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Topping D50

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by junki, Apr 8, 2018.
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  1. ceausuc
    Have you found any info about Katana vs D50? I am also looking at this new Allo DAC, should be better than D50 with I2S input and those Sparkos op-amps but without listening you never know...
    I find my D50 sounding better with very short USB cable - I have a 4cm long one right now. I think everyone should test their setup with something like this:
    I know it's not practical for every day use but it should tell you if you need a better USB cable :)
  2. carlmart
  3. ceausuc
  4. carlmart
    I am working on a high resolution system, using an RPi3 B+ connected by cabled ethernet to my PC/server, feeding the Topping D50 through USB.

    What programs do you need on the Allo Katana and on the PC/server to run that system?
  5. Taz777
    Has anyone found an MQA-compatible USB DAC that betters the Topping D50 in terms of sound quality. I have a Tidal HiFi subscription so, with more and more MQA songs available, feel as if I'm missing that last bit of sound quality when I play back a track and it 'only' streams at 88.2 or 96kHz to the DAC.

    Whilst it's not an issue at the moment as nearly all of my music is 44.1/16, it may be in the future.

    I've been looking at the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital but am wondering if the audio would be better, even with the full MQA unfolding, than the non-MQA Topping D50.
  6. Acke
    if you want to get the most of high res there are so many other important things to worry about than simply if the DAC will support a format ''natively''.
    Ignoring the source (PC, CDP etc.), the amp and the headphones/speakers and focusing on the DAC, you have multiple sensitive analogue and digital stages that will be limiting the quality of the hi res content, even if everything is taken into consideration it will never be perfect, only near-perfect.
    A DAC that takes these things into consideration, and deals with them in best possible way, wont be cheap, there is no way around that.

    So íd say forget about MQA and try to find out more about the hardware differences between those DACs, and that will only be a clue to how the end result will sound.
  7. lacknothing
    What you are after is a common mis-concept, supported by those that are interested in making profit by telling you that you are "missing that last bit of sound quality" because of too low resolution.

    Well, you can get a Hifime DAC for less than 100 bucks, feed it with clean power and an excellent signal and you are ready to prove them all wrong with your existing recordings.

    Seriously, all that buzz about HiRes DACs is vastly crap.
    If one gets 44 / 48kHz recordings right, there is no longer any need for HiRes past 96kHz.

    The problem though is, that very few setups are up to the task and therefore the desire, to "uprade" to higher resolution, whereas an upgrade to spot on performance of 44 / 48kHz would be in order.

    To prove my point of view by yourself, you simply have to try yourself.
    Also venture in good quality recordings of the pre-digital era and you will be amazed what you were missing until now.

    It certainly might be fun to have a HiRes DAC, just in case of, but you really don't need one to get "that last bit of sound quality" and furthermore, a HiRes DAC is certainly no guarantee for getting "that last bit of sound quality" either
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  8. Acke
    ASR has a really good teardown of the dac here.

    They are really similar to be honest, it uses polymer aluminium caps throughout and some polypropylene film capacitors in the analogue stage, that is an advantage over the D50.

    The biggest difference is the analogue stage.
    the d50 uses multiple op amps in the recommended Sabre configuration. the components and op amps are good quality.
    the S2 uses a single chip made by ESS themselves to handle the output stage, which also has a built in headphone amp.
    no way to know whats better.

    If you plan to use the headphone out you could probably get very good detail/resolution using the S2 compared to using an external headphone amp due to very low distortion figures and short signal path, it depends how well it can drive the headphones ( dont underestimate the power of that little chip). you'll still have the option to use an external amp aswell.
    so aside from MQA decoding there are 2 possible reasons to go for the S2 over D50, but is it worth the extra cost?

    BTW in regards to high res, I have never been very impressed by PCM, There may be some slight differences in detail and imaging compared to redbook but it still sounds the same... it doesnt sound any more real, which is what you expect to get with high res.

    DSD/SACDs are the only true ''hi res'' experience imo, given the right circumstances it can blow you away with presence/realism that I dont think is possible with PCM.
  9. andrewinukm
    MQA is not lossless, it uses some algorithm to cut off some bits, and uses those bits as storage space to store information related to "hi res" data (data above 44.1kHz).
    FLAC and WAV are lossless.

    I think MQA is useful only if you are streaming while on the road because it saves some cellular data. But I don't really care, as I can't hear that well while commuting in a train/bus/car anyway.... so MP3 is fine on Tidal.
    And when I'm home, I want lossless... so FLAC it is (or WAV, depending on mood).

    I don't like MQA because they use fanciful words and pseudo-science to claim they are "better" than lossless <--this is impossible.
    Also, they force users to use their proprietary lossy filter (some form of minimum phase apodizing filter, IIRC).
    Archimago did an excellent assessment on MQA in Audiophile Style (Computer Audiophile) some time ago... let me dig out the link.
    Found: https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/mqa-a-review-of-controversies-concerns-and-cautions-r701/

    When I want lossless, I want actual lossless (FLAC, WAV, etc). When I don't care about high fidelity, MP3 at high quality settings are surprisingly good.
  10. andrewinukm
    I'm not very well versed in electronics, but after much digging... i know that DAC chips like Burr Brown PCM1794 and ESS Sabre outputs current signals. So it has to be converted to voltage signals.

    The first stage "filter" is an I/V stage, which converts current signal to voltage signal. The 2nd stage "EQ" is a low pass filter stage.
    I noticed this is quite a common circuit in many DACs that has current output. Some add a buffer or gain stage after this LPF (rare). I know what LPF does, but I don't know why it is needed after I/V stage... possible due to ultrasonic signals from the DAC and/or I/V stage?

    Looking at opamp rolling threads, the Asus Xonar has a similar structure after the Burr Brown DAC chip and DIP8 sockets. Therefore, many have tried various opamps on I/V and LPF. If you could put in a adaptor socket, opamp rolling is possible. Imagine Sparkos Labs or Sonic Imagery discrete opamps in there, yummy!

    And if anyone is adventurous enough, you could DIY Salas's UltraBiB and Reflektor LPS (group buy in DIYaudio), and supply into individual circuits: USB receiver, SPDIF receiver, DAC chips, analogue stage (I/V & LPF).

    The D50 is so well laid out and labelled that it is possible to treat it as a DIY module and modify it to a person's heart's content. But it wouldn't fit that gorgeous CNC casings anymore.

    I just bought another DAC: DAC DAC HS. Will compare it with D50 (using SPDIF input) over the next few weeks.
  11. Acke
    There is a thread on diyaudio.com for 9038Q2M dacs, its a bit hard to sift through to find the info you want (and can understand as a beginner, like myself) but it helps understand this particular DAC implemenation aswell as DACs in general, there are a few unsual things about it that helps to know for modding.

    DAC chips usually have seperate ''voltage'' and ''current'' outputs. The voltage output would do I/V conversion of current output internally to simplify the external circuit, aimed at cheap and simple implentations. The current output allows the I/V conversion to be done externally, and with a well designed I/V stage has the potential to have lower distortion and better sound.

    However, Sabre DAC chips combine the current and voltage outputs into one output, the DAC will only output true current if it sees a very low impedance load (basically 0).
    The Sabre must use special I/V stage to achieve that, you can see it in the full circuit for D50's op amp stages a few posts after the one you quoted.
    As I understand certain types of I/V stages wont work well with Sabre DACs because of it, like transformers, which have some impedance.

    And there is actually low pass filtering happening in both of the op amp stages and is only a secondary function of each stage.
    The first pair op amps main function is I/V conversion as you know.
    The next op amps main function is converting the balanced signal to single ended, it combines the balanced signals from the DAC (positive and negative) and any difference between the signals is cancelled out, reducing distortion in the process.

    For power supplies, having seperate transformers for the digital (USB, DAC) and analogue stages (DAC_L, DAC_R, output stage) would help get the most out of multiple supplies, it will provide isolation between the stages.
    If you wanted to take it to absolute extreme you could use 3 seperate transformers, 1 for digital, 1 for left channel audio and 1 for right channel audio. the dimishing returns would be huge but thats how its done in some high-end DACs.
  12. Technopiper
    Question for those who has the D50: how long is the USB cable that came with it? I'm talking about the USB A-B signal cable. Thanks!
  13. Taz777
    @Technopiper It's quite short - a couple of feet. You can use any USB A-B printer cable if you need a longer one. I use a short Fisual Havana USB 2.0 cable as it eliminated the EMI I was experiencing.
    Technopiper likes this.
  14. Technopiper
    Do I need to use the driver that comes with it if I am using Windows 8.1? I've heard it is only necessary if you are using ASIO.
    Also, does it matter which USB port I use? I'll have to use my PC's front panel port if I am aiming for a shorter cable.
  15. carlmart
    Try cutting the +5v wire in the USB cable.
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