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L70 or A90

MX5

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Hi all,

First of all, love the website. The reviews are amazing and very informative.

I apologize in advance if this question has been answered elsewhere (I did look!). I am upgrading my desktop setup, having just purchased a set of Hifiman Sundaras. I have an opportunity to purchase either a Topping A90 (not the D) or a Topping L70 for about the same price ($350). I will output USB from my PC and use the balanced interconnects and a Hart Audio balanced cable for the Sundaras.

There are obvious differences in form factor, display and controls (to my mind, advantage L70, though others may differ), number of gain settings (3 versus 2, advantage A90 (but relevant?)), 12v trigger (advantage L70). From looking at the performance numbers, I "think" the A90 has a slight advantage in power and performance, though perhaps well outside of the realm of being noticeable. I also think that the A90 has already deprecated, so if I decide to sell it on later I'm likely to take a smaller loss than on the L70, though that's a minor point. Perhaps the determining factor is that an E70 DAC is well within my budget, while a D90 is a stretch. So I'd have a nicely matched stack on my desk if I go L70+E70. On the other hand, it seems like the A90 is more than enough amplifier for whatever the future may bring, though perhaps the L70 is too.

If anyone has any thoughts on whether or not there's a clear reason one of these choices is better than the other, I would very much appreciate your sharing. I'm just not technically savvy enough to pore over Amir's great charts and graphs and notice if there's a relevant difference (thank you so much for the helpful captions, Amir, they make a real difference for me).

I understand these are both amazing amps, I just don't want to overlook something and wish I'd made a different choice in a few months.

And again, apologies if this has been asked and answered elsewhere. Really appreciate it.
 

Elitzur–Vaidman

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I'd probably go with the L70+E70 stack. The differences in gain can pretty much be ignored since they both have highly capable volume controls. The A90 has slightly better power delivery for low-sensitivity, low-impedance headphones (7.6W vs 6W @ 16ohm), but the L70 has more power for high-impedance headphones (1.15W vs 1W @ 300ohm). Either way, there's less than a 2db difference in peak output.
 

Dunring

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I have the A90 and an A90D on the way. The only time I ever ran out of power with it was with the Hifiman HE6se and equalizing with a -6db preamp reduction and then playing pre-volume war songs which are much quieter than most stuff today (especially hiphop and happy teen music). Other than that situation which is pretty specific, you'll never run out of power with the A90. You can find the A90 cheaper on eBay, but the L70 is so new, it might be hard to find a discount. I've had every Hifiman up to the Arya. If you use the Sundara with balanced cables, you'll never need to leave medium gain mode on either one. The Topping E50 DAC is the best pairing if cost is considered. If connectivity is just USB, I'm listening to a Topping D10b and it's flawless too, just less features and connections, but you wouldn't be able to tell it from a D90 in a blind test (I've had a couple of them too).
 

Nordling

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There is one big difference and that is the volume control: Topping L70 has relay volume control with excellent channel balance. For me that was the reason to buy the L70.
Also don't forget that the width of the L70 is 200 mm, while the width of the A90 headphone amplifier and D90 DAC is 222 mm.
 

ObjectiveSubjectivist

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Get L70 - volume control with relays is much more convenient that just a knob.
Oh and the clicking while setting the volume is addicting! ;)
 
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