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Topping A30Pro Review (Balanced Headphone Amp)

hawk01

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Does anyone own a Topping a30 pro along with the Smsl sh-9? I want to know how they compared against each other.

I'm planning to get the smsl su-9 since I would be using Tidal to play my music (let me know if the d30 pro would be a better choice). I don't really care about the stack aesthetic, so mixing them up would be fine. The Smsl sh-9 is around $100 USD cheaper in my country, so I don't know if the extra cost would be worth it.

Planning to use it with a hifiman sundara(focal clear mg and hifiman arya in the future).

Thank you
i also pondered buying topping A30pro but ended up with SMSL SH-9. here’s a few points to possibly guide your decision:

1. comparing them for SQ is a moot point as they are both stellar measuring amps! so its a matter of choice.
2. while topping A30pro is more powerful, the SH-9 is more than enough to drive my hifiman HE400i with still a lot of headroom to spare. so more power does not always equate to usable power unless you want to blast your brains out!
3. the SH-9 relay type volume control is by far its biggest advantage over the topping A30pro. it has a ridiculous amount of resolution despite having only two gain settings. hence it is very usable for sensitive IEMs.
4. so far i have not read any QA issues with the SH-9 unlike the premature failures of A30pro as reported by some owners. this is a major red flag for such a new product.
5. in my side of the pond, the SH-9 is hugely cheaper than A30pro by almost US$90 so another no-brainer!
6. in addition SH-9 is also a THX certified amp, has a nice remote and display and sleek form factor which is also sets it apart from the A30pro.

so there you have it. i am no SMSL fan boy nor am i here to bash the topping A30pro. perhaps if both were closer in price point without serious burn out issues then it would have been a toss up. sadly for me, the A30pro missed the grade.
 

nickjj19

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i also pondered buying topping A30pro but ended up with SMSL SH-9. here’s a few points to possibly guide your decision:

1. comparing them for SQ is a moot point as they are both stellar measuring amps! so its a matter of choice.
2. while topping A30pro is more powerful, the SH-9 is more than enough to drive my hifiman HE400i with still a lot of headroom to spare. so more power does not always equate to usable power unless you want to blast your brains out!
3. the SH-9 relay type volume control is by far its biggest advantage over the topping A30pro. it has a ridiculous amount of resolution despite having only two gain settings. hence it is very usable for sensitive IEMs.
4. so far i have not read any QA issues with the SH-9 unlike the premature failures of A30pro as reported by some owners. this is a major red flag for such a new product.
5. in my side of the pond, the SH-9 is hugely cheaper than A30pro by almost US$90 so another no-brainer!
6. in addition SH-9 is also a THX certified amp, has a nice remote and display and sleek form factor which is also sets it apart from the A30pro.

so there you have it. i am no SMSL fan boy nor am i here to bash the topping A30pro. perhaps if both were closer in price point without serious burn out issues then it would have been a toss up. sadly for me, the A30pro missed the grade.
Thank you so much for the information. Considering all the points, I guess I'll go ahead and order the SMSL stack.
 
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Just got my topping a30 pro + e30. Initial impressions are good, don't hear any coil whine. Even at high gain with the ground switch on lift and the volume pot at 100% I hear no noise out of the blon bl03 and a very slight hiss from cca 16. Plenty of power to drive HD700 driving the volume at 12 o clock on high gain via rca through topping e30. Balanced out gustard x16 gets about 2 o clock on medium gain. Sounds really good.
 

Fohdeesha

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Also got my A30 Pro a couple days ago (from ordering to delivered in about a week in a half from Apos, impressive given the current stock/covid crap). It sounds warmer, more defined, and the stereo field is so much more separated and lugubrious. Just kidding, it sounds the exact same as my last amp, because they're demonstrably transparent. This one looks nicer though and I can use it to grate my cheese
 

JoetheLion

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Does anyone own a Topping a30 pro along with the Smsl sh-9? I want to know how they compared against each other.
I think an interesting feature of the A30 is it's audio by-pass even when power is off.

"When powered down, the A30 Pro passes the input signal directly through to RCA or TRS without applying amplification. This allows you to connect active monitors to the A30 Pro and get the benefits of an outboard DAC without introducing another amp into the chain."

Or you can put it between a streamer/dac and an amp without having to think about having to turn it on or how to adjust the volume. This is quite comfortable if you change often music hearing between headphones and speakers.
 
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I have a little question, i'm not a pro audiophile so I ask question for my knowledge ;)
If my DAC is unbalanced and I output RCA to the A30pro, will it have the same power output or not ? And generally speaking about balanced headphone amplifier by the way
 

devopsprodude

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I have a little question, i'm not a pro audiophile so I ask question for my knowledge ;)
If my DAC is unbalanced and I output RCA to the A30pro, will it have the same power output or not ? And generally speaking about balanced headphone amplifier by the way
Yes. A30 Pro provides about the same amount of power whether your headphones are connected to unbalanced, or balanced headphone outs. Power doesn't change whether you're using RCA inputs or balanced.
 

FireLion

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I purchased an Asgard 3 two weeks ago and it has a discrete topology. The Asgard sounds weak and boring. So don't believe the subjectivist hype about discrete amps. SBAF and HF push Schiit and other brands that use discrete. I think it's used as a marketing ploy meant to convey audiophile puritanism.

Discrete topologies are archaic decades old and primitive "technology". Using such designs in 2021 is completely stupid. It's like lighting your house with candles and kerosene laterns. It's like watching the Super Bowl on a fuzzy 1980s tube television. That's how outdated that type of engineering is.

I also had Schiit's Magni 3 and it was nothing special. Didn't like it and sold it off. I'm avoiding all discrete amps from here on out. These old-school "discrete" enthusiasts are like Luddites with a little sprinkle of religious zealotry thrown in.
The opa1656 that the A30 packs is very good, recommended by a TI engineer about a year ago. I have them in an amp and it blows the Jotunheim and 789 out of the water.
 

FireLion

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Yes. A30 Pro provides about the same amount of power whether your headphones are connected to unbalanced, or balanced headphone outs. Power doesn't change whether you're using RCA inputs or balanced.
If it's balanced in then it will have more gain. Not enough to be concerned about.
 
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If it's balanced in then it will have more gain. Not enough to be concerned about.
Yep even driving AKG K141 600Ohm headphones through the RCA input is still plenty to get it loud. Balanced in gives a nice boost in case you have some incredibly difficult to drive headphones and need a touch more volume. Can't speak for the balanced out as I don't have any balanced cables on hand to test, but from what others have said you won't be getting any additional volume. Make sense as topping specifies the amp to be SE operation. Oh also another thing I couldn't find online was the fact that the power input of the unit is 100-240 (as per the manual provided with the unit) so it can be used globally, in case that piece of information is useful to anyone.
 
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Received today A30 pro, to stack with su-9 for dt 1990 and WoW, i did not expect such good sound from topping device, i was sceptical and pulled the trigger just of curiosity, because i was in A class discrete amps like schiit etc., but from today im fully on measurements side:)
 

Fohdeesha

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My A30pro just died. RCA inputs (from D10s), ground lift on. Was playing a game at medium gain 12 o clock volume, heard a pop and then silence. The white led shut off. Can't get the unit to turn on any more. The shell temperature was around 41 degrees Celsius when it happened. Headphones survived.
Just had the same failure mode, except I'm feeding mine with balanced XLR, ground lift NOT on (so grounded normally). Using at medium gain with HD650's. Has been working perfectly for two weeks. Was listening to some music just now and the white LED flickered, I heard some fuzz, then no sound. Oddly it "recovered" and powered itself back on about 5 seconds later. It continued working for about another 30 seconds then turned itself off again. I'm scared to try it again as I REALLY don't want to damage my brand new HD650's

EDIT: this was caused by playing back source material with a huge DC offset, through a DC-coupled/capable interface. If you feed any amplifier 3.5+ volts of pure DC, they will probably not like it. Thankfully the Topping seems to go into protection instead of frying itself
 
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Fohdeesha

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OK, very strange. After further investigating, it only happens with a specific song. And only at a certain volume (about halfway on the knob, medium gain). It shuts off after that point and will keep power cycling itself. If I back the volume down, it will stop power cycling and stay on. Here's a video:


The fact that it's only one specific track that's doing it makes me think it may be a negative reaction to DC offset? My interface is infact DC coupled (Ultralite AVB), so if a source recording does have DC components, they'll make it out of my interface intact. Is the Topping's front end getting overloaded past a certain gain point with DC present? Here's the track in question if anyone wants to play around themselves, it's completely unmodified from CD source material (other than lossless FLAC compression of course). Any DC present was in the source recording: https://fohdeesha.com/data/other/05 - Blue Light (Engineers 'Anti-Gravity' Mix).flac

EDIT: Confirmed that the above track has nearly 4 volts of DC offset, assuming your interface puts out around +20 dBu at 0dbFS. Playing that back through *any* amp is probably not the best idea, and Bloc Party needs to fire their mastering engineer
 
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hawk01

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Just had the same failure mode, except I'm feeding mine with balanced XLR, ground lift NOT on (so grounded normally). Using at medium gain with HD650's. Has been working perfectly for two weeks. Was listening to some music just now and the white LED flickered, I heard some fuzz, then no sound. Oddly it "recovered" and powered itself back on about 5 seconds later. It continued working for about another 30 seconds then turned itself off again. I'm scared to try it again as I REALLY don't want to damage my brand new HD650's
hmm, i think you are the second reported incidence of A30pro premature failure in this discussion thread. i hope @usern can give an update.
 

liu

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Just had the same failure mode, except I'm feeding mine with balanced XLR, ground lift NOT on (so grounded normally). Using at medium gain with HD650's. Has been working perfectly for two weeks. Was listening to some music just now and the white LED flickered, I heard some fuzz, then no sound. Oddly it "recovered" and powered itself back on about 5 seconds later. It continued working for about another 30 seconds then turned itself off again. I'm scared to try it again as I REALLY don't want to damage my brand new HD650's
could you take it apart and take a photo? seeing the pcb may be helpful for troubleshooting
 
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