Audiophile or not, I love music. I take my music with me almost where ever I go in my laptop, so I’ll be needing a portable DAC/Amp to get the best out of my headphone. Thus came the Topping D1 Mark II (D1) into the picture. I’ll tell you; this little device performed WAY BEYOND my expectation!
I know I did a mini impression article before, but I love the synergy between the D1 and my Mad Dog so much. I’ve decided to give the D1 part a little more length to express what makes me really happy with it. Here we go!
From the first touch, it looked and felt expensive. If I didn’t know earlier, I would never have thought that it’s under $100. But enough about appearance, it’s the sound that matters and this is where I found things got even more interesting.
Listening to India Arie’s Video and Muse’s Panic Station, my thought was, “DAT BASS!!” Seriously. This little thing delivered a good weighty bass punch to my music. I feel that the weight even surpasses the Headroom Total Bithead and the iBasso D-Zero. I’ve tried comparing to the Fiio E17 and Audinst Hud-Mini. They didn’t even come close. It’s very addictive!
On to the rest of the sound. I was told that the D1 will have a good synergy with my T50RP Mad Dog and I think I agree to the suggestion. It has a quiet, black background. The sound stage was not wide, but rather has depth. Layering was obviously felt by my ears and it made guitar sound and other rhythm lively. The sound was warm, dark, quite fast, but less in your face than the D-Zero. It makes the D1 more versatile from modern music to acoustic music (such as jazz). Again, that weighty bass punch that I can’t soon forget. It was just the perfect amount and quality that it brought the music much even more alive.
However, the D1 also come with some downsides. One, being 16-bit resolution only, giving more space for noise which makes the music sound grainy. I wish it had a built in battery like the D-Zero for use as a portable amp. The build quality, though looking fine, is actually prone to dent from accidental fall.
More comparisons to other gears
Compared to the Total Bithead, I found the D1 similar to the Bithead in warmth. The D1 was darker. Bass punch on the Bithead was good, but the D1 had a tad more weight to the punch. Midrange was definitely fuller on the D1. Sound stage was wider on the Bithead, and the D1 had more depth. The Bithead had a more sparkly treble than the D1 which sometimes can lead to shrillness. I also found that the D1 was more natural sounding than the Bithead.
Compared to the Hud-Mini, the D1 was a tad darker. Bass punch of the Hud-Mini was nowhere near the D1 and attacks were also slower. Midrange was similar in character, but the D1 had a fuller presentation. Highs were smoother on the Hud-Mini. Soundstage was a bit wider than the D1 and there was a tad roomy feel to it. The D1 was somehow livelier than the Hud-Mini; must’ve been from the better layering. I think the Hud-Mini was more intended towards vocal lover, whilst the D1 was the more versatile choice.
Compared to the Fiio E17 “Alpen”, I think the Alpen is quite a neutral DAC/Amp, but tinkering with the settings can give colorations to match the desired listening preferences. The best setting for me was to add 6 db gain, +4 to bass, and +8 to treble. I felt the D1 still sounded more natural than the Alpen. The Alpen also still can’t match the weighty punch of the D1, but better in speed. Sound stage was a lot more spacious on the Alpen, though still less depth than the D1. I think midranges were on par on both devices, with a fuller presentation on the Alpen and better layering on the D1.
Compared to the iBasso D-Zero, they were similar in warmth. The D1 was darker. I think bass punches were on par on both devices, but the D1 punch weight gave a lower heavier feel. Midrange was a tad fuller on the D1 than the D-Zero. Treble on the D-Zero was quite smooth, while the D1 was sparkly. Soundstage on the D-Zero was more spacious, yet the D1 again had better depth. I believe the D-Zero is the closest competitor to the D1, especially given the similar price range.
To sum it up
I think the Topping D1 Mark II will bring the most bang for the bucks, at least for the time being. It’s currently going head to head with the iBasso D-Zero but I believe they will appeal to different crowd. The sound of the D1 was fun, VERY addictive weighty bass punch, convenient to carry around, and it’s very easy to set up. But most importantly, it’s not going to make my wallet cry.
Do you agree with my review or disagree? Let me know your opinion in the comment below. :)
Topping D1 Mark II, iBasso D-Zero, Audinst Hud-Mini, Fiio E17, Headroom Total Bithead, HifimeDIY, Fostex T50RP “Mad Dog with Dog Pads”, and PC (Foobar2000 through WASAPI).