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Am I missing something with the Topping NX4DSD?

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by Lateshow, Jul 5, 2018.
  1. Lateshow
    EDIT: Pics of NX4DSD

    Besides not having balanced outputs (non-issue for me), this portable DAC/Amp seems to have it all in a very nice form factor, and it's only $160. There's several DAC/Amp units in the $100-$200 range, but this one seems to check all the boxes. Individual reviews are solid, but the NX4DSD doesn't seem to get nearly the love the iFi nano, and others get.

    • THD+N (A-weighted): <0.0009% at 1 kHz output = 140 mW (32 ohms), <0.0037% at 20 Hz–20 kHz output = 140 mW (32 ohms), <0.00046% at 1 kHz output = 57 mW (300 ohms), <0.0005% at 20 Hz–20 kHz output = 57 mW (300 ohms)
    • SNR (A-weighted): >120 dB at 1 kHz
    • Frequency response: 20 Hz–100 kHz (+/- 0.55 dB)
    • Output level: 8.3 Vpp at 32 ohms gain = L, bass = off; 16.4 Vpp at 300 ohms gain = L, bass = off
    • Noise: <2.5 uVrms at gain = L, <6.4 uVrms at gain = H
    • Channel crosstalk: -96 dB at 1 kHz
    • Channel balance: 0.038 dB
    • IMD CCIF: -100 dB at 300 ohms, -94 dB at 32 ohms, CCIF (19.5 k/1k)
    • IMD SMPTE: -103 dB at 300 ohms, -96 dB at 32 ohms, SMPTE4:1; -108 dB at 300 ohms, -98 dB at 32 ohms, SMPTE1:1
    • Output impedance: <0.4 ohms
    • Gain: 0 dB / 8.8 dB
    • Bass: 0 dB / 0.4 dB (70 Hz)
    • Output power: 293 dB x 2 at 32 ohms, THD+N <1%; 114 mW x 2 at 300 ohms, THD+N <1%
    • Adapter impedance: 16–300 ohms
    I have IEM's, full sized headphones (HD600, 1060's, etc) that I'll be using mostly with a laptop, or an android phone. These are other options I've been looking at.

    iFi Nano IDSD Black Label. At $200 shipped it's the most expensive unit on my list. Very well reviewed, but the form factor is garbage IMO. I initially went with a Schiit stack over various iFi's because of the shape, but for a portable it could work.

    XDuoo XD-05 Nice display, but much bulkier. May have QC issues. Easy to mod. $160 at MD.

    H2 Designs MIYO is smaller, but doesn't do anything better than the other picks. $160 at MD.

    Emotiva Big/Little Ego. Amp section might not be enough, and won't work with my phone without some help. Big Ego is currently more expensive than the iFi. Might be more interesting if they on sale again.

    Fiio Q1 Mark II. Lower end unit. Still it's only $100...
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  2. SuperNovaGoesPop
    Agreed...I sort-of want to track down a Fiio e18 and get a NX4dsd, then sell my Q1. It looks like Topping is sort of lesser-known out of all the China brands and doesn't tick the "it factor" boxes that some of the more talked about companies do. Man, I don't see why anybody wouldn't go for it if you're looking for something to stick to the back of a phone case with bass boost as an option.
  3. Mojo Warrior
    I ordered one on Massdrop. Still waiting for delivery.
  4. Lateshow
    Ordered one, and it should be here next week. Just can't beat the features, and price. Quality control is my main concern, but they don't have nearly the bad rep of chi-fi companies like SMSL, and by all accounts, it's well made. Will definitely be a big upgrade to my phone, and laptop. I'm still curious if there are any clear audible benefits by going with the iFi, but I doubt it could be more than minimal/subjective for my uses. I also doubt that my next upgrade will be as noticeable as this one.

    I looked at the more expensive iFi micro (shape), Oppo HA2 (discontinued), and Chord Mojo (shape/etc), but I couldn't justify spending more on an amp than my headphones are worth, and would rather put that balance towards my next set. Idk how much it applies to headphones, but for speakers, it's always buy the best speakers, everything else is secondary within reason.
  5. Zerohour88
    amirm likes this.
  6. Lateshow
    Just an update/mini review:

    Got mines last weekend, and I've had a little time testing it with my laptop, and phone.

    It came packaged in a small black box that wasn't sealed, and just has a clear/white sleeve that goes around it. Inside, the unit is secured at top with with foam around it, and a box full of accessories below it with 2 rubber bands, gel insert, 3 usb cables, and a mini jumper.

    The form factor is great. It's slightly smaller, than I expected it to be, and feels solid. Volume control isn't perfect, but it works well enough, and has nice solid click when turned on/off. Still figuring out connecting it to the back of my phone with their rubber bands. It's small enough that you can access the camera, etc. Only issue is that at least one rubber bands get in the way of the touch screen controls. It comes with all this stuff needed to get you started, but one of the cables is already coming apart. Probably best to get some right angle cables either way.

    Works right out the box. Just plugged it in to my laptop, and changed Foobar's output to the topping DAC. Same with phone without changing any settings which has me wondering if I need to change any settings lol. It came charged, but I haven't monitored how long the battery lasts. I've charged it twice since I got it, but one of those times I think I left it on for 2 days. It's reportedly good for 7-8 hours depending.

    Edit: Windows needs drivers. A little disappointed with them so far as they are really basic.

    At 1st I felt it didn't get as loud as I wanted with my HD600's, but definitely was more than enough for less demanding sets. I could max the volume, and listen for a couple of songs without issue depending on the source material. Gain helps obviously, but I don't care for it generally. I usually listen to music at lower levels so it's not a deal breaker. It would be nice if could go a few decibels higher, but I doubt most people will need more than it's got. The bass boost is noticeable, and it does work well with the gain to add bottom end to Hip Hop, etc. It may have gotten louder after the 2nd charge, but I know I was considering sending it back at 1st.

    Sound is always subjective. I have maybe 4 or 5 hours active listening on it. As expected, nothing sounds bad, and what's lacking is more the headphones, than anything else. So no complaints so far, but it's not night, and day from my phones DAC especially with easy to drive gear. Before I hardly used my phone for music, but that's changing now. I've been playing various FLAC, MP3's, and will have to grab some DSD files to hear if they are worth the space. This combo doesn't do anything for poorly recorded/engineered material lol, and it can get a little bright at times. Hiss isn't really noticeable, especially with the open headphones, and whatever ambient noise is leaking in. Like most people, I listen to a very wide range of music, and it's difficult to find a set of headphones that does everything well in my price range. The gain with bass boost helps these HD600's with rap, but I didn't care for it on any rock song I tried. Where I'm wanting just a little more clean low end, it just increases low end volume a bit, but loses some detail. Sound stage might have been a bit better on the Schiit stack, but that's not portable. Details are there, but it could be a little more dynamic at times. Might do some testing against my PC/PT100 since the DAC/amp on that is decent.

    Without A/Bing it to various devices, it's hard to say if this was a good investment. Something tells me that for less demanding headphones, it would be questionable. You could get by with several <$100 units, or phones that come with good dacs. The 2 main competitors to this NX4DSD are currently the XDuoo, and Ifi Nano, but both have bad form factors compared to this unit. Spec-wise, this this holds it's own against either, but won't know for sure until tested. I wish it had some kind of info display like the XDuoo. The good thing is that this unit basically does it all. It's portable, can handle DSD files, and push 300 ohm headphones. The question remains, does the ifi nano do anything noticeably better.

    Note: Toppings Windows drivers/app has the current sample rate, but mines always shows max. You can also control the volume from this driver/app, but that's kinda redundant. Foobar is much more useful in displaying rate, etc.

    EDIT: Battery life. Wasn't sure so I tested it. Charged it until the blue light came on. Then I plugged in my HD600's, set the volume to 12 o'clock/halfway, and ran it until it stopped playing. It lasted for 7 hours and almost 40 minutes. Light went from blue to red. I didn't notice any warning, and the sound just stopped. Seemed to be the same levels from beginning to end.

    EDIT 2: Around 3 1/2 hours to charge from dead.

    Pics: https://imgur.com/gallery/GgKSq0p
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
  7. Zerohour88
    A friend also recently got the NX4 DSD to drive his NightOwl Carbon (plus he wanted a DAC for PC use) and seems to like it, almost as much as his X7ii. Got a usb to lightning cable instead of the micro-usb, but so far so good. Quite decent power levels, but he doesn't need that much power to begin with. Maybe he'll change his views with more hours clocked in, but so far no complaints at all, plays nicely with his Ibasso IT04.
  8. Lateshow
    Don't let my mini review look like I dislike this unit. It didn't impress me as much as I hoped initially, but it's solid, and has almost everything one could ask for. I'd still like to A/B it with the iFi before recommending it outright. Maybe someone else already has both...

    My main gripe would be the charging time, and no way to know how much charge is left. Idk if I need a more powerful device to charge it, or something, but 3.5 hours is a long time. The minor ones would be lack of display (for stuff like battery/rate), and drivers. Would be nice if it also had the larger headphone jack, angled USB cables, and a better finished knob lol.

    They got the main things right. Form factor is about as good as it gets. Decent amp, and DAC. Runs 7+ hours at 50%.

    I was charging it the other day, and started watching Blade Runner on my laptop. Noticed the blue light, and switched to the NX, and it was night and day. Some of it was the amp obviously, but everything sound clearer, and more dynamic :) . Bass boost worked pretty well for that movie. Definitely never heard these headphones sound like that before, but I don't usually watch movies with them because of the meager amount of bass they put out.
  9. Zerohour88
    I suppose if we were nit-picking, no balanced output was a bit saddening, despite the decent power output. Also, since the USB cable he got was different for advertised, maybe they're mixing it up. Hopefully they realize people would love the angled cables more in regards to stacking with a phone.

    Him liking it as much as his $650 X7ii is already quite good in my book. The usual Sabre sound sig is still there, though he did note more presence on the low-end compared to the Fiio (maybe due to the extra power output). Regardless, for $150, a solid recommendation.

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