What’s going on everyone my name is Myxo. Today were looking at the Topping MX3 power amplifier and I’m going to tell you why it’s the best money you’ll spend on improving your desktop audio solution on a budget. The Topping MX3 is primarily marketed as a two-channel speaker amplifier that combines a USB DAC, integrated amplifier and headphone amp making this a versatile all into one unit. I’ve been using the MX3 to power my desktop audio solution for over a year now, and without giving too much away before we get into the review, it’s my favorite desktop amp I’ve used to date. Before I got my hands on the MX3, I was using the SMSL AD18 amplifier which I reviewed in a previous video. The AD18 is a fantastic amplifier and I still recommend it, but there are three main reasons why I switched to the MX3 which I’ll cover in this review.
The MX3 comes packed with a user manual, a large external power brick, a USB cable to connect the amp to a PC, a remote control, an antenna for Bluetooth connectivity, and of course the amplifier itself. One thing to note is that the remote does not include a battery, so a CR2032 battery needs to be purchased separately.
The primary reason why I switched from the AD18 is the form factor of the MX3. Due to the larger surface area of the MX3, I was able to save some space on my desktop by stacking my audio interface directly on top. And as you can see, both devices complement one another nicely.
The housing of the MX3 is made of brushed aluminum and is offered in either a silver or black colorway which gives a premium look and feel to the unit. Esthetically, this amp is all about minimalism and function – which fits right in with the look of my entire desk setup.
The second reason I prefer the MX3 over the AD18 is its big, bold front display, and rugged volume dial. Topping is teaching a master class in form and function with this amp design. It’s Bauhaus inspired with its clean lines and utilitarian design. There is no multi-color RGB display here – just old school amber in digital font which aids in the minimalist vibe – I am a huge fan of this look.
Although the footprint of the MX3 is minimal, this little guy packs some major power. Its class D amplifier delivers 40 watts per channel @ 4 ohms and 38 watts @ 8 ohms which will power most bookshelf speakers with no issues. The MX3 can be used as a mini stereo receiver for a TV setup or vinyl setup, but for this review, I'm going to focus on a desktop audio experience.
Speaker wire is connected to the left and right channels via standard binding posts. I always recommend using banana plugs when connecting speaker wire to binding posts for a clean connection, but you can connect raw wire to the posts and screw down the terminals if you chose. Alongside the binding posts are numerous inputs for connecting various devices to the MX3 such as an optical input, USB input, toslink input and wireless Bluetooth.
As I briefly mentioned, the front volume dial is one of my favorite features of the MX3. The volume dial also doubles as an input selector. By pushing the knob inward, the MX3 cycles through all the previously mentioned inputs. Long pressing the dial turns the power on and off.
My only major criticisms of the MX3 are all relate to the included remote control. Firstly, the remote is made of very light weight plastic that feels like a toy. This is a stark contrast to the aluminum build of the amplifier housing. Secondly, you need to rely on the remote control for controlling any functions beyond power on and off, input selection and volumes up or down. All of the advanced controls such as mute, treble and bass EQ, and display brightness control all require the remote. This is a big negative in my opinion, but it’s definitely not a deal breaker for me.
I’ve been using Gallo Acoustic Nucleus Micro speakers with the MX3 which are rated at 100 watts at 8 ohms, and the MX3 powers these speakers effortlessly. The internal DAC produces a clean and uncolored sound with no audible distortion detected. This amp will power most bookshelf speakers with no power issues what so ever. The volume dial goes from 0 to 100 on the MX3. Using my Gallo’s, I listen to my audio comfortably at 14 – this leaves lots of headroom in the amps power stage.
The third reason I prefer the MX3 verse the AD18 is its integrated headphone amplifier. The headphone out of the MX3 can power high impedance headphones more efficiently than the AD18. The AD18 is rated for cans from 16ohm to 150ohms while the MX3 is rated from 16ohms to 300ohms which basically means you’ll be able to turn up the volumes on your headphones much louder on the MX3 with much less distortion than the AD18. I was using a dedicated Mica Origen desktop headphone amp in combination with the AD18 for any headphone rated higher than 150 ohms. Now that I have the MX3 on my desk, I no longer use the Mica Origen headphone amplifier and rely on the MX3 to power all my headphones.
To wrap up this review, the Topping MX3 stereo amplifier is a very versatile piece of audio gear which is a must have for anyone looking to create a Hi-Fi audio setup on their desktop. This little amplifier is a great upgrade for your audio setup if you’re currently using self-powered computer speakers and want to upgrade to full range bookshelf speakers that require external amplification. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you in the next review. Peace out