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New Sabaj a10h a Worthy Topping L30 Competitor?

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GGroch

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Subjective Follow Up after initial use/listening.

1. The a10h sounds great with any phones I have tried. I expected that. Like the Topping L30 it replaces for me, it handles both IEMs and my low sensitivity phones with aplomb. The relay volume steps are small, but I like that, its easy to dial in the perfect volume and of course no issues with channel imbalance.

2. The single knob does everything interface is the biggest change from the L30. It is convenient in a desktop setup to have power, preamp/headphone mode, and gain directly accessible as in the L30. However, in use I have not found this to be an issue, as all mode selections happen quickly with no drama/pops etc. I actually like the always on volume indicator as the lowest brightness setting is perfect for a dark environment. I have only tested the remote, and it works exactly as promised. In some use cases this will be the determining factor, and it does have direct buttons for major functions.

3. I does not seem to get as hot as the L30. I do not know whether that is a good or bad thing. Just an observation.

4. Biggest annoyance so far: the headphone jack is too close to the volume knob. My guess is 1/2 inch or less. You cannot get fingers between a plugged in jack and the volume knob. This matters most when the amp is sitting directly on a desktop or at the bottom of a stack. You cannot get fingers between the desk and the knob either. The knob turns easily and smoothly, but as mentioned earlier, it may take several turn for major volume changes. I have put my D50 DAC below the a10h and stabilized with 3m velcro stuff (the a10h is a lot deeper than the D50). That seems to work fine and solved the issue. At the current price I think the a10h is very competitive.
 

liu

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3. I does not seem to get as hot as the L30. I do not know whether that is a good or bad thing. Just an observation.
a10h is 24% bigger than L30. so wont get as hot. that's quite normal.

L30: 10x13.4x3
a10h:10x16.5x3
moreover L30 has to convert ac to dc inside the unit. a10h already has dc input. so l30 has extra heat emission as well.
 
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Thomas_bati

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Subjective Follow Up after initial use/listening.

1. The a10h sounds great with any phones I have tried. I expected that. Like the Topping L30 it replaces for me, it handles both IEMs and my low sensitivity phones with aplomb. The relay volume steps are small, but I like that, its easy to dial in the perfect volume and of course no issues with channel imbalance.

2. The single knob does everything interface is the biggest change from the L30. It is convenient in a desktop setup to have power, preamp/headphone mode, and gain directly accessible as in the L30. However, in use I have not found this to be an issue, as all mode selections happen quickly with no drama/pops etc. I actually like the always on volume indicator as the lowest brightness setting is perfect for a dark environment. I have only tested the remote, and it works exactly as promised. In some use cases this will be the determining factor, and it does have direct buttons for major functions.

3. I does not seem to get as hot as the L30. I do not know whether that is a good or bad thing. Just an observation.

4. Biggest annoyance so far: the headphone jack is too close to the volume knob. My guess is 1/2 inch or less. You cannot get fingers between a plugged in jack and the volume knob. This matters most when the amp is sitting directly on a desktop or at the bottom of a stack. You cannot get fingers between the desk and the knob either. The knob turns easily and smoothly, but as mentioned earlier, it may take several turn for major volume changes. I have put my D50 DAC below the a10h and stabilized with 3m velcro stuff (the a10h is a lot deeper than the D50). That seems to work fine and solved the issue. At the current price I think the a10h is very competitive.
I am very interested in controlling the volume through the remote. How does it work? Differences with analog control?
 
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I am very interested in controlling the volume through the remote. How does it work? Differences with analog control?

It is like the knob relay control, in that it changes in 1dB steps. You hear a slight relay click each step (from the unit, not through the speakers/headphones). The knob does not turn. A quick tap consistently changes 1dB. Slightly longer tap 2-3 dB. If you hold down the volume up or down button it changes about 30 dB in 5 seconds. The mute button has a similar relay click.

In testing It works fine from about 15 feet which is the farthest I can get from where it is located. The IR eye seems to be just to the right of the display, so a plugged in headphone cable will probably block the beam if you are much to the right of the a10r.

Let me know if I missed something. Subjectively it seems to work quite well for remote volume.
 

Thomas_bati

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It is like the knob relay control, in that it changes in 1dB steps. You hear a slight relay click each step (from the unit, not through the speakers/headphones). The knob does not turn. A quick tap consistently changes 1dB. Slightly longer tap 2-3 dB. If you hold down the volume up or down button it changes about 30 dB in 5 seconds. The mute button has a similar relay click.

In testing It works fine from about 15 feet which is the farthest I can get from where it is located. The IR eye seems to be just to the right of the display, so a plugged in headphone cable will probably block the beam if you are much to the right of the a10r.

Let me know if I missed something. Subjectively it seems to work quite well for remote volume.
Wow! Thanks a lot for the answer. You have been very comprehensive. I think it's my next purchase because I need an amplifier to use with xbox and tv.
 

SubOjectivist

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Subjective Follow Up after initial use/listening.

1. The a10h sounds great with any phones I have tried. I expected that. Like the Topping L30 it replaces for me, it handles both IEMs and my low sensitivity phones with aplomb. The relay volume steps are small, but I like that, its easy to dial in the perfect volume and of course no issues with channel imbalance.

2. The single knob does everything interface is the biggest change from the L30. It is convenient in a desktop setup to have power, preamp/headphone mode, and gain directly accessible as in the L30. However, in use I have not found this to be an issue, as all mode selections happen quickly with no drama/pops etc. I actually like the always on volume indicator as the lowest brightness setting is perfect for a dark environment. I have only tested the remote, and it works exactly as promised. In some use cases this will be the determining factor, and it does have direct buttons for major functions.

3. I does not seem to get as hot as the L30. I do not know whether that is a good or bad thing. Just an observation.

4. Biggest annoyance so far: the headphone jack is too close to the volume knob. My guess is 1/2 inch or less. You cannot get fingers between a plugged in jack and the volume knob. This matters most when the amp is sitting directly on a desktop or at the bottom of a stack. You cannot get fingers between the desk and the knob either. The knob turns easily and smoothly, but as mentioned earlier, it may take several turn for major volume changes. I have put my D50 DAC below the a10h and stabilized with 3m velcro stuff (the a10h is a lot deeper than the D50). That seems to work fine and solved the issue. At the current price I think the a10h is very competitive.

Hi,

Thanks for your feedback.
Can you please tell me whether the last used volume (and other audio settings, such as gain) is memorized after turning it off and on again?
It would me annoying IMHO if it was reset each time and there was a need to adjust volume every time.
It is possible to change the display's color? I think the default is blue.
 
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Hi,
.....Can you please tell me whether the last used volume (and other audio settings, such as gain) is memorized after turning it off and on again?
.......It is possible to change the display's color?......

The volume, gain, input, Pre or Headphone Output and LCD brightness are remembered when you power off. This is true when you power down from the front knob (long hold) or remote, and also if you pull the rear DC plug...so if you have a switched outlet it should still remember.

It has 2 volume memories, one for Headphones, one for Pre Out, and it remembers the last settings of both. I initially thought there were different memories for each gain settings but I think I am wrong on that.

Only one LCD color, blue, in 3 brightnesses but no LCD off.

Note, my info is from my brief use, I am not affiliated with Sabaj so I could be wrong. For example, I do not know if the settings are remembered if you leave it unplugged for a month.
 

SubOjectivist

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The volume, gain, input, Pre or Headphone Output and LCD brightness are remembered when you power off. This is true when you power down from the front knob (long hold) or remote, and also if you pull the rear DC plug...so if you have a switched outlet it should still remember.

It has 2 volume memories, one for Headphones, one for Pre Out, and it remembers the last settings of both. I initially thought there were different memories for each gain settings but I think I am wrong on that.

Only one LCD color, blue, in 3 brightnesses but no LCD off.

Note, my info is from my brief use, I am not affiliated with Sabaj so I could be wrong. For example, I do not know if the settings are remembered if you leave it unplugged for a month.

Fair enough, thank you very much for the detailed explanation.

Do you know, between the lowest and the highest volume, how many steps for volume adjustment there are in all? You said it was 1 dB for a single step, but what is the overall difference?
 
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I see Zeos on Z Reviews/Youtube has posted a couple of completely subjective reviews on the entire A10 series stack. He likes them...although 10% of the runtime is spent hating on blue colored displays and how to ameliorate them with red tail light tape.

In the U.S. authorized vendor Hifi Booster has the A10h available through Amazon for $120 with Prime Shipping...so no month long wait and easier returns if needed. The rest of the a10 series has free slow ship from overseas.
 

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I just received mine a few minutes ago and immediately plugged it in to listen to, paired to a Topping E30. Let the listening tests begin.
 

keebz28

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Started listening to the A10h with Fostex T50rp the most picky and finicky set of headphones in my stable. The transparency of sound comes through with huge magnitude compared to the tube amp of Xduoo MT602 that I was using.
Next set of headphones to be paired were my Grado SR80E and listened to some classical music and the speed and clarity are great. *(only listen to classical on these headphones for their neutral tuning).
Lastly i used my frankenphones that have 32ohm drivers in a closed back shell and the A10h was very loud for them even at -60db with DAC at full volume.

Definitely happy with this little amp, lot more subjective listening updates to come. May have to tune my 4 band PEQ to my tastes all over with the A10h.
 

SubOjectivist

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Great, report back what you think. I hope SubOjectivist does the same. I just got an A20a amp that also sounds great.

I'm a bit of a procrastinator (well, I have the excuse of using mostly speakers these days, so not really in a hurry tbh), so I haven't connected it yet. But I also have a L30, so hopefully I will be able to perform a SubOjective listening comparison between both.
 

Roland68

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It is very unlikely that this amplifier has the ESD problem from the L30.
With the L30, the ESD impulse could hit the signal line both from the volume button and from the housing via the potentiometer. This suddenly overdriven the 1612 and blew it up.

The Sabaj A10h has a volume controlled by relays via resistors. The potentiometer has absolutely no connection with the signal paths in the device.
This is also the best solution for regulating the volume, which for many manufacturers costs a surcharge of several hundred $ / €.

Of course that doesn't mean that he can't have an ESD problem, but it's not very likely.
But if someone sends me their A10h, I'm happy to test it ...;)
 
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Chrise36

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It is like the knob relay control, in that it changes in 1dB steps. You hear a slight relay click each step (from the unit, not through the speakers/headphones). The knob does not turn. A quick tap consistently changes 1dB. Slightly longer tap 2-3 dB. If you hold down the volume up or down button it changes about 30 dB in 5 seconds. The mute button has a similar relay click.

In testing It works fine from about 15 feet which is the farthest I can get from where it is located. The IR eye seems to be just to the right of the display, so a plugged in headphone cable will probably block the beam if you are much to the right of the a10r.

Let me know if I missed something. Subjectively it seems to work quite well for remote volume.
How does it work as a preamp any issues like ground loops etc?
 
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How does it work as a preamp any issues like ground loops etc?

I have had no issues at all with that feeding into my desktop powered speakers. Dead quiet. The separate volume memories for Headphones and Preamp are a great feature, particularly since there are so many steps in the volume control.

The Topping L30 it replaced for me did have physical switches for Preamp/Headphone and Gain. That is a bit more convenient (unless of course you are within remote reach but not arm reach). However, I do not think the Sabaj's single knob control of everything is hard to get used to.
 
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