This will just be a quick impressions take on the Topping D90 Digital to Analog Converter (DAC), which features the AKM AK4499 chipset and XMOS usb interface, as well as optical SPDIF, Bluetooth, digital coaxial and AES inputs. The unit goes for $699 for the standard edition and $799 for an enhanced model that adds USB MQA hardware decoding capabilities.
The unit was loaned out to me by JB77 from the Headphones Community forums and has been reviewed by several other members of this community over the past month or so. The unit tested here is the standard edition in silver. It also comes in black.
In my limited listening of this DAC, I primarily listened to it using the Hifiman Arya and ran it through the Schiit Jotunheim in balanced output. I used RCA cables into a Schiit Saga+ and fed it through to the Jotunheim that way. I also hooked up and Y-Split the Schiit Bifrost 2 DAC to compare to. This allows me to quickly switch USB inputs on the computer without having to change amps or switch settings anywhere along the chain except at the software level in Windows 10.
The Bifrost 2 is the latest True Multi-bit DAC by Schiit and it's something I've owned for since around the beginning of this year. I likd this DAC so much, I sold the RME ADI-2 DAC which I thought I wouldn't ever do.
In my listening, I typically look for how the very specific instruments sound in chosen songs and how general tonality sounds across the board. Using Windows 10, I can quickly cycle almost seamlessly between the two DACs without interruption in the song.
What I found was that these two DACs sound very clean and detailed, and I don't feel like I am missing any bit of information in the songs I tried -- which were mostly acoustical in nature, though I did listen to some modern rock and pop songs, as well as hip hop and other genres. I stuck primarily to jazz and bluegrass to really pick up on small changes though.
I say that because the differences I heard are quite small, to the point where it's very hard to distinguish without proper volume matching and listening very carefully. I tried to remove as much bias as possible as well.
Detailed Song ComparisonsIn Alison Kraus & Union Station's "Restless", a bluegrass track that is mostly stringed instruments playing in unison, I found that it was basically very similar in all technical categories. I think there a slight amount of warmth added with the Bifrost 2 than the D90.
When I listened to GoGo Penguin's "Don't Go", a modern jazz song, I listened very carefully to a two note piano hit that is played almost entire throughout the song with the same strike weight and played in a constant rhythm throughout the entire song. The D90 seemed to hit the second note with a little more emphasis and resonates a little louder than the Bifrost 2 does in this case. The Bifrost 2 sounds just a little more back and less forward sounding.
Towards the end of this track, there is also a part where the piano 2-note rhythm starts directly in front to the right of your head, and then it slowly circles around to the back left of your head as the song exits. It is a really cool binaural panning effect. The Bifrost2 sounds like it is hitting it from a a further distance and in return sounds wider and deeper, while the D90 is more intimate and the piano strikes are always near you as it circles around.
In the rock and pop tracks I tried, ranging from Alvvays, to Tegan and Sara, to 2Pac and Alice and Chains, I was not able to distinguish either one of these DACs apart from another.
I really do like the Topping D90. It has a nice build, and attractive look and a large display that is useful and not too distracting. It also has a remote for switching sources and volume control. And finally, I think it sounds quite good. I don't feel like I am missing any thing and while I do find it a little sharp at times, compared to the Bifrost 2, I think it's a great clean, neutral, and reference style DAC if you are in the market for one.
It also measures quite well from what I understand. So there is that too!