I was urged to start this thread when I asked if it existed. I will be following it closely. It strikes me that, according to specs, Topping A90 should be able to drive more or less any headphone with great success. I am therefore very interested in hearing what actual users have to say.
It sounded great to me (a90/d90 stack). However, it didn’t feel like it was worth the money unless you absolutely needed the power.
Now I am more interested in the a30/d30 pro stack which is basically half the money with a chip I liked even better in other devices. And it has nearly the same power.
My 2 cents. I will say all topping stuff has been reliable. While most other stuff had problems for me on the QC side of things.
Topping has been the most unreliable amplifiers for me. I own about 40 amplifiers right now including some of the reliable brands such as Schiit, HeadAmp, Ray Samuels Audio, SMSL, Darkvoice, Little Dot, JDS Labs, Monolith, etc…
Both toppings that I have listened to in the past year have problems. NONE of my other amplifiers have any problems. The Topping also destroyed my headphones when it died. Topping was awful to deal with. The other companies have been wonderful to communicate with. Topping is garbage in my book. I would recommend all other brands over Topping.
I’ve had zero problems with my A90 and I have no complaints about it. Maybe I just got lucky with a good unit, or maybe my time is coming, but so far it’s been golden and drives everything I throw at it without breaking a sweat.
Also, I think a lot of the people who complain about the A90 being “analytical” or “undynamic” are pairing it with the wrong DAC. I feel like Bifrost 2 > A90 is a good combination, allowing the Bifrost’s sound to come through without putting any spin on it whatsoever. But I could see how feeding a sharper sounding delta-sigma dac, such as the D90, into the A90 could be a different experience. It’s all about synergy - no piece of equipment is good OR bad in isolation, it’s all about where it lives in your chain.
Just my 2 cents.
My experience was basically the opposite. I had xduoo, smsl, some thx even an ifi and a few others. And they all dropped sound, played static or would shutdown randomly. I had 3 topping products and none of them did any of that. But basically all of them were chi-fi.
I will say that my he6se died while connected to the a90. But, I do think it was a faulty headphone there.
I went portable and have zero desktop amps now. And I am much happier.
I had an expensive DAC ordered directly from China 15 years ago that only lasted three months.
One of my Little Dot Chi-fi amplifiers used a cheap IEC320 C14 combo male socket/power switch that I had to repair.
The Chi-fi SMSL THX uses a cheap 1/4 inch socket for the headphone output.
Basically only cheap and unreliable parts were used on my Chi-fi products.
The knobs on many of the Topping amplifiers (and I believe the A90 is one of them) cannot be removed. So, if you want to work on it or get it repaired, forget it. Disposable. Once you take off the knob the pot is loose from the board and so another repair is needed just for removing the knob. What a horrible design flaw.
On ALL of my other amplifiers you can remove the knobs as many times as you want without damaging them.
I’m pretty sure the pot on my A90 died - the right channel no longer produces sound except for when I bump the pot at which point it produces horrible screechy noises. Has anyone else encountered this issue?
Wow, I was considering getting the A90, but reading this thread it really doesn’t give me the confidence to go ahead. I currently have RME ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, and I use its balanced out mode to drive my HEDDphone, I was considering getting the A90, so was wondering if that is going to be a noticeable upgrade from the ADI-2 Pro’s Balanced out.
Also, what’s up with headphones dying with Topping amplifiers? I frequently read about people having their HPs getting damaged because of Topping amps. Are they that bad?
Also read on reddit that if you don’t switch off the amp with its switch, and keep turning the power on/off from directly from the wall outlet, it damages the power supply in a few months.
Lastly, if anyone knows of a better alternative to A90 in the same price range, let me know. I was also looking at Aune S7 Pro, as someone I know said that’s a better option.
I personally felt the a90 was overpriced for what it is. If you like the type of sound it makes, then it’s about as good as it gets.
Topping had some problems with one particular product and didn’t seem to handle it well. But, if you look, many manufacturers have had issues. What separates them is how their support usually handles it.
Alternatives depends on what you are driving and what you like about the a90.
So what makes you want the a90?
I think you are shopping for a side-grade. Analytical amps that focus on measurements all use the same design criteria and typically achieve similar measurement performance. These items went beyond the limits of human perception long ago, so they nibble at the edges of a single approach rather than deliver major ‘upgrades.’
Regarding Topping amps, the first version of the $150 L30 destroyed headphones. It was replaced with a newer model last year.
[Congrats @SenyorC, as you have the first L30 issue link on DuckDuckGo!]
Not sure that is a good thing but at least the info is out there I guess.
One thing that I should add to that post (that wasn’t the case at the time of writing it) is the fact that Topping says they did replace the damaged headphones to all those that reached out to them, although there is one member on this forum who says he did not get compensated.