Topping D50s – a welcome refresh

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9.8

Sound

9.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Build

10.0/10

Value

10.0/10

Pros

  • Clean and crisp sound
  • Energetic presentation
  • Smooth sounding
  • Remote and Bluetooth

Cons

  • Nothing for the price

As some of you might know I have a long line of reviewed Topping D/A converters. Some of them I liked – D10, D30, and NX4, but some of them not so much – D50 and DX3 pro. The ones I didn’t like sounded too dry and overly analytical. To be perfectly honest, I was not that eager on testing D50 with Bluetooth and remote – because that’s exactly how D50s looked in my eyes. But you, my viewers and readers, asked for it repeatedly so I finally succumbed. I’m glad that I did. 

D50s is yet again centered around a pair of ESS SABRE ES9038Q2M chips, each of DAC’s is used for one channel. While 2nd generation XMOS USB XU208 is used as a USB receiver. The spec sheet is impressive and you can see it at the bottom of the page. Basically it supports all the formats and resolutions you could ever need. One can argue that there’s no MQA support, but MQA is not a format, rather a compression algorithm that is yet to prove it’s here to stay.

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This time you get a remote and Bluetooth.

BUILD, DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY

There’s little to talk about from the outside. What was true for D50 is also true here – it’s a beautifully finished unit that you can get in matt black or silver. Chassis is made of a machined piece of aluminum, it feels sturdy and it’s heavier than its size would suggest. It simply looks premium and stylish. I really liked it for the first time around and nothing has changed this time. 

Things that are changed are all for the good. First of all, there’s a Bluetooth receiver this time so you can play music directly from your phone. Secondly, Topping added the remote control so you can control your unit without getting from the couch. I especially liked it because I do most of my listening in a living room setup and I’m not a big fan of getting up to change input, filter, etc. Lastly, the sound changed too but we’ll get to that later. 

On the back, we get a usual trio of digital inputs: USB, coaxial and optical. Besides that, there’s a pair of gelded RCA as line-out and a 5V power supply connector. D50s can not be powered through a signal USB input like some other models. Oddly enough, Topping will provide you with a cable for a power supply but no actual power brick in the box. That means you’ll have to get a 5 V brick yourself. I tried it with one of those as well as with a higher quality linear power supply.  

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A healthy selection of digital inputs on the back.

SOUND

As no factory power brick was supplied I used my own handmade linear power supply to juice it up. D50s hooked to my room setup immediately proved to be very resolving DAC. I was listening to a simple acoustic song (Jacob Collier – Time To Rest Your Weary Head). Guitar strings sounded positively edgy and more energetic than with most other DACs. Jacob’s voice was also present, crisp and clear. There was no harsh and grainy feel I remember was a part of the original D50. 

I moved on to different songs and more energetic ones too. D50s kept sounding very crisp and resolving, making me excited to try it with just one more song. Bass notes are deep and weighty but well-controlled and can reveal a good amount of texture. Vocals sound clean and clear, but they also have body and presence. That is the part where D50s really distinguishes itself from D50 – midrange. It manages to connect crispiness with full-bodiness. The higher spectrum continues in the same fashion. Cymbals and bells sound clean and provide nice, long, tone decay. Yes, they sound sharp but not too harsh or tiring, which used to happen with D50.

The soundstage is respectably wide and instruments are clearly separated from each other. Sheer clarity and energy is also helping them sound really present. D50s in general favors very energetic and upfront type of sound. If you’re looking for a warm, soft and laid back, better look elsewhere. But if you like your sound alive and kicking, grabbing your attention, it’s what it does best. Listening to AC/DC I really started tapping my foot in the rhythm very quickly. Most other DACs I listened to recently didn’t make me do that.

Filters and Power Supply

Topping offers 7 different digital filters and I tried all of them. Differences were not big by any means but can definitely be observed. If you prefer a bit sharper sound, you will find it with filters 1, 4 and 6 (4 being my favorite in the group). If you prefer a slightly toned-down approach, try filters 2, 3, 5 and 7. I ended using filter 5 but you should all find which one you prefer by yourself. Don’t worry if you can’t always distinguish them. For example, filters 2 and 3 are very, very similar. 

Lastly, I managed to find a small 5 V wall brick and tried to use it instead of my linear power supply. D50s did react to that negatively. Sound clearly lost some of its crispness and byte. It was still very good and its overall lively character didn’t change. But if your system is resolving enough, and you want to hear everything D50s can do, it can only do that with a low noise power supply. 

COMPARISON 

This part will be short because, honestly, I don’t have much price appropriate competition at hand. First of all, D50s is a clear step-up from D50 that sounded dry and grainy. No such problems here, D50s balances things out and sounds more natural. If you’re coming from a really good but cheaper product, like Schiit Modi 3 or Loxjie D10, you should notice improvements. There’s increased precision, energy and presence of sound with D50s that neither of these great two DACs can match. iFi Zen DAC is closer but still sounds softer. It doesn’t resolve details as good as D50s, nor does it sound that alive and energetic.

CONCLUSION

As you may have already guessed, I really like D50s. It’s a whole package the way its predecessor D50 never was, and it can justify its own price the way D50 never could. It is a clear step up in sound quality from models costing around 100 bucks no matter how great they are. If you don’t mind the upfront type of sound and if the rest of your system justify such purchase, Topping D50s has my recommendation.  

 TOPPING D50S – CHARACTERISTICS

Size: 119 x 110 x 26 mm
Weight: 510 g
Power input: DC 5V / 1A
Inputs: USB, OPT, COAX, Bluetooth
Line Out: RCA

Parameters:

THD+N @A-weighting: <0.0003%@1kHz ; <0.0004%@10-20kHz
SNR @A-weighting: >122dB@ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz(+0.1dB)
Output Level: 2 Vrms
Noise: <2uVrms
Channel Crosstalk: -130dB @1kHz
Channel Balance: 0.025dB

Spec:
USB IN: 44.1 kHz-768 kHz /16 bit – 32 bit
DSD64 – DSD512 (Native)
DSD64 – DSD256 (Dop)
OPT/ COAX IN: 44.1 kHz – 192kHz / 16bit – 24bit, DSD64(Dop)
BT IN: AAC/SBC/APTX/APTX LL/APTX HD/LDAC

9 thoughts on “Topping D50s – a welcome refresh

  1. Thank you for a wonderful review as I currently have the D10 that you made some description of the D50 (regular) that was very similar to what I am experienced on my D10. So, I purchased the D50s to only find out that there is no coax out just RCA. I am so sadden by this right now. This is for a special project I am working on now (high fidelity car audio) and I need a coax OUT to my DSP. Any recommendations? Any other quality DAC you can designate me too? Budget would be under $600. Thank you and Happy Holidays! Paul

    1. Hi Paul, unfortunately 99% of DACs on the market don’t include any digital output. Reason for that is they are primarily Digital to Analog converters and that’s what most people use the for. Good thing here is that you don’t actually need a DAC since you use digital in and digital output while your DSP uses it’s internal DAC for D/A conversion. That said, you can continue using D10 or try googling USB to Coaxial converters. Some that I know about are: “Nobsound Douk Audio U2” and “M2Tech HiFace Two”. Haven’t tried them myself to comment about their sound quality. but a friend of mine praised M2Tech highly.

  2. This was long coming but basically what I have right now is my stereo is my Dell PC using what came with it Dell Audio and Realtek. audio card in the back. Not sure what to think of either. But I have a Desktop XPS. Where at the moment I’m using a 26 ft 3.5 mm that goes into one output into L/R RCA inputs in my Onkyo Stereo Receiver which plays out a pair of PSB Century 500i speakers using Monster Cable all bought except the Dell XPS and Onkyo within the last 10 years. The PSBs and Monster Cable was bought in 1998… The change from lots of help and just decision making. I bought The Topping DAC 50s. I also bough a Mani Shittt photo pre amp. Because I’m switching the Onkyp stereo receiver to a 5.1 Anthem 510 surround receiver but using only the stereo part of it for my turntable and Dell XPS. with the Topping the Anthem did not come with a photo pre amp but I heard these little pre amps are exce;llent I really don’t know what to expect. On top of that I didn’t know I would need a adapter for the Topping why one wasn’t given I thought the power came from the one USB cords. So I have to look into that. I purchased a Audio Quest 8M ( 26 ft ) Golden Gate RCA to RCA cables to go to from the Topping to the Anthem small Analog part of the receiver. simple hook up. Although I know nothing how this Topping piece will work. And last but not least I bought a 10 ft and 20 ft speaker cable from which has Banana Plugs built in and many speaker company use these. There Canare 4S11 Star Quad 11 AWG Wire Speaker Cable, 10 Ft. and 20 ft. The speakers for now are the 20 year old PSB Century 500i. Huge beautiful bookshelves that no one makes these sizes anymore. And comments on how I did and will I hear any difference. I think I went overkill with the 163.00 RCA cable but it’s fine. The Anthem was given to me as a gift. Thanks Mike

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. It looks like a nice setup you got there. I just recently sold my last pair of speakers which were 17 years old and worked like charm, that’s not too old or anything. I’m hoping you’ll like D50s in your setup, it’s great DAC for sure.

  3. This info here I have no idea what it means . Should I be concerned that I don’t Is it automatic. ALSO can I still use AIMP. for my PC stereo. I forgot to mention I use AIMP. Not sure if there is anything better.

    Parameters:

    THD+N @A-weighting: <0.0003%@1kHz ; 122dB@ 1kHz
    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz(+0.1dB)
    Output Level: 2 Vrms
    Noise: <2uVrms
    Channel Crosstalk: -130dB @1kHz
    Channel Balance: 0.025dB

    Spec:
    USB IN: 44.1 kHz-768 kHz /16 bit – 32 bit
    DSD64 – DSD512 (Native)
    DSD64 – DSD256 (Dop)
    OPT/ COAX IN: 44.1 kHz – 192kHz / 16bit – 24bit, DSD64(Dop)
    BT IN: AAC/SBC/APTX/APTX LL/APTX HD/LDAC

    1. Those specs are quite usual and nothing you should actively be thinking about except if you’re techno geek like some of us. 🙂 Just install driver from Topping’s website, plug DAC in and you’ll be ready to go.

      Aimp should work just fine, I used it myself for quite a long time, it’s a very decent player. Just go to menu->preferences->playback and choose Topping from the drop down list.

    1. Sorry Martin, your message accidentally got flagged as spam. I would like to test D90 but it’s a bit more expensive so no room in a budget at the moment.

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