Topping A90 Discrete aka A90D
Jul 1, 2022 at 4:36 AM Post #31 of 558

Lacas

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Both are relatively new. I've had the Ferrum stack for less than a week, probably less than 10 hours on it, and the A90 Discrete is well under 2 hours. Off the bat they are both great. I see no major issues with the Topping despite its price point. Haven't even tested the balanced outputs, but single ended the Ferrum seems to have a slightly more organic nature to it. The A90 D simply gets out of the way and play the music in an uncolored manner. Both have excellent bass and extension. The A90 D probably has more air up top, and so far even both have excellent clarity with the Ferrum perhaps having the blacker background. These are early thoughts. My general sense is that you'd want to pair the A90 D with warm headphones and the Ferrum with bright headphones. This isn't to say one is bright and the other one dark though. They appear to be different takes on neutrality.
hi, does the A90D have lusher/meatier midrange, more organic sound than the OG A90? how is the soundstage? thx a lot
 
Jul 1, 2022 at 4:45 AM Post #32 of 558

carlcamper

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@HONEYBOY , just got my A90D as well. I noticed sometimes when I pull put or plug something on the 1/4 unbalanced 6.35mm jack, the unit resets/ goes into standby. Has it ever happened to you?
 
Jul 1, 2022 at 5:35 AM Post #33 of 558

HONEYBOY

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Yep was just about to mention that. Thats my only gripe so far. I guess there is a protection circuit for certain loads beyond or below a certain resistance. Turn on and turn off time is super quick so I simply turn it off plug headphones in then turn it on.
 
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Jul 1, 2022 at 5:50 AM Post #34 of 558

HONEYBOY

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hi, does the A90D have lusher/meatier midrange, more organic sound than the OG A90? how is the soundstage? thx a lot
I’ve never heard the original A90 so can’t quite do the comparison. I guess it’s all relative, but not sure I’ll call this lush and meaty midrange so far though. Seems like an unadulterated rendition of what the headphone is capable of. Still evaluating the sound stage.

The A90D does have excellent synergy with the Dan Clark Stealth. I’ve found those headphones quite tough to drive and despite the Ferrum stack coming across as more organic and pleasant the A90 D seems to have an even better handle on those headphones with slightly better dynamics, bass impact and sonically more pure midrange.

Will probably have more listening time this weekend. Someone had asked whether the Ferrum stack was in a different class and I can’t say that it is. At least not yet. It is my preferred sound signature though as it’s just natural with a tinge of warmth and sounds more holographic than the A90D.
 
Jul 1, 2022 at 6:02 AM Post #35 of 558

Lacas

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I’ve never heard the original A90 so can’t quite do the comparison. I guess it’s all relative, but not sure I’ll call this lush and meaty midrange so far though. Seems like an unadulterated rendition of what the headphone is capable of. Still evaluating the sound stage.

The A90D does have excellent synergy with the Dan Clark Stealth. I’ve found those headphones quite tough to drive and despite the Ferrum stack coming across as more organic and pleasant the A90 D seems to have an even better handle on those headphones with slightly better dynamics, bass impact and sonically more pure midrange.

Will probably have more listening time this weekend. Someone had asked whether the Ferrum stack was in a different class and I can’t say that it is. At least not yet. It is my preferred sound signature though as it’s just natural with a tinge of warmth and sounds more holographic than the A90D.
thx, I think you answereed my question with the part below 😊 "It is my preferred sound signature though as it’s just natural with a tinge of warmth and sounds more holographic than the A90D."
 
Jul 1, 2022 at 12:10 PM Post #36 of 558

enricoclaudio

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Yep was just about to mention that. Thats my only gripe so far. I guess there is a protection circuit for certain loads beyond or below a certain resistance. Turn on and turn off time is super quick so I simply turn it off plug headphones in then turn it on.
I use Hart Audio cables with all my headphones and I keep the single ended and balanced connectors always plugged in and switch only between headphones cables so I'm wondering what would happen when switching only headphones and not unplugging the Hart Audio adapters? I guess I will find out as soon my A90D arrives.
 
Jul 1, 2022 at 9:31 PM Post #37 of 558

ezduzit2500

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@HONEYBOY , just got my A90D as well. I noticed sometimes when I pull put or plug something on the 1/4 unbalanced 6.35mm jack, the unit resets/ goes into standby. Has it ever happened to you?
I'd definitely try to turn the volume all the way down (at the least) when plugging/unplugging any hp for fear of damage to both the hps and the amp. Of course, that's really not an issue with balanced hp connections as each phase has it's own plug/connection...
 
Jul 7, 2022 at 6:42 PM Post #39 of 558

carlcamper

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Jul 7, 2022 at 8:44 PM Post #40 of 558

hsg120

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Added a new feature allowing 5 different volume curves to select
Added a procedure to alter the gain setting without using the remote

That is awesome =D
 
Jul 12, 2022 at 2:29 PM Post #41 of 558

Andrewteee

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IMG_5559 Medium.png


Just got the A90 Discrete and I have to say it's doing a stellar job with the Sennheiser HD6XX. I don't think I've heard them sound any better. Clears up the vocals really nicely with excellent bass. This is also super silent with my IEMs: IER-Z1R, U12T and the IE900. Nice looking unit too.
You have some fine gear there! What is the dCS component?

I've been looking at the Topping, noticed you said it pairs well with the DCA Stealth, which I also have. Also have the Chord Mojo 2 for travel and mobility. The Ferrum crossed my path too, but leaning toward Topping given its neutrality.

What is your fav DAC + amp + headphone pairing, of all the things you have on hand?
 
Jul 12, 2022 at 10:29 PM Post #42 of 558

HONEYBOY

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You have some fine gear there! What is the dCS component?

I've been looking at the Topping, noticed you said it pairs well with the DCA Stealth, which I also have. Also have the Chord Mojo 2 for travel and mobility. The Ferrum crossed my path too, but leaning toward Topping given its neutrality.

What is your fav DAC + amp + headphone pairing, of all the things you have on hand?
Hi! That's the dCS Network Bridge. In my view, after having quite heard a number of streamers even costing a lot more, it is still one of the best streamers money can buy lol. They are rare to find since it is now a legacy product from dCS, but it uses the same Mosaic app that all dCS products use and fits my use case of streaming with Roon quite well. The dCS Network Bridge has a way of letting you see way more detail from the track and adding a corporeality to the instruments whilst all sounding natural. It removes the "digital" sound from the Hugo 2.

Yeah, if going for absolutely neutrality then I suspect the A90 discrete is the better performer. From a frequency response standpoint the Ferrum and Topping doesn't seem to add anything, but when juxtaposed there is a paradoxically slightly obvious coloration in the Ferrum. It's very tastefully done, and it makes for a more organic and natural sound than the Topping. You hear this especially with female vocals and guitars where they are a bit warmer on the Ferrum and cooler on the Topping.There is some decent synergy with both amps actually. I was surprised by the Topping as it seems to give the Stealth enough current to not be as lethargic when not driven properly. Having said that, there is another cool effect with the Ferrum and the Stealth. The Stealth has an excellent ability to resolve spaces between instruments, and the Ferrum Stack has a very black background with the combined effect of making the sound seem more live or transparent and the soundstage is more holographic. The overall resolution with the Stealth and Ferrum appears to be better.

Interestingly it's been hard to choose a favorite pairing, and that seems to change mainly based on mood. One moment the Ferrum shows its charm and is wonderfully musical; another moment I sense the coloration, don't want to hear it and I choose the Topping. I am beginning to think the Hugo 2 is the weak link in the chain! Gonna replace it in a month or so
 
Jul 12, 2022 at 11:13 PM Post #43 of 558

Andrewteee

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@HONEYBOY thank you for the detailed reply -- it is super helpful. I agree with your comment on the spaces between instruments on the Stealth (or space in the music) and I can appreciate how you describe the Ferrum background. IME the Stealth let you hear the performance, the playing, but in a very musical way, not analytical, and I'd guess the Ferrum would complement that.

I'm inline with mood too (and music style). It depends :relaxed:

I listen mostly to a lot of acoustic guitar of various stripes and ambient/electronic/space music. They each seem to prefer different approaches in playback.

Truth be told, I have a dCS Bartok but I'm coming around to the notion that the headphone amp does not compete with other options. It's good, very good, but I kind of like the idea of going with amps that are more specifically headphone amps. I've heard the Stealth with other amps and it benefits from them over the Bartok.
 
Jul 13, 2022 at 4:51 AM Post #44 of 558

TheR0v3r

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Hi! That's the dCS Network Bridge. In my view, after having quite heard a number of streamers even costing a lot more, it is still one of the best streamers money can buy lol. They are rare to find since it is now a legacy product from dCS, but it uses the same Mosaic app that all dCS products use and fits my use case of streaming with Roon quite well. The dCS Network Bridge has a way of letting you see way more detail from the track and adding a corporeality to the instruments whilst all sounding natural. It removes the "digital" sound from the Hugo 2.

Yeah, if going for absolutely neutrality then I suspect the A90 discrete is the better performer. From a frequency response standpoint the Ferrum and Topping doesn't seem to add anything, but when juxtaposed there is a paradoxically slightly obvious coloration in the Ferrum. It's very tastefully done, and it makes for a more organic and natural sound than the Topping. You hear this especially with female vocals and guitars where they are a bit warmer on the Ferrum and cooler on the Topping.There is some decent synergy with both amps actually. I was surprised by the Topping as it seems to give the Stealth enough current to not be as lethargic when not driven properly. Having said that, there is another cool effect with the Ferrum and the Stealth. The Stealth has an excellent ability to resolve spaces between instruments, and the Ferrum Stack has a very black background with the combined effect of making the sound seem more live or transparent and the soundstage is more holographic. The overall resolution with the Stealth and Ferrum appears to be better.

Interestingly it's been hard to choose a favorite pairing, and that seems to change mainly based on mood. One moment the Ferrum shows its charm and is wonderfully musical; another moment I sense the coloration, don't want to hear it and I choose the Topping. I am beginning to think the Hugo 2 is the weak link in the chain! Gonna replace it in a month or so
Thank you for this comparison!

I have the Ferrum stack and also sense the (tasteful) coloration, almost tubelike at times. It works very well with planars. I’ve decided to add another amp to give an alternative sound. And I’m focusing on “neutral” amps.

Would you mind giving trying a slightly different setup? Specifically using the A90 also as a preamp for the Ferrum configured to run in by-pass mode. Be careful with the volume!

Very interested in your impressions if possible.
 
Jul 14, 2022 at 3:23 AM Post #45 of 558

HONEYBOY

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Thank you for this comparison!

I have the Ferrum stack and also sense the (tasteful) coloration, almost tubelike at times. It works very well with planars. I’ve decided to add another amp to give an alternative sound. And I’m focusing on “neutral” amps.

Would you mind giving trying a slightly different setup? Specifically using the A90 also as a preamp for the Ferrum configured to run in by-pass mode. Be careful with the volume!

Very interested in your impressions if possible.
Yes, I plan to do this, but on vacation at the moment, and likely can't get back to this until early August. Happy Listening!
 

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