Like many people, my day job requires me to sit in front of a computer, endlessly typing away throughout the day. Although I’m provided a desk and a computer, the built-in audio from my HP desktop computer is not adequate enough for me to use on a daily basis. So I began to search for a headphone AMP/desktop DAC that would meet my audio expectations, but would not break the bank (because I’d probably be just leaving this unit in the office). Due to its reasonable price, the Topping TP-30 Mark 2 caught my eye. What follows are my impressions of it after a month of using it at my desk everyday.
The TP-30 has an elegant design with a black brushed metal body with a silver front plate. The aluminum body is both solid and lightweight. Topping is on top of their style game; the appearance of the amplifier is refined and simple, and it is able to fit perfectly on my desk. The front of the box features a volume dial, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB LED, and two switches (power and input). The back of the product is where the USB input, RCA input, power, and amp outputs are located. When the unit is on, the ALPS volume control is lightly backlit by a blue LED, giving the user an aesthetically pleasing yet subtle sign that the unit is turned on. The other 4 sides are just black brushed aluminum, with convenient rubber feet for extra grip on whatever surface it is placed on.
The TP-30 acts as both a DAC and a headphone amplifier. Although Topping says that it is capable of driving small speakers, I only used this amplifier at my desk, restricting me to testing the TP-30 with only headphones. It has two input modes, USB and RCA. At work I don’t have anything that would output analog, so I only made use of the USB input. However, I did test this input from both my phone and my computer.
After attempting to navigate the power situation under my desk, I decided to plug in the unit into an open USB port on my work computer, and Windows was immediately able to recognize it. Its setup could not have been more simple.
The TP30 design uses the highly regarded Burr-Brown (now TI) OPA-2134 SoundPlus™ Audio Operational Amplifier for the headphone output. The high power outputs (via the 5-way binding posts) on the back of the TP30, rely on Tripath's TA2024 Class T amplifier architecture. This highly efficient amplifier topology allows the unit to produce large amounts of power without generating much heat. A hefty 12
VDC, 5-amp power supply is included to provide adequate power for the unit.
The main question is if the TP-30 delivers better audio than the output of my work computer. In the end, I found that it was undeniably more effective and efficient than the audio output of my desktop. I tested the TP-30 with several different cans over the next few weeks. I found that the TP-30 is reliable, but somewhat unimpressive when it comes to pure performance. The sound is warm and clear, but lacks some punch at some of the lower frequencies. Additionally, at low volumes, one side of the audio box can be substantially lower or sometimes not even audible compared to the other side. Even with these minor setbacks with its frequency range, one must realize that TP-30s costs less than $100. For that price the TP-30 goes above and beyond, delivering clear, crisp audio to headphones all the way up to 300 ohms. Add in the fact that it can recognize your phone as an audio source, and the TP-30 is clearly an optimal choice.
The Topping TP-30 is exactly what it looks like. A simple DAC/AMP that fits perfectly on your desk or bookshelf. Its simple but classy exterior design is matched by its clear, crisp audio quality. Where the TP-30 excels the most is in the value department–the combination of cost, flexibility, and performance makes the TP-30 an excellent workplace improvement.
- Richie Ioki