Topping D90 - Best measuring DAC, $699

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Billy Budapest, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    Same here, had an older Bel Canto dac 3 ($2.5k). Got a Denafrips Ares ($750)...bye bye Bel Canto !
     
  2. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Do any of these over priced DACs mentioned have any sort of over engineered analog stages? Otherwise, what is the magical ingredient that demands an additional couple grand to the price tag?
     
  3. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I have a feeling I'd prefer the D90 over the Topping as well. But between perceptions of brand prestige and (silly) generational attitudes involving Western vs. Eastern manufacturing, I think Chord will be sitting pretty.

    I can't make a perfect analogy as I'm not a car guy, but I recall 20-ish years ago when Subaru started making cars that apparently rivaled the performance of exotic sports cars. I don't think this cut into anybody's sales though, because there's a lot more to owning an exotic sports car then driving in a straight line.
     
    Helom likes this.
  4. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    I think a better car analogy is the likes the Topping D90 being the Nissan GT-Rs or Teslas of DACs. Not nearly as pretty as a Ferrari but....
     
    PhantomStranger likes this.
  5. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    Yes, plenty do if you consider "over-engineered" to mean gobs of distortion within the audible bandwidth, however, that's what allows some of them to produce the euphoria/ "holographic" effect.

    I'm slowly abandoning that camp audiophilia as I find too many compromises in other areas of performance, whether it be lack of bass extension or certain instruments sounding unnatural.
     
  6. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Haha. No, I certainly don't mean that. Especially for a digital audio product.

    Even if it is just in the literature, do any dacs attempt to set theirs' apart like some high end CD players?
     
  7. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Typo? Clarify, please?
     
  8. Billy Budapest

    Billy Budapest Forum "Member" Thread Starter

    OK, cool—I was not aware of the Schiit lingo even though in the past I have owned MANY of their products (Lyr, Vali, Modi, Bifrost, Wyrd, Cthulhu),
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  9. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Well, I joined the club and have ordered the D90 MQA to see if it beats my goto DAC for the last 10 years, a modified MAB Gold Link III with upsampling and an external clock. Is uses 4 stereo Burr-Brown PCM1716 DACS and sounds wonderful to my ears but does not support the new formats. All in it was $2,800 way back when. Curious to see how things stack up.

    interestingly they both use the same output circuit, LME49720 op amps.
     
    timind likes this.
  10. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    Interested in hearing your thoughts after you have time to evaluate the new guy. It took me a few months to decide it was time to sell my old dac.
     
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  11. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Ok, I’m not much of a writer. I have been listening to the D90 MQA now for 3 days and here are my initial thoughts. I have been enjoying my new DAC. There certainly is magic in this little box. The Topping D90 MQA certainly brings a sound that really defies its price point. Highly detailed with air and excellent instrument separation. A magnificent sound stage and deep bass. Add to that the incredible versatility to be able to accept any type of input (AES/EBU, Coax, Toslink, USB and I2S) and decode any PCM, DSD, or MQA signal. Very neutral and never harsh or glaring. Looks like it may be replacing my old DAC that was 3x the price but is now 17 years old.
    It is interesting to me that there are quite a few similarities to the old DAC. A MSB Gold III with P1000 outboard linear power supply, LME49720 op amps upsampling to 132khz, utilizing 4 Burr-Brown PCM1716 DAC chips to attain really good measurements. It was coupled with an upgraded outboard clock (Monarchy DIP Combo) and fed an AES/EBU signal. https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_9_1/msb-tech-gold-link-dac-3-p1000-powerbase-1-2002.html
    Similarities in the use of the same op amps and running multiple DACS to benefit from reduced noise floor (AK4499 is a 4 channel DAC).
    The improvement from the D90 was more subtle than I thought it would be. However the benefits of flexibility in connections, signals that can be processed and the sheer reduction in foot print (one box instead of 3) makes the shift to the D90 a no brainer for me at this time.
     
  12. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Oh, and I should put a plug in for Apos Audio and their founder Paul who was great in answering questions and making a smooth and fast transaction. I have no affiliation other than as a happy customer.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  13. Leroyd

    Leroyd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ireland
    Is it true to say that MQA is only available when using the USB input in thr DAC?
     
  14. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    It is my understanding the full decoding only happens on the USB input.
     
  15. beowulf

    beowulf Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chula Vista, CA
    Can the MQA process on the D90 be turned off? I remember reading that you couldn't turn it off on the Mytek DAC at on point and people got frustrated with it, especially due to not all the music they were listening to had MQA.
     
  16. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    MQA is just a file compression format. If the file you are playing is not MQA it would never be applied. I don’t even use a MQA source (Tidal) I just liked the idea of the use of the XMOS XU216 chipset as it has twice the buffering memory and twice the processing cores of the XMOS XU208 used in the regular D90. I figure it could help avoid obsolescence in the future.
     
    beowulf likes this.
  17. Billy Budapest

    Billy Budapest Forum "Member" Thread Starter

    I remember those Monarchy Audio DIP’s and Upsamplers! I wonder what happened to them? In the early 2000’s, I had an upsampler with the same guts as the Monarchy Audio DIP but in a much nicer silver case and made by a different company, feeding into a Channel Islands Audio VDA-1 DAC/VAC-1 power supply, feeding into a Musical Fidelity X-10v3 tube buffer/X-PSUv3 power supply. It was a pretty long digital chain, starting at my NAD 512 CD player and finishing at my Jolida SJ-502A integrated amp.
     
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  18. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Dr. Poon, founder and head engineer and designer at Monarchy is still selling them out of his house in his pseudo retirement. The silver one you described joined the signal processing (stripping clock, replacing with better clock and PLL, boosting the signal, etc. AND also reclocking/sampling up to 24/96. Monarchy now calls this the "Combo" model. DIP Combo - Monarchy Audiowww.monarchy-audio.com › DIP_Combo_Main_frame Crazy how effective it was a removing jitter and cleaning up the signal so a DAC could do it's best work. Now this is done in all modern DACs that have a femtosecond clock in them and resampling onboard in these advanced DACs. It almost negates the need for a quality transport as the signal is "fixed" prior to the D/A conversion.
     
    Billy Budapest likes this.
  19. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Location:
    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    Completely different market, with completely different customers. The people who can drop 5 or 6 figures on a DAC system want high-quality sound with deluxe construction/no compromise (parts cost, etc.). The people who buy Patek-Philippe watches (Patek Philippe Official Site | Luxury Watches for Men & Ladies ) don't care that a cheap Swatch is just as accurate a time keeper.

    Where these $150-$800 high-performance Chinese DACs are going to steal market-share is from domestic/European DACs that cost, say, 3-to-5 times as much.
     
    wgallupe and UCrazyKid like this.
  20. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    I still use a Super DIP. Had it for...now that I think about it, I've had it longer than any other piece of gear I own.
     
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  21. Razakoz

    Razakoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Utah
    Yeah, they're trying to compete with schiit and the like. People buying luxury products buy them for the status symbol as much as performance, and there's no status to be had owning a $700 dac even if it matches a $10000 dac in performance.
     
    Linger63 and JackG like this.
  22. Billy Budapest

    Billy Budapest Forum "Member" Thread Starter

    Actually, the silver upsampler unit that I owned was not a Monarchy Audio product, but was made by another company who licensed Monarchy’s design. I cannot remember the name of the company.
     
  23. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Central PA
    Hearing the Monarchy Audio name mentioned reminded me that I have the Dip unit buried away in a plastic box that holds all of my excess audio cables.
     
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  24. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    A $700 DAC has status compared to the iphone and other POS sources most people listen to music with/through.
     
    Mike-48 likes this.
  25. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    I know exactly the unit you are talking about. I’m trying to find a review of it I have seen. It was actually manufactured by Monarchy and sold white labeled to the other company. I think it was distributed by Music Direct. I’ll post it if I can find it.
     
    Billy Budapest likes this.

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