Topping D90 DAC - Official Thread

I wanted to see what the new AKM4499 DAC was like after trying AKM4493, which lead me to Topping D90 DAC, which arrived today from Hong Kong.

I thought it would be interesting to start a journey with this DAC and engage the community to see their thoughts on the Topping D90.

Specifications:

  • Digital audio transceiver: AK4118
  • DAC: AK4499
  • 4 TI OPA1612 OpAmps for Current to Voltage Conversion
  • 3 TI LME49720 OpAmp for Pre-Amp output
  • Power Supply TI TPS7A47 and TPS7A33 OpAmps
  • USB: Xmos XU208

Inputs:

  • USB: 44.1-768kHz/16bit-32 bit, DSD64-DSD512 ( Native), DSD64-DSD512 ( DOP)
  • IIS-LVDS: 44.1-768kHz/16bit-32 bit, DSD64-DSD512
  • Coax/Optical/AES-XLR 44.1-192kHz/16bit-24 bit
  • Bluetooth 5.0: AAC/SBC/APTX/APTx LL/APTX HD/LDAC

Outputs:

  • Stereo XLR:, 4 Vrms @ 0dBFS; Dynamic Range A-wt 127 dB @1kHz
  • Stereo RCA : 2 Vrms @ 0dBFS; Dynamic Range A-wt 123 dB @1kHz

Weight: 1395 Grams vs. 786 Grams for Qutest

The DAC can operate with fixed output or with volume control: -99dB to 0dB

Power: The DAC has a built-in switchable power supply 110-120 50/60 Hz and 220V-240V 50/60 Hz and uses a standard IEC Power Cable. So no wall warts needed. Or one of my nits with the Chord Qutest, it used Micro-USB cable for power, I wish it used USB-C based connector which is more robust.

The body of the unit is extremely clean with round edges; the only sharp spot is where the faceplate meets the main body of the DAC aluminum housing(body). Here it could use a rolled edge.

My main DAC Chord Qutest with RCA out only, so the D90 will give some more input and output options. Most import ability to test XLR based inputs on my two, current main Headphone Amps: SPL Phonitor x and TCA HPA-1.

Unboxing of the D90 has an upgraded experience from the normal white styrofoam of many high-fi products. It comes in a nice storage box for the DAC with clean dividers for cables and the remote. Cardboard Material is similar in weight to what is used on the Chord Qutest storage box.





I need more time with it, but Initial listening tests.

One thing right out of the box, I needed to do first is run tone test to check levels. Out of the box, the stock volume was low compared to the Qutest, which I have set to 2-volt RMS output — checked with dB and FFT meter set level.

The signal chain is Qobuz -> DAC A or B -> into TCA HPA-1 headphone amplifier -> into Audeze LCD-4 headphones

LCD-4 Song List

  • Louis Armstrong “Summertime”
  • Gary Clark Jr “Bright Lights”
  • John Lee Hooker “Jesse James”
  • Elmore James “Dust my Blues”
  • Hans Zimmer “Cornfield Chase”
  • Ben Howard “Old Pine”
  • Biffy Clyro “Many of Horror”
  • John Lee Hooker “It Serves You Right to Suffer”( the Avener Rework)
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn “Pride and Joy”
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn “Texas Flood”
  • The Cult “Sweet Soul Sister”
  • The Cult “Brother Wolf/Sister Moon”
  • Love and Rockets “Holiday on the Moon”
  • Dead Kennedys “Star and Stripes of Corruption”

Both DAC’s are very good at the reproduction of detail with no distortion. They are both close in musicality and dynamics; they are both excellent DAC’s.

I decided to flip back to RAD-0 since its been my daily driver. It shows these two DACs put the performance emphasis on the headphones themselves. TCA HPA-1 headphone amp was also held it own with both Easy driving RAD-0 and more power-hungry and physically husky LCD-4.

RAD-0 Song list
  • Ben Howard “Time is Dancing”
  • Ben Howard “Evergreen”
  • John Mayer “Gravity”
  • John Mayer “Slow Dancing in a Bruning Room”

Need to pull back out the SPL Phonitor x the D90 with it.

12 Likes

Nice I impressions. Looking forward to hearing more! :+1:t4:

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Oh, I do hope D90 is as good as Qutest, which is my go-to DAC. I’m hoping D90 has that clarity of resolution without sounding darker or too rounded.

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@angstorms

Nice unit!!

Wondering on how it compares to the Schitt Bifrost 2?

Nice stack of stuff!!

:>)

Alex

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Does D90 sound different than Chord Qutest?

@lost33 Thank you, On Schitt Bifrost 2, it has been a while since I used their products. So I need another member to answer this.

@JonL It still is too early in my evaluation of the two DAC to make final comments on the sound. But I will say you should be happy with your purchase.

But I was thinking about Qutest; it is a straightforward solution: 4 Filter, three voltage setting, limited I/O: RCA outs; In: USB, Optical and COAX/BNC. It really about simple elegance encased in an ingot of aluminum. Aka set up and forget.

The Topping is rich in technical capabilities, just not a refined in external design. It is still is a bit industrial looking. But a much better solution for putting into a stereo rack use with multiple sources for laid back use with the remote.

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Another nice track to listen to is John Mayer “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 (Album Version)”. the opening acoustic guitar and trumpet are fantastic to check the detail in a source.

Norman Greenbaum “Spirit In The Sky” is another favorite.

Still enjoying both DACs. With the Macbook Pro, I do like the smaller footprint of Qutest with the TCA HPA-1.

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They are both close to each other in the listening test. Topping is a pretty nice product, especially for the price.

So far the TCA HPA-1 + Topping D90 is a great combo for both the RAD-0 and LCD-4 headphones.

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Personally I happy to have both DACs, D90 will mostly like go to the office. I would not give up the Qutest, it is still the DAC I listen to the most.

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Ok, I pulled out the SPL Phonitor x out. Now XLR ours on D90, and RCA again on Qutest.

Audeze LCD-4 headphones

  • ELO "Blue Sky
  • Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, “Lake Shore Drive.”
  • Fleetwood Mac “The Chain.”
  • Ben Howard “Old Pine.”
  • John Lee Hooker “It Serves You Right To Suffer (The Avener Rework)”
  • New Order “Dreams Never End.”

Now I have the Topping D90 set to DAC mode via RCA, which should be 2 V RMS by manual. ( I need to get my oscilloscope out to see the signal out of both devices)
The Qutest back to 2 V RMS( Green) and playback via RCA.

The Qutest has more dynamics and speed of attack with the SPL Phonitor x amplifier; you can also see it in the speed of the VU Meters how it peak higher momentarily. Note the average dB is the same between the two DACs.

Right now, I am listening to Single-ended on SPL amp.

RAD-0 show the difference more clearly of the two headphones.

6 Likes

Today’s stack under test

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What’s the sound signature difference between TCA HPA-1 vs. Phonitor X?

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I am looking forward to reading your further impressions of the two, great impressions so far.

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I’ve enjoyed your impressions looking forward to hearing more on the D90…

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On the SPL vs TCA- HPA-1, Just so you can see visually the difference power available, 120 Ohms power rating on Drop and Monoprice amp is interpreted.

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Whats the story on the balanced side?

This is what I mostly use.

Alex

The HPA-1 is single-ended only, I found it interesting SPL Phonitor x headphone amplifier. The best performance is Single-Ended.

Single-Ended aka standard headphone jack - note the performance SE as highlighted

  • 6.35 mm TRS connector
  • Pin wiring: Tip = Left, ring = right, sleeve = GND
  • Impedance: 0.18 ohm
  • Attenuation factor: 180 @ 40 ohms
  • Frequency range: 10 Hz to 300 kHz ( -3 dB)
  • Crosstalk at 1 kHz: -90 dB
  • THD & N: 0.00091% (at 0 dBu, 1 kHz, 100 kohms load)
  • Noise (A-weighted): -103 dB
  • Dynamic range: 135.5 dB

Balanced XLR headphone output note performance differnce with XLR

  • Neutrik 4-pin XLR connector
  • Pin wiring: 1 = L (+), 2 = L (-), 3 = R (+), 4 = R (-)
  • Impedance: 0.36 ohms
  • Damping factor: 180 @ 40 ohms
  • Frequency range: 10 Hz to 300 kHz ( -3 dB)
  • Crosstalk at 1 kHz: -90 dB
  • THD & N: 0.00091 % (at 0 dBu, 1 kHz, 100 kohms load)
  • Noise (A-weighted): -98 dBu
  • Dynamic range: 130.5 dB

Max. Output power (at +30 dBu @ 1 kHz)

  • 2 x 1 W at 600 Ohm impedance
  • 2 x 2 W at 300 Ohm impedance
  • 2x 3.7 W at 120 Ohm impedance
  • 2x 2.9 W at 47 Ohm impedance
  • 2x 2.7 W at 32 Ohm impedance
1 Like

Here are the specs for the $400 Monoprice THX AAA 887 amp:

What do you think about these?

BALANCED OUTPUT
Output Power (per channel) 16 ohms: 8800mW <1% THD
32 ohms: 6000mW <1% THD
300 ohms: 700mW <1% THD
600 ohms: 350mW <1% THD
Total Harmonic Distortion 16 ohms: 0.000022% -133dB @ 1mW
16 ohms: 0.000032% -130dB @ 100mW
32 ohms: 0.000010% -140dB @ 1mW
32 ohms: 0.000018% -135dB @ 100mW
300 ohms: 0.000007% -143dB @ 1mW
300 ohms: 0.000010% -140dB @ 100mW
Intermodular Distortion 300 ohms: 0.000045% SMPTE -127dB 70Hz ~ 7kHz
300 ohms: 0.000045% DFD -127dB 18kHz ~ 19kHz
Crosstalk 300 ohms: 0.000045% 127dB
Noise (A weighted) 1.6µV, potentiometer at nil
Signal-to-Noise Ratio 300 ohms: dB <1% THD
Gain 0.66x , 2.0x, 6.6x (-4, +6, +16 dB), selectable using switch on front panel
Output Impedance <0.1 ohms

SINGLE-ENDED OUTPUT
Output Power (per channel) 16 ohms: 3200mW <1% THD
32 ohms: 1600mW <1% THD
300 ohms: 185mW <1% THD
600 ohms: 100mW <1% THD
Total Harmonic Distortion 16 ohms: 0.000032% -130dB @ 1mW
16 ohms: 0.000035% -129dB @ 100mW
32 ohms: 0.000018% -135dB @ 1mW
32 ohms: 0.000020% -134dB @ 100mW
300 ohms: 0.000007% -143dB @ 1mW
300 ohms 0.000014% -137dB @ 100mW
Intermodular Distortion 300 ohms: 0.000045% SMPTE -127dB 70Hz ~ 7kHz
300 ohms: 0.000045% DFD -127dB 18kHz ~ 19kHz
Crosstalk 300 ohms: 0.003162% -90dB
Noise (A weighted) 0.9uV, potentiometer at nil
Signal-to-Noise Ratio 300 ohms: 138dB @ <1% THD
Gain 0.33x, 1.0x, 3.3x (-10, 0, +10 dB) selectable with switch on front panel
Output Impedance <0.05 ohms

1 Like

Where are you seeing more power from the balanced output on the PhonitorX?

That unit has the same power on both outputs.

Also, you should expect to see more noise and distortion with balanced outputs as you have twice as many amplifier circuits operating (and ALL amplifiers add noise and distortion to the signal they are fed).

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@Torq Yes your right, staring at this too long, both SE and XLR support the same power on the SPL, It rated at 2 Channel x Power Rating ( see below).

@Torq love to hear your take why THX Drop and Monoprice why you think they built amp-like this other than specsmanship. When I surveyed the market most 16 Ohm where normally you have pretty efficient headphones.

These are the headphones that start pushing on current needs

Right now THX ( Drop, Monoprice, Benchmark) amps break the norm where XLR outputs are equal power to Single-ended, and XLR has worse distortion, SE ~3.7x more power with XLR outputs

SPL Phontior x Max. Output power (at +30 dBu @ 1 kHz)

  • 2 x 1 W at 600 Ohm impedance
  • 2 x 2 W at 300 Ohm impedance
  • 2 x 3.7 W at 120 Ohm impedance
  • 2 x 2.9 W at 47 Ohm impedance
  • 2 x 2.7 W at 32 Ohm impedance