Headphoneus Supremus
Topping G5 - Sensible Endgame?
Pros: + Analog volume pot
+ Neutral, uncoloured midrange tonality
+ Pitch black background with sensitive IEMs.
+ Punchy and dynamic presentation with most IEMs
+ Expand the soundstage of most IEMs
+ Volume can be low enough to work with sensitive IEMs
+ Enough power to fully drive most head-fi gears
Cons: - Channel imbalance at low volume
- Susceptible to EMI noises
The first time I visited a hi-fi store, I saw a person holding a big “brick”, either a digital audio player or a portable amplifier, in his hand to listen to IEMs.

I didn’t know what or how expensive it was, but that person seemed to enjoy using it. So I wanted a “brick” for myself. As I got deeper into this audio hobby, like some (many?) newbies, I went through the phase of parroting: “Apple dongle is all you need.” Yet, the “brick” was always in my mind, despite how illogical it seemed.

One thing led to another, and now I’ve also got an audio brick for myself - Topping G5. Have I gone mad? Let’s talk about G5 from the perspective of a sceptical IEM listener.



  • I bought Topping G5 on my own. It retails for AUD $470 by the time I bought it.
  • I use the term “source” to denote a DAC + Amp combo.
  • Sources do not make sounds. Therefore, when I say sources “sound” a certain way, I talk about the change they make to my IEMs and earphones.
  • I want my music to be crisp, clear, well-separated and form a 3D soundstage around my head. Sources that intensify those characteristics of my IEMs are considered “better”.
  • This review is based on my subjective experience. Ratings are given based on A/B tests with benchmark sources and IEMs.
  • Despite my textual descriptions, improvements from sources are minor and nuanced. If you are beginning your head-fi journey, getting different IEMs or earphones would yield more benefits. If you know your gears very well, improvements from sources can be delightful.


  • DAC Chips: ES9068AS
  • Output ports: 3.5mm and 4.4mm
  • Max output power (per channel, THD+N < 0.1%): 1200mW@32ohm, 175mW@300ohm, 90mW @600ohm
  • Output impedance: < 0.1 ohm
  • 3 gain settings
  • Bluetooth protocols: LDAC / AAC / SBC / APTX / APTX LL / APTX HD / APTX Adaptive

Non-sound Aspects​

What is Topping G5?​

Topping G5 is a portable DAC/amp combo that also supports Bluetooth. It means that G5 can take music streams from your phone via a USB-C cable or Bluetooth and convert them to analogue signals to play with your wired IEMs and headphones. You can also use the DAC or amp section of G5 separately to pair with other DAC and amps.



G5 comes in a plain, quaint cardboard box that is full of goodies:

  • Topping G5
  • 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • USB-C to USB-C straight cable
  • USB-C to USB-C elbow cable
  • Rubber pad
  • Rubber bands
  • Documents
If you buy the lightning version of G5, you will also receive a USB-C to Lightning cable.



Topping G5 is an attractive device that looks good and feels right. When we unboxed in the store, the store staffs and I were wowed by G5’s understated look and rigidity.

Size-wise, G5 is as large as a mid-sized iPhone but at least 50% thicker. Due to the complete metal build, G5 is a weighty unit. It creates an assuring feeling that you are holding something legitimate in your hands.

Topping covers the back of G5 with a leathery surface to prevent scratches when stacking the amp against your phone or music player. This leather surface also provides a soft and organic touch when holding G5 in your palm.

IO and control​


On the top side of the G5 are an analogue volume knob and three audio output ports (3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone out and 3.5mm line out / line in). The analogue volume knob is my favourite feature of G5. It serves as both an on/off switch and a volume control. Rotate clockwise to turn on the device and turn up the volume. The knob rotates smoothly rather than ratchetingbetween steps, allowing you to dial the volume precisely. Two protruding metal “ears” protect the volume knob from accidental rotation.

It should be noted that G5 does not have a fully balanced architecture. It means the 4.4mm and the 3.5mm output sound the same. I have no problem with this approach because it keeps the price down. Moreover, because the single-ended output of G5 already performs very well, I don’t miss a real balanced output.

At the back of the G5 are two USB-C ports for data input and charging. Yes, unlike most dongles, G5 separates the charging port and data input port, so you can use G5 with your phone without worrying about draining your phone’s battery.

Sandwiched between two USB ports are two switches for controlling the gain and the operation modes of G5. Let’s talk about these modes.

Using G5 as a USB DAC/Amp device:​

You can get the G5 into USB DAC/Amp mode by turning the mode switch at the back of the unit to “USB”. This mode is straightforward: plug your headphones into one of the outputs, connect a USB-C cable to your phone or laptop, and start playing music.

You can also use G5 as a pure DAC by using a 3.5mm to 3.5mm to connect its line out (labelled as “in”) to the 3.5mm input port of an amplifier for a pair of powered speakers. I use this feature quite often with my Creative Pebble speakers.


An exciting use of G5 is turning an old phone into a portable audio player (DAP). You can do so by stacking your phone on top of G5 and using the provided rubber bands, pad, and elbow USB-C cable to keep them connected. The resulting contraption was less janky than I expected. I even managed to carry the whole stack in my pocket for a week or so. However, the novelty wore out fast due to the entire thing’s thickness and weight. Still, stacking is a feasible solution for lounging on the couch.

Using G5 as a bluetooth DAC/Amp:​

To use G5 as Bluetooth DAC, turn the mode switch at the back to “BT”. You already know the drill if you have used Fiio BTR5, Shanling UP4, or Qdelix 5k: Pair G5 with your phone via Bluetooth and then play music from your phone. You can still use the line out of G5 in this mode.

How is G5’s Bluetooth performance?

Surprisingly good. Good enough that I use G5 with Bluetooth very often, even when I have access to a USB-C cable. I’m surprised the soundstage does not get compressed and congested like my other Bluetooth dongles (BTR5 2019 and UP4 2022), even over AAC. The delay was also acceptable for YouTube videos.

The connection strength and stability are also good. I can put the phone in my living room and do housework in the kitchen. I have very few random drop-outs when I put my phone in one pocket and G5 in the other. This is better than my OG BTR5.

Noted that I had an awful Bluetooth connection in the first hour after I bought G5. I was sure I needed to exchange, but the store was closed, so I kept waiting until the following week. Surprisingly, the Bluetooth problem disappeared after I charged the device. I have had good Bluetooth reception since.

Using G5 as a portable amplifier:Permalink

When you switch the mode switch to “AUX”, you disable the DAC section of G5. It means that G5 only serves one purpose of amplifying an existing analog signal coming from something else. For example, you can use the provided 3.5mm cable to connect an Apple dongle to the line out / line in port of G5.

I personally cannot find a good use for this feature besides novelty. Because the amplification of G5 is very transparent, it only intensifies whatever already there with the source rather than changing anything. If a source is slightly noisy, G5 will make it noticeably noisy. Apple dongle sounds like Apple dongle, just louder and not clipping when driving difficult to drive stuffs. None of my dongles sound as good as the internal DAC section of G5.

EMI issuePermalink

Electromagnetic interference can be deal breaker with G5. What does it means? It means that when I put my phone directly on top of G5, I can sometimes here static noises, pops, and crackle sounds, especially if the cellular portion of my phone is activated. There is rarely any issue if the phone and G5 are separated, however. That’s why I use a 20cm USB-C cable. Other users told me that even walking near a microwave or a freezer can cause interference as well.

Personally, I work around the this problem because I think the sound / performance is too good.

Sound Performance​


Gears for A/B tests:

  • Moondrop Blessing 2 (22ohm, 117dB/Vrms)
  • Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 (12.8ohm, 112.8dB/mW)
  • Final Audio E5000 (14ohm, 93dB/mW)
  • TGXear Serratus (300ohm)
  • Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle
  • Hidizs S9 Pro
  • Fiio KA3
  • VE Megatron
Playlist for A/B tests: IEGems Playlist

Like most modern audio sources I have reviewed, Topping G5 does not skew or “colour” the midrange. It means G5 would not make your bright IEM dark or warm, and vice versa.

However, the lack of colouring does not mean that all sources sound the same. They can differ in terms of how they present the bass, the upper treble, the sharpness of music notes, and the darkness of the space between notes. These aspects together impact soundstage imaging. Desktop gears and some music players tend to project a soundstage where elements are further from others, making busy music less congested, “larger”, and more immersive. Some calls this kind of presentation the “desktop effect.”

G5 can provide this “desktop effect”, automatically making it more desirable than most USB dongles to a soundstage addict like me. For example, when I listen to symphonic recordings such as Scores by 2CELLOS, where two cellos are played in front of a full orchestra, G5 creates more space between instruments on the soundstage. The two main cellos are pushed further from me, and the orchestra is moved further away from the cellos into the background. As a result, everything feels more expanded and more spacious. This kind of recording is where the advantage of G5 shows clearly.

G5 also renders bass nicer than some dongles, thanks to the powerful amplification. The attacks of the bass notes sound crisper, and the decay and reverb end of the bass notes feels more texture and separated from the subsequent bass notes. This gives the impression of punchy, snappy bass, even though the bass has not been boosted via EQ.

It should be noted that details and resolutions are not significantly different between good dongles and G5. So, suppose staging is never in your interest or required in your library. In that case, you might not feel that G5 offer you anything substantial.

Sound differences between gain modes​

It is interesting and surprising that G5 can sound different in different gain modes. The default option of G5 is mid-gain, which sounds the best. In the low gain mode, G5 sounds flat and lifeless, even when I deliberately turn up the volume to be louder than mid-gain. I noticed this phenomenon when watching a video review by Sandu at Soundnews with my Andromeda. Sandu’s voice became less full, and a bit strained when G5 was in the low gain mode.

The high gain, on the other hand, makes G5 harsh and strident. For example, notes on the E string of the violin have a sharper edge, and the sibilant vocals produce more sibilance. The change is not in-your-face as the loss of dynamic of the low gain mode, but it’s there, and I don’t like it.

Luckily, I have no reason to switch away from mid-gain because G5 can drive everything from Andromeda to 300ohm earbuds competently in this setting.

Average IEM and earphones (4.5/5)​


Average IEMs and headphones are the ones that fall within the sweet spot of the amplification circuit inside the Apple dongle. Because these IEMs and headphones are adequately powered by an Apple dongle, swapping the dongle to a better source tends to provide limited improvements. Therefore, the first test for any source coming to my review table is “how much can you improve a typical IEM?”

For this test, I use the venerable Moondrop Blessing 2 (22ohm) to represent a typical IEM. Two sources are used for this test: the Apple dongle (3/5 - Adequate) and Hidizs S9 Pro (4/5 - Good).

The first track I use for A/B tests is G.O.A.T. by Polyphia. I mainly focus on the first minute. To understand the gap between Topping G5 and the dongles, it is best to first describe the difference between the Apple dongle and S9 Pro (using single-ended output).

  • Clarity: Apple dongle renders the edge of music notes, such as the opening synths, fuzzier. These synth notes pop up like crystals with S9 Pro.
  • Detail retrieval: At the beginning of the track, there is a subtle distortion sound in the background. It is part of the mix and can be heard with most sources. Apple dongle can barely reveal this element, making it blurry and mushed into the main synth notes. S9 Pro shows this distortion clearly.
  • Staging: The sense of separation and space between music notes is weak with the Apple dongle. The ambience in the background is not firmly pushed back and separated from the front layer. Switch to S9 Pro; everything sounds sharper, and the sense of depth is stronger.
  • Bass and dynamic swing: The bass drop around 0:18 is slightly snappier with S9 Pro. The contrast between the build-up and the actual drop is more potent, and the bass drop is clearer. But the difference is less significant than the previous factors.
The gap between G5 and S9 Pro is identical to that between S9 Pro and the Apple dongle. The most noteworthy change is the sense of space. Even if G5 is turned louder than S9 Pro, every element and every instrument in the mix still feels more spread out, making the stereo image larger with some depth. S9 Pro feels flat and congested in back-to-back A/B. The detail retrieval of the G5 is also slightly better than S9 Pro, though it isn’t as noteworthy as the staging.


The second test track that I use is the 3rd movement of Summer. The difference between S9 Pro and G5 is more dramatic here. With S9 Pro, the whole orchestra feels very close in. The violin feels like it is right up to my face. With G5, the entire orchestra takes a step back, more spread out. No matter how loud I turn up the G5, the orchestra never get congested and pushed to my face.

In conclusion, G5 comfortably outperforms the Apple dongle and S9 Pro when driving a typical IEM. Everything is crisper, more spread out, less congested, and more nuanced. I rate the sound quality of G5 with typical IEMs as 4.5/5 - Very Good.

Why not 5? Because I did A/B tests between G5 and Astell & Kern SP2000 before buying G5, and I found that the multi-kilo buck DAP sounds even crisper with more space between instruments. It means something out there, not hypothetical, performs even better than G5. But the price for that last bit of performance is steep.

Low-impedance, high-Sensitivity IEM (4.5/5)​

Using Andromeda 2020

The next test is with the hypersensitive and notoriously picky Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020. You might think Andromeda is easy to drive because it has low impedance and high sensitivity. However, that’s not the case:

  1. They hiss on many audio sources, negatively impacting their technical performance.
  2. They get loud quickly, so most dongles are too loud, even at the lowest volume.
  3. Because of their low impedance, they can be demanding in terms of output current.
In fact, the Apple dongle must be turned to nearly 50% to reach a reasonable listening level. Even then, I don’t think Andromeda reveals their full potential.

How does Topping G5 handle Andromeda? Very well.

Let’s analyse the first 40 seconds of Dance from la Vida Breve. The Apple dongle adequately pushes the sound around your head to create a 3D soundstage. However, individual guitars are dulled and slightly mushed together. The guitars are not cleanly separated from the background. As a result, the stage feels small and tight, though still more 3D than other IEMs.

The most striking difference when switching to G5 is the black space between notes. G5 makes everything more spaced out to the sides as well as front-to-back. The guitars stand out from the background, with the illusion of blank space between them. As a result, the 3D soundstage illusion of Andromeda becomes clearer and intensified.

Can G5 outperform a good dongle like S9 Pro? Yes, but not in the way I expected.
Let’s analyse The Mission. The Hidizs dongle offers the same pitch-black background between guitars to create a strong sense of depth. However, S9 Pro is half a step behind the G5 regarding the crispness and micro-details of instruments on the soundstage. This is a known problem of S9 Pro: some micro details are sometimes missing. Still, the gap in sound quality between G5 and S9 Pro is not significant in this use case.

The critical advantage of the G5 over the S9 Pro is convenience.
Simply put, the S9 Pro is too loud. I can only use the first two volume steps when driving the Andromeda from my Android phone. Using the Andromeda with S9 Pro from a MacBook or iPad is nearly impossible because the dongle gets even louder from these devices. Moreover, even if you can get the right volume out of S9 Pro, there is always a risk of some software glitch pushing the volume to maximum and blow your ears out.

With G5, you can max out the volume on your phone or laptop and adjust the volume manually using the volume pot. You can have a comfortable range of volume adjustment up and down. And because your phone or laptop is already maxed out, there is no chance of some software glitch that makes the sound randomly louder. This benefits not just hypersensitive IEMs but also typical ones like Blessing 2.

In conclusion, I rate G5 4.5/5 (Very Good) when driving low-impedance, high-sensitive IEMs.

Low-impedance, low-sensitivity IEM (4.5/5)​


E5000 is a stubborn IEM. Low impedance, low sensitivity, and significantly bass-boosted make a nasty combination. You can get the midrange 1kHz region loud with even an Apple dongle. However, the bass would become a muddy mess, making the E5000 blunted and fuzzy. That’s not how these IEMs should perform. A fully powered E5000 is a bass-head dream with an overwhelming bass response and smooth treble that allows you to keep turning up and up to soak up that bass. The midbass itself is tight, not muddy or pillowy. The sub-bass digs deep and rumbles hard.

How does G5 handle E5000? Like how I described above, with plenty of power left to turn up. Without the fuzziness, the soundstage also feels larger. The G5 drives the E5000 a lot better than the Apple dongle. It also offers a noticeable improvement over the single-ended output and a slight improvement over the balanced output of the S9 Pro.

Conclusion? 4.5/5 - Very Good. No problem with the E5000, though A&K SP2000 is still noticeably crisper and clearer.

High-impedance earbuds (4.5/5)​


The final test of G5 is driving a high-impedance load. I don’t have the classics such as HD600, HD800S, or DT1990Pro, so I rely on TGXear Serratus, a 300ohm flat-head earbuds, for this test. I also swapped the comparing sources to Venture Electronics Megatron and Fiio KA3 for this test because the Apple dongle does not have a 4.4mm connector. Moreover, many would be interested in comparing G5 with Megatron, a portable amplifier designed especially for high-impedance earbuds.

Let’s analyse the opening of the Game of Throne theme by 2CELLOS. The difference is quite stark between these three sources. Firstly, both Megatron and KA3 sound more closed in than G5. It means both cellos are placed closer to my face, and the orchestra is closer to the cellos. KA3 provides the worst soundstage presentation here with a wall-of-sound effect, where everything is loud; thus, the soundstage is flat.

An issue with Megatron is that it is a noisy, hissy source. This limitation might contribute to Megatron’s dense and slightly foggy presentation compared to G5. Is that a drawback? It depends on taste. I know some fellow head-fiers who enjoy this “analogue” presentation. But for me and my criteria (clear, separated, 3D sound), this slightly foggy presentation pushed Megatron behind G5.

In conclusion, 4.5/5 - Very Good.


Topping G5 is a versatile source. It can be used as a desktop all-in-one, a Bluetooth portable DAC/amp, a portable amplifier, and even a DAC for speakers. It also offers good build quality and excellent handling. The sound quality of the G5 is also excellent. Its desktop effect is addictive, especially if you listen to many complex mixes and recordings. This effect puts G5 one solid step above most dongle DAC/amps.

The main drawback of G5 is the EMI noise. I choose to work around this issue rather than buy a different one because this kind of device is rarely available at this price point. Suppose you are okay with some infrequent noises when stacking your phone on the amp. Topping G5 can be a practical endgame for your portable audio, especially if you do not want a digital audio player.


  • Analog volume pot
  • Neutral, uncoloured midrange tonality
  • Pitch black background with sensitive IEMs.
  • Punchy and dynamic presentation with most IEMs
  • Expand the soundstage of most IEMs
  • Volume can be low enough to work with sensitive IEMs
  • Enough power to fully drive most head-fi gears

  • Channel imbalance at low volume
  • Susceptible to EMI noises
Great review man!! You took some excellent photos as well <3 also happy new year :)
Great review as always mate!
Nice shot as well!
Good one, mate!!


1000+ Head-Fier
My Ideal Transport
Pros: Wonderful sound, Bluetooth range very good, Great design. Low gain works well with all IEMs.
Cons: A little on the big side, charging port only works on 18w and under chargers. Missing fun features like bass boost.

It’s been a bit since I’ve done a review of a Topping product but I’ve lost some interest in source gear and I’ve been doing more IEM and headphone reviews as of late. While I do enjoy dongles and use them with my iPad Pro on the go, I tend to not use dongles for my phone as I’ve broken enough cables from sitting when connected to my iPhone. The last portable bluetooth review I did was for the AUNE BU2. While I liked it, I didn’t like that the Bluetooth range could be a little iffy at times and it used a 2.5mm balanced jack instead of 4.4mm. I happened to accidentally run into an announcement tweet of the new Topping G5 and going off of specs/pics, it looked and sounded like my dream portable DAC/amp. I was stoked for the G5 so I went in with high expectations and for the most part, the G5 didn’t disappoint! Let's get into it! The Topping G5 uses a ESS ES9068AS DAC and supports High-Res Bluetooth. The G5 comes in at $299.

Quick shoutout to @shenzhenaudio as always for setting me up with a review unit. While I always appreciate stuff being sent in to test and review, It never affects the rating of my review.

The Topping G5 can be picked up from Shenzhenaudio at their website below.

Gear used​

Moondrop Moonriver 2, Shanling M3X, Moondrop Kato, Moondrop Variations, Thieaudio V16 Divinity, ZMF Atrium.

Looks and Feel​

So I honestly thought that the G5 was gonna be smaller like the BU2 from Aune or even a FiiO Q5. Well I was in for a shock when I opened the box. This unit is the length and width of something like the iFi Gryphon but it's not very thick which makes it feel smaller in the hand than it looks. Being an all metal body, it does have some weight to it but it feels about as heavy as my iPhone 12 Pro. it also happens to be a hair smaller in width and length than my iPhone(non max) so hopefully that helps with sizing. The G5 is extremely well made and I really like the overall design. The bottom has a fake soft leather texture that keeps it from sliding a little or scratching up other things it on top of. The top has a little tinted window to show the circuit layout and next to it are the led indicators for bluetooth and power. They’re not super bright either and that is amazing for night use. The volume knob feels high quality and it is smooth but it has enough resistance that I had no accidental volume adjustments in my pocket which is aided by the bumpers at the end of both sides of the G5 that shield the corner of the volume knob and audio jacks.

Accessories and unboxing​

The G5 comes in a low key black box. Inside you’re greeted with the G5, under that is a box that holds all the accessories. Included are the standard warranty, product catalog and user manuals. While I don’t usually use the manuals I did need it to figure out pairing the G5 to multiple devices(flick the gain switch from low to medium a bunch). They also include a rubber mat for sandwiched protection, 2 USB-C cables, AUX cable and a lightning cable. Some rubber rings as well if you’re into those. I think this is a good amount of accessories for a portable transport.


These final impressions were a mix of Bluetooth and wired via my iPhone 12 Pro and iPad 12.9 Pro. This will be what the G5 sounded like with all the headphones I used. Things like headphone pairings or going wired will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

The overall sound signature of the G5 is neutral-ish but with a hint of brightness. The bass does however sound fairly dynamic and it doesn’t lack any energy down low. If your headphones call for good bass, the G5 will deliver just fine. This does lack a little warmth and I would say it sounds a little lacking in fullness at times but the G5’s focus is elsewhere. The mids are clean and they pull in good detail overall. They do come in a little sharp and end tones of instruments can feel like they have some bite. Vocals are pretty good if not a little lean depending on how high their voice sounds. The Vocals do bring in good quality and I find them sounding blending well with the background which I prefer. The treble is on the brighter side and there is just a little extra bite up top. It sounds refined though and I think it's done very well here. After listening to the SMSL SU-8s which also makes use of the same DAC, I think it is just a symptom of the DAC being used. The detail retrieval is wonderful and I really feel the G5 leans into the “desktop gear” area in terms of performance. I like this sound overall and I enjoy ESS DAC and the sharpness they provide so this might be a different experience depending on the person.

Filters and fun features​

NONE!!!!! I couldn’t find anything in the manual online about DAC filters which is honestly fine. I can’t hear the difference at all and when I had the option, I always went with apodizing or whatever filter claimed to give better bass response. The G5 also lacks a lot of the “fun” features you might find in other units from FiiO or iFi. No bass boost or anything resembling iFi’s xFeatures. While I love iFi’s xBass, I don’t think any other company does bass boost well so I’m ok with the G5 lacking these features.


The soundstage and imaging tend to be headphone specific(at least to me) but DAC/amps can add a little extra on occasion. The G5 does have a full size desktop “effect” and I do feel it’s wider and deeper vs other portable amps and dongles. There is a bigger sense of space when A/B testing but as with most things.

Battery life​

Battery life claims range anywhere from 6.5 hours to 13 hours(high gain for both) depending on input and gain setting being used. I used the worst possible figures above as I felt those are very good for a 1.2W portable on high gain. The more realistic use case will get you closer to 9 hours using low or medium gain. Closer to 10 hours with Bluetooth and AUX nets you a max of 25 hours. All good claims IMO. I really only tested bluetooth battery life though. While I never had enough time in the day to test past 10 hours, in low gain running balanced, I never once saw the unit go into a low power “red light” mode. I very much believe that this will meet the claimed battery life times.

Bluetooth/Wired connectivity​

I mostly used the G5 with a Bluetooth connection to my iPhone or iPad and mostly at work either at my cube or in my front pocket walking around our giant building. The Bluetooth range is fairly good when walking away from my iPhone to chat with someone else and it doesn’t get angry and break connection when it's in my pocket near my phone while I walk. The sound quality is pretty good but wired does seem to bring out a little more everything. I’m stuck using AAC from my apple devices so LDAC might get closer in terms of performance to wired. Both wired and Bluetooth do suffer from EMI interference so having my iphone next to in the same pocket will result in buzzing and unwanted noise randomly. Almost everything I use that isn’t desktop gear has this problem.

Personal grips with the G5?​

I only have two complaints when it comes to the G5. The small, not important one is the finish. I already managed to rub a little of the black finish off since I accidently threw the unit in my front pocket and it rubbed against my pocket knife(I think). Less complaining and more sadness on my end. I would recommend the silver finish if you plan to use it on the go or tend to be rough with gear. Like I said, small and not important. I did cover it up with a sharpie just fine.

The actual thing that bothers me is the charging port. It won’t indicate its charging on anything higher than a 18W changing block. Which may not be a big deal for some people but I would say 95% of my chargers at home are all mostly 45W and above Anker blocks. Even my 20W iPhone chargers don’t work here. I now have a dedicated charger for it at home but I’m bummed it doesn’t have something in place to limit charging. It may actually charge off those higher watt chargers but I wasn’t willing to experiment to find out if it charges without the indicator light on.

Single ended and balanced power output​

So most of the technical info matches between the single ended 3.5mm and 4.4mm jack so I’m gonna call the G5 not truly balanced. Is that a big deal? I don’t think so anymore. It tended to be a big deal a long time ago since truly balanced gear tended to sound better but it doesn’t feel that way anymore(in a good way). Now for the output power! We get a full 1.2W into a 32 ohm load. That is awesome for a portable transport this thin so I was surprised. The gain modes are something I was happy with as well. The low gain is actually pretty low so it’s especially nice for super sensitive and easy to drive IEMs. I think my new “andromeda” for sensitivity is the THIEAUDIO V16 Divinity. Via balanced I got a good volume around 60ish percent. The medium gain is what I think most people will use and it feels like it has a good range for volume. The high gain is nice and strong without any issues and it was able to power some 300ohm ZMF Atriums just fine. I’m very happy with the output power and volume ranges on the gains and I find the G5 a very good all rounder option for those who want a do it all device.

IEM pairing opinions​

Moondrop Kato(Blue)​

The Kato is still somewhat new to me but I do think it’s Moondrop’s best single DD that they currently make. The bass is fairly strong here with some good thumps and rumbles. The mids are fairly neutral to my ears but I still get a little extra sharpness with the vocals. The treble does get a little bright at times but I wouldn’t call it too much. Staging is about what I expect vs other gear when paired with the Kato. I would say while this wasn’t the most exciting pairing I had, I thought the Kato performed very well on the G5. Very close to performance I got from my desktop stack.


Moondrop Variations​

I probably use the Variations the most with the G5. The Variations are my go to for use at work as it’s fun sounding and detailed enough that when I’m not using the pair for background sound, I can still enjoy good sound quality on down time. The G5 is a very powerful pairing for the Variations. It still allows the Variations to produce really strong and good bass. Impact and slam are still very strong, though I feel the G5 cleans up a little of the excess bass and in turn the Variations sound very full but without the bloat of some other pairing I’ve tried. The mids are still clear with a hint of warmth. Vocals are still on the warmer side but with a little extra sharpness at the end of vocal notes. The treble still sounds sharp but a little more precise and never too much. I found the detail retrieval I got from the pairing was probably the best of the portable DAC/amps I’ve used recently. Staging was already wonderful on the Variations and it just added that little extra openness to the stage which was wonderful. I like this pairing and it continues to be my favorite pairing for my specific use case.

THIEAUDIO V16 Divinity​

The V16 is probably my favorite TOTL at the moment since it's warm sounding but doesn’t lack resolution. It is also my favorite “is listenable volume wise at low gain?” since it’s super sensitive and especially so when run balanced. The V16 works with no issues on low gain at around 60ish percent volume. The bass is still strong when it calls for impact and slam, the mids are smooth still with some added clarity to vocals and the treble warmer but it has just the right amount of sharpness to make details stand out. Staging is still about average sounding width wise but it has the deeper stage I hear on desktop amps.

Over ear pairings​

ZMF Atrium.​

Gonna be lazy and copy the section from my Atrium review.
“The G5 is able to get the Atrium to loud volumes easily on high gain and I thought the pairing sounded fairly good if portability was important. The bass does lack just a bit of meat and it sounds good still but with just less fullness and impact. The mids stay pretty clear with just a little more brightness vs the desktop setup I use. Vocals are still pretty strong and details aren’t lost. The treble is pretty lean sounding off this pairing and while it wasn’t bright at all, it just sounded thinner and lean overall up top. The staging still sounded average, nothing special. I think the thinner sound comes from a mix of the brighter/sharper DAC and less power output from the G5. The G5 sounds wonderful with less demanding gear but I do believe this is a good pairing if you plan to take the Atrium on the go to maybe a hotel or meet. “

DAC/Amp comparison​

Moondrop Moonriver 2​

While I have other dongles, I choose the MR2 since it sounds the closest to the G5. Both do bass and mids about the same but the treble is way more refined on the G5. Both have a brighter signature but the MR2 sounds a little raw and rough at times with how it handles high frequencies. The G5 simply produces better details up top and while it has a sharp edge, it doesn’t go overboard like the MR2 can. The staging is better on the G5 as well. Both wider and deeper. The MR2 is way smaller however and I think that will make a bigger difference. If you want a low profile, the MR2 is a very good alternative that still produces positive results.

Shanling M3X​

The M3X comes in about $70 more but you get an android experience as well so I think this a good comparison. Only looking at the audio side of things, I think the G5 does outclass the M3X in sound quality. The M3X has a warmer overall sound where the G5 goes for accuracy with some extra sharpness thrown in. The staging sounds wider and deeper on the G5 as well. If you care only about sound quality then the G5 wins… However!!! The M3X has a full entry level android experience and it allows you to have an all in one device that possibly saves you from having to carry two devices. If you don’t want to burn through your phone battery or maybe don’t want to carry a laptop/ tablet, the M3X becomes a very good option. I like both for my needs. I simply choose to keep a DAP and now the G5 in my backpack and decide on what I want to use depending on how my day looks.

Overall thoughts​

I went into reviewing the G5 with high expectations as it had everything I personally wanted for a portable device. Outside of the G5 being physically bigger than I thought and the charging issue I mentioned above, it performed really well above my initial expectations. I would absolutely recommend the new Topping G5! Though keep in mind it is more of a “transport device” vs a standard smaller portable Bluetooth DAC/amp. For the time being, the G5 will be my new main alternative to a DAP when I’m at work or on the go. Great job to the team at Topping and I look forward to checking out their future releases. Thanks for reading!!
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Hopefully you can get a warranty replacement!
Update: if anyone else is experiencing channel imbalance at normal listening volume, power-cycling/switching modes several times appears to fix it. On my unit at least it only occurs on the 4.4mm jack so I guess it might be some issue with the firmware and the amp stage?
I don't experience any channel imbalance through either output at normal listening levels. I use almost exclusively the 4.4mm output (with DD 2.5mm adapter).
I believe that channel imbalance at normal volume, especially if it's only occuring through one of the outputs, would most likely be attributed to a fault in the unit.
Personally, I would be looking into having the unit replaced or repaired.