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Topping L50 Review (Headphone Amp)

RHO

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Wow! Thank you. The SE part is good to know. I currently have non-balanced speakers (Audioengine A2), but I'm in the process of re-purposing those speakers and buying some balanced desktop speakers (likely Mackie CR3-X). So, to clarify, while I have my SE speakers, I must connect the L50 and DO100 via RCA (SE), not balanced (XLR/TRS), with RCA passthrough to the speakers, and then use the SE/OFF switch to go from HP to speakers. Is this correct?
Yes. This is an option, but you would loose the advantages from the balanced connection when listening to your headphones. (maybe this is not even audible, but that depends entirely on your individual situation)
Now, with your scenario (DAC and preamp modes [if this is possible]), would I be able to connect the dac and amp balanced and my speakers SE (until I get new speakers with balanced inputs)?
You would need both SE and Balanced connections between the DAC and the L50. Your headphones would use the Balanced connection (at least I would do it that way, but in this case you have the option to choose between both SE and BAL) and your speakers will use the SE connection in pass trough mode (L50 switched off).
Later, when you get your speakers with balanced connections you can remove the SE connections to the DAC.
 

RHO

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Actually seems like you can't change output on DO100, at least I don't see it in manual: https://www.smsl-audio.com/upload/portal/download/DO100Manual.pdf
So I assume both RCA and XLR outputs are enabled all the time.
I also can't find instruction how to change DAC and preamp mode.
Yeah, seems DO100 is quite limited in that respect. I assumed it could do it, but it seems I was wrong.
Switching between SE and balanced can be done on the L50, so no issues there.
 

usern

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I think best way to go would be D10b + L50 for headphones only and seperate DAC for speakers. Then you can control volume level for headphone and speakers totally separate. This is how I solved my active monitors + headphone setup.
 

wacomme

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I think best way to go would be D10b + L50 for headphones only and seperate DAC for speakers. Then you can control volume level for headphone and speakers totally separate. This is how I solved my active monitors + headphone setup.
Please tell me more. What would be a good dac for speakers? I need something balanced since I want to avoid ground noise issues (I've had problems with this in the past). A second D10b? If so, what would the connections look like? USB's from computer to both dacs?
 
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usern

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What would be a good dac for speakers?
If you are going for pro audio monitors, then you will be limited by speaker SINAD so you don't need state of the art SINAD DAC for them. You are likely going to hear monitor speaker noise floor (see speaker hiss thread) before any audio interface noise floor. All of these have balanced line out:
Motu M2: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/motu-m2-review-audio-interface.19911/
Audient iD4: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...audient-updated-their-audio-interfaces.19219/
Focusrite 2i2: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...rlett-2i2-audio-interface-gen-3-review.10187/
You could go for hifi DAC also if you want to spend more. D10b still has the issue of no volume dial.
what would the connections look like? USB's from computer to both dacs?
Yes
 

wacomme

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If you are going for pro audio monitors, then you will be limited by speaker SINAD so you don't need state of the art SINAD DAC for them. You are likely going to hear monitor speaker noise floor (see speaker hiss thread) before any audio interface noise floor.
OK. Do I need balanced inputs for speakers? I ask because I was getting a lot of speaker hiss (or speaker noise) from my Audioengine A2s). I "fixed" the problem by using short RCA cables vs long 3.5mm cables and connecting all desktop electronics into one power strip. So far, so good. No noise. But I want balanced inputs to the speakers (and thus new desktop speakers) to make sure the noise issue doesn't happen again. I have a small desk, so I need small speakers. Though not great, the Mackie CR3-X speakers with balanced inputs will likely replace the A2s. The Neumi BS5P speakers are much nicer (and just a bit larger), but they don't have balanced inputs. But if balanced inputs don't matter . . .?
Since I don't have state of the art powered speakers, and I'm limited by speaker SINAD, any of these interfaces would work. I do have a Samson mic that I use for Zoom and WebEx meetings (currently connected to computer via USB, but it has an XLR connection), so an audio interface would be nice. I "may" make an occasional recording, but the audio interface isn't by primary want/need. I want silent sound to my speakers and be able to control its volume.

Of these three audio interfaces, which one would fit my needs the best?
 

usern

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For sure balanced connections is nice for eliminating problems with interference and ground loops. You have more flexiblity to route wires. For example I have a lot of wires under my desk along with power cords that would make RCA bad choice. If you are going to use mic also, then Motu mic level monitoring display is very nice feature.
 
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wacomme

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Circling around a bit, what's the advantage of having a separate dac for desktop speakers and headphones? While an audio interface would better utilize my external mic (Samson Q2U), using it via USB works just fine for my needs. For less cost than a D10b (HP) + a dac with a volume knob (e.g., Motu M2 - powered speakers) + L50 (HP), I could buy the L50 + DO100 and with a flip of a toggle switch back and forth from HP to speakers, each volume controlled with either the L50 or DO100 volume knobs.

Since apparently the DO100 does not have DAC or preamp modes, and therefore controlling volume via the L50 is not optimal, the best solution is to control volume with the digital DO100 volume knob. What I don't quite understand is with my current SE inputs to speakers, why I must also use SE connection from DAC to AMP. Would it be possible to make both SE AND Balanced connections (cabling both RCA and XLR/TRS) from DAC to AMP so that when I use my HP, I would switch the L50 to BAL and use the added power of a balanced connection between DAC and AMP, whereas when I turn the L50 to OFF and use the passthrough of the L50, the SE connection would be intact from DAC to speakers? Thus, with a switch of the L50 toggle from BAL to OFF, I could control either HP or speakers (not both together) with the DO100 volume knob. It seems to me that this is a simpler solution than buying a second dac with volume control and using three devices (2 dacs, 1 amp) to run both HP and speakers.

And once I buy speakers with balanced inputs, I could remove the SE connection between the DO100 and L50.
 

usern

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You can swap output in software. In Windows you could have different system wide EQ profile for different output devices, maybe on Mac too. Volume will be "remembered". Better volume control for headphones.
 

wacomme

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OK. Is there a decent, but less expensive dac (maybe not audio interface), with volume control for speakers?
 

wacomme

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If your speakers do not accept balanced signals you need to connect the SE out of the DAC also to the SE in on the L50 and from the SE out on the L50 to your speakers. The L50 does not convert balanced to SE on the outputs. In that case you need to switch off the L50 and switch to SE to get the signal from the DAC to the speakers.
The volume setting on the L50 is analog, so powering it off and on again has no influence on the volume.
With SE passthrough connected speakers to L50, and SE and balanced cable patches between L50 and DO100, what do you mean I have to "switch off the L50 and switch to SE to get the signal from the DAC to the speakers"? Wouldn't I merely toggle the L50 switch from BAL to OFF? With the DO100 connected to the L50 with both balanced and SE cables, and L50 just being passthrough, it seems that the digital signal would come from the computer, to the dac with preamp volume adjustment and out unbalanced through L50 to the speakers. What needs to be switched to SE?
 

RHO

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With SE passthrough connected speakers to L50, and SE and balanced cable patches between L50 and DO100, what do you mean I have to "switch off the L50 and switch to SE to get the signal from the DAC to the speakers"? Wouldn't I merely toggle the L50 switch from BAL to OFF? With the DO100 connected to the L50 with both balanced and SE cables, and L50 just being passthrough, it seems that the digital signal would come from the computer, to the dac with preamp volume adjustment and out unbalanced through L50 to the speakers. What needs to be switched to SE?
Yes, just switch the L50 off. I think you have to switch the DAC to SE. I'm not sure it outputs both SE and balanced simultaneously.
 

wacomme

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Yes, just switch the L50 off. I think you have to switch the DAC to SE. I'm not sure it outputs both SE and balanced simultaneously.
Does anyone know if the DO100 outputs both SE and balanced simultaneously?
 

RHO

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Does anyone know if the DO100 outputs both SE and balanced simultaneously?
In the product description it says it has 2 output modes (SE and Balanced). I have to check the manual to be sure if you need to switch between both or if they run simultaneously.

Edit: the manual doesn't say anything about switching the outputs, so we can assume it puts the audio on both outputs simultaneously.
 
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wacomme

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In the product description it says it has 2 output modes (SE and Balanced). I have to check the manual to be sure if you need to switch between both or if they run simultaneously.

Edit: the manual doesn't say anything about switching the outputs, so we can assume it puts the audio on both outputs simultaneously.
I've scoured the internet and I cannot find an answer to this question. I suppose I could buy the dac and see for myself. And if it doesn't work out return it via Amazon.

I do like your separate dac idea for HP and speakers, but I have a small desk (47" x 28"). I do want a separate dac and amp, not combined, but three items stacked is a bit much. Besides, the cost is more than buying the DO100 to use both HP and speakers. I'm hoping a flip of a toggle is all that is needed to switch back and forth.
 

wacomme

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Passthrough means it's fixed only.
In order to use SE passthrough, you need to also connect SE input with the DAC output. So both RCA and TRS are needed to be connected between the dac and the L50.
Do the two passthroughs operate simultaneously?
 

rbachl

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Do the two passthroughs operate simultaneously?
Yes. This is from the manual:
1654496782327.png
 
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wacomme

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Is this really compatible with the L50? I don't want to buy the wrong cord and ruin the L50. A regular power cord extension after the brick would absolutely be compatible, but I don't want the power brick on my desk top.
 
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