I had a chance of interviewing Hailin Huang from Topping, a Chinese company in the business of amplifiers and DACs. They mainly focus on the lower segment of the market, providing affordable products to budget-conscious consumers. I had a chance of reviewing a couple of their products, the Topping D30 and the Topping A30, and I really liked them.
As I already did with Lee of Venture Electronics, I asked them a few questions about the company and their products, with a general look over the Hi-Fi market in recent years and in the future.
Riccardo: Could you please introduce Topping and its products to our readers?
Hailin: Yes. We are a manufacturer focused on desktop and portable audio. We started our business in 2008. Now we have DAC, headphone amplifier and power amplifier products.
Riccardo: The NX1S is the newest portable headphone amplifier you are working on. What are the main differences when compared to the previous NX1 and NX1A? What are its main features?
Hailin: NX1s is completely different from NX1 and NX1A. NX1s uses an all new design, it is much smaller and more modern. NX1s use OP+BUF structure which brings better performance. NX1s has gain and “mega bass” switch, while NX1 and NX1A only have gain switch. Besides, NX1s meets the Hi-Res Audio requirements and has the authorization to use Hi-Res Audio Logo, but NX1 and NX1A don’t.
Riccardo: Could you describe briefly the process of designing and manufacturing of a device such as the NX1S? What are the main steps involved?
Hailin: This is a very complicated process, simply we have 3 main step to make the NX1s: the aluminum shell, the board, and assembly. Making the shell includes: machining center milling, turning, polishing, sandblasting, anodizing and laser engraving. Making the board includes: SMT, reflow soldering, DIP, wave soldering, wash and test. Assembly includes: assembly, AP test, listening test, aging test and package. We have high reliability and stable quality because we have good designed and we do a lot of tests during making our product.
Designing and manufacturing audio equipment is surely a complex and delicate matter. It’s even more so when we’re talking about affordable devices. What is/was the most challenging part in creating a new generation of a successful but low-priced product such as the NX1?
Hailin: We make affordable devices for our users since our establishment, so we have experience in this area. NX1 series and now the newest NX1s is a “pinnacle” at affordable devices. We want to do better at this area, so we work more at it.
Riccardo: What about the design of your products? It is often squared and clearcut. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Hailin: Our products’ design is inspired by professional instruments. But we are not so satisfied with our current design because this style is a bit old, we need to change. Design of NX1s is a new direction for us.
Riccardo: Where do you see the headphone amplifier market going in the future? Will mobile be prevalent or is desktop going to continue its resurgence?
Hailin: We believe headphone and headphone amplifier will be more and more popular in the future and mobile will be prevalent; desktop will continue its resurgence but it will be slower.
Riccardo: From your point of view, what geographic areas are mostly involved in Hi-Fi? Are you betting on a specific market?
Hailin: HiFi is popular worldwide because music is popular worldwide. Our market is also worldwide.
Riccardo: Do you see any changes in the way the people approach music? Has there been a resurgence in personal, high-quality audio in the last few years?
Hailin: Yes, because of Internet, people find it much easier to approach music. The market for high-quality audio is going up these years.
Riccardo: Any hints of future incoming products for our readers?
Hailin: Sure. Soon we will have multi-function desktop power amplifier MX3, full balanced DAC & headphone amplifier DX7.
I would like to thank Hailin for this opportunity. It looks like the NX1S will be out soon, so stay tuned for more news!