It is necessary to pair your high-end headphone and high-quality audio source with a good amp like Topping EX5 Vs DX3 Pro. These headphone DAC combos are perfect for those who prefer a stationary setup. The two will improve the sound quality and listening experience but are slightly different. If you wonder which of the DACs will be the better choice, let’s see what they can offer here.
In this comparison, we are going to talk about:
- Why You Need a DAC Combo
- What are Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro
- How are the Unit of Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro
- How are the Input & Output in Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro
- How are the Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro for Headphones
- How are the Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro for Speakers
- Topping EX5 Vs DX3 Pro
DAC Combo for Better Sound Quality
Audio is complex, and everything from the source to finally captured by our hearing organ will affect how we hear it. Those who pay more attention to the listening experience and audio quality, in general, may want to add a DAC, amp, or combo equipment in between their media player and headphone. Not everyone will need this equipment because most people don’t have audiophiles or high-end headphones.
The DAC combo is necessary if you have a pair of headphones with a higher impedance, so they will be too quiet without one. Many headphones require more power to drive its component, such as those above 100 ohms. Your smartphone or compact media player has the necessary elements to drive regular earbuds. Still, they don’t provide an amp that can provide enough power for these high-end headphones.
You may already have a fantastic setup at home, but it is a stationary item, so we need to be in the room to use it. Another compact DAC combo will be helpful when you listen in the office or while working remotely. You can also improve the audio quality in general with the right equipment. Smartphones and other devices whose primary use is not for music tend to use generic components, so your DAC combo will also help.
| ||Topping EX5||Topping DX3 Pro
|Shop now at Amazon||click here||click here
|Product Dimensions ||11.1 x 7.91 x 2.91 inches |
|11.1 x 7.8 x 3 inches
|Shipping Weight||2.53 pounds ||1.1 pounds
About Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro
If you already invest in a lossless audio file and a high-end headphone or IEMs, it is wise to consider a DAC amp combo. Moreover, most of us use smart devices as the media player for a more compact setup. The DAC combo price varies among brands and models like your listening device. The higher option and those that can significantly improve audio quality will also be quite expensive, but there are many options to consider based on the application of your preference.
Some of the best options, especially for a stationary setup, are Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro. These DAC combos are what you want to have when aiming for a better audio experience or better sound quality. They are not the most compact or travel-friendly, and we don’t think they are aimed at users who are always on the go. But, if you listen to music while working at home or office, the form factor should not hinder it.
Coming from the same company and having the same target makes Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro quite similar. The DX3 Pro is an older model. However, it was released a few years earlier than EX5, which is currently one of the most popular models from the Topping collection. They are DAC combos that can do many things, and combo means the two are both converters and an amp for your headphone. They offer quite a lot in reasonably small housing.
There are some differences between the Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro because the former is a newer model. One of them is the chip used because EX5 uses the 2nd generation 16 core XMOS XU216 while the latter uses the XMOS XU208. Performance-wise we like how the two can improve the listening experience. But, we recommend DX3 Pro because it is cheaper and can provide just as pleasant an experience as the higher model. It offers valuable features as well. Read also: Fiio FH7 Vs FH9 here.
Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro Design
Before getting into what the Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro can offer, let’s look at the unit first. Like most DACs or portable amps, these two are very sturdy. The housing is made of aluminum, and they seem very durable. The fashion is typical, and many Topping DAC combos look very similar. The black finish is slightly matte, improving the overall look and making it appear expensive. They are certainly not cheap, and you can feel it from the build quality.
The unit form factor is 6.8 x 5.4 x 1.7 and 6.5 x 4.2 x 1.5 inches respectively. The layouts are surprisingly slightly different because EX5 has XLR connectors both at the front and rear panels. The DX3 Pro is simpler and looks cleaner in comparison to EX5. The bottom panel has four rubber feet to prevent it from directly touching the table. Some accessories come with the purchase, such as several cables and a BT antenna. They also give you a remote to conveniently control the device.
Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro Input & Output
Now let’s check the input and output on Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro. Their rear panels are very similar, with the main difference EX5 has a pair of XLR connectors. Besides the connector, you have the typical connectors, Bluetooth antenna, coaxial, optical port, and TRS connector. Moving to the front, you will see the headphone jack standard XLR, but EX5 has another 6.3mm single-ended one. One of the accessories is a 6.3mm to 3.5mm if you need one.
Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro Compatibility
Pairing Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro with your listening device should not be a problem as they can work with most consumer models. However, the output power or EX5 is higher or 1300mw at 32 ohms, while the DX3 Pro is 1000 at 32 ohms. Depending on your IEMs or headphones, they are compatible with many popular options. Very sensitive in-ears also work well, and they don’t particularly introduce any noise. But, due to different tonality, they may deliver different experiences across different listening devices.
Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro for Headphones
As for the main part, the sound itself, you can connect headphones to the amp or connect the larger speaker to the unit. As for the headphone performance, both Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro are working well. There is a noticeable improvement in sound clarity and stage. They are very similar if you prefer open and detailed audio. The overall vocals are present and full-bodied, but the EX5 is slightly more noticeable on the low end.
We think the DX3 Pro is more laid back, meaning it is trying to maintain a natural sound without any part of the mix overpowering each other, and it did a great job. The EX5 offers similar quality, but you can notice its slight warmness on the low end. The bass frequency seems to be elevated slightly to improve the overall experience. The bass is pretty deep and offers a satisfying punch, while the rest is more relaxed. The highs from Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro are not sharp either.
Overall, the dynamic is excellent, and you can play around with the gain to help improve the experience. We find high gain can sometimes bring what usually goes unnoticed from the great mix, and the high gain setting on DX3 Pro also enhances the bass response, which is nice if you like this character. We prefer using EX5 for genres like Rock and Pop, while DX3 Pro is more enjoyable for Jazz and other music with prominent vocals.
Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro for Speakers
Besides headphones, you can use the line-out too when you prefer to use the speakers. What’s surprising is they are not as pleasing as when using headphones. The clarity and separation are decent but fall behind compared to smaller drivers. The character is still neutral or flat, and the details are still there, but the dynamic is reduced. Especially for the EX5, which has a satisfying punch, this mode is not as fun to listen to if you have to use it.
The soundstage is pretty good, but it is standard for speakers. The DX3 Pro is the most different because it lost many precious qualities, and now the bass is even less dynamic. Overall, this mode is relatively flat and thin without the previous full-body quality with headphones.
Topping EX5 Vs DX3 Pro
Both Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro are good DAC combos that you can choose to improve the sound quality and overall listening experience. They are similar but also different, and in general, the EX5 is a bit warmer or has more kick on the bass range, which is great because most people love this sound signature. On the other hand, the DX3 Pro is flatter or more neutral, which is excellent if you prefer to bring the vocals and other bright instruments to the front.
None of them sound harsh, and we also don’t find the EX5 character to overpower the rest of its frequency. Features are very similar, but EX5 offers more, especially with the XLR ports, while DX3 Pro has dual aux connectors. The two have a BT antenna for wireless connectivity and work with headphones, IEMs, or speakers.
- Dual ESS ES9038Q2M SABRE HIFI DAC Chips, MQA Full Decoding via USB
- Support DSD512 Native and PCM 768kHz, MQA Full Decoding via USB
- 2nd Generation 16 Core XMOS XU216, 4-PIN-XLR and 6.35mm Headphone Output
- THD+N as low as 0.00010%, 1300mW X2 Output Power
- Built in 2*AK4493 chip,1*AK4118 chip.
- BT is support to AAC/SBC/APTX/APTX-LL/APTX-HD.
- Headphone amp output power support to 1000mW*2@32Ω；125mW*2@300 Ω.
- USB is support to DSD64-DSD512(Native);DSD64-DSD256(DOP).
The choice is yours because we love both Topping EX5 and DX3 Pro sound quality. We recommend the EX5 because the sound is more satisfying, at least if you often listen to popular genres like Pop and Rock, but if you dislike a more pronounced bass, we will recommend the DX3 Pro.