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Topping VX1 2x25W Hi-Fi Power Stereo Subwoofer Amplifier 24bit/96kHz Digital USB DAC Headphone Amp

Rating:
4/5,
  1. YoYo JoKeR
    Topping VX-1: Excellent Desktop Setup Under 100$
    Written by YoYo JoKeR
    Published May 6, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Refined,Laidback & Musical Sonic Character, Excellent Build Quality, Sheer Value
    Cons - Power Supply Not Earthed


    Me: I am a 21 year old student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 and recently, by the seductive LCD2 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs. My main listening genres include classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and sometimes pop.

     
    Intro:  Topping is a popular Chinese brand specializing in the area of Class T Speaker amps & headphone amps.  Topping made well performing speaker amps in an affordable price.  Later on, they also released their famed ‘NX-1’ portable amp & many desktop head amps, which made them a well known name across the Audiophile World.
    The VX-1 amp/dac is the latest release from them. It has headphone amplifier, 24/96 DAC and an 25 watt speaker amp.
     
    Specifications of VX-1 amp/dac as per Topping:
    Analog input

    RCA input x 1 (L & R channel)

    Digital input

    USB

    Amplifier output

    Binding Post (L & R channel), BTL output

    Headphone output

    6.35mm

    Maximum sample bit of DAC

    24bit

    Maximum sample rate of DAC

    96kHz

    Net weight

    Approx 700g (unit only)

    Dimensions

    Approx 20CM x 13.2CM x 5CM

     

     


    Speaker amplifier:

    Suitable Speaker Impedance

    4-8Ω

    Maximum output power

    24.4W (RL=4Ω, THD+N=10%)

     

    13.9W (RL=8Ω, THD+N=10%)

    Output resistance

    0.19Ω

    Minimum THD+N

    0.003%

    THD+N(@1kHz)

    0.019%

    Frequency response

    20-20kHz±1.1dB

    Input sensitivity

    420mVrms

    Noise

    <1mV

    Gain(@1kHz)

    27.2dB



    Headphone amplifier:

    Suitable Headphone Impedance

    16-300Ω

    Maximum output power

    140mW (RL=32Ω, THD+N=1%)

    Maximum output voltage swing

    3.6Vrms

    Minimum THD+N

    0.002% (RL=32Ω, Pout=50mW)

    THD+N(@1kHz)

    0.020%

    Frequency response

    20-20kHz±0.6dB

    Input sensitivity

    1.1Vrms

    Noise

    <10μV

    Gain(@1kHz)

    6dB



    Built-in USB DAC:

    Maximum output voltage swing

    2.44rms@1kHz

    THD+N(@1kHz)

    0.0082% (96kHz sampling rate)

    Noise

    <25μV

    SNR

    101dB





     
     
    Let us see what the VX-1 has got for us,
     
    Packaging and Accessories: The VX-1 arrives packed inside a box, packed inside a removable foam packing. Packaging is generic, but nothing to complain about. But all the included accessories have a good quality and feel to them.
     
    List of accessories in the box, which include the following:
     
    Power Adapter: AC to DC 14V 4A power adapter EU/US/AU/UK is supplied as per specifications.
     
    USB Cable:  USB B to USB A cable for data transfer.
     
    User Manual: Contains instructions to operate the VX-1 and other warranty information.
     
    ¼” Converter: A 1/8” to ¼” converter for headphones with 3.5mm Jack.

     
    Design and Build: The VX-1 has an excellent overall build quality. Its design is very convenient & practical. It is solidly built with no imperfections either physically or by exterior design.
    At the front we have volume knob, ¼” headphone output socket & an on/off toggle switch, along with another input selector switch At the rear side of VX-1, we can observe the presence of power socket, Speaker taps & RCA input socket.
     
    DSC02144.jpg
     
    DSC02146.jpg
     
    DSC02147.jpg
     
    The VX-1 is fully Sophisticated and intelligent system. It employs relays to prevent noise/pop’s as well as memory function to remember the choice. Volume knob rotation is smooth and knob has just the right size for fingers. ¼” jack is a smooth operator. Internals quality & layout is again carried out very well. Everything is fixed on the PCB. Soldering & joints are very well done. Volume pot is well known Alps branded, which a plus for both volume control & audio quality. The VX-1 runs really cool at room temperature. The VX-1 has breathing LED behind volume pot which gives an illuminating effect and a calm glow.
     
    (Image Courtsey: Topping)
     
    vx1-11.jpg
     
    I also observe a drawback in the power supply, it is not earthed. I am at a loss of understanding why Bravo did not include a third earthing pin or ground to make the amp safe. Since it is a DC supply, few ripples will be present in the final output. These either cause light electrocution/sock or audibly raise noise floor of the amp. 
     

     
    Sound:  The VX-1 gives out a very natural, smooth and laidback sonic character. ‘Musical’ is the key word. I find it fairly accurate even then.  Presentation is in such a way that, mids are little more intimate, with lows & highs sound tad more relaxed and laid back. Surprisingly, stock op-amp is pretty great and does not necessarily need to be changed/upgraded.
     
    Burn in: I could not notice any major sonic improvements or changes by burn in. But let’s say a playback of about 20 hours provides few minor audible improvements, Bass prior to break-in is quite muddy, and eventually it becomes more accurate and clean, Mids will sound more open & slightly forward, airy and natural. Highs become more alive, soundstage will open up by a margin. Also, the noise floor further went down towards complete silence.
     
    The gain is fixed at 6dB, which is very efficient & safe, and certainly works well even with IEM’s. This amp fairly powerful and can drive low-moderate impedance dynamic headphones with ease. There is absolutely no channel imbalance, thanks to the alps pot.
     
    Lows: are accurate enough, but are refined & smooth with full bodied bass, and this makes VX-1 to have slightly less ‘impact’ or ‘punch’.
     
    Mids: Neutral & clean but a little thick, and is slightly intimate or forward.
     
    Highs: Smooth and refined without grains. They are airy with good amount of space sensation.
     
    Soundstage: feels airy, natural and nearly-circular. Width is very good, & depth is decent enough for imaging. Instrument separation & detailing is pretty good.
     
    The VX-1 sounded good in all genres I tried, and hence I conclude, The VX-1 is decently transparent, detailed but also slightly forgiving to poor recordings. Hence I can say the VX-1 is an all rounder. It does not compromise anything too much to affect any of its characters. Another thing to mention, since VX-1 had an overall smooth sonic character, I decided to try it on the K702, and unbelievably, the combo worked like a charm. I didn't expect a 90$l amp to make K702 sound so good. The combo sounds musical, and removes away the clinical character of K702’s for the sake of music listening. I would recommend this amp for AKG Q701, K701 & K702.

     
    Conclusion:  I feel the VX-1 is a well performing desktop setup in its price range. Build quality is excellent, sonic presentation is really appreciable; VX-1 is decently powerful & can drive almost any dynamic cans including IEM’s. The VX-1 performs way better than any desktop amp/dacs one would come across in this price point; it also has a lot of output power as bonus match for slightly brighter or sterile sounding headphones. At 90$, The VX-1 amp is hard to beat.
     
    Pros:
     
    1) Build Quality: even though it is open by case, the VX-1 has an excellent exterior & interior build. No compromise to be seen anywhere. Circuitry is also neat & well built.
     
    2) Sound Quality: Sound presentation here is clean, smooth & refined but yet is detailed, spacious, which is very much like-able for a casual music listen.
     
    3) Value: The VX-1 is one of the best bang for buck desktop setup under 100$  
     
    Cons:
     
    1) Power Supply: The default power supply is not grounded, hence a fair change of light electrocution and audibly higher noise floor. Thus one needs to earth it by connecting the input cable to a grounded source (like PC, which will be earthed)
     

    DSC02148.jpg


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