Topping DACs?

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Sorry if I’ve not been paying attention on the digital side. Maybe they’ve been discussed. Just curious if anybody here has owned a Topping DAC? Got a notice for the D70 on Drop this morning and it looks like a nice DAC for not a ton of money. I’m in need of another high quality DAC but my digital listening is such that I can’t justify a huge amount of $$ for it. Thanks.
 

airdronian

Junior Member
I saw the same email. That's a new top of the line model, over and above the D50. There's a few of us here with Toppings, mine is a D10. Well made it seems, more than expected for the price point.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
I saw the same email. That's a new top of the line model, over and above the D50. There's a few of us here with Toppings, mine is a D10. Well made it seems, more than expected for the price point.
Same on both fronts here. Although mine is brand new and I have yet to plug it in. I will be checking out this top-of-the-line model that is not so top-of-the-line on the pocket book.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Agreed, far beyond what I'd expect at the price point for the D10. I have no other Topping DAC experience, just needed something cheap and good for the living room Raspberry Pi based streamer, and the D10 more than fit the bill.

I allocated that cost savings compared to pricier DACs towards upgrading the opamp to a discrete version from Sparkos Labs, however even the stock /included opamp is very nice sounding and a seemingly good choice in terms of voicing the unit by the designer.
 

S0und Dragon

Junior Member
I have/had the D30. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about it. It did the job I asked of it and did it above my expectations. It currently is out on extended loan to a good friend of mine. I wanted to introduce him to digital beyond the 3.5 mm to RCA adapter.
 

Ilusndweller

Junior Member
I have a D30 that I am happy with though it didnt “blow me away” like I thought it would. I need to compare it to the DAC in my B&K AVP-1030 (1996 5.1 pre), though I seriously doubt (based on memory) it will best the B&K which I think has a much better output stage. The D30 sounds slightly better than my cd players, the B&K sounds night and day compared to my cd players. The D50 is better than the D30 from what Ive read (from someone whose opinion I really trust). Since the D70 is a step up (guessing their new totl dac) from the D50, I bet it sounds quite nice. I have not read this review at all, but Ive read some of this site’s reviews before and they seem good to me. Ill prob dig out the B&K soon and compare to D30 to see if my memory is correct.

 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for the remarks, positive and less positive. It all helps! Yes, I read that analysis on audio science review and it does seem to be, on paper, a great DAC which got me intrigued by it. But that guy doesn't ever seem to actually listen to things nor believe that it would matter to listen at all so I'm never sure what to make of it besides the DAC looking great in charts..which is, of course, part of the equation. It measures extremely well and that guy has some serious measurement gear. I wish I could find more subjective opinions on how this all translates to actual sound, but they're currently lacking. I know there's a big difference in this DAC and their previous ones as they've moved away from ESS and are now using AKM.

For $500, or less if I take advantage of the "drop", however that works...it looks like a great option for what I need. I'm just looking for something to best the already very nice DAC in my BluSound Node2.
 

Ilusndweller

Junior Member
At what point does adding another zero become insignicant? I too would rather read listening reviews (from someone whose ears/opinion I trust) that ideally reference the gear being reviewed to gear Ive heard.

...and time to put up or shut up lol. Going to see if I can find the 24 year old B&K AVP-1030 5.1 pre with built in dac to see if my memory is correct that it does clearly sound better than the currently available Topping D30.
 
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
At what point does adding another zero become insignicant? I too would rather read listening reviews (from someone whose ears/opinion I trust) that ideally reference the gear being reviewed to gear Ive heard.

...and time to put up or shut up lol. Going to see if I can find the 24 year old B&K AVP-1030 5.1 pre with built in dac to see if my memory is correct that it does clearly sound better than the currently available Topping D30.
Yeah, I'm rather unconcerned with how any DAC measures as even the cheapest ones seem to measure well. Yet I know from ownership experience that they all don't sound the same, and I know from being in studios how much distortion in various forms is added to things to make them -sound- better. So..I really just want something that I want to listen to for hours.

Good luck with the B&K!
 

Ilusndweller

Junior Member
My recollection is correct. The built in DAC in the B&K sounds much better than the D30. Cymbals are better, bass is tighter and overall noticeably cleaner and more detailed. D30 sounds like there is a sheet bw soeakers and you when compared to B&K. I think if 100 HFH members were blind tested, all 100 would choose the B&K. I dont see this at all falling under the “personal preferences” category. Im going optical in to the Topping from a BPC Sony player and the coax feed to the B&K is from a Tascam player. Doubt this matters but Ill be testing these variables in the future. The NAD 5300 cd player (I think? totl from 89, has the “54” chips from Burr Brown) sounded extremely similar to the B&K. Simply stated, the D30 does not sound nearly as good as the B&K or NAD 5300.

And when I was trying to connect a sub to my recently purchased Denon POA-2800 amp via speaker B terminals, I learned that while there are speaker B terminals on the back (and speaker B button on front), there is no actual way to connect speaker cables to them because there are no holes for wires. Even banana plugs wont work. This is the second time I have seen non functional speaker B terminals, the first was on a Pioneer SA-1060 integraded whose terminals were there but the inside the amp they werent connected to anything. Yet there was a speaker B button on front.
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
My recollection is correct. The built in DAC in the B&K sounds much better than the D30. Cymbals are better, bass is tighter and overall noticeably cleaner and more detailed. D30 sounds like there is a sheet bw soeakers and you when compared to B&K. I think if 100 HFH members were blind tested, all 100 would choose the B&K. I dont see this at all falling under the “personal preferences” category. Im going optical in to the Topping from a BPC Sony player and the coax feed to the B&K is from a Tascam player. Doubt this matters but Ill be testing these variables in the future. The NAD 5300 cd player (I think? totl from 89, has the “54” chips from Burr Brown) sounded extremely similar to the B&K. Simply stated, the D30 does not sound nearly as good as the B&K or NAD 5300.

And when I was trying to connect a sub to my recently purchased Denon POA-2800 amp via speaker B terminals, I learned that while there are speaker B terminals on the back (and speaker B button on front), there is no actual way to connect speaker cables to them because there are no holes for wires. Even banana plugs wont work. This is the second time I have seen non functional speaker B terminals, the first was on a Pioneer SA-1060 integraded whose terminals were there but the inside the amp they werent connected to anything. Yet there was a speaker B button on front.
View attachment 14058
Not totally surprising with the B&K but I would try Coax with it. Every time I have used optical to connect anything to a DAC, the sound gets thinner, has less body, just doesn't sound as good to me.

And that's really surprising with the Denon. Out of curiosity I looked up the manual, it very clearly says A and B speakers can be connected. There's no little slot cut out on the bottom of the plastic cup around the binding posts for wires to go in? That's usually how those types of posts work. And the slots to insert wires behind the screw-posts on the bottom ones are often on the opposite sides as the top ones.
 

Fran604g

Just Call Me Junior
You guys have me thinking I should dig out my old Adcom GCD 700. Haven't employed it for years - since throwing everything on my PC and using JRiver.

IIRC, the unit allows for use of the DACs independently of the transport. 🤔

I recall the Burr-Brown op amps were pretty highly regarded back in the day. Of course I don't know how they would stack up against modern stuff.
 

Ilusndweller

Junior Member
IGNORE MY CONCLUSIONS FROM PREVIOUS POST REGARDING DACS.

Regarding Denon 2800 speaker B terminals, You are correct John, the speaker holes are on the bottom. When I was feeling around I missed them. These speaker terminals have tiny holes, Im using 16 guage wire and cant imagine anything wider would fit. 12 guage sure as heck wont. I dont know what they were thinking, probably saving $2.17 worth of parts per amp.

I was just getting ready to feed the Topping coax when I realized I used a “as cheap as rca cables get” to connect it to the B&K (lazy, didnt want to go to basement). So now I will give the Topping my best transport (probably the NAD), my best Coax cable, and my best rca cables.

Hrrrummmphhhh my earlier conclusions dont hold as they sound very close now. Ive ruled out the junk rca cable. So now it comes down to coax vs optical, transport quality, or quality of digital cables. Of these three (none of which Ive ever given a fair shake, i.e. forming my opinions based on experiences/experiments) I would have thought optical/coax would be the most likely. So I just tested that (though with different transports and who knows if the coax cable quality was “equivalent” to optical cabke quality) by toggling the switch on the Topping bw coax and optical and could not hear a difference.

Aaaaaaaarrrrrghhhhh maybe the transport and digital cable quality, two things Ive never given a rat’s azz about do matter?!?!

Hrrrumphhhhhh...
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I hate finding out that things I thought didn’t matter ...do matter. Reminds me of how bummed I was when I first heard a distinct difference between cables. Maybe the impedance on the coax isn’t what it should be? Transports do make a difference (sadly).
 

Ilusndweller

Junior Member
Im quite shocked by these results. From “noticeably better” to “6 of one/half a dozen of the other”. I dont know if I overlooked something or not but this uncertainty as to what is causing this significant difference is rather unsettling to me.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
IIRC, the unit allows for use of the DACs independently of the transport.
Unfortunately it's going to be the other way around, you can use the transport independent of the onboard DACs, but not vice versa.

Units of that vintage only had digital output via coax and/or optical, but they did not have any digital inputs. So you can't actually use it as a DAC only, though you could use it as a transport to pair with some other outboard DAC if so inclined.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Aaaaaaaarrrrrghhhhh maybe the transport and digital cable quality, two things Ive never given a rat’s azz about do matter?!?!
They do, but it's actually more detailed than that. In almost all cases, the quality of the power supply (or lack thereof) has more to do with the final sound quality than anything else. The actual DAC chip in use, and even to some extent the analog output stage design, have less to do with influencing the sound than most people care to believe.

Everything runs off the power supply, and even when using digital output (in the case of disc player as transport), or digital input (in the case of a DAC), changes/upgrades made to the power supply are always the biggest bang for the buck and result in the easiest to hear differences. Beefing up the storage capacitance, better filter caps, higher quality voltage regulators, etc. tend to upgrade the sound more than the somewhat smaller differences between DAC chips, or even chip architecture (i.e. multibit "ladder" vs delta-sigma).

So in your example, yes there are differences between coax and Toslink, or for that matter the actual interface cables for such, and there are differences between the transport and DAC sections, and there are always differences between the power supply designs too. Invariably, the unit with the better power supply wins.

Power supply is probably under appreciated in many circles in general, but it is especially ignored for no good reason in "digital" circles. People want to think a particular chip or aspect of the digital board design is responsible for the overall sound when really the single biggest contributor is the power supply.

Various CD players and/or DACs that offer power supply upgrades are great test beds for that, as not everyone is into DIY or tearing apart perfectly good players to modify them.

Instead, with certain brands (for example Naim), you'd simply save up the scratch for the factory external power supply option, ideally if you could find a used one but that was always hard, usually they'd only be paired with the player in a used sale. Shocking difference for the better when using the external power supply, not at all small or subtle and especially surprising given the player already sounded great in it's stock/standard form.
 

Fran604g

Just Call Me Junior
Unfortunately it's going to be the other way around, you can use the transport independent of the onboard DACs, but not vice versa.

Units of that vintage only had digital output via coax and/or optical, but they did not have any digital inputs. So you can't actually use it as a DAC only, though you could use it as a transport to pair with some other outboard DAC if so inclined.
Ahh, you're right! My memory fails me. :(
 

Ilusndweller

Junior Member
Thanks Mikey, good stuff! I forgot about upgrading the PS on the Topping. I was unaware people beefed up PS in CD players, never thought about it until now. Id read that upgrading the PS on the Topping to a linear PS makes a noticeable difference. I know they can be had for $20 from Parts Express thanks to Hardy. Need to order one and find out for myself.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
d read that upgrading the PS on the Topping to a linear PS makes a noticeable difference.
Something like this in the 15 volt 1.2 amp version would likely knock your socks off compared to the cheap SMPS that Topping includes stock, however it also costs almost as much as the DAC itself. With power supply, you definitely get what you pay for.

Even a low noise switcher will make a nice difference, the iPower 15 volt comes to mind, however I'd certainly just apply that $49 towards a real LPS in most cases.
 
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