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Sabaj D5 and Topping D70 DAC's
Old 7th August 2019
  #1
Sabaj D5 and Topping D70 DAC's

This DAC (Sabaj D5) seems great value. I've read two reviews from people who also own the RME ADI-2 and say it sounds as good when using an external headphone amp or monitors, but that the headphone amp in the RME is more powerful.

I want to know which is best, this or the Topping D70, which is also excellent and roughly same price (circa $420).
Old 16th August 2019
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
I want to know which is best, this or the Topping D70, which is also excellent and roughly same price (circa $420).
I got the Topping D70 connected to RME via AES cable. It is brilliant and at its current price a steal!

It doesn't have a headphone amp though, so you need to add that. I am going to get THX AAA™ 789 from Drop, but it is a bit of a wait.
Old 16th August 2019
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by elcct View Post
I got the Topping D70 connected to RME via AES cable. It is brilliant and at its current price a steal!

It doesn't have a headphone amp though, so you need to add that. I am going to get THX AAA™ 789 from Drop, but it is a bit of a wait.
I’ve got the JDS Atom and I No the RCA outputs of the weakest link on the Topping. I’m hoping a firmware update will address that
Old 16th August 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
I’ve got the JDS Atom and I No the RCA outputs of the weakest link on the Topping. I’m hoping a firmware update will address that
I didn't know that. I have SMSL sAp II temporarily until I get the 789 that is connected via RCA and it works just fine.
Old 16th August 2019
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by elcct View Post
I didn't know that. I have SMSL sAp II temporarily until I get the 789 that is connected via RCA and it works just fine.
I’m sure it will be fine via RCA, but it’s world class via XLR. This is going by Audio Science Review’s measurements.
Old 16th August 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
I’m sure it will be fine via RCA, but it’s world class via XLR. This is going by Audio Science Review’s measurements.
I see what you mean now - I thought the unit would have had the RCA outputs completely dead. I was aware of the RCA being of the lower quality, but my intention was to use 789 which has XLR inputs and RCA until I get it. Since the SMSL isn't state of the art technology I can live with it for those couple of months.
However, even at this sub-optimal arrangement, it still is miles better than my RME and I was thinking RME is awesome.
Old 16th August 2019
  #7
Gear Addict
 

The Topping and Sabaj stuff is awful. The RME stuff is not made of pirated parts and has more of a fuller range sound but still sounds awful. It is just not nearly as bad. Why not just buy the Focusrite Clarett or Presonus stuff if you want cheap made in China interfaces?

Audio Science Review's measurements do not mean anything. The site's owner, Amir, has demonstrated multiple times that he does not know how to use his audio analyzer and does not know what to measure or what his measurements mean. Hence the pointless listing of "bits" as if the Chinese off brand audio stuff he is shilling is a Sega Genesis in 1991. The bar graphs are stupid too. He's just another internet know it all trying to sell actual crap on a forum mostly full of clueless sychophants and idiots. Amir is just some smug, deaf computer nerd who measures audio gear like it is a graphics card on Tom's Hardware.
Old 17th August 2019
  #8
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I use a Topping DX7s and I love it, it's my favorite DAC.
Old 17th August 2019
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctambulant View Post
The Topping and Sabaj stuff is awful. The RME stuff is not made of pirated parts and has more of a fuller range sound but still sounds awful. It is just not nearly as bad. Why not just buy the Focusrite Clarett or Presonus stuff if you want cheap made in China interfaces?

Audio Science Review's measurements do not mean anything. The site's owner, Amir, has demonstrated multiple times that he does not know how to use his audio analyzer and does not know what to measure or what his measurements mean. Hence the pointless listing of "bits" as if the Chinese off brand audio stuff he is shilling is a Sega Genesis in 1991. The bar graphs are stupid too. He's just another internet know it all trying to sell actual crap on a forum mostly full of clueless sychophants and idiots. Amir is just some smug, deaf computer nerd who measures audio gear like it is a graphics card on Tom's Hardware.
There seems to be lots of satisfied users of both brands and RME. I think these “top of their range” DAC’s maybe better than what you’ve experienced with their other offerings unless you have used the D70 or D5?
Old 17th August 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I use a Topping DX7s and I love it, it's my favorite DAC.
Which others have you used? Glad you like the Topping.
Old 17th August 2019
  #11
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
Which others have you used? Glad you like the Topping.
A brief history of my main monitor DACs.

Echo Audiofire - the dark ages. I'm not sure how I survived this period. It was like being trapped in the circles of hell.

Apollo silver, UR824, steps in the right direction

My first standalone DAC was the Emotiva DC-1. Served me well for a few years, a revelatory experience, like the clouds of heaven opening upon me. Ah, this is what digital is supposed to sound like. This is when the obviousness of a high end stereo AD/DA became clear to me. That's a "category" that I now keep filled at all times, rather than relying on recording interface DACs.

Tascam UH-7000 and/or Focusrite Clarett - these became my standards for a couple of years. Both very, very good. Briefly messed with the Audient iD22 but settled on going back to the Tascam. The Clarett sort of took over from the Tascam.

Pro Ject Pre Box S2 Digital - my introduction to the ESS DAC sound. Another revelatory experience, but the low end wasn't right. Not enough weight and substance to this DAC. Felt kind of weak and puny.

Took a chance on the Topping DX7S. Been using it for a year now. This is the first one that I would put on the same level as my semi high-end vinyl rig. Sounds warm and musical, but accurate enough to get any kind of mixing and production work done easily. Pinpoint imaging and all that stuff. NOT fatiguing to listen to for hours.

The Presonus Quantum is serviceable, but the Topping DX7S is a little less nasty on transients, it's just more refined. Quantum is doing my main recording inputs mostly, all my high end mic pres go to the Quantum. DP88 handles drum channels. Clarett OctoPre handles hybrid mixing I/O. Tascam UH7000 handles acoustic guitar and maybe the occasional bass amp in a room.

I'm so satisfied with this setup I feel completely comfortable. For many years I was always fidgeting and restless, seeking better sounds. The ones I highlighted above were comfortable resting points for a while.
Old 17th August 2019
  #12
I use a Topping DX7s modified with Analog Devices opamps (the BurrBrown OPA1612's were removed). It's still filtered on transients so it's used for the Bricasti M7 reverb returns. The Project Audio S2's are used in the studio, shop and TV room. Fed into a 15" sub they shake the room.

ADC's are BurrBrown PCM/DSD 4222 EVM boards with AD opamps.
Old 17th August 2019
  #13
So you would disagree that Topping stuff is awful.

I would love to compare the D70 and D5.
Old 18th August 2019
  #14
For anyone who is interested in Amir’s measurements, here is the D5 review.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...-dac-amp.8337/

He says it beats a $14000 DAC he recently tested. Not bad for a $400 DAC.
Old 18th August 2019
  #15
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
For anyone who is interested in Amir’s measurements, here is the D5 review.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...-dac-amp.8337/

He says it beats a $14000 DAC he recently tested. Not bad for a $400 DAC.
Wow I'd like to find the funds to audition that one, certainly.
Old 18th August 2019
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
There seems to be lots of satisfied users of both brands and RME. I think these “top of their range” DAC’s maybe better than what you’ve experienced with their other offerings unless you have used the D70 or D5?
I don’t care what **** people think is satisfactory. The Topping one of the dullest Sabre DACs I have ever heard. It is much worse than stuff that uses the earlier ESS chips. It is worse than the Apogee stuff I was using years ago. If you are satisfied with crap, then there is cheaper crap. This is worse than the post-Midas buyout Behringer stuff, which is just dull like a Focusrite. I don’t care about parts cost or what some retired rich idiot who bought an AP analyzer instead of a sports car says.

RME stuff actually works but has always sounded like trash and still sounds like trash. Even the ADI-2 Pro. Where did the punch go? What is wrong with the mids?
Old 18th August 2019
  #17
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monkeyxx's Avatar
I think that post deserves some kind of fart or something
Old 18th August 2019
  #18
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctambulant View Post
I don’t care what **** people think is satisfactory. The Topping one of the dullest Sabre DACs I have ever heard. It is much worse than stuff that uses the earlier ESS chips. It is worse than the Apogee stuff I was using years ago. If you are satisfied with crap, then there is cheaper crap. This is worse than the post-Midas buyout Behringer stuff, which is just dull like a Focusrite. I don’t care about parts cost or what some retired rich idiot who bought an AP analyzer instead of a sports car says.

RME stuff actually works but has always sounded like trash and still sounds like trash. Even the ADI-2 Pro. Where did the punch go? What is wrong with the mids?
The D70 uses AKM actually.
Old 19th August 2019
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctambulant View Post
The Topping and Sabaj stuff is awful. The RME stuff is not made of pirated parts and has more of a fuller range sound but still sounds awful. It is just not nearly as bad. Why not just buy the Focusrite Clarett or Presonus stuff if you want cheap made in China interfaces?
You have any kind of documented test procedure you have used to determine these devices are "awful?"

Until then, I do have a Focusrite in for review. Spent days and still can't get Windows or their control panel to recognize it. The Sabaj and Topping gear works without driver and no hassle whatsoever.

As to your RME comments, please post a picture of the parts that you say are pirated parts.

Quote:
Audio Science Review's measurements do not mean anything. The site's owner, Amir, has demonstrated multiple times that he does not know how to use his audio analyzer and does not know what to measure or what his measurements mean. Hence the pointless listing of "bits" as if the Chinese off brand audio stuff he is shilling is a Sega Genesis in 1991. The bar graphs are stupid too. He's just another internet know it all trying to sell actual crap on a forum mostly full of clueless sychophants and idiots. Amir is just some smug, deaf computer nerd who measures audio gear like it is a graphics card on Tom's Hardware.
I am professionally trained listener. It was part of my job to be so or it would directly impact my livelihood and reputation and business of my employer. I have passed double blind controlled tests that would scare you to even touch let alone pass. But maybe in your post you show documented tests that you have passed as to vouch for your listening skills.

Until then, there is zero reliable information in your post. That is in sharp contrast to my tests where I have reviewed countless audio products (approaching 300) and yet to have a single manufacture post with different results. This includes top companies such as Benchmark which test everything themselves.

You want to make such accusations, you need to do your homework first. Clearly you have not including the assumption that I am not a member and don't read your posts.
Old 19th August 2019
  #20
And this is my background: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...our-host.1906/

Let's see and compare it to yours so we know what we are talking about.
Old 19th August 2019
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctambulant View Post
I don’t care what **** people think is satisfactory. The Topping one of the dullest Sabre DACs I have ever heard. It is much worse than stuff that uses the earlier ESS chips. It is worse than the Apogee stuff I was using years ago. If you are satisfied with crap, then there is cheaper crap. This is worse than the post-Midas buyout Behringer stuff, which is just dull like a Focusrite. I don’t care about parts cost or what some retired rich idiot who bought an AP analyzer instead of a sports car says.

RME stuff actually works but has always sounded like trash and still sounds like trash. Even the ADI-2 Pro. Where did the punch go? What is wrong with the mids?
They haven't gone anywhere. You just don't know how to do a proper listening test and are being influenced by things that have nothing to do with the sound waves heating your ears. You are using your brain and preconceptions to tell you about "sound," and not the real thing.

Classic inexperienced listener, not understanding how do properly judge the sound of an audio device.

I will pay you $1,000 if you can in a controlled blind test, verify any of the stuff you say above.

Where did the punch go? Good grief... Spend a bit of time reading audio research before adding noise to proper data presented on capabilities of these devices. Heaven knows we have enough uninformed opinions about audio on the Internet already.....
Old 20th August 2019
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post
You have any kind of documented test procedure you have used to determine these devices are "awful?"

Until then, I do have a Focusrite in for review. Spent days and still can't get Windows or their control panel to recognize it. The Sabaj and Topping gear works without driver and no hassle whatsoever.

As to your RME comments, please post a picture of the parts that you say are pirated parts.
He was actually saying RME doesn't use pirated parts, which I think he was insinuating that Sajab and Topping do.
Old 20th August 2019
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
He was actually saying RME doesn't use pirated parts, which I think he was insinuating that Sajab and Topping do.
Ah, thanks. In which case he can show us pictures of pirated parts in Topping or Sabaj. Since he likely has never looked inside them, here is a picture of the Topping D70:



Not only do they not use pirated parts, they actually have Topping branded transformer!

Topping is one of the most proper audio companies out there. All of their products go through regulatory certification including FCC, CE, UL, etc.



A bunch of close-up pictures are available at Topping including professional measurements which I have replicated: http://www.tpdz.net/products_detail/productId=40.html

Would be good to know what brand of audio products he has bought and whether they document the same.
Old 20th August 2019
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Of course triple posting makes your dac thrice as big and bold makes your words more meaningful.

Last edited by Noctambulant; 20th August 2019 at 06:49 AM.. Reason: Punnier.
Old 21st August 2019
  #25
My apologies, I think it was the SMSL SU-8 that had the less than stellar RCA output measurements ( not balanced) not the Topping D70.

I am not waiting to see how the SMSL M500 measures against the Sajab D5.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctambulant View Post
Of course triple posting makes your dac thrice as big and bold makes your words more meaningful.
I don't rely on words. I rely on what I can prove with data. That is my compass in audio. You have none unfortunately so will be forever lost, going after one myth after another.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #27
After rebuilding the ESS 9038 based Topping DX7s I am a bit stumped why the top end is filtered and soft sounding. The audio path seems good, DAC, opamp filter, opamp outputs, all direct coupled. It's a rather short and unencumbered audio path, similar to other designs and the work I did for Mytek. Even with the best opamps something is still wrong. The power supply is fine, all linear too. No, I can't measure the audio differences with my Audio Precision analyzer, it all looks very good but sounds not so very good. The only parts I didn't change out were all the crappy SOIC resistors. A clean yet dark DAC is just the ticket for the Bricasti M7 so I'm keeping it for that.

Other ESS 9038 based DAC's don't have this issue. AudioQuest has that ESS chip in their new Dragonfly DAC for $299. It looks like a thumb drive and has headphone outputs.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
After rebuilding the ESS 9038 based Topping DX7s I am a bit stumped why the top end is filtered and soft sounding. The audio path seems good, DAC, opamp filter, opamp outputs, all direct coupled. It's a rather short and unencumbered audio path, similar to other designs and the work I did for Mytek. Even with the best opamps something is still wrong. The power supply is fine, all linear too. No, I can't measure the audio differences with my Audio Precision analyzer, it all looks very good but sounds not so very good. The only parts I didn't change out were all the crappy SOIC resistors. A clean yet dark DAC is just the ticket for the Bricasti M7 so I'm keeping it for that.

Other ESS 9038 based DAC's don't have this issue. AudioQuest has that ESS chip in their new Dragonfly DAC for $299. It looks like a thumb drive and has headphone outputs.
Would like to hear your opinions on the D50s Jim or the Sajab D5 or SMSL M500. The latter two use the Pro version of the chip the former the same as in the DX7.
Old 22nd August 2019
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
After rebuilding the ESS 9038 based Topping DX7s I am a bit stumped why the top end is filtered and soft sounding. The audio path seems good, DAC, opamp filter, opamp outputs, all direct coupled. It's a rather short and unencumbered audio path, similar to other designs and the work I did for Mytek. Even with the best opamps something is still wrong. The power supply is fine, all linear too. No, I can't measure the audio differences with my Audio Precision analyzer, it all looks very good but sounds not so very good. The only parts I didn't change out were all the crappy SOIC resistors. A clean yet dark DAC is just the ticket for the Bricasti M7 so I'm keeping it for that.

Other ESS 9038 based DAC's don't have this issue. AudioQuest has that ESS chip in their new Dragonfly DAC for $299. It looks like a thumb drive and has headphone outputs.
So an analyser does not detect any HF roll of but your ears do? As a man of science, how do you reconcile this Jim?
Old 22nd August 2019
  #30
Gear Addict
 

The human ear is the final arbiter of quality. Humans listening to music are not an Audio Precision analyzers spitting out sine waves.

SNR and THD+N measurements of fixed signals are a poor measurement of converter performance. Nobody listens to or converts sine waves. The only time an absolute noise floor means anything is when you crank the gain to massively unsafe levels or you do something to raise the overall noisefloor such as sum together a couple dozen tracks. These measurements are poor quantifications of human perception. They are a bad qualification.

The converter chips and the stuff they are in all have varying non-steady state noise for one thing. This is hard to measure. The ear alone can detect many anomalies far faster than the machine because the machine does not know what to look for unless told to by the human operator. If the human operator is oblivious, it will never be found by the machine.

It is true that better and more accurate sounding converters tend to have better fixed sine wave specs but that observation means nothing in and of itself. Those converters are simply newer than older good converters. There is so much incompetent or deliberately distorted stuff nowadays that the specs with a 1khz tone mean nothing because the stuff sounds less accurate than older, excellent stuff that measures worse. Most of the Chinese off brand stuff shilled on certain websites by certain people sound very off. A converter that is distorted in some ways may sound far more accurate overall because the measures distortion is less objectionable than the unmeasured distortion in a “better” converter. This is why Burl stuff sounds far better to most people than Toppings with top of the line ESS chips. The manufacturers of offbrand Chinese stuff simply use a name brand chip and throw whatever parts (pirated or legitimate) they can get their hands onto a pcb to get a sound they assume the sucker who buys it won’t mind the sound or be able to tell the difference. That many can’t tell the difference through ear alone tells us a great deal about their hearing and ability to pay attention to close detail. That they are too closed minded to admit that there is a difference means that they will never be able to measure a difference.

For the budget minded home or project studio, the cheapest stuff I’ve heard with serviceable conversion quality are name brand interfaces cut down in channel count but not in sound quality. Think stuff like the Focusrite Clarett 2 Pre, the real two channel Apogee interfaces (no Solos or Duets), and the MOTU Ultralites. Buyer beware that the quality of other brands (e.g. Steinberg) tends to tank with reduced channel counts.
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