In this article, we review the Topping E30 II desktop DAC and Topping L30 II desktop AMP. Both devices are individually priced at $149 USD.
This review consists of 3 pages. The Topping E30 II will be reviewed on page 1, the Topping L30 II will be reviewed on page 2 and the joint performance of the two will be evaluated on page 3.
Disclaimer: ShenzhenAudio sent us the Topping E30 II & Topping L30 II DAC/AMP stack for this review, free of charge. As always, I am here to honestly convey my thoughts about the product to you.
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 30+ of them throughout the years. They have a really good track record, performance-wise, in my book. Today we are reviewing the E30 II, it is the successor of the critically acclaimed E30. Topping’s line-up is growing each passing day with fantastic devices. If you want to check out more Topping gear, you can find all of our related reviews here.
Topping E30 II Desktop DAC
The Topping E30 II’s dedicated web page can be found here. It costs $149 USD from Shenzhen Audio. The DAC is available in 4 colors, blue, red, black, and silver. All options are available in anodized metallic paint.
The E30 II is a budget-friendly, high-performance DAC that uses XU208 and dual AKM AK4493S DACs to decode PCM up to 32bit-768kHz and DSD up to DSD512, natively, via USB. The AK4493S is a new chip by AKM (Asei Kasei). The AK4493S DACs feature AKM’s VELVETSOUND™ architecture and they are the successor to the critically acclaimed AKM 4493 series. The E30 II uses new, discrete LNRD and features %25 less noise compared to the previous gen E30. The Discrete LNRD circuit filters out the unwanted noise of 5V power input and provides stable power to the E30 II. The E30 II also supports Pure DAC and Preamp modes and comes with a remote controller.
Here are the highlights:
- AKM AK4493S DACs in Dual Configuration
- XMOS XU208 USB Controller
- Remote Control Support
- USB-B / RCA / Coaxial / Optical
- 32bit-768kHz PCM & DSD512 Support
- LNRD – 5V Input (Adapter Not Included)
- The latest DAC Drivers can be found here.
Packaging & Accessories
Topping E30 II comes in a stylish little black box. The box is textured and feels premium. On the front of the box, we see the company name ‘TOPPING’ in silver letters. Overall, we can say that there is a significant improvement in packaging quality over the old cardboard boxes.
There is no specification or device information anywhere on the box, just the company address and a QR code that takes you to the company website. When you open the box, you find the DAC, remote controller, and accessories in a compartment made of dense foam. In addition to the DAC, Topping provides a USB-A to 5V barrel connector cable, a remote controller, and a USB-A to B data cable. You also get a user’s manual and a Topping brochure.
The E30 II is a 5V-powered DAC, but there is no adapter in the box to use with the supplied cable. Topping states that any phone charger can be used with the device. E30 II’s LNRD actively filters the power from the adapter of your choice so there is nothing to worry about, noise-wise. Together with that, I must let you know that the included power cable is a bit short. It is 1m long to be exact and that could be a challenge for some people.
Design & Build Quality
The E30 II comes in a rectangular aluminum case. Measuring 12 x 3.2 x 10.0 centimeters, the E30 II is a compact powerhouse. This aluminum chassis is painted with Topping’s usual metallic paint, with a familiar orange LED display on the front. The one I received has a black metallic chassis and is both sleek and industrial in design.
There is only one difference in design between it and the previous generation, and that is that the sample rates supported by the device are not written below the display. I guess the main reason for keeping the design the same is to keep the price down. Considering that the device uses 2 DAC chips compared to the previous series, there is no significant change in price.
There is a touch power button on the left side of the orange font screen. This button can also be used for navigation and switching between menus. There is a touch power button on the left side of the orange font display. This button can also be used for navigation and switching between menus. The front of the device is glossy, but the orange font is bright and easy to read. Plus, the brightness is adjustable. There are no physical buttons and all the I/O options are located on the rear panel of the E30 II.
On the back of the compact unit, from left to right, unbalanced RCA outputs, coaxial, optical, USB-B input, and the DC5V power socket are lined up side by side. The number of inputs and outputs is impressive for a device with such a small chassis. The quality of the sockets used is also very satisfactory. The sockets seem rigid and durable. The DC5V is not my favorite barrel power socket type, but knowing Topping’s reputation for excellent filtering, I am not too worried about this.
Frankly speaking, I will always prefer performance over aesthetics, so the fact that the chassis has not received any updates does not affect me much. However, I know that there are those of you who have been waiting for a new design with more modern, softer, and more aesthetic design lines. Maybe next time Topping will surprise us and give us a. design update without bumping up the price, who knows?
Controls & UI
Fundamentally, the E30 II offers two ways of control. The integrated touch button and the included remote control. Of course, the touch button doesn’t offer extensive controls like the remote, but it can be used to switch between inputs. You can also hold it down to put the unit into standby mode.
The E30 II’s display is quite simple. During operation with the DAC mode active, the display shows the sample rate of the track currently playing and the active input. When PRE mode is active, it shows the volume level and the active input. If the sampling rate of the track playing in PRE mode changes, the E30 II informs you in a 2-second window and then returns back to the default display.
As for the remote control, it certainly makes navigating between menus a lot easier. Learning how to use the DAC is very easy. You can check the user manual of the DAC via this link. You can scroll through the settings by pressing the center button once and then using the left and right buttons. You need to access a menu called “setup mode” to change important settings and modes of the device.
You can access this menu by pressing and holding the multifunction touch button on the front panel for 5 seconds while the device is on standby. When you are done adjusting the settings, press and hold the same button again and when you see 8-8 on the screen, it means that you have successfully saved the settings. I recommend using the remote control for the setup menu as it is both easier and more practical.
The E30 II comes with a total of 6 different PCM DAC filter options and 2 different DSD filter options. I like the way Topping implemented the mode switch, being able to activate the modes manually gives me more peace of mind compared to its automatic counterpart. If something goes wrong while adjusting the DAC, you can return the DAC to factory settings by holding down the volume up, volume down and mute buttons simultaneously on the remote.
The E30 II utilizes a dual DAC configuration from AKM. The 4493S is a premium-tier chipset and its direct competitor is ES9038Q2M from ESS Technology. The E30 II is a linear, true-to-reproduction DAC. You hear what is on the track and nothing less. It has a balanced signature with a slightly smoother upper treble compared to ES9038Q2M-equipped DACs. The difference is quite small, these days there are more and more DACs made by industry-leading Asian companies like Topping and SMSL. In addition to this, the sound quality and specification data of the DACs designed have almost reached the highest level possible with current components.
The E30 II is only $149, but it’s at an incredible point in terms of audio performance. As we approach the end of 2022, we seem to have come to the end of the era when the price and performance ratio of DACs increased linearly. After pairing the DAC with my reference monitors, the reproduction I hear is very linear and reveals the scales based on the quality of the track. My reference monitors are JBL’s LSR 305 and Focal’s Alpha 80. The PRaT and sense of speed of the DAC are quite impressive. The signature is clean, resolving, and balanced across the spectrum.
When paired with one of SMSL’s flagship amplifiers, the SP400, the DAC doesn’t feel inadequate, on the contrary, it scales well with the various amplifiers I tried, many of which are well above the E30 II’s price tag. E30 II, SP400 combo delivers an almost colorless reproduction and reflects the signature of the Edition XS headphones that I use daily. The E30 II is a great DAC and basically a steal at this price point.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 2: Topping L30 II Desktop Amp, Packaging & Accessories, Design & Build Quality, Technology & Power, AMP Performance
Page 3: Topping E30 II & L30 II DAC & AMP Stack Performance, Comparison, Last Words