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Review and Measurements of Topping D50 DAC

amirm

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#1
This is the review and measurements of the secretive Topping D50 DAC. Other than a small picture and mention on topping's web site, there is no other information on it. I am in fortunate situation that Topping was kind enough to send me a D50 to review and keep. It was a bonus after I asked to buy the Topping DX7s. Pricing is supposed to be $249. According to Topping, it will NOT replace the D30 which makes sense as the D30 retails for half the price.

The front panel sports one of the nicest (OLED?) small displays I have seen:

Topping D50 DAC Front Panel.jpg


I like the confirmation of bit depth in addition to sample rate when playing content.

Note that this is a pure DAC. While it has volume control using a joystick to the right of the display, that only controls the RCA output. There is no headphone amplification feature in there.

Sadly my Topping DX7 remote did not work with it so to change the volume you have to be sitting close to the unit.

As you barely see, this DAC supports PCM sample rate up to 768 kHz and DSD up to DSD 512 so from format support point of view, it is excellent.

Connectivity is typical of smaller DACs where there is simply no room for balanced connections:

Topping D50 DAC back Panel picture.jpg


For S/PDIF use which is how I tested mine, you need to supply your own power supply which I did using my lab linear supply.

I should say that the unit despite being very small, is very hefty. It is probably the heaviest small DAC I have teste. This is nice to have as otherwise the cables drag on these units.

I am sure you all are interested in how it measures. So let's get into that. As usual, if you are not familiar with what these graphs are, refer to my tutorial on understanding audio measurements: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/understanding-audio-measurements.2351/

Once again: please note that I was given this unit for free. So read as much or as little bias as you like for this review.

Measurements
Let's start with frequency response and channel matching:
Topping D50 DAC Frequency Response Measurement.png


This is a highly zoomed display so that you can see small changes in response and any channel imbalance. Measured channel level imbalance was at 0.06 dB as indicated.

Next let's look at jitter and noise:

Topping D50 DAC Jitter and Noise Measurement.png


Here I am comparing it to its more expensive brothers, the Topping DX7 and DX7s. All three push my measurement gear to the limit. But perhaps the Topping D50 is a bit better in getting rid of those two spikes around 18 kHz. But really, these are as good as it gets given the instrumentations I have (and well better than your hearing!).

Let's see the favorite of everyone, linearity test:

Topping D50 DAC Linearity Measurement.png


My jaw dropped when I saw the Topping D50 measurement on the left. This is as perfect as I can measure it. At no time does the variation get to 0.1 dB which is my cut off point. Since I am measuring to -120 dB that translate to better than 20 bits of resolution (120/6 = 20). It betters the Topping DX7s which itself was superb in this regard.

The Topping D50 sets the record for how clean it is of any DAC I have tested this way!

Folks who complain about my 0.1 dB deviation being too strict, should not see why I picked that number. Using a larger value would make it harder to distinguish this superb performance from lesser DACs.

Let's look a sine wave at -90 dB which is the time domain version of this test (more or less):

Topping D50 DAC -90 dB Linearity Measurement.png


Despite the tiny amplitude of this source signal, we see a very good sine wave out of Topping D50. In contrast the Topping DX7s looks a bit rougher even though by itself it is better than vast majority of DACs I have tested.

Next let's look at THD+N distortion and noise measurement:

Topping D50 DAC THD+N Distortion Measurement.png


Once again we see that the Topping D50 shows better performance especially in mid to high frequencies (in red).

Let's see how it does in intermodulation distortion using SMPTE test signals:
Topping D50 DAC SMPTE Intermodulation Measurement.png


Ah. We see the same issue as the Topping DX7s with increased distortion from -40 to -20 level. I continue to suspect that this is due to distortion mitigation feature of this ESS DAC. Hopefully Topping gives us a way to turn that on and off so that we can see if that is the cause or not.

Finally let's look at the response when fed a 1 kHz full amplitude signal:

Topping D50 DAC residual distortion and noise Measurement.png


Here we see that the Topping D50 matches or possibly beats the Topping DX7s. Compared to the now discontinued DX7, the Topping DX7s has lower noise floor and distortions (by a bit).

Conclusions:
Topping hints at the design criteria for the D50 as a better DAC to use with the Topping DX7s. Based on measurements I have performed, it seems to eke out a bit more fidelity, setting a new record in such measures as linearity.

If you do not need headphone functionality, and are willing to spend $249, you have my strong recommendation for Topping D50. It provides superb measured performance with great quality feel.

Now you just have to wait until Topping offers it for sale. :)

As always, questions, comments, corrections, jokes, etc. are all welcome!
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If you like this review, please consider donating funds for these types of hardware purchase using Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/audiosciencereview), or upgrading your membership here though Paypal (https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...eview-and-measurements.2164/page-3#post-59054).
 

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L0rdGwyn

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#2
At long last! Thanks for the excellent review, Amir. Looks like this one is living up to the hype. I, for one, will be buying one :)

Also, I asked Topping in my initial email about availability (i.e., if it would first go to Massdrop, like the DX7S). Their response led me to believe its initial release will not be on Massdrop.

It will come in silver as well, which makes me happy :)

Here is their response:

"We don't know how long it will take to available on Massdrop. But I think Massdrop will have interested in this product. D50 will come with full silver version and full black version."
 
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Jimster480

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#3
Looks awesome! I might just buy one and setup my DX7 with remote to control my speakers down stairs.... No rush though as the DX7 itself is supurb.

@amirm did you overlay your exasound also to see how close the D50 gets?
 

amirm

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From memory, the Topping D50 beats the Exasound in linearity. But in SMPTE I think it still loses to it. Considering it is less than 10% the cost, that is not too bad! :)
 

Jimster480

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From memory, the Topping D50 beats the Exasound in linearity. But in SMPTE I think it still loses to it. Considering it is less than 10% the cost, that is not too bad! :)
That is pretty good! What about a graph of the D50 vs the Yggdrasil? Or are you saving those for the Modi Multibit review :)
 

Blumlein 88

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#8
I take it this can be usb powered. So are you going to check performance via USB power?

Also what is max signal output?

In any case this looks to be high fidelity performance and the DAC to beat for $249.
 

Blumlein 88

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#9
While helping keep u busy could you test it with an inexpensive power supply? That would be in keeping with how it will get used in this process range.
 

amirm

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That is pretty good! What about a graph of the D50 vs the Yggdrasil? Or are you saving those for the Modi Multibit review :)
That's exactly what I am doing. :p
 

amirm

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While helping keep u busy could you test it with an inexpensive power supply? That would be in keeping with how it will get used in this process range.
Yes, I will do that.
 

amirm

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#12

bunkbail

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#17
Would it be compatible with iFi iPower? It is affordable and I saw somewhere on Computer Audiophile that it is the most excellent measuring (in terms of noise) wall-wart on the market right now.
 

Blumlein 88

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#19
If it should manage the same exact performance under USB power, well then you do have a true super bargain DAC.

I do have a recording interface that can be powered over USB, and it gives up nothing vs using an external power supply when used as a DAC. So it is possible.
 

Jimster480

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#20
It is amazing that there is a DAC that is $249 that when measured is far superior to DACs costing 10-20X more. Boy, something is really wrong in the audio industry. I am so glad I found this forum. Kuddos Amir!
Its all about marketing, if you look at Amir's receiver from 20 years ago.... some of his prelim measurements show it being very good.
The reality is that computer technology has gotten incredibly advanced and we have reached our sonic capabilities years ago.
What has happened now is that the same performance that used to be available in expensive receivers only, is now available in much smaller and cheaper devices. Some of them even battery powered for a fraction of the cost!

But since many electronics markets are suffering and the audiophile market is a "luxury" market, many brands are still competing to sell "luxury" products based on the ideas of subjectivity.
The designs in the last years I figure have gotten worse because the performance of most off the shelf products is already so good that even looking at something like Yggdrasil's "poor" performance is unlikely to be audible vs a DX7 or D50. And in the case that there is a difference, you would only know it testing side by side with a high end pair of headphones.
 
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