Note: This article is based upon the article "Maybe the Best $300 you can Spend in Hifi - Topping MX5 DAC, Speaker Amp, Headphone Amp Review” made by Cheap Audio Man on his YouTube channel. It’s printed here in partnership with Cheap Audio Man. The review was originally posted on February 5th, 2022. Edits have been made for clarity and length. Get the TOPPING MX5 on Apos Audio.
Hey, I’m Randy, and you’re watching the Cheap Audio Man. Here at the Cheap Audio Man, we help folks find high-value hi-fi home theater and headphone equipment, and today we’re talking about the TOPPING MX5.
Today’s sponsor is cheap extension cords. If you want to start a fire in your home while saving a couple of cents on your extension cords, buy some of these.
MX5 vs MX3
Okay, the TOPPING MX5. What is it? Well, it’s a speaker amp, a headphone amp, and a DAC. There’s an internal DAC in it. Compared to the MX3, which is about eighteen months old, it has a 6.35mm headphone jack instead of 3.5. The MX3 could hook up a subwoofer. You can’t do that with the MX5, and that’s not all bad.
From a design perspective, the MX5 is really quite attractive. It’s got a whole bunch of ventilation holes of different sizes. The layout looks really good. On the top side, it has some lateral or longitudinal–or whatever you want to call it–vents on both sides. They allow you to look inside and see what’s going on. It’s very nice on the bottom. There are more ventilation holes there. The front has a bigger display than the MX3. The silver face is very nice. One of the nicest things about the MX5 is the volume knob. It’s very solid.
Let’s talk about sound. How does it sound? It sounds good. It sounds different from the MX3. The MX3 had a tendency to sound a little bit thin. The MX3 was a bit harsh, a bit anemic on the bottom-end. It lacked body, believability, and dynamics. The MX5 moves in the right direction. There’s more resolution coming from the MX5, which means I could hear more details.
I was relieved that I didn’t need to use the tone controls of the MX5. I ended up actually boosting the treble, which I almost never do on these class-D amplifiers. Normally I have to bring down the treble a notch or two and bring up the bass a notch or two. It was fine and, frankly, almost warm-sounding, which is a welcome departure from a lot of the class-D amplifiers that are available in this price category. The headphone amplifier was just as good, very clear. It uses NFC technology, which is a technology that TOPPING integrates into its headphone amplifiers.
Often, TOPPING’s answer to THX is to do really clean amplification with a focus on measurements. Sometimes with their amps, the excitement of the music, the soul of it, is lost. That’s not the case here. I’m really impressed with the MX5. It uses a very clean amplifier that I think of as being a headphone DAC/amp first and a speaker amp second.
Okay, it’s really hard to pick this product apart. I don’t feel that at this price there’s anything wrong with this product at all. I really don’t have one bad thing to say about it. It looks good. It’s got decent amounts of power for the headphone amp. It has enough power out of the speaker amp to get most speakers going. The remote control works, it looks good, it feels good. I think the only way you’re going to beat this is if you start to put together a separate system, and I don’t think it’s going to come in at the same price.
I would have no problem having only this on my desk. Now, if you need MQA, it doesn’t do MQA. I wouldn’t feel like I was missing anything if this was the only product I had on my desktop. If you have super ridiculously hard-to-drive headphones, this may not be it. But at 1.6W into 32Ω, it’s going to do pretty good on almost all headphones. This is a jack of all trades, master of none, but it still sounds very good, and at $300 a DAC/headphone amp is hard to come by. It’s a really good value at $300. This is a brilliant product.