Inexpensive stationary DAC Topping D10s is a continuation of the rather successful d10 model. The heart of this system is the ESS ES9038Q2M vs ES9018K2M in the old D10 model, which allows processing audio with a resolution of up to 384 kHz/32 bit and DSD 256 (Native). And it is worth noting that in our opinion this is a really big jump in sound quality compared to the previous model. The main advantages include USB power (of course this is not an advantage for everyone), easy replacement of opamp, and the ability to work as a digital signal source.
The DAC comes in a familiar cardboard box with the brand name and Hi-Res certification logo. On the side is the company’s Internet address, which you will need to download drivers or firmware updates. Yes, this device is being flashed.
The D10s kit is not rich. Here we find a classic already advertising booklet, instructions for use with measurements from the manufacturer and a USB cable, through which the device is connected to a PC, it also provides power for the device.
Design & Connectivity
The D10s case is relatively small and made of metal. Above we see a Hi-Res Audio sticker, and below – four silicone feet.
There are a lot of different labels and a screen on the front. Strangely, the Topping D10s still doesn’t have a volume control. For speakers with a remote control or its own controller — this is quite normal, but for Studio monitors, turning the volume by means of the system is quite inconvenient. There is also no headphone output, because the D10s is a pure DAC, and you don’t need to pay extra for unnecessary features.
The screen simply shows the frequency and type of signal being played. So, it would be quite possible to do without it, although many users will find it necessary.
At the back are RCA output for active acoustics and two digital outputs: line and coaxial. There is only one input here – this is USB. That is, Topping D10s can act not only as a DAC, but also as a digital signal source.
An alternative connection option is to use an external amplifier together with the D10s, which, according to the manufacturer’s ideas, should have a level control and a headphone output.
You do not need to install anything for the DAC to work, but in this case the list of frequencies will not be complete and there will be no support for ASIO drivers. For those who are not in the know, the main advantage of ASIO is bypassing the Windows system mixer, and therefore, the absence of any external influences on the sound.
In specifications, Topping D10s works not only under Windows, Linux and Mac, but also under mobile systems such as Android and iOS. Consequently, we get a number of additional opportunities. Such as playing streaming services from a smartphone directly to your audio system, bypassing, for example, bluetooth conversions.
Inside, in our opinion, the removable op-amp and the presence of 4 frequency generators are interesting.
And of course the new ESS ES9038Q2M chip. It should be noted that this is perhaps the first device of this class for $99, which is equipped with a chip of this level.
The manufacturer’s choice of the LME49720 op-amp is the standard solution for many devices in this class today. However, we recommend that you immediately replace it with something else. For example, try OPA1622 or LM6172, you may well like them a lot more.
Perhaps the main question for the device is the lack of a separate power supply. Although many users will find this a plus. However, you should immediately warn that your USB must be very clean, otherwise you will immediately hear a noise from the power supply. For example, when testing on a laptop and a desktop, we managed to achieve at least some lack of noise only on a laptop running on its own battery. We would very much like to see a separate power supply in the next version, perhaps this solution will not greatly affect the price, but it will immediately transfer the device to another quality class.
The first thing to note is that the D10s DAC does not add any additional musicality to the sound. Everything sounds quite detailed and harmonious, but a little bland. Compared to the our Topping E30, we significantly lose in the expression of emotions, but at the same time we significantly gain in transparency and nuance. Although, this can be influenced by the different composition of the interconnect cables. For testing the Topping D10s, we used a silver cable, and for the Topping E30, a regular copper cable. Here, the manufacturer’s choice of the LME49720 opamp becomes obvious, which, naturally, had to add a little blur and thereby increase the overall musicality of the path. And it actually succeeded.
If divided by frequencies, then immediately we would like to note the very high-quality transmission of the low-frequency component (obviously the new ES9038Q2M chip should be given credit here). Bass builds a very juicy and at the same time dynamic picture, going into the depths exactly where it is required. At the same time, the synthesized sounds are slightly lacking in expression and punch.
The mids are perfectly clear and transparent, with a good bias in micro detail. This is where it is best to listen to the music in depth, discerning the relative positioning of the musicians. The strings sound thin and slightly aggressive, with all the sub-chimes available. A lack of emotion is most easily noticed on vocals or wind instruments. We will not say that this is directly so noticeable, but we compared head to head, poking the cables, and there is still a difference. Of course, it can be varied using interchangeable op-amps, and here, just, the default LME49720 opamp showed itself best.
With high frequencies, complete order: plates, brushes, bells – everything is in place and served quite separately. Of course, there is no perfect transparency, but do not forget that the device costs only $99.
As a result, the Topping D10s certainly has disadvantages, but if we consider the DAC taking into account the price, then in this way it is quite good. Clear transparent sound at medium frequencies, correct dynamic bass and very good for its class treble. Yes, it is slightly lacking in expressiveness, but this more than covers the presence of details and accuracy of scene construction that we have here.
The main advantage of the device is the new ESS ES9038Q2M chip which gives an incredible experience compared to other competitors and the previous D10s model in General. However, do not forget about the disadvantages – this is the lack of a separate power supply.
In any case, for $99 you get one of the latest chip that can show you an amazing level of transparency and presentation. We recommend it as a starting device in order to understand whether you need something more.
- Power supply:DC5V/0.5A
- Digital output:Digital output
- Digital output:AUX
- LINE OUT RCA:<0.0002% at 1kHz
- SNR:120dB at 1kHz
- Frequency Response:20Hz-20kHz(±0.1dB)
- OutPut Level:2Vrms@0dBFS
- Crosstalk:-135dB @1kHz
- Output Impedance:100ohms
- USB IN:44.1kHz-384kHz/16Bit-32Bit、DSD64-DSD256(Native)
- OPT/COAX OUT:44.1kHz-192kHz/16Bit-24Bit
- Measured:10.3cm x 14.6cm x 3.7cm