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Matching Topping Pre90 / 1ET400A / Focal Aria 906 or KEF R3

glucenag

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Hey there,

first post around here, so please move it wherever relevant if this is not the right subforum.

So first things first: cheers Amir, appreciate the work and I've just donated some bucks.

So after a lot of careful reading and analysis I think I am set on what I want for my next stereo system. I would like an opinion on how well this all fits together from the SQ point of view and I have a more specific question concerning the preamp to amp connection. So here is the setup I am considering:

DAC (not specific but just a "pure" DAC without volume control or anything, with balanced XLR out)
Preamp: Topping Pre90 (balanced XLR in, balanced XLR out))
Amp: 2x Purifi 1ET400A *without the pre-gain board* (whenever I am rich I'll buy that Benchmark amp) (balanced XLR in)
Speakers: a pair of Focal Aria 906 or KEF R3 or something equivalent (I'll also likely jump-connect one REL subwoofer to each Focal but I think that's irrelevant for the following)

OK so here are the questions:

1/ How does that look, generally, to you guys? Anything absurdly not fitting in this chain (I need the preamp though because on top of the DAC I sometimes turn to my turntable - which has a phono-to-line "converter" I don't mind using), or do you feel like to get the most out of this or that component it would be a shame to have that other item in the path?

2/ I've understood from Amir's review that the Pre90 can go up to 8V of output without loosing its transparency properties, and I was wondering how wise it would be to hook that up to a low-gain power amp such as the 1ET400A, SQ-wise. What I'm looking for here is to make the best out of every component in a way that preserves the best possible SQ. Ideally I would love to have a setup where my average listening-volume corresponds to the volume knob on the preamp being at a reasonable level (not almost all the way down to low volume because of some excessive gain or so). I realize this cannot be addressed without extra specifications on what I mean by my listening volume level (and without the living room's specs either) but you get the point I guess.

3/ The Purifi Amps can output crazy Watts (above 200W) into an 8Ohm load like the Focals. On the other end we have these Focals which are advertised as better suited for power amps with ratings between 30W and 130W (fetching this from memory, could be a tad off). How does that sound. Is this ridiculous or detrimental in any way?

4/ Whenever I have some big bucks I may go for that crazy performing Benchmark power amp. Would it also fit into this setup without changing anything else?

5/ As is, would you guys feel like there's this or that part of the chain where you would go for something else at more or less the same price point? As you can see I try to put most of my bucks in the speakers and not so much in fancy preamps / amps (the dac will also be chosen among the decently performing, simple DACs reviewed here under 200 bucks).

That's it. I've done quite some research on all this but of course if you feel like there's some thread that would help me please just give me the link :). I'm tech oriented so y'all don't hesitate going into technical details if it helps explaining why something is odd here.

All help and input here is highly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance, and I hope I'm not asking a too dull set of questions here.

EDIT: so I am well aware that driving the 1ET400A (or the Hypex for that matter, which I am also considering) without any buffer is not a very good idea (among other things because it has low input impedance which for a power amp is far from ideal and a buffer is a good idea for other things like RF filtering maybe, etc.). But what I mean by "without the pre-gain board" is that I'd like to know how much sense this setup makes assuming one bypasses the gain on the OPamp. I want to know this for two reasons: 1/ If I go the DIY route - which I'm comfortable with - I was thinking maybe I can just forego the OPamp? 2/ I guess I am intuitively fighting to understand why there is so much gain in a typical preamp / power amp chain. Like the total gain is typically crazy and one ends up dialing down the preamp volume knob a lot, typically, and somehow that smells fishy to me but maybe I'm not thinking straight. Comments welcome of course. I hope I'm making sense :)
 
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yyzsb

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The Topping pre90 works well with the Benchmark AHB2. It did not work so well with a CODA #8 amp.

I have the pre90 + AHB2 mono + KEF LS50. I want add a KEF KC62 subwoofer to this system but I want to first make sure a sub would be supported. I am assuming it will since this preamp can drive 2 amps at the same time via XLR and RCA.
 
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glucenag

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Hey there, mk1classic. Thanks for your input. That does look like the perfect solution to my conundrum. In my view I would definitely have the best of both worlds with this (with the exception that the signal still travels through an input buffer which might degrade SQ in ways Amir has not tested, because this wasn't the input buffer that came with the EVAL build).

Now, do you know any manufacturer putting this together? VTV does not, at least: https://vtvamplifier.com/product/vtv-amplifier-stereo-purifi-audio-1et400a-amplifier/

Thoughts on where to get it?
 

dfuller

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Way I see it, I would skip the Pre90 and instead use an RME ADI-2 Pro FS R BE (what a mouthful that is, lol) as a combination DAC and preamp. It also has a 5-band EQ built in, which is quite useful. You'd digitize the turntable, but the RME is by pretty much every account totally transparent (it doesn't top the charts for SINAD, but it's not far off at around -117dB THD+N both for AD and DA). Plus, the RME can easily output tons of voltage swing - its max level is +24dBu (12.2V AC RMS).

The Aria 906s are solid speakers, and I don't think you'd be disappointed with them.
 
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glucenag

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Way I see it, I would skip the Pre90 and instead use an RME ADI-2 Pro FS R BE (what a mouthful that is, lol) as a combination DAC and preamp. It also has a 5-band EQ built in, which is quite useful. You'd digitize the turntable, but the RME is by pretty much every account totally transparent (it doesn't top the charts for SINAD, but it's not far off at around -117dB THD+N both for AD and DA). Plus, the RME can easily output tons of voltage swing - its max level is +24dBu (12.2V AC RMS).

The Aria 906s are solid speakers, and I don't think you'd be disappointed with them.
Ah that's great input. Thanks. I'm actually considering that idea now. I stumbled upon the matrix element I pro 3 as well, which has rca in for my turntable's line out. Will compare to what you mention!
 

VintageFlanker

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3/ The Purifi Amps can output crazy Watts (above 200W) into an 8Ohm load like the Focals. On the other end we have these Focals which are advertised as better suited for power amps with ratings between 30W and 130W (fetching this from memory, could be a tad off). How does that sound. Is this ridiculous or detrimental in any way?
It doesn't work that way. First, Aria 906 is not some "8Ω load" speaker at all. Impedance is variable, and frequency dependent. For the 906, see below:
impedance.gif

According to SoundStage and @amirm, minimum impedance goes down to 4.5Ω so they should be rated as 6Ω speakers if following the IEC standards. Nominal impedance doesn't mean much. You need the complete picture to see how behaves a speaker.

Second, 906 is not "better suited" for any kind of power whatsoever. Specs are advertising 120W as maximum power handling, that all you need to know. Even tho, more power is always better. You will not use the Purifi anywhere near the clipping point and that's all that matters: clean and stable power. You will push your 906s to distort (too much excursion from the mid/bass driver) way sooner than any kind of distorsion from the amp would damage them.

At last, if you seek high SPL, the R3 is a better choice (even if I subjectively prefer the 906), thanks to its 3-way design and more contained distorsion.
 
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glucenag

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It doesn't work that way. First, Aria 906 is not some "8Ω load" speaker at all. Impedance is variable, and frequency dependent. For the 906, see below:
impedance.gif

According to SoundStage and @amirm, minimum impedance goes down to 4.5Ω so they should be rated as 6Ω speakers if following the IEC standards. Nominal impedance doesn't mean much. You need the complete picture to see how behaves a speaker.

Second, 906 is not "better suited" for any kind of power whatsoever. Specs are advertising 120W as maximum power handling, that all you need to know. Even tho, more power is always better. You will not use the Purifi anywhere near the clipping point and that's all that matters: clean and stable power. You will push your 906s to distort (too much excursion from the mid/bass driver) way sooner than any kind of distorsion from the amp would damage them.

At last, if you seek high SPL, the R3 is a better choice (even if I subjectively prefer the 906), thanks to its 3-way design and more contained distorsion.
Thanks!
 
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