Cheap DAC OFF: Topping D30, SDAC, Modi Multibit, JDS EL DAC, iFi Nano BL

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, May 16, 2018.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    This is going to be a stream of consciousness review. As an aside, there might be a few measurements of these DACs floating around in the measurements section if you are curious. The minor glitches, jitter, noise floor, distortion, etc. between these DACs are way below the threshold of human hearing and also lower that that of amps and especially transducers. In other words, the measurements aren't telling us anything that we can correlate to what we hear. Some of these DACs do measure better than some of the others; but again, all of them don't show anything strange like the AGD S19.

    Topping D30

    Of these DACs, there is one obvious laggard here: the Topping D30. Don't buy this. I'm not sure if there is even an manufacturer website for this Topping outfit. Most crucially, it sounds like shit. Among all of the DACs here, the Topping D30 is the worst sounding, by a significant margin. It's flat and boring. The stage is close, but not only close, there is no depth to the stage. The timbre or overtones are weird, as if there aren't any or greatly muted. Resolution is poor, microdynamics are poor, macrodynamics are poor, extension at the extremes is poor, everything is sucky.

    iFi Nano BL

    The iFi Nano developed distortion and odd tone in the right channel. It showed some promise with an easy going nature and dark tonality - an improvement over the original iFi Nano (which I wasn't a big fan of); but unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to fully assess it before the issues appeared. Can anyone help me on how to obtain warranty service? Or maybe I should just return it to Amazon. It will be nice to get a working unit back ASAP so we can begin the loaner tour of all these DACs together. UDPATE: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ds-el-dac-ifi-nano-bl.6313/page-2#post-208350

    JDS EL

    I did not like the JDS EL DAC, at least not from a Macbook Air. The USB from the Macbook sounded glarey with indistinct bass, although other aspects of the DAC were fine. From the PC, the EL DAC exhibited a warm tonality, too warm for my tastes, although I found nothing exciting about it, especially since its one of the more expensive DACs in the ground.

    SDAC

    The SDAC I felt is a standard. Just overall just very good, more resolving than the others, and not failing in any respects. A neutral, but not lean tone, with a hint of sweetness in the mids to highs. The Modi Multibit seemed just abit less resolving than the SDAC (but surprisingly still held its down compared to the others). The stage location might have been placed a bit closer than that of the SDAC, but depth, layering, and localization were a big step up compared to any of the others. Compared to the SDAC, the downsides are bit more congestion in the lower registers. The SDAC does microdynamics better, the Modi Multibit macrodynamics. Tone, especially with vocals and the treble rendering goes to Modi Multibit, but SDAC is pretty darn good for a SD DAC.

    Impressions of above were using LCD2C and HD58X with some secret solid state amp (similar to Lyr 3 in resolution and space, but tonally like Magni 3, maybe less warm)
     
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    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
  2. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    IIRC @iFi audio is a member here. Perhaps they'd care to help with the Nano's developing issues? FWIW I had issues with my Micro iDSD as well and iFi's aftersales is spectacular, even here in the Philippines. They respond to support tickets fairly quickly: http://support.ifi-audio.com/

    Also, I propose the Topping be sent around on a tour of its own perhaps, so people learn what a bad DAC sounds like. It's cheap enough that any damage incurred might actually be to its benefit, no? Ideally the box be lined with horse manes and anti-evil wards carved into the packaging.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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  4. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    LOL! Okay real talk, shipping out of the Philippines is a proper pain in the ass but I'd happily shell out just to have that here for a demo and for the laughs.
     
  5. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    When Kevin Smith would give autographs he used to sign "fuck Tim Burton"

    Does this increase or decrease the resale value?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  6. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    @purr1n , you must be mistaken about the Topping unit. Did you not see the "Hi-Res" sticker on top?
     
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  7. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    @purr1n I can't remember if you were planning to include a comparison to the lowly modi2 D/S, but I'm very curious how it compares to the Topping D30...
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Any iteration or version of the Modi 2 is better than the Topping D30. I am not updating my old DAC chart anymore, but the D30 is easily Class S.
     
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  9. magicwonder

    magicwonder Rando

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  10. Type35

    Type35 Rando

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    Besides the obvious added input connections and external PSU, how does Modi2U fare compared to the SDAC?
     
  11. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Led me to a really interesting thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/ygyhu/kevin_smith_vs_tim_burton/

    Back on topic, I'd say +50% resale on SBAF, -10% on HF, +100% on ASMR just so they can get rid of it :)))
     
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  12. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    So you think the next iteration of the Vali is going to be solid state? Wow, never woulda thunk it.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    A level matched blind test is forthcoming for the D30. I'll set this up. Shouldn't be hard to tell, especially on speakers.

    Very competitive and similar type of sound if the new Modi 2 is based on the latest "velvet"* AKM chips, which are more resolving, more spacious, but also have kind of a midrange depression compared to the older chips. I preferred the presentation of the AKM4452 based SDAC because it sounded sweeter than the AKM4490 Modi 2. I don't know if the latest Modi 2Us are using the velvet chips though.

    Of course, things might change with a coax SPDIF source. The SDAC does not allow such an input option.

    *Note that not everyone is agreement on the velvet sound being an improvement. See here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/akms-velvet-sound.2356/
     
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    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  14. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    Awesome, please do this. It will seriously help to dispel some of the inane babble on other forums.

    For those that don't remember, Marv successfully did a blind test of the modi4490 vs the ODAC, some time ago. So yes, naysayers, blind tests can be done.
     
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    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  15. huynhhungvnr

    huynhhungvnr Rando

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    Actually, let me quote a naysayer on r/headphones (not me ofc):
    Irony of bias, IMO
     
  16. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    No problem, we can do double blind. The RCA cables at the DACs can be hidden so the person plugging in the cables at the switch won't know which DAC is which. I can have one of my kids plug in identical cables and make an box that hides all the cable pairs so my wife doesn't know which is which. My wife can then plug in the RCAs into the switch.

    Volume matching can be done with x2 Sys or OL passive pots. The pots will be turned up so they are in their sweet spot without channel imbalance.

    The test subject (me) just merely needs to press buttons on a switch. I will use a CDP with SPDIF output that can be simultaneously fed to both DACs.
     
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  18. maverickronin

    maverickronin Friend

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    The test really should be double blind. I'll be damned impressed if you can tell them apart using a rigorous methodology though.

    Let me know if you want any assistance with methodology and procedure from an arch-skeptic.
     
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    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  19. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    It's not the same thing. blind testing at the level being spoken of here sets out to show whether or not one person can hear a difference. It does not prove that there is (or is not) a difference --- although we are all entitled to believe that one person.
    :)
    The naysayer may be thinking of double-blind testing on a scale that, if maybe it still doesn't prove anything, strongly suggests it. Then, probably, he is excluding not only the middle, but everything but the bit that actually supports his contention.
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I'll bet I can pick individual out DACs - that is identify them - not simply say that there is a difference. Now would the Modi Multibit measure sufficiently well* on the FFTs to compare against the D30? Or should I select a DAC that measures better (and closer to the D30) like the Yggdrasil? Also, would SPDIF into the D30 and AES into the Yggdrasil also be acceptable? (bits are bits after all, and if they measure good enough, it shouldn't matter).

    What noise floor would be deemed acceptably low so that it's below that of human perception?
    What THD+N level?

    * We have an entire suite of Modi Multibit measurements from @atomicbob and a few from me in the AverLAB thread.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018

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