TOPPING Launches L30 Headphone Amplifier
Some of our readers who follow the latest audio news carefully might have already picked up the rumors about TOPPING launching the L30 headphone amplifier. TOPPING has long been well-known for its excellent DACs. This year, it entered the headphone amplifier arena with two new amplifiers: the flagship TOPPING A90 and the latest TOPPING L30 amplifier announced today.
To celebrate the launching of Topping L30, and share our love & gratitude to all our readers. Hifigo are going to giveaway a unit of L30 free, enter it here
The company is making extraordinary claims of record-breaking performance from its latest “L30 linear headphone amplifier.” The TOPPING L30 shows that TOPPING isn’t shy in its attempts to make the best single-ended headphone amplifier. For $139.99 at the time of writing, you get a state of the art single-ended amplifier and preamp with a jaw-dropping 3500mW×2.
The state-of-the-art performance offered at this price point makes us ask ourselves, did TOPPING find the secret formula to building high-performance headphone amplifiers?
Besides the monstrous power output, TOPPING’s new L30 also has preamp functionality, meaning the new L30 can be used as both a headphone/IEM amplifier or a preamplifier at the same time. In terms of power, TOPPING boasts that the new L30 can output up to 3500mW×2 @ 16Ω and 2400mw×2 @ 32Ω. That’s a tad more power than the flagship TOPPING A90, but at this point, we’re merely nitpicking.
TOPPING also touts a SINAD level of more than 125dB, output impedance that is less than 0.1Ω, and an ultra-low noise level (<0.3uV) that is miles ahead of the competition, However, the power output of the TOPPING L30 depends on the impedance of the attached headphone/IEM. TOPPING L30 can effortlessly drive a variety of headphones and IEMs by outputting various voltages and currents.
Anything from 8 ohms to more than 600 ohms is well within the capabilities of the TOPPING L30. This amount of power is available through the 6.35mm headphone output jack found on the front panel of the L30.
Ultra High-Performance NFCA Modules
The TOPPING L30 headphone amplifier incorporates NFCA(Nested Feedback Composite Amplifier) modules from the flagship A90. Of course, the A90 headphone amplifier needs no introduction, and TOPPING has proved its nested feedback loop topology capabilities.
The NFCA modules provide enormous power while dramatically reducing distortion levels. TOPPING offering high-end modules of this caliber in the L30 is an achievement in and of itself.
NFCA modules are known for their "extraordinary low noise" (<0.3uVrms) and <0.00007% THD+N (-123dB). Specifications also indicate an output impedance of less than 0.1 coupled with over 141dB of dynamic range.
The TOPPING L30 amplifier provides excellent AC and DC performance by using a voltage-current hybrid feedback architecture. The L30 amplifier incorporates TOPPING’s UHGF (ultra high gain feedback) technology in a voltage-current hybrid feedback architecture.
The TOPPING L30 amplifier can drive any pair of headphones without compromises, providing a perfect and flawless musical representation accompanied by unparalleled levels of clarity.
Surpassing The Limits Of APX555B
The APX555B is a two-channel audio analyzer by Audio Precision© (AP). It is widely recognized as the global standard in audio testing equipment, helping engineers worldwide design, validate, characterize, and manufacture audio products. Over the years, we have witnessed many companies claiming ridiculous numbers with no proof to back up their claims. High output power, low distortion, and high dynamic range.
TOPPING is one of the rare few audio companies that has always backed up its claims and even included a printed comprehensive suite of APX555B tests with all their products.
According to the TOPPING measurements (3rd party verified), the SINAD of the L30 amplifier is over 126 dB, and the THD+N ratio is less than 0.00005x dB. These numbers are the upper limit of what the APX555B is capable of measuring.
TOPPING openly explained how they used a low noise preamp between the amp and AP to measure the ultra-low noise level of the L30.
“The actual noise level is obtained by boosting the noise of L30 by 100 times using a low noise amplifier in front of the APX555B, then dividing the measured noise by 100 times.”
TOPPING has legitimately reached the upper limits of the APX555B. In other words, the best testing equipment we have at our disposal today is not capable of accurately measuring the performance of the TOPPING L30.
Three Gain Settings
TOPPING designed the L30 headphone amplifier with its users in mind, knowing that not all of them are full-sized headphone users seeking high power output. After all, most listening requires only a few milliwatts, and as they say, power is nothing without control.
Thus, TOPPING implemented a smart solution by adding not only multiple gain settings in the L30 but by also adding a negative gain setting to allow for the finest, granular gain control.
TOPPING L30 Gain Settings:
- Low (-9.9dB).
- Mid (0dB).
- High (9.5dB).
Three gain settings that include unity and low-gain (-9.9dB) should provide a considerable amount of usable volume control for sensitive IEMs. Switching between the three gain levels is a relatively straightforward process, simply flick the dedicated metal gain toggle switch on the front panel.
Low and mid-gain levels (-9.9dB and 0dB) are suitable for driving efficient over-ears and IEMs, Owners of power demanding, hard-to-drive headphones will find themselves frequently switching to high gain (9.5dB).
TOPPING L30 is capable of powering all different kinds of headphones, from highly sensitive IEMs to power demanding full-size headphones.
Excellent Amplifier + Preamp
The TOPPING L30 can be used in two modes, amplifier and preamplifier modes. Speaking of preamplifiers, it’s hard to believe the amount of features TOPPING added to this small-sized L30 amp.
One of the advantages of TOPPING’s NFCA modules is their ability to transfer the same performance as a state of the art preamplifier. The NFCA modules of the L30 are capable of providing the same transparent performance of the L30, but doing so with an astonishingly low out impedance of 20 ohms.
Fortunately, TOPPING made the preamp functionality easily accessible by implementing a dedicated switch on the front panel. Many users will appreciate this approach as it avoids the need to unplug your headphones to use the preamp function.
To use the TOPPING L30 as a preamplifier, simply toggle the front switch, and now you can use the L30 to control the volume of your powered speakers or attenuate the volume of your power amplifier.
External AC Power Supply
To preserve the tiny footprint and ensure consistent performance under all circumstances, TOPPING chose to take a different approach using an external AC adapter to power the L30.
Using an external transformer-based AC adapter to convert a higher-voltage current provides many advantages compared to DC.
Some of these advantages include:
- Provide constant voltage
- Lower mains noise.
- Significantly reduce the chance of ground loops.
- Eliminate the leakage currents commonly found in SMPSs.
- Decrease magnetic interference.
- Creating separate, isolated earth or ground.
- Providing consistent, high performance for single-ended devices.
The TOPPING L30 is a single-ended headphone amplifier and preamp. Therefore TOPPING took extra measures to ensure the same performance under any condition. Additionally, TOPPING ships the L30 with a 15 VAC/1A adapter. Using any other power supply is not recommended.
Ultra-High-Performance Stack: TOPPING E30+L30
TOPPING designed the E30 and L30 to match well as a matching stack offering extreme levels of performance. At the time of release, there is almost no other single-ended audio equipment that we can rightfully say offers better performance or value than the TOPPING E30+L30 stack.
Whether you are searching for your first headphone amplifier or merely looking for the best, currently, many would say that the TOPPING L30 linear headphone amplifier should be on the top of your list.
TOPPING L30 retails for $139.99. For more information, click here.