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I received my D90 last Friday. 

 

I'm away from my system at the moment, but the first few days I had with it, my initial observations were that it sounds flattish and much less tonally dense than my MHDT Labs Balanced Pagoda.

 

I'm hoping it will sound better after it's been running for a few days..

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Silly me! just noticed this thread headed Topping D90 with 14 pages of comments, so I thought excellent, this will be a good read with lots of comparisons of the new D90 to other DACS in various price

Two user reviews in a couple of weeks appear to have killed the thread, usually this is where things really ramp up.   proof that most people in the thread would rather speculate and try to

That's not true. That's also not true. Measurements give a good guide to what gear will sound bad. If a DAC measures well it will not have a unique "sound". It will simply provide acc



3 hours ago, lordcloud said:

I received my D90 last Friday. 

 

I'm away from my system at the moment, but the first few days I had with it, my initial observations were that it sounds flattish and much less tonally dense than my MHDT Labs Balanced Pagoda.

 

I'm hoping it will sound better after it's been running for a few days..

I can't find the single-ended output voltage for the Topping but if you are comparing both using XLR, the Topping outputs 4v and the Pagoda is 6v (If I read their specs correctly).

Unless you are carefully volume matching, this may account for the difference you hear

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45 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

I can't find the single-ended output voltage for the Topping but if you are comparing both using XLR, the Topping outputs 4v and the Pagoda is 6v (If I read their specs correctly).

Unless you are carefully volume matching, this may account for the difference you hear

If the Topping D90 works like the other Toppings, then the single ended output voltage should be about 2V.

 

EDIT: I checked the user manual I got off the Topping website. It's 2Vrms at 0dbFS.

Edited by Suopermanni
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All sorts of difference might be attributed to things when their volumes aren't matched.

Of course, it may well be that one actually does have greater tonal density but IMHO it's best to eliminate the possibility that the difference is caused by something else 

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5 hours ago, rob said:

"much less tonally dense" what does this mean? Are you saying your MHDT Labs Balanced Pagoda sounds less clean, warmer or veiled?

It sounds a bit thin in comparison to the Pagoda, which isn't a warm DAC at all. 

 

The Pagoda isn't warm or veiled, but it has more information in the midband. The D90 may be a bit cleaner though. 

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2 hours ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

All sorts of difference might be attributed to things when their volumes aren't matched.

Of course, it may well be that one actually does have greater tonal density but IMHO it's best to eliminate the possibility that the difference is caused by something else 

Agreed

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3 hours ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

I can't find the single-ended output voltage for the Topping but if you are comparing both using XLR, the Topping outputs 4v and the Pagoda is 6v (If I read their specs correctly).

Unless you are carefully volume matching, this may account for the difference you hear

It's not the volume levels. I didn't match the volumes exactly, but it's definitely not there volume levels. The two DACs sound different.

 

I was incredibly excited to get the D90, as my goal is to move away from tubes and towards a more accurate, revealing sound. I don't think the Pagoda is incredibly inaccurate, however the sound will inevitably change as the tubes age, and I don't use readily available tubes in the first place.

 

I want to love the D90, and I expected to. But based on the first few days I'm not so sure. 

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24 minutes ago, lordcloud said:

It's not the volume levels. I didn't match the volumes exactly, but it's definitely not there volume levels. The two DACs sound different.

If you didn’t match volume levels then that is the most likely reason that they sound different. 

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1 hour ago, lordcloud said:

It's not the volume levels. I didn't match the volumes exactly, but it's definitely not there volume levels. The two DACs sound different.

 

I was incredibly excited to get the D90, as my goal is to move away from tubes and towards a more accurate, revealing sound. I don't think the Pagoda is incredibly inaccurate, however the sound will inevitably change as the tubes age, and I don't use readily available tubes in the first place.

 

I want to love the D90, and I expected to. But based on the first few days I'm not so sure. 

Interesting observations, echoing my own with Topping's D30, D50 and D70.

 

P.S. Keep trusting your ears. There are a minority of people who believe "all DACs sound the same" and try to undermine opinions on sound characteristics.  However this minority tend to make the majority of posts, it seems! 

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5 hours ago, lordcloud said:

Lol. Ok

In all fairness Sir Sanders was trying to be helpful and wasn't being rude.

 

He and the other people mentioning that leveling matching is important are correct. It will account for some of the difference.

 

The other difference your hearing will likely come from the tube output on the Pagoda. That 2nd order harmonic is very sweet and the reason why I still use a tube preamp. I'm guessing the highs are better and the bass is fatter. Maybe even a sweeter midrange. 

 

To a lesser extent the PCM1704 dac chip might change the sound. This will be less evident then the voltage output and tube stage though.

 

If you have access to a tube preamp, maybe try that with the Topping D90 and see how you go. Either that or move it on.

You may just need a tube based DAC. In saying that, the Pagoda is very good already.

 

 

Edited by Mungbean66
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1 hour ago, Mungbean66 said:

In all fairness Sir Sanders was trying to be helpful and wasn't being rude.

 

He and the other people mentioning that leveling matching is important are correct. It will account for some of the difference.

 

The other difference your hearing will likely come from the tube output on the Pagoda. That 2nd order harmonic is very sweet and the reason why I still use a tube preamp. I'm guessing the highs are better and the bass is fatter. Maybe even a sweeter midrange. 

 

To a lesser extent the PCM1704 dac chip might change the sound. This will be less evident then the voltage output and tube stage though.

 

If you have access to a tube preamp, maybe try that with the Topping D90 and see how you go. Either that or move it on.

You may just need a tube based DAC. In saying that, the Pagoda is very good already.

 

 

I don't disagree. I understand how volume changes can affect listening preference. However I highly doubt that's what I'm hearing.

 

The goal is to move more towards neutrality and more information.... however it seems as though the D90, while possibly more neutral, has less information.

 

The Pagoda isn't a tubey sounding DAC. I recently compared it to a SW1X, and the consensus was that the Pagoda sounded much more "digital" and not like a toucan tube DAC at all. Which I agree with. I don't have warm or euphonic tubes in it either (Reflektor '75 6N23P SWGP Silver Shields). The D90 just sounds thinner and flatter. Now again, this may change. I'm out of town and the DAC is in use some I'm away. I'm hoping I'm happier with it when I return.

 

 

 

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Silly me! just noticed this thread headed Topping D90 with 14 pages of comments, so I thought excellent, this will be a good read with lots of comparisons of the new D90 to other DACS in various price ranges.

 

fourteen pages later mainly of almost pointless back and forth debates on measurements and what they mean and I’m really none the wiser about how the D90 compares to other DACS.  One or two members offered their early opinions on the D90 after purchasing them but mainly got ignored in preference to continuing the measurement debate.

 

Thankfully Lordcloud is not giving up and is trying to bring some real life experience to this thread.

 

Does anyone know of a discussion on another forum where members are actually comparing the D90 to other DACS in their systems? Call me old fashioned if you like but I would prefer to hear about what difference the D90 makes to sq in someone’s actual system rather than what a graph of its measurements looks like and what someone’s interpretation of that graph who has never heard a D90 in action means  to sq.

 

regards,

Terry

Edited by TerryO
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27 minutes ago, lordcloud said:

The goal is to move more towards neutrality and more information.... however it seems as though the D90, while possibly more neutral, has less information.

If I can offer my own personal perspective, but feel free to take it or leave it. The way music is recorded does not have the ability to recreate the instruments live in your room. The reason the famous marquis are respected is they add just the right amount of harmonic colour to the palette to make recordings sound like real instruments. Perfect neutrality is ultimately boring. I got off that train a long time ago and embraced finding the balance between extremely low distortion and linearity but just the right kind of distortion.

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22 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

If I can offer my own personal perspective, but feel free to take it or leave it. The way music is recorded does not have the ability to recreate the instruments live in your room. The reason the famous marquis are respected is they add just the right amount of harmonic colour to the palette to make recordings sound like real instruments. Perfect neutrality is ultimately boring. I got off that train a long time ago and embraced finding the balance between extremely low distortion and linearity but just the right kind of distortion.

Well said. But where exactly in the sound reproduction chain should the desired sound modification occur?

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For any individual this will be different, based on what the mod is and how it blends with the rest of the system, and the desired outcome of that individual.

It may have the greatest influence at the beginning of the chain, so may variables from one system to the next IMO.

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1 hour ago, PositivelyMusicallyGeared said:

Well said. But where exactly in the sound reproduction chain should the desired sound modification occur?

That's an excellent question, and my observation is that each component can do different things to the sound. It's not like you can have the one "realism colour" filter and make everything else perfectly neutral.

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At the end of the day the result is the whole made of the parts, system tuning can be done right down to the parts and design of each component, but most people only tune on a larger scale by swapping amps, speakers, sources, cables ect'......more difficult to get that sweet spot this way IMO.

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I completely disagree with the last few posts...i.e. that in order to sound good or more like a real instrument a DAC has 'modify' or 'colour' the sound in some way.

 

A good DAC has high resolution, a fairly neutral frequency response and nice timbre/tonality.

 

Honestly, what are you chaps on about! 

 

Are you still convinced that an under-developed DAC with puny power supply and ho-hum output stage has a 'neutral' sound? Are you trying to convince others of this, like they do on ASR?

 

 

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2 minutes ago, was_a said:

Are you still convinced that an under-developed DAC with puny power supply and ho-hum output stage has a 'neutral' sound? Are you trying to convince others of this, like they do on ASR?

No, where did I say that?

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1 hour ago, Ittaku said:

If I can offer my own personal perspective, but feel free to take it or leave it. The way music is recorded does not have the ability to recreate the instruments live in your room. The reason the famous marquis are respected is they add just the right amount of harmonic colour to the palette to make recordings sound like real instruments. Perfect neutrality is ultimately boring. I got off that train a long time ago and embraced finding the balance between extremely low distortion and linearity but just the right kind of distortion.

I'm not sure I agree with this, nor do I believe it to be fact. But thank you for your perspective.

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7 minutes ago, was_a said:

Are you still convinced that an under-developed DAC with puny power supply and ho-hum output stage has a 'neutral' sound? Are you trying to convince others of this, like they do on ASR?

Have you listened to the D90?

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6 minutes ago, was_a said:

I completely disagree with the last few posts...i.e. that in order to sound good or more like a real instrument a DAC has 'modify' or 'colour' the sound in some way.

 

A good DAC has high resolution, a fairly neutral frequency response and nice timbre/tonality.

 

Honestly, what are you chaps on about! 

 

Are you still convinced that an under-developed DAC with puny power supply and ho-hum output stage has a 'neutral' sound? Are you trying to convince others of this, like they do on ASR?

 

 

Everything has a sound signature and contributes to the end result, IMO of course :)

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53 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

No, where did I say that?

Sorry, I was speaking more broadly to others' comments. On TerryO's observations on the back-and-forth ramblings of this thread: Yes, it is a pity, and I know how frustrating it is to read through pages of stuff to find sound quality comparisons on a particular product. 

 

I guess I feel compelled to counter the 'Measurements Rule' brigade when they come out in force, because I feel they are so misleading. I mean, espousing a Topping D10 uber alles is ridiculous. 

 

I have not heard the D90 but have heard most of Topping's other offerings. I have also compared .... a hundred DACs and CD/SACD spinners over the years. All I can say is that no product with so-so specs like the Topping range has ever surprised me in a good way!

 

 

 

 

Edited by was_a
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I would be incredibly interested in the findings of someone who's gone from what would be considered a very good DAC, to the D90.

 

I believe that burn in may play a role, and I'm hoping it does. But it does seem as though this is a characteristic of the sound of the DAC, when compared to other DACs. Compared to other Toppings, this may not be the case.

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3 minutes ago, was_a said:

I guess I feel compelled to counter the 'Measurements Rule' brigade when they come out in force, because I feel they are so misleading. I mean, espousing a Topping D10 uber alles is ridiculous.

To be fair, that's only one person's perspective on this thread. I've not (yet?) heard the D90, but I have heard the D10, D50, and DX7s, and they are more alike than apart - I had trouble telling them apart and probably wouldn't be able to in a blind test. I don't know if anyone's done an AKM vs ESS equivalently priced Topping DAC, but I suspect that since the rest of the electronics are almost identical, they'll sound the same as well. The chip is only one tiny part of the picture. Has anyone done this comparison?

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My comparison in the D70 thread:

 

I've done an extensive listening comparison between the Topping D30, D50 and D70s. Their sonic flavours are different according to their respective DAC chips, but dynamic delivery is rather similar due to their relatively small profiles. Power supplies are merely adequate, as is the number and quality of components used in the analogue output stages. In my opinion, these compromises make the D50 and D70 overpriced at RRP.

 

Soundwise, the D30 is very clean and quite balanced across the frequency range. The treble and upper-mids are a little forthright, but paired with forgiving amplification the D30 is great for a budget setup. It reminds me of the first-release Benchmark DAC. The D30 is also good value price-wise, and I keep one in the cupboard as a standby.

 

The D50 is even clearer with a wide soundstage and 'blacker' background, but it sounds rather sterile compared with the other ES9038 DACs I have (and have heard). It's my least favourite of the three Toppings.

 

The D70 would make a great beginner's DAC - at $450 or $500 AUD! It is smoother in the higher frequencies and midrange, yet it remains very transparent with a nice soundstage: in this respect it compares well to more expensive competition. On the flip-side, the bass lacks drive and definition, making things a little lumpy downstairs. And dynamically it disappoints, sounding somewhat restrained.

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2 hours ago, lordcloud said:

I would be incredibly interested in the findings of someone who's gone from what would be considered a very good DAC, to the D90.

 

I believe that burn in may play a role, and I'm hoping it does. But it does seem as though this is a characteristic of the sound of the DAC, when compared to other DACs. Compared to other Toppings, this may not be the case.

Didn't someone sell his/her Metrum Pavenae for D90......?

I think it is in this thread.

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2 hours ago, lordcloud said:

I would be incredibly interested in the findings of someone who's gone from what would be considered a very good DAC, to the D90.

 

I believe that burn in may play a role, and I'm hoping it does. But it does seem as though this is a characteristic of the sound of the DAC, when compared to other DACs. Compared to other Toppings, this may not be the case.

Apparently my opinion counts for nothing because I'm in the "measurement brigade" (boo hiss) but I have gone from "very good" DACs to the D10.

I compared the D10 to a Resonnessence Invicta DAC and a Holo Springs top of the line DAC. Both are considered to be excellent implementations of their very different design philosophy (Invicta is made by the people who designed the sabre DAC and the Holo is a R2R DAC).

 

The Invicta and the Holo have been replaced by the D10

 

I've also heard (not in my system) the D10 against an upgraded Meitner DAC and a Chord Hugo. 

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7 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Apparently my opinion counts for nothing because I'm in the "measurement brigade" (boo hiss) but I have gone from "very good" DACs to the D10.

I compared the D10 to a Resonnessence Invicta DAC and a Holo Springs top of the line DAC. Both are considered to be excellent implementations of their very different design philosophy (Invicta is made by the people who designed the sabre DAC and the Holo is a R2R DAC).

 

The Invicta and the Holo have been replaced by the D10

 

I've also heard (not in my system) the D10 against an upgraded Meitner DAC and a Chord Hugo. 

No....because you don't have Golden Ears..

 

Here's the test-can you distinguish the SQ between $ 88.00 powercord and $91.76 powercord? 

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38 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Apparently my opinion counts for nothing because I'm in the "measurement brigade" (boo hiss) but I have gone from "very good" DACs to the D10.

I compared the D10 to a Resonnessence Invicta DAC and a Holo Springs top of the line DAC. Both are considered to be excellent implementations of their very different design philosophy (Invicta is made by the people who designed the sabre DAC and the Holo is a R2R DAC).

 

The Invicta and the Holo have been replaced by the D10

 

I've also heard (not in my system) the D10 against an upgraded Meitner DAC and a Chord Hugo. 

I'm interested in your opinion.

 

What were the things you preferred that made you stick with the Topping? Particularly over the Holo? I'm considering the May if the Topping doesn't work for me.

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38 minutes ago, pulinap said:

No....because you don't have Golden Ears..

 

Here's the test-can you distinguish the SQ between $ 88.00 powercord and $91.76 powercord? 

Must just be different systems, personal preference.

I do not really enjoy the Topping D50 dac I have but love listening to my Holo Spring Dac.

I was hoping after reading early SSZ comments about his experience I could sell my Holo Dac and bought the D50. Quite a bit of money I could save.

 

Not the case for me as the Holo is so much better the the D50. I just can not connect to the music like I can with the Holo.

With the topping I find I am listening to system and want to change settings, amps etc as something is not right, while the Holo, I forget about the system and just thoroughly enjoy my music. 

Edited by rocky500
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41 minutes ago, pulinap said:

Here's the test-can you distinguish the SQ between $ 88.00 powercord and $91.76 powercord? 

I cannot. For me, the price difference between power cords has to be at least $4.50 in order to be audible.

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