Today we give the D90 DAC from Topping a complete review treatment. It retails for $699 USD and promises a high performance experience. Let’s see if that’s true.
Disclaimer: Topping provided the D90 free of charge for this review. I only had to pay the import fees and customs when it arrived at my doorstep. Topping is not affiliated with Headfonia in any way and not a site advertiser. The product remains Topping’s sole property and can be requested back at any time. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity!
Topping is a Chinese company that makes all sorts of audio products. Their portfolio stretches from portable dac/amps to desktop sized electronics. Topping has been founded in 2008. Since then they have gained in popularity in our community. Their products have always provided a good price to performance ratio.
The following can be found on Topping’s website:
TOPPING is the top. We give a more profounder meaning for TOPPING that is, develop and expand, evaluation and quality. TOPPING always remains true to our original aspiration, adheres to this concept to pursuit and explore on the road of Hi-Fi.
TOPPING firmly believes that the Hi-Fi should be highly united with pleasant hearing and superb performance. Therefore, since its establishment, TOPPING has determined a R&D route of parallel hearing experience and parameters, and put the R&D in the first place. We set up the R&D department composed of senior engineers and audiophiles and invested a large amount of money in purchasing professional audio instruments to ensure performance.
In 2016 and 2019, we purchased professional audio testers APx555 and APx555B from Audio Precision, which are the top audio testers in the industry nowadays, for R&D and mass production testing. Each product will enter the hearing adjustment stage after achieving excellent parameters and performance during the R&D process, then we will again check whether the parameters are still excellent after getting the satisfactory sound, which process is repeatedly refined.
The concept and products of TOPPING have won a recognition of audiophiles worldwide.
In today’s review, we will check out how their latest D90 DAC and preamp performs.
The D90 is a balanced DAC that uses a set of AK4499 chips to convert digital data into an analogue signal. It supports sample rates up to DSD512 and PCM 32bit/768kHz. Topping gave the D90 a multitude of different digital inputs. The D90 comes equipped with an AKM AK4118 digital receiver for its digital inputs except for the USB, which uses an XMOS chip.
On the back you can access the USB B, Coax, Optical, HDMI (I²S), AES/EBU and Bluetooth input. It comes with two analogue outputs. Namely an RCA and an XLR output. As always, the XLR output doubles the output Voltage from two to four Volts. You’ll also find a power switch and the power input on the back side.
For a jitter as low as possible, Topping implemented two Accusilicon femto second clocks. These clocks are paired with an Altera Max II CPLD, which is an FPGA from Intel. Topping states, that they are using the CPLD to better control the signal processing by the Accuslicon clocks, which should provide better digital signal processing and improve signal quality.
Topping supplies a ton of different measurement values for the D90. When you browse through the user manual, you will see that they provide measurements done with Audio Precision gear. The D90 has a dynamic range of 127/123dB (XLR/RCA) and a THD+N of 0.00009/0.00013% at 1kHz (XLR/RCA).
The D90 measures 220 x 45 x 160mm (WxHxD) and puts on 1.4kg on the scale. It can be yours for 699 USD, purchasable through Topping’s retail channels.
The D90 arrived in a medium sized black box with a silver embossed Topping logo on top. There also is a Hi-Res Audio sticker on the box. Personally, I don’t give much for the Hi-Res Audio logo. People love seeing logos.
The D90 sits securely in the box, stored in between layers of hardened foam. You will also find an infrared remote control (no batteries), a power chord as well as a manual and a warranty card. A Bluetooth antenna is also supplied.
The build quality of the D90 is rock solid in my opinion. To me it looks like it’s made out of a solid block of aluminum. It doesn’t have any sharp edges anywhere. With 1.4kg it isn’t exactly heavy, but it also didn’t get pulled down from either the XLR or RCA cables I attached to it. The D90 stayed firmly put in my shelves.
On the back of the unit you have all digital inputs and analogue outputs. Everything is perfectly marked so there shouldn’t be any confusion about channels. The D90’s front has a centered OLED screen and buttons on the left and right of it. Left sided is on/off which doubles as input selector. On the right side you have volume adjustment.
The screen gives you a hand full of information. You can see the selected input in the top left corner and the current sampling rate below it. Almost centered you will see the volume setting in dB. The top right corner informs you of what kind of digital stream is currently decoded. Values are PCM and DSD. That’s about it.
The D90 comes in two color variations. I have chosen a silver unit, but people who like it darker, can also get a black version.
The D90 can be controlled either by using the buttons on the front of the unit, or by using the supplied remote control. There are no batteries in the package, so you will have to source your own AAA’s. The hardware buttons on the front-plate are limited in use though. You can only select the inputs with the button on the left side, or you can adjust the volume by +/- 0.5dB. The button on the left hand side also turns the unit off when you long-press it. With the remote you have a couple of more options.
You can adjust volume (+/- 0.5dB steps), change digital filters, put the unit into stand-by or change brightness levels of the unit. Volume is changed by the +/- buttons while inputs can be switched with </>. There are a few buttons doing exactly nothing on the remote. The buttons Line Out, M, Auto and “headphone” don’t do anything. I’m guessing Topping uses the same remote for all their products. Probably using the same IR codes, so these buttons do the same on every product of theirs.
All about sound on page two!
A great review! I agree with you 100%. For my full sounding Violectric V281, it just may be one of the best DACs. The fact D90 plays well with DSD 512 through HQPlayer is a huge plus. Any music loving computer geek should try this combo in my opinion.
a great article, With lots of information in it, These articles help users interested in the site, and continue to share more … good luck!
Considering AKM4499 is plagued with problems Topping did a great job. It sounds just as every DAC should sound, meaning it’s implementation is great. You can add coloring or distortion controlled or less so elsewhere. Point of the DAC is to stay transparent!
Actual measurements with Audio Precision gear:
Performance is great especially in multitone test where it stays at 116 dB SINAD. But is it worth it? Nope. Compared to the new SMSL M300 MKII (AKM 4497) which haves it all & more compared to the D90 for small performance penalty of 2/8 dB in single/multi tone test and cost’s significantly less (240$) it is not.
Am loving the D90 into a tube integrated amp. Suspect the “lean” sound may be reflecting whatever preamp is in use. For $699 you are getting just a DAC – no overbuilt linear power supplies, filtering, massive amplifying devices, etc… The output would seem best served by a a substantial first amplifying stage.
Also – upsampling to DSD 256 is quite special on this unit.
please review denafrips ares
Nice review. You got your French slightly off: “en contraire” should be “au contraire”, and you may consider “bien au contraire” to get close to “quite the opposite”.
thanks for your comment.
Also thanks for pointing it out. I’ve lived in France (île de la Réunion), but writing has always been my Achilles heel. Speaking is easier for me. I’ll adapt accordingly. 🙂
Looking costly but effective. I am gonna buy it.
I think d90is slightly expensive but has some good features for which I going to ckeck it out.
I LOVE TOPPING D90.
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please review D30 pro
pretty as I thought it would be.
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That was really helpful for me.. exactly what I am looking for. Thank you so much
I really like topping D90 features, little bit costly but worth buying it
Nice design but too expensive
A fantastic review! I completely agree with you.