TOPPING DX3 Pro+ review featured

TOPPING DX3 Pro+ DAC Review

TESTED AT $199
WHERE TO BUY

In this review, I’m looking at the TOPPING DX3 Pro+ Bluetooth DAC/Amp. The DX3 Pro+ is an updated version of the DX3 Pro and comes with an ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip and Bluetooth 5.0 with LDAC and aptX HD support. The DX3 Pro+ comes with a host of improvements, including lower THD+N (DAC), 85% lower THD+N (HPA), more power and lower input impedance. Let’s dig in.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Apos Audio for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Pros
  • Bright, clear display
  • Great headphone amp
  • Versatile
  • Dynamic, expressive sound
Cons
  • No 6.35mm jack

TOPPING DX3 Pro+

Product features

  • ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip
  • LDAC audio
  • THD+N: 0.00015%
  • DSD512
  • PCM768kHz
  • XMOS XU208
  • Built-in NFCA headphone amp
  • Remote control

Packaging & Accessories

The DX3 Pro+ comes in an understated, clean white box that’s almost bare apart from the TOPPING logo on the top. Inside the box, the DAC/Amp is seated securely in a soft foam insert with an additional foam pad on top.

Here’s what’s included in the package:

  • DX3 Pro+
  • DC 15V / 1 A Power Adapter
  • Remote Control
  • Bluetooth Antenna
  • USB Cable
  • User manual
  • Warranty card

Design

TOPPING DX3 Pro+ front panel

The TOPPING DX3 Pro+ is available in either black or silver. It has a rectangular chassis with gently curving concave sides. It’s a fairly small unit, with dimensions of 6.5” x 4.7” x 1.5” (16.5 x 12 x 4 cm). On the front panel are the 3.5mm headphone jack, large OLED display and volume knob/multi-function button.

On the back panel are (from left to right): Left and Right RCA outputs, dual coaxial inputs, optical input, USB input, Bluetooth antenna mount and DC15V power socket.

The display is large and easy to read. The selected input mode is shown in blue and everything else is a warm orange colour. In terms of what information the screen shows, it tells you the currently selected input, the output mode (headphone amp, headphone amp + DAC, DAC, and preamplifier) the volume and sample rate.

The front dial/button controls the volume. In addition, a short press on the button cycles through the input modes and a long press powers the unit On or Off. All of the other functions are only available via the included remote control. Using the remote, you can mute/unmute, change the volume, cycle through input modes, select the digital filter mode, set the gain mode, change output mode and set the brightness level of the display.

TOPPING DX3 Pro+ rear panel I/O

Internals

Internally, the DX3 Pro+ is centred around the ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip. An XU208 supports up to PCM32bit768kHz and DSD512 native via USB.

For Bluetooth 5.0, the DX3 Pro+ utilizes a Qualcomm QCC5152 chip with support for LDAC, aptX LL and aptX HD. Unlike a lot of Bluetooth DACs, the built-in DAC on the QCC5152 is bypassed and the signal is decoded by the ES9038Q2M.

There are 2 gain modes available (+6dB/+19dB) making the headphone amplifier suitable for anything from sensitive IEMs up to demanding full-size headphones.

When it comes to output modes, the DX3 Pro+ can be used as a headphone amp, headphone amp + DAC, DAC, and preamplifier. This gives it a lot of versatility for the desktop, letting you drive not only IEMs and headphones but speakers as well.

In terms of output power, the headphone amp pushes 1800mW x2 @32Ω THD+N <0.1%, 900mW x2 @64Ω THD+N <0.1% and 250mW x2 @300Ω THD+N <0.1%. The line out delivers 2.1Vrms @0dBFS with an output impedance of 20Ω.

TOPPING DX3 Pro+ front panel OLED display

Functionality & Bluetooth Performance

The DX3 Pro+ is basically a plug and play device with both MAC and Windows computers. However, some ASIO functionality requires the installation of the customized Thesycon ASIO driver for Windows. Basic functions are easy to operate using the multi-function dial on the device while everything else is simply done via the remote.

Pairing to the DX3 Pro+ via Bluetooth was super easy on my Sony NW ZX-300, iPhone and Pc. LDAC was selected automatically with my Sony DAP while I was restricted to AAC when using the iPhone (damn you Apple)! The Bluetooth Audio quality is fantastic, especially when using LDAC or aptX HD.

DX3 Pro+ remote

Setup

Gear used for testing includes:

For my testing, I had the TOPPING DX3 Pro+ connected to my Windows 11 PC via USB. The KALI LP-8’s were hooked up via RCA to XLR cables. I played a variety of FLAC and DSD files with JRiver Media Center and Foobar2000, along with some playlists on Spotify Premium. For the majority of testing, I left the filter at its default setting of 3 (Fast roll-off).

Sound

For a long time now, it’s been hard to fault TOPPING DACs when it comes to digital to analogue conversion. The measurements such as THD+N just keep getting consistently better over time. But thankfully, that doesn’t mean that DACs like the DX3 Pro+ lose any musicality or sonic character.

The DX3 Pro+ sounds cohesive and expressive whether you’re feeding it absurdly large DSD files or streaming from Spotify. Obviously, you need to use high-quality files to get the absolute best fidelity from a DAC like this. But at the same time, you’re not going to feel disappointed if you’re streaming files via Bluetooth. Either way, the DX3 Pro+ will impress.

As indicated by measurements directly from TOPPING and third-party testers, you can expect the DX3 Pro+ to have a wonderfully neutral and distortion-free sonic presentation. And that’s exactly what I hear while listening to Aaron Copland’s “Quiet City”. The dynamics are powerful – the details and subtleties are all revealed.

The soundstage is concise and precise – paired with the Kali Audio LP-8 speakers, I’m surrounded by the music in exquisite detail with pinpoint instrument placement. It feels grandiose and spacious; almost as if I were sitting in a grand hall instead of my small room.

Firing up The Pineapple Thief’s “Tightly Wound – Acoustic Version”, shows that along with its neutrality and transparency, the DX3 Pro+ is also a master of timing and timbre. The piano notes are crisp and resonate with a natural decay.

Each note of the acoustic guitar reveals both strings and the body of the instrument with lifelike density and airiness. The tentative vocals are presented with clarity and vulnerable purity.

Speeding things up a bit, when playing “Harridan” by Porcupine Tree, the DX3 Pro+ flexes its ability to drive rhythmically and react swiftly to pace changes. The electric guitars bite with a gritty power and distinct leading edges while the manic drums of Gavin Harrison beat with tidy precision.

Top of device with Hi-Res stickers

Compatibility

With its low output impedance plus high and low gain settings, the headphone amp section of the DX3 Pro+ is a great match for a wide array of headphones and IEMs. Listening on the Hifiman Sundara, the DX3 Pro+ is dynamic yet subtle, detailed but smooth. There’s gobs of power available and I found myself listening at around -25dB in high gain mode. Levels on the DT990 Pro were about the same, maybe a couple of notches higher at -24dB to -23dB.

Plugging in the Moondrop KATO called for low gain mode and I spent most of my time between -38dB and -32dB. This is a wonderful pairing, resulting in a clean, dynamic and punchy sound brimming with musicality and detail. Switching to the FiiO FH5s reveals even more details and a wide, expansive soundstage.

Rear panel I/O angled

Conclusion

There are few DAC manufacturers that I hold in as high regard as TOPPING when it comes to delivering high-quality affordable DACs. The TOPPING DX3 Pro+ is a perfect example of why that is. You’d be hard-pressed to find another DAC/Amp in this price range that can express itself so effortlessly with such transparency and musicality. Oh, did I mention it’s also got Bluetooth? Yeah, this one gets recommended.

Recommended award
Specifications
  • Bluetooth 5.0: Qualcomm’s QCC5125 Chip
  • Decoding Chip: ES9038Q2M
  • USB In
    • PCM: 44.1kHz-768kHz / 16bit-32bit
    • DSD (Native): DSD64-DSD512
    • DSD (DoP): DSD64-DSD256
  • COAX / OPT in
    • PCM: 44.1kHz-192kHz / 16bit-24bit
    • DSD (Native): Not Supported
    • DSD (DoP): DSD64
  • Bluetooth In
    • PCM: AAX, SBC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, LDAC
    • DSD (Native): Not Supported
    • DSD (DoP): Not Supported
  • THD+N @1kHz (A-wt): <0.00015%
  • THD @20-200kHz (90kBW): <0.00020%
  • SNR: 122dB
  • DNR: 122dB
  • Frequency response 
    • 20Hz-20kHz (±0.3dB)
    • 20Hz-40kHz (±0.7dB)
  • Output level: 2.1Vrms @0dBFS
  • Noise (A-wt): <1.8uVrms
  • Channel crosstalk @1kHz: -137dB
  • Channel balance: 0.3dB
  • Output impedance: 20Ω

DX3 Pro+ Headphone Amplifier Specs

  • THD+N @1kHz (A-wt)
    • <0.00015% @Output=1500mW (32Ω)
    • <0.00013% @Output=160mW (300Ω)
  • THD @20-200kHz (90kBW)
    • <0.0005% @Output=1500mW (32Ω)
    • <0.0005% @Output=160mW (300Ω)
  • SNR: 120dB
  • DNR: 120dB
  • Frequency response 
    • 20Hz-20kHz (±0.3dB)
    • 20Hz-40kHz (±0.7dB)
  • Output level
    • 5.5Vpp @G=L
    • 21.5Vpp @G=H
  • Noise (A-wt) 
    • <2.1uVrms @G=L
    • <7.0uVrms @G=H
  • Channel crosstalk @1kHz: -90dB
  • Gain
    • 6dB (Vrms/FS) @G=L
    • 19dB (Vrms/FS) @G=H
  • Output impedance: <0.1Ω
  • Output power
    • 1800mW x2 @32Ω THD+N <0.1%
    • 900mW x2 @64Ω THD+N <0.1% 
    • 250mW x2 @300Ω THD+N <0.1%
  • Adapter impedance: >8Ω 
  • Dimensions: 6.5” x 4.7” x 1.5” (16.5 x 12 x 4 cm)
Founder of Prime Audio
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Magnus
Magnus
1 month ago

thank you for the review, been looking forward for this unit. Have you any idea how this stacks up against the Ifi Zen Dac? That in my mind is the biggest competition as an “all-in-one”

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