Topping D50 D/A Converter. Worthwhile?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Kiko1974, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I know that Chi-Fi is not very popular here but maybe some forum members have bought the Topping D50 D/A Converter that on other websites and forums gets great reviews.
    I'm currently using its little brother, the Topping D30 which I bought back in June and I think it's not even broken in yet as I seldom listen to digital music and when I do they are mostly multichannel SACD's and BD-A's and for that I use HDMI from a Sony UBP X-800 UHD BD player to my Pioneer SC LX-76.
    ?Though I have all my SACD's ripped and their DSD files extracted I'm not interested on using a computer to play DSD natively with the Topping D30. I have instead all my SACD's DSD files converted to 176.4/24 PCM (Flac) using Weiss Saracon that gets 176.4/24 audio files undistinguishable from the real DSD files. Maybe my set up is not resolving enough, maybe Weiss Saracon when used well excells at converting DSD to Hi Res PCM.
    I like how my Topping D30 D/A converter sounds but if a 120 € converter sounds that good the D50 that doubles its price can be cheap musical bliss.
    Does anybody here has any experience with the Topping D50 that can share with us? What are you using to power it? If I got it I'd use a 15000 mAh LG powerbank, that should give it plenty of time of CLEAN power to work.
    On these links are the two converters, the D30 and the D50.
    Thanks in advance for your replies.

    https://www.amazon.com/TOPPING-D30-...F8&qid=1541479007&sr=8-3&keywords=topping+d30

    https://www.amazon.com/TOPPING-ES90...F8&qid=1541476514&sr=8-3&keywords=topping+d50[​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. L5730

    L5730 Forum Resident

    Apparently the D50 'joystick' control knob thing is a bit wobbly and doesn't feel great.
    As for sound, I'd be interested to know too.

    I, myself have recently picked up two D10's to play music from PCs. These are incredible value for money! I'd imagine the D50 is better in terms of noise rejection and such, and the DX7s better still, but how this equates to final sound, I don't know.
    From the audio science review site (you've probably come across it), these Topping DACs delivery ruler flat frequency response and measure great. I know of people who say measurements aren't everything and really the final metric is listening.
     
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  3. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The thing with these types of DACs is that you have to be aware of common complaints and be willing to deal or live with them. Many of the Topping and SMSL DACs measure very well. However, QC and UI isn't as great as it could be. IIRC either the D50 or a similar model has serious issues with the heatsinks. If you are savvy, you can take it apart and correct those issues so the unit doesn't burn out early. I believe there is a thread on Headfi or another forum about this.

    For the past several months I have been using the tiny little SMSL IQ DAC as my desktop and portable DAC/Headphone amp. No real complaints.
     
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  4. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    Amir from Audio Science Review is pretty controversial (to say the least).
     
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  5. seikosha

    seikosha Well-Known Member

    I'll say this about measurements. I'd been reading some of Amir's stuff. The new Schiit Modi 3 actually measured pretty well on Amir's site. Much much better than the Schiit Bifrost that I own which was an abomination. I figured for 100 bucks, why don't I try a unit that measures so much better than my current unit to see how it sounds.

    No question, the Bifrost sounds much better. It's not hard to hear. It settled in my mind that there's much more to how something sounds than what Amir is presenting to us in his measurements.
     
  6. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Interesting. Honestly I don't expect everyone to hear the differences in his measurements, especially SINAD. One prominent YT DAC reviewer sings the praises of a unit that has HORRIBLE measurements (less than 80db IIRC). I think our ears often fool us with this stuff.

    I have not heard the MODI 3. I wonder if your unit had a build quality issue. If you look at the teardown photos of Schiit gear (sloppy solder work, components not screwed down, etc.) it does not inspire confidence. Build quality seems about on par with the Chinese companies, even if the aluminum casing is prettier to look at.

    It could also be that you prefer the sound of your Bifrost from a subjective standpoint, measurements notwithstanding. Many people seem to like R2R DACs, and just about all those measure quite poorly from what I've seen.
     
    Kiko1974 likes this.
  7. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've opened my Topping D30 D/A converter and I have no complaints about its build quality, it looked great to me and on par with well known brands if not better.
    Regarding its sound, I like it, and I'm very picky regarding digital sound, it sounded harsh at first at to the pint the first thing I thought was "here we go again with digital" but after a week or so (break in?) it started sounding fine and that's what I use to listen to my digital music coupled via digital coaxial with a Sony UBP X-800 UHD BD player. I like it so much that I wonder if the D50 can best it or just has a fancier look and unuseful functions.
     
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  8. L5730

    L5730 Forum Resident

    I don't want to drift this thread off into the merits of listening tests etc. but I did want to say that a common issue with comparing two devices is volume matching. If the loudness/volume is off by as little as 1 dB, or even a half of that, it can make us favour one over the other in terms of warmer/smoother/body/resolution etc. Because I tend to spend a fair amount of time adjusting level and matching audio for comparison, generally speaking I try to ignore everything except the voice and try and get those close. Only then do I bother to care about anything else in the mix.

    Also, I know a guy who used to build $2k+ HiFi components and, although I didn't know him when he did all that stuff, we have spoken in loose conversation about measurements and sound. His thinking is that as an electronics engineer you have to test everything and measure everything. But when you settle on part values, like resistors or capacitors, there can be quite a difference in sound from these tiny parts that are, on paper at least, exactly the same. I still find that hard to believe, but without the ability to experience this for myself, I'll trust his experience in that. His comments regards to Topping products "I wonder if anyone had ever listened to the design at the factory?".

    Thirdly, there is a lot to be said for the phrase "ignorance is bliss". Maybe our setups just aren't resolving enough to make out the differences in some products, or to show up some of the issues that other folks have. You know what, that is kinda nice in a way. It means we can focus on enjoying the music and not analysing everything.

    As for the D50, it's £180 here in UK, sold by Shenzen Audio and fulfilled by Amazon uk. A bit too much for me to take the punt on that at the moment.
     
    basie-fan likes this.
  9. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Having a look today at several website today I discovered that all my three digital audio devices (excluding my humble Xiaomi Mi A2 cell phono) share the same D/A IC converter, a CS4398, Which is used by my FiiO X3 MK II, my A/V receiver, a Pioneer SC LX76 from 2012 that was also sold in the US with the Elite Badge (it cost me 2000 Euros back in the day so it's not the best of the best but it's a respectable receiver with nice sound and build quality) and also the Topping D30 D/A converter.
    Do I prefer the sound of either a CD or Hi Res files converted by the internal CS4398's on my receiver over the conversion done by the Topping D30? Nope, even if the Pioneer SC LX76 receiver has three selectable digital filters, one of them upsamples all incoming signals to 192/24 and an option called Hi-Bit which is said to convert all incoming signals to 32 bit, the simplicity of the Topping D30 wins at least for me. There's no way to know what filter the Topping D30 is using and if it's doing any kind of upsampling, all I can say is that today I listened to this year Disney Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back soundtracks on their 192/24 download incarnations and even if these albums are quite long I find the sound of the Topping D30 quite pleasing and not tiring at all. The playing device was Sony's UBP X-800 UHD BD player connected to the Topping D30 via digital coaxial using an Amazon Basics cable with a ferrite filter on its end right before the D30's connector.
    The purpose of this thread is, if I enjoy the Topping D30 as much as I enjoy it, will doubling the budget on a higher range Topping D/A converter, in this case the D50 will also double the pleasure or would I be mostly paying for a better finish (I have no complaints on how the D30 is made,in fact I enjoy its Spartan and minimalistic look and its two retro-looking conmuters) and some fancy features that may be snake oil?
     
  10. L5730

    L5730 Forum Resident

    I guess the only way you are going to get an answer to your question is if you can find someone who has owned both at the same time and actually done a comparable listening test.

    As far as DAC design goes, I think the internet places far too much importance on the DAC chip, be it BurrBrown, Wolfson, ESS or whomever. I think the largest difference is to be found in what the designer does with the signal coming from the chip, how the I/V conversion is done, and whatever else is employed to amplify to the sound to line level output. The newer the chip, the more things it can usually do such as DSD and PCM and some cleaver filter options. But, just because a chip has these options, it doesn't mean a designer must include them or make them available.
     
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  11. samurai

    samurai Forum Resident

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    Chifi is coming around. Some excellent stuff is being built.
     
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  12. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    I don't think doubling the price doubles the quality of sound. The laws of diminishing returns sets in pretty fast in audio. Also, another DAC using the same chip as everything else you run will just give you another version of "that" type of sound signature. Maybe audition a DAC with a different chipset/implementation in it, to get an idea of another sound signature.
     
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  13. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I don't think doubling the amount of money spent on a Hi Fi component, but there is one think I find interesting on the D50 that the D30 lacks and that is DSD over PCM. That means that using dBpoweramp I can change the container of my DSD files (that's what it does, it "encapsulates" DSD as 176.4/24 PCM) that come from my ripped SACD's and play them natively on DSD. The Topping D30 can't do that, it can only play DSD through its USB input.
    But there's one thing I don't like about the D50 and it's that it is powered by a 5 Volts and 1 Amp, a simple cell phone charger could be used to power it. Call me old fashioned but the 15 Volts and 1 Amp power needs of the D30 gives me more confidence.
     
  14. TimB

    TimB Tube be or not Tube be?

    Location:
    Galion, Ohio USA
    I got a D10 about 6 months ago, with the intent to use it to convert USB to s/pdif so I can use my older DAC's. The DAC section alone exceeded my expectations.
     
  15. samurai

    samurai Forum Resident

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    I would not dismiss something offhand simply because it is built in China.
     
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  16. DyersEve726

    DyersEve726 Schmo Diggy

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    This is my perception as well. I think that most of the "magic" in my ANK 2.1 is the I/V transformers, power supply, and tubed output board with good coupling caps. Sure, it's an R2R DAC, but I don't think this alone could account for the WOW factor I get from it over the delta sigma DACs I've heard.
     
  17. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The Topping D50 was at a 15% discounted price on Aliexpress for the "Singles Day", today's price is around 185/190 Euros while its regular price uses to be about 220/240 Euros. I've been about to buy it but while I was in front of the laptop for some internet browsing the Topping D30 was playing Van Halen S/T the 2015 Bellman remaster at 192/24 along with a Pioneer SC LX76 A/V receiver (sold in the US with the Elite badge) and a pair of B&W 601's original series from 1996 biamped by the Pioneer receiver which was also set to Pure Direct so no digital processing, no bass management and no subwoofer working. The sound of it made me forget about getting the D50, the D50 may sound better than the D30 either with redbook or Hi Res but the D30 not only made justice to Van Halen S/T, I truly enjoyed how the album, which I know by heart, played by the D30.
     
  18. L5730

    L5730 Forum Resident

    ^ That is the big thing, I suppose.
    If you don't feel a good need to 'upgrade', then why bother? It's easier to justify an upgrade when you actually compare two devices and then you just have to decide if the difference is worth the cost to you. But, without the ability to listen, taking a punt on an unknown when you don't feel there is anything wrong with what you have, well, save the money and enjoy it some other way - buy some more music or have a nice memorable day out.

    For me, I think the D10 is really quite fantastic. I do wonder if the cheap D10 sounds this good, what does the D50 or DX7s sound like. At the moment, those units are too much of an outlay for me in a situation where warranty is a lot more tricky. It's not like I can pop down to my local HiFi store and just get a refund/replacement.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
    Kiko1974 likes this.
  19. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes, I 100% agree with you, I'd like to be able to get a D50 with the possibility of giving it a try and compare it to the D30 and if I'm not convinced with the sound improvements (if any) of the D50, get a refund, but with Chi-Fi that's not possible.
    There are two other issues to have in mind, I forgot to say that between the D30 and my Pioneer receiver there's a Yaqin SD-CD30 tube woofer with a pair of NOS Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB from the early 1960's that changes its sound for good (bass with more body, an overall sense of "air" and a wider soundstage) but that may not do the same coupled with the D50. The other issue is that I'm a disabled person and get "half" a pension from the Spanish Social Security, that is 567 Euros/month, I think that qualifies as being flat broke and even more if we keep in mind that from that money I have to give my parents 300 Euros a month for living at their place as I can't afford to live on my own. So no, I haven't taken a chance with the Topping D50, maybe some merciful sould will get me one for Christmas, but I doubt it. Beware, I'm not victimizing myself here, these things happen, this can happen to anybody. On June 12th 2012 I fainted, fell over two shoulders that got all messed up even after a 9 hour operation. as I said, these things happen...
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018

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