In this article, we review the Topping DX3 Pro+ DAC & AMP. It costs $199 USD from Shenzhen Audio.
Disclaimer: ShenzhenAudio sent us the Topping DX3 Pro+ for this review, free of charge. I only covered the customs fees & taxes. All thoughts and experiences with the product are naturally my own.
Topping Electronics & Technology, known as ‘TOPPING’, is based in Guangzhou, China, and was established in 2008. They design some of the best DACs and AMPs when it comes to the price-to-performance ratio. They have a dedicated R&D team of skilled engineers and audiophiles. In addition to that, they are heavily invested in the latest audio testing machinery such as the APx555 from Audio Precision. Of course, all of this means one thing for us consumers, better devices! I have used many Topping products in the past, the oldest two I remember are the TP30 and the NX1. The year was 2013 I believe. I never had any problems with their products despite using 25+ of them throughout the years. They have a really good track record, performance-wise, in my book. Today we’ll be reviewing their latest AIO unit, the DX3 Pro+. Additionally, if you want to read more on Topping, you can find all of our related reviews here.
Topping DX3 Pro+ Compact Desktop DAC & Headphone Amplifier
The Topping DX3 Pro+ is a budget-friendly, high-fidelity DAC & AMP combo that can decode PCM up to 32bit-768kHz and DSD up to DSD512, natively. It is powered by the critically acclaimed ESS Technology’s ES9038Q2M premium-tier DAC and it features Topping’s NFCA amplifier circuitry. Additionally, the DX3 Pro+ fully supports LDAC thanks to Qualcomm’s high-tier Bluetooth chipset, the QCC5125. I think the DX3 Pro+ seems like a complete unit that’s priced competitively and will be hard to match by rivals, feature-wise. Without further ado, let’s see how it performs, together.
Here are the highlights of the Topping DX3 Pro+ Desktop DAC/AMP.
- ESS Technology ES9038Q2M DAC
- Topping’s NFCA Architecture
- XMOS XU208 USB Controller (up to DSD512, PCM 768kHz)
- Qualcomm QCC5125 Bluetooth 5.0 Chipset
- LDAC / AAC / SBC / APTX / APTX LL / APTX HD Codec Support
- Remote Control Support
- DAC / PRE / HPA modes
- 1.8W @ 32 ohm Power
Packaging & Accessories
The Topping DX3 Pro+ comes in a medium-sized white rectangular box. The box design is as simple as it gets. Topping didn’t list any features or information anywhere on the box, except for a small sticker with the unit’s name and barcode on the side. Upon opening the box, you’re welcomed by the foam compartment that protects the device from damage during transportation. Removing the foam cover grants you access to the compartmentalized section where everything is neatly packed by Topping.
The accessories are as anticipated with one exclusion. Topping provides a USB-A to USB-B data USB cable, a remote, couple of manuals, an antenna, and a small power adapter. I especially like the 15V adapter because of its small size. It’s surprisingly small. If you remember, JDS’ 15vac adapters were huge and heavy. Overall, the DX3 Pro+ offers good quality accessories and the inclusion of a remote is very welcome.
Design & Build Quality
Measuring 12 x 4.0 x 16.5 (WxHxD) centimeters, the DX3 Pro+ is small and it won’t occupy much space on your desk. It features a similar design as the Topping’s D10B and it is smaller than the Topping E50. Build quality is very good as with other Topping units. The CNC milled chassis looks very nice with Topping’s signature orange font display on the front. The multifunctional volume knob is also aluminum and finished with the same, metallic black paint and I liked the feel of it. You can feel the steps and it provides satisfying physical feedback while turning. Design-wise there are a couple of differences between the D10 series, despite featuring a similar form/factor. The DX3 Pro+’s sides are curved and its front panel has hidden bolt sockets instead of visible ones on the D10 series. Its finish is smoother and the anodized matte looks better in my opinion. On another note, Topping also offers the unit in silver color and it features the same anodized finish as the black one.
The layout is interesting, Topping decided to use a 3.5mm headphone socket instead of the usual 6.3mm. I don’t really understand the logic behind this decision as almost every hobbyist has a 6.3 to 3.5 adapter. Topping may have taken this decision to save some space on the PCB. I can’t think of any other reason for the decision. Apart from the HP input, every other I/O option is located on the rear side of the DAC. From left to right we see RCA outputs, dual coaxial, optical, and USB input. We also see that the DX3Pro+ uses 15V DC power.
As expected, the build quality of the device is quite good and the device offers an aesthetic design compared to the D series. The price difference between the D10B and the DX3 Pro+ is totally negligible considering you get a much nicer-looking chassis, a great NFCA amp module, and LDAC capability along with other features. I can’t see any milling or assembly imperfections anywhere on the unit. Topping seems to have designed a very competitive product for the market with the DX3 Pro+.
Controls & UI
The DX3 Pro+ features a basic, two-color display that shows information about the active input type, sample rate, sample type, and active mode.
By default, the unit’s interface displays volume in decibels during playback, however, when you switch songs the unit briefly displays the active sample rate of the signal coming from the device you pair the DAC with. The UI is simple and informative. The unit offers limited controls via the multi-functional volume button. The included remote makes it easier to control the device and navigate between the available menus.
Let’s go over the available settings for the device. First of all, the screen brightness is adjustable. You can manually select one of the 3 brightness pre-sets or you could set it to ‘Auto’ mode and let the device do it for you. You can also switch inputs using the remote between USB/BT/OPT/COA1-2 swiftly. There is no delay, the device switches the input blazing-fast upon prompt. The DX3 Pro+ features 3 output modes. The device can be configured as a pure DAC, or as a DAC/AMP. What’s great here is Topping states that you can use both, simultaneously. Additionally, if you’re worried about volume control bit loss, topping offers a solution for that too. You can toggle on the fixed-volume DAC mode in the menu. The name of this mode is ‘m-d’. There is also an ‘m-p’ mode, it is basically a pre-amp mode and the volume is adjustable in this state. Do note that m-d and m-p modes are can only be changed in the setup menu. Accessing the setup menu is easy, you’ll have to hold the volume knob while the device is powered off then you have to power on the device while pressing down the knob. That way, the device will go straight into the setup menu where you can configure the m-d & m-p modes.
Apart from those, the Topping offers 7 PCM filters for you to choose. F-3 is the default one. The difference between the filters is very subtle but any customization is welcome, as always. Additionally, the unit offers an automatic standby feature. You can also change the gain via remote between +6 dB and +19dB. You can check all of these options from DX3 Pro+’s manual.
The DX3 Pro+ is a small and compact device, however, it can dish out serious amounts of power. The device can deliver 1.8W into a 32Ω load. That’s 250 mW into 300Ω load which is really good considering the size of the DX3 Pro+. You should have no problem driving 600-ohm headphones with the unit. It can feed every can in my inventory, including the Deva planars, without breaking a sweat. On another note, the output impedance is quite low at <0.1Ω and it is safe to say that the HPO is suitable for IEMs and multi-BA earphones which are sensitive to output impedance. There is no hissing with sensitive IEMs so you’re alone with your music and the black background. Topping’s designs never cease to amaze me, especially when this grandeur performance is offered at a budget price. Great job, Topping, as usual.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 2: Bluetooth and LDAC, Sound Quality, Technical Capability, Wireless Performance, Comparisons, Conclusion