MT32 EQ Topping.png


Compared to the same EQ played in the RME:

D50 III MT32 EQ RME_DAC.png


That gives you some idea.
EQ implementation is quite good -and its negative effects on low frequencies noise and distortion would certainly not be audible- but could be better.


Consumption
Idle: 0.85W
Loaded:
5V 1kHz 0dBFS 48kHz stereo balanced on 45k Ohm: 2.19W (<0.45A)


Conclusion

This DAC is really impressive !
It ticks most boxes in my list for a very reasonable price.
Including the trigger output and the Bluetooth remote (a clear improvement on IR remote).

The parametric EQ is also a very nice addition.
Too bad it's stricly limited to use with USB input.


What more could you want?
Add a fully functional preamp functionality: with control for Balance, Mono,...
and of course a parametric EQ for all inputs, and our quest for the perfect affordable DAC would then be over. :cool:
Will that be for the version IV ?

Anyway, as is, this DAC is a terrific value for the money !


For me,
This is just excellent !


Coming next...
Review and measurements of RME UFX III,...
 

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Rja4000

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Also, because i know some are looking into this, here is a 997Hz Sine wave played at -90.31dBFS through the Topping D50 III in 16 bits mode

D50 III 997Hz -90.31dBFS 16 bits.png



And here is the same in 24 bits mode

D50 III 997Hz -90.31dBFS 24 bits.png


Both are exactly as expected.

So nothing wrong here either


Supplier specs


65f160be3f5a5ca2567d7176_D50-III--en-17.jpg
 
Last edited:

Matias

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Excellent work, congrats! And awesome little DAC.
 

Sokel

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That looks like a good one.

Thanks for the review!
 

yys310

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Thanks for the review.
Did the DPLL BW influence the SPDIF input jitter performance?
 

Guddu

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Seems like every new DAC irrespective
Here is a review and measurements of the recent
Topping D50 III DAC

View attachment 363412

The D50 III is a small DAC.
Looked from above, it looks like a square of approx 13x13cm .
I purchased it new from Audiophonics for around 230€ (pre-release discount included).
This is one of the cheapest DACs with balanced and unbalanced outputs, LDAC Bluetooth, SPDIF inputs, level control and remote.

It comes with usual connectors: USB, Optical and coaxial (RCA) SPDIF inputs, and of course a pair of unbalanced analog RCA outputs.
On top of that, it adds a pair of TRS balanced outputs.

View attachment 363413
In the box, there is also a (bluetooth + IR) BC-15A remote, but NO power supply.
This for sure helped to lower the price.
The DAC may be powered from any USB source, so just a USB power cable is provided.
It worked for me from any USB power source I had at hand, including a power bank.

Interestingly, it also has a 12V Trigger output, to remotely power on an external power amplifier, as an example.
This is a very welcome addition for me.

I didn't find any "fixed level output mode". So everything here is done at 0dB level unless specified.

The display is quite small, as you may see, and hardly readable from a distance.

The remote allows to set the volume, select the digital input, the analog output, the filter, chose between 2 presets, mute and display light level.

Topping says it's built around a pair of ES9039EQ2M DAC chips.

Important notice:
I measured the D50 III with firmware 1.21.
Previous versions of firmware have a very serious issue. (Read more here)
If you receive your D50 III, check the firmware version and upgrade to the last version before doing anything else.



Measurements

Measures are performed with following equipment:
RME ADI-2/4 Pro SE, as the main ADC
For very low levels, I used the RME 12Mic-D Mic preamp/interface or the RME UFX III interface.
For this review, I used a trial version of Audio Precision APx 500 Flex 8.1.2, where possible
(What's better than actual measurements to test and understand a software ?)
All other measurements where done with my ususal software, Virtins Multi Instrument (now version 3.9.9.6).


There are some limitations and differences compared to Amir's testing with an Audio Precision APx555.
That's more than enough to get a good idea of the device performances though.
I'll post comments where such differences are most important.




SINAD measurement

NB: I don't own an Audio Precision analyzer.
Conditions are therefore not exactly the same, so please don't compare this directly to Amir's figures.


TRS Balanced outputs 4V Dashboard

View attachment 363415

For this measurement, I used the APx 500 Flex software, with the RME ADI-2/4 Pro SE and an external E1DA APU notch filter.
I can only measure one channeml at a time,
This is left channel. Right channel is 0.14dB lower.



TRS Balanced outputs 5V Dashboard

At 5V, we get higher SINAD

View attachment 363416


RCA Unbalanced outputs 4V Dashboard

View attachment 363417


Bluetooth LDAC to TRS outputs 4V Dashboard

While at it, I also measured with Bluetooth LDAC

View attachment 363462

Limitations we see here are typical of the LDAC Codec.


Dynamic range

Due to the way I perform this measurement, I was not able to use Audio Precision software directly for this measurement.

However, I now use the same CCIR-2k weighting AP uses.
NB: I forgot to re-measure Voltage. So voltage shown is not accurate. Should be around 4mV for -60dB at 4V.


The level you see in the plot is as seen by the RME UFX III I use as ADC for this measurement. It is set for 60dB gain, 0dBFS here is around -41.5dBu.

View attachment 363444



View attachment 363447


Note that 132dB with A-Weighting is the figure Topping publishes in the D50 III Specs.


Linearity

View attachment 363450

Thanks to Amir, I was able to use his own project/template.
Values shoudl therefore be more in line with his results.



Multitone Measurements

View attachment 363451


Text-book perfect


Sine 50Hz under 600 Ohm load measurement
(Torture test)

I ran this new test Amir added in the recent DAC measurements.

I run this test with an home-made 600 Ohm load.

View attachment 363456


Output impedance
(coming soon...)


IMD measurement

View attachment 363460


Excellent results: Very low noise and just a hint of distortion close to 0dBFS

A few comments about this measurement:
This should be much closer to Amir's measurement with Audio Precision than what I was measuring before.
AP is using IMD+Noise, not just IMD.



Jitter

View attachment 363461

Jitter performance is very close to text-book perfect !
All plots perfectly superpose for a perfect picture, whatever the source.



Filters comparison

View attachment 363490

View attachment 363491

Default filter is Mode 3 (the red plot), which is the one I've used for all other measurements.


THD+N ratio vs Frequency (90kHz BW)

(Coming soon...)


Intersample overs

(Coming soon...)


Parametric EQ functionality (USB input only)

(Coming soon...)
NB: It works from my smartphone


Conclusion

This DAC is really impressive !
It ticks most boxes in my list for a very reasonable price.
Including the trigger output and the Bluetooth remote (a clear improvement on IR remote).

The parametric EQ is also a very nice addition.
Too bad it's stricly limited to use with USB input.


What to wish more ?
A fully functional preamp functionality: with control for Balance, Mono,..
And of course a parametric EQ for all inputs.
Then our quest for the perfect affordable DAC would be over. :cool:

Anyway, as is, this DAC is a terrific value for the money !


For me,
This is just excellent !


Coming next...
Review and measurements of RME UFX III,...

Thanks @Rja4000, deserves to be promoted.

Every new DAC from SMSL & Topping have excellent measurements, no surprises there.

This one has PEQ, can you test if those work well?
 

Bleib

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This one has PEQ, can you test if those work well?
yes, suppose you raise the bass a lot, where there is a lot of energy.. is distorsion and output level kept in control?
 

_thelaughingman

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Impressive work. Definitely a technical marvel for such a small package.
 

DLS79

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Parametric EQ functionality (USB input only)

(Coming soon...)
NB: It works from my smartphone

This is the bit I'd like to see a lot of detail on.

  • How many custom profiles/presets can be saved in the dac itself?
  • How do you switch them with the remote or the front panel joystick?
  • How do you identify what one is currently active if any?
 

_thelaughingman

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Mikig

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well done, great job.
Apparently another excellent device from Topping. Truly complete: balanced with preamp, and eq.
 
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