Review: Topping D30 DAC and A30 Headphone Amplifier (Bargain brilliance)
Firstly I would like to thank Topping for sending me these samples for review, as always I will try to write an honest review. Both units have had over 50hrs of burn-in.
HP Laptop / Dell Desktop > D30 via USB > A30 > German Maestro GMP 8.35d / Hifiman RE2000 and many others.
Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The units both come in a very sleek white box, with a very simple outline drawing of the unit on the front of the box, and the model number on the opening flap. Open up the box and you are greeted with the units held firmly in place in foam. The packaging is simple but effective and protects the units well during shipping.
The build quality on both units is very good, I think they look great in the brushed metal finish. The volume knob on the A30 is very smooth, all switches feel sturdy and like they will last, and all sockets are tight and have little to no play. All the sockets on the back are in good places and not too close together. Overall they are very well made for the price, and the all metal casings will no doubt help prevent interference from nearby devices. The power indicator on the D30 is a small blue LED, on the A30 the ring around the volume knob illuminates blue, I like this design.
The A30 only comes with a power supply, the D30 comes with a power supply and USB cable, no frills or unnecessary bits and bobs, this no doubt helps keep the price down. Although I think if they are purchased together a short 20cm set of RCA interconnects would be a nice added accessory.
Ease of Use and Features:
The D30 does have drivers that need to be installed unless you have the creators update of windows 10. The drivers are easy to install and I had no issues getting it to work with either PC. It is a pure DAC with line-out, it also has a Coaxial and Optical input which is great for use with DAP’s or even CD players etc....
The A30 has a few great features, it has RCA input, and also RCA output which is a direct pass through. This does mean it cannot be used as a pre-amp though, and they output can be configured so it is either outputting at the same time as the headphone out, or it can be made so it gets muted when you plug headphones in.
The A30 has 3 gain settings, 0/9/18dB, High and Low power modes, and 3.5mm + 6.3mm headphone outputs. It works with most headphones on the market, from sensitive IEM’s to hard to drive full size headphones (doesn’t quite drive the Hifiman HE-6 / Susvara).
Now the D30 is a fully DSD compatible DAC that doesn’t aim to alter the sound, and that is my impression of it. It really just gets out of the way and lets the rest of the chain do itss work. Now directly comparing to my OL DAC, the D30 has a slightly colder tonality, the OL DAC is a little more natural sounding, but both are excellent standalone DAC’s.
Ok it is not as refined, and doesn’t have as wide a soundstage as some of the more expensive DAC’s out there, but for the price the features and sound really make it very good value for money indeed. It isn’t hyper analytical, nor is it smooth, it is just a neutral, balanced, detailed and very versatile DAC. For under $500 you could do worse than to pick one of these up. But there is stiff competition from the likes of iFi Audio (more analytical) and JDS Labs (more natural sounding).
The A30 again is pretty incredible for the price, it uses good components inside and the op-amps are in sockets so you can change them easily. What impressed me is the power the A30 has, it will drive most headphones out there, I got good volume out of the Hifiman Susvara but it slightly lacked body, that is high praise right there.
I have been using it with IEM’s and full size headphones alike, the noise floor is silent, the gain settings are perfect and the volume knob is super smooth.
The sound is fairly neutral, the soundstage is quite intimate but overall it is detailed and a very clean sounding amp, nothing stands out which in my opinion is a good thing.
Now I did change out the op-amp after listening for quite a while stock, I changed them to the Burson V5i Dual op-amps and I think op-amps make a small difference but this was actually quite a big difference. The soundstage widened and got deeper, making the sound more immersive, the bass response got more tactile and ever so slightly fuller, and there was more air to the whole presentation. In my opinion if you get the A30, I highly recommend the Burson V5i Dual op-amps to go with it; it makes this amp a real steal for less than $200.
Conclusion: Topping are a brand you should look for if you are on a tight budget, both the D30 and A30 punch above their weight stock, and the A30 can be improved by a large margin just by changing out the op-amps. The stack is both visually pleasing, and great sounding, it is a powerful desktop combo that has a neutral and balanced sound, excellent detail and all for under $300. I am quite a fan of these now.
Sound Perfection Rating:
D30 – 8/10 (Neutral, feature packed DAC, no selectable filter)
A30 – 7.5/10 (Clean, detailed, powerful, stock op-amp holds it back)