Natural, realistic, organic signature with plenty of details. That is how I describe the D70s. It is not only organic but also technically advanced as well. It is one of the best DACs I have ever heard. Period. I will try my best to explain why I feel like this to you in this chapter. Let’s start.
First of all, it sounds quite coherent. There are no dips, no humps. It is flat and it is dead-accurate. Technically, the PRaT, the separation, the imaging feels absolutely marvelous. The bite, the attack & decay is not fierce, like the SU-9, it’s rather fast and agile but more effortlessly. There is plenty of air between the instruments and combining that with a precise, holographic staging results in very accurate imaging. The SU-9 has a slightly wider stage but it feels artificial compared to the D70s. With the D70s, every instrument on the stage has a dedicated, clear position. Even more so than the SU-9. The Topping D70s’ resolution is quite impressive as well. The clarity is top-notch. As for the filters, I mentioned that I liked the Filter Mode 4. It offers more treble presence and slightly more energy in the top region. If you are pairing D70s with an 6XX or 58X, this filter will be your favourite as it will help with the removal of the treble veil of both of the headphones. If you’re going to pair it with a Planar, such as the DEVA, it will be better to use the default filter setting. Experiment with the filters and find what you like. I personally recommend the default one for most of the headphones & IEMs.
Punchy, authoritative, defined. Sub-bass presence is ample. Overall bass response is very good, just like the rest of the range. The note-weight is the key here. It does not feel tinny or dry at all. Necessary harmonics are presented effortlessly by the D70s. Thanks to the brilliant PRaT capability, the bass is quick, agile and snappy as well. This makes transients a joy to follow. Dynamics are excellent, as well as the control. The bass never bleeds into mids and never lags behind. Well done.
Articulate and coherent. The midrange is just right. Stringed instruments sound breathy and organic to my ears. The effortless presentation of D70s does not surprise me here, as well. Mids are thick when they need to be so there are no problems with the tonality here. Vocals do not feel saturated, artificial, or thin, in fact, they feel life-like, especially through an active reference monitor like the LSR 308P mkII. Topping tuned this range delightfully. Macro-detail retrieval is especially impressive here. Female vocals are delicate, detailed, and transparent. You get to hear and follow every breath, every nuance with ease. The upper midrange has ample energy and it is vivid. Don’t get me wrong here, it is not overly bright or sharp. Just the contrary, in my opinion, it offers a perfectly balanced upper midrange. If you are in this market for a long time, you know it is a crucial area, and tuning it, is hard.
Very detailed, precise, and clear. Highs offer excellent clarity and detail while being articulate and coherent. You keep hearing this word, ”coherent” from me, and yes it is true, every frequency range is in complete sync with each other. The D70s has brilliant tonal balance. No overlapping, no bleeding. You will never hear the treble overpowering the midrange with this DAC. Furthermore, the treble extension is impressive and blends in perfectly with the rest of the spectrum.
I paired the D70s with the SH-9 and the Archel 2.5 Pro. Both of them are excellent amplifiers. They have quite a few similarities. They both sound transparent, they both have a detailed presentation and clear imaging. Archel’s soundstage is slightly compressed compared to the SH-9. PRaT-wise SH-9 feels slightly faster in attack-decay but both of them has an impressive dynamism. Which has better synergy with the D70s if you ask, well, I would bet on the SH-9 because of the sharper dynamics and more linear presentation. It also has a wider soundstage so you will have more headroom resulting in slightly better instrument separation.
vs. SMSL SU-9
The SMSL SU-9 is a very capable DAC and from a price-to-performance aspect, both of them are great devices. There are small differences between the two. The D70s is slightly more resolving than the SU-9. It has a more precise imaging capability, a deeper soundstage. The SU-9 has a wider soundstage but the imaging capability is not on par with the D70s. Instruments, especially stringed instruments does feel slightly more natural with the D70s. SU-9 has sharper transients whereas the D70s has a more effortless way of presenting them. If you have a small desk, they both offer a similar feature set and they both are great devices in their price bracket. You can’t go wrong with either of them. If you have the budget and the space, the D70s won’t upset you.
The Topping’s D70s is an amazing DAC. It may be one of the best DACs that sat on my desk in 2021. It offers a rich feature set, it is built like a tank and topped with a scratch resistant black finish. It looks gorgeous. Topping surely did a lot of R&D for this device to maximize the performance of dual AKM4497EQs. The performance matches the numbers on the paper, it sounds organic, detailed and effortless.
It has a great tonal balance and it offers precise imaging. Not many DACs can do that, especially in this price bracket. Getting the dynamics, tonality and technicalities right is hard. I am glad that Topping got these right with the D70s. At 649 USD, I can’t think of another DAC to rival it so I am definitely recommending you to hear it.