We’re reviewing the Topping E70, an ES9028Pro-equipped Bluetooth-enabled desktop DAC that offers up to DSD512 and PCM768kHz decoding. It costs $349.
Click here to read more about Topping products that we previously featured on Headfonics.
Please note that this article follows our latest scoring guidelines for you to read here.
The Topping E70 is a surprisingly good DAC that feels right at home in a desktop scenario or injected into a home theater hub. The sound quality of the E70 is comparable to more expensive DAC sections, especially in terms of staging and 3D presentation, and it also excels with a very low noise floor.
Excellent staging capabilities
Natural tonality/good dynamics
Good input and output options
A bit cumbersome to operate from the front panel
A recent tally revealed that Topping has over 30 audio components listed on their website and that number will continue to grow, it seems. We’re not short on Topping DAC reviews here either with the budget E30 II and the next from this particular review today, the E50 being recent examples.
The successor to the E50 is the recently launched L70 headphone amplifier and the E70 DAC, which have been designed to work together perfectly not only visually but also synergistically.
Specifically, there are two different models of the E70 model number. One uses a Velvet sound AKM DAC section and the other uses an ESS Saber Pro DAC variant.
Today we will talk about the E70 with the ESS variant DAC section. The E70 is a digital multi-input Bluetooth compatible receiver preamplifier with remote control. The E70 is available in two color schemes; black and silver.
So this particular Topping E70 unit uses a single ESS Saber ES902PRO 32-bit Hyperstream 2 chip that claims the industry’s highest standard 124db SNR rating along with a decent encrusted time domain jitter eliminator. Topping seems confident that this one-chip solution can prevail.
One aspect of the circuit design in the E70 that Topping said made a big difference was clean power. .
The numbers on paper all look very good, starting with a very low 0.00006% THD-N rating that is A-weighted. Dynamic range was listed at 132 decibels rounded from 132,819 decibels. so it’s closer to 133 decibels.
Most readings were best on the XLR output, so those specs use that source that carries an output impedance of 100Ω, as opposed to the RCA output that measures 50Ω ohms.
One particular fact that some might find a downside to the Topping E70 is that it lacks MQA capability. It excels when it comes to PCM, which can reach 32bit 768kz speeds, DSD up to native DSD512, and DoP up to DSD256.
Now these capabilities are only available on the USB input port side, which is handled through the use of an XMOS XU316 and its custom Thesvcom driver. The optical and coaxial inputs only reach speeds of 24 bit/192 kHz and DSD64.
So it seems the E70 is best at fidelity production via its USB input, although its 24bit/192kHz bitrate capability is nothing to laugh at. I’d probably use those optical and SPDIF inputs for a cable box or TV output, as it looks like you could comfortably use the E70 in a home theater setup.
However, to take advantage of those higher bit rates on a Windows system, you’ll need to use the driver you download from Topping’s website. The driver seems to add some stability at the highest bit rates.
One problem I ran into was that I had to install this driver twice to handle my Windows 11 machine as the first attempt produced an error. On the other hand, the posted driver didn’t list the E70 as a compatible model, but he ended up taking it anyway.
If I had to label the Topping E70’s design as a hybrid, as the front panel has a touchpad on one side and a multifunction dial on the other.
So we have a combined touch control and volume knob dial that work in combination to access certain parts of the menu, which are then displayed on the front LCD screen.
The case itself is finished metal, but the front panel appears to be made of tempered glass, which looks great as long as you keep your fingers off it, as it’s a huge fingerprint magnet.
The body size of the device is about 1.7 inches long, 7.8 inches wide and 5.4 inches wide, so it’s a good size for a desktop setup. The included remote indicates that the E70 is also designed for home theater use, with the E70 able to act as an input switcher plus inject a Bluetooth signal into your setup.
The main input of the E70 is an XMOS XU316 USB trap and it can run on most modern operating systems. Windows users can also download and use a custom Teyscon driver, but Windows doesn’t need the driver to function, as the E70 seems to work quite well with plug-and-play drivers.
The other inputs, all mounted at the rear, are an optical input and an SPDIF input connection. In addition, there is another way to make use of the Topping E70, which is by using a Bluetooth transmission.
There are also a few 3.5mm jacks on the rear panel, but they’re 12-volt triggers that work particularly well with their L70 amp.
There is a useful feature in the E70’s output stage and that is the variable and selectable output levels. In other words, you can switch between 4-volt or 5-volt XLR outputs. Still, the RCA side also has selectable 2 volt or 2.5 volt outputs.
The Topping E70 combines a multifunctional rotary knob with digital control. I find it similar to what an average DSP does that routinely mixes physical volume controls or a rocker type with touch controls, but is somewhat simplified here for desktop users.
I find the controls a little clunky as sometimes you have to use a volume dial and touch screen in combination. The funny thing is that the supplied remote has direct access to all functions, but not the front panel. Some functions are not so easy to reach beforehand.
Not much other than a rear mounted power switch done the right way. Most devices with rear-mounted power switches turn the device on permanently. The E70 is turned on or off by a long touch on the touchpad on the front panel.
The device also goes into standby if no signal is present. That means you just leave the switch on the back always on and either touch the touchpad or activate the device by giving it a signal which also activates and boots the device.
The Topping E70 has 7 internal digital filters. There are 7 in total on the PCM side, but DSD has its own 4 separate settings. While browsing through them all, I could barely notice a difference between them and I think this feature is for those who like to tinker with nuances in audio equipment or measure them electrically.
One feature I liked is the fact that you could select which output will be used. So if you’ve got something connected to the XLR and RCA outputs, you can select them individually, disable them, or use both at the same time.
There is also a 3-mode on/standby switch and you can also switch the unit into preamp mode or DAC mode with an output mode setting that activates or deactivates the variable output or fixed output on the two rear outputs .
There are some other features like screen brightness and timeout setting plus a balance control. So there is more to this unit than what the eye can see on the surface.
The Topping E70 has a QCC5125 on board that can handle most modern codecs, including LDAC. Now keep in mind that the E70 can only receive a signal and not transmit. It’s convenient, especially for those couch junkies who want to power the DAC wirelessly from a tablet or phone.
The top E70 can run LDAC, AAC and SBC plus all aptX variants including Low Latency and Adaptive. The feed works over a BT 5.1 radio and common protocols.
During use I had no issues with dropouts and was able to send an LDAC signal from my phone to the E70 from over 10m away in a straight line. I also sent a signal from an Amazon tablet and a FiiO BTA30 to the E70 with no problems.
Latency was of no concern here as you can only tell on video and not listen to music. But if you’re sending a BT signal from a tablet, say, with a YouTube video on, latency didn’t seem to be an issue, as I tested that scenario and noticed a minimal amount of lag, if any.
Packaging & Accessories
If you’ve seen a packaging of a Topping desktop model, you should know where this is going. The E70 comes in a completely black box with the name Topping on it. The main unit comes in a custom foam molding that cradles the unit safely to its destination.
The rest is standard fare. You get some literature, a 3 prong power cord which in my case is for a 120v 60hz power system, a Bluetooth screw antenna, the remote control and a 1.2m USB cable. Oh yes, batteries are not included and the remote uses two standard AAA batteries.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and our select combinations
Sharing is caring!