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Topping L50 Review (Headphone Amp)

wacomme

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I'm wondering if the L50 has enough volume for my needs, or if I need the A30Pro.

I have the Topping L50 amp and the SMSL DO100 dac. I'm mostly running Sundara headphones via a balanced connection to the dac. I also have SE connections from the dac to the amp, as well as SE out to powered speakers. I turn the L50 volume to 100% and 100% volume on my Macbook Air. I'm running SoundSource for EQ. I control the output volume with the DO100 volume knob. I use this setup because with a flip of a switch on the L50 (BAL and OFF), I can switch between HP and speakers, respectively.

While most of my headphone listening is at a volume level around 30 (1-99 scale) - pretty quiet, I can sometimes head above 50 for more spirited listening. Is this normal volume? It seems that I'm lacking a bit in power. I'm a bit surprised that the volume knob must go above 50 (or higher) for some louder listening. I'm mostly using medium gain, but even on high gain at 99 volume it's not unbearable - loud, but quite tolerable. Is there something wrong with my setup? Or would I benefit from more power like the A30Pro? Again, I mostly listen at quieter levels (30ish HP, 15 speakers), but I want enough amp headroom to make the most from the Sundaras, as well as listen at louder levels from time to time.
 

Veri

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While most of my headphone listening is at a volume level around 30 (1-99 scale) - pretty quiet, I can sometimes head above 50 for more spirited listening. Is this normal volume? It seems that I'm lacking a bit in power. I'm a bit surprised that the volume knob must go above 50 (or higher) for some louder listening. I'm mostly using medium gain, but even on high gain at 99 volume it's not unbearable - loud, but quite tolerable. Is there something wrong with my setup? Or would I benefit from more power like the A30Pro? Again, I mostly listen at quieter levels (30ish HP, 15 speakers), but I want enough amp headroom to make the most from the Sundaras, as well as listen at louder levels from time to time.
It's normal because of the SoundSource EQ absorbing a lot of the gain. I don't think you need to upgrade unless you really want more deafening levels of power.
 

LuminousMoth

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Hi All,
I've recently bought an E50 & L50, I am using the E50 for my active speakers as well, so I am going TRS from E50 to my Speakers and RCA from E50 to L50. Because I want to control both my speakers and headphones with the remote, I usually set -45 dB on the E50 for my speakers and for my headphones (hd800s) I am using High gain and the volume knob all the way to maximum on the L50 and the gain -35 dB to -25 dB (Depending whether I am using EQ or not) on the E50. Is there a reason why this is not a good way to do it? because I've seen some comments in here saying that its optimal to have the gain on the L50 around 12 to 2 and medium gain.

@JohnYang1997 you are probably the best person to answer this.
 

usern

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@LuminousMoth I think only practical downside is you don't have precise analog fine tuning over volume if you use E50 to control volume. If you have enough loudness and hear no noise then this setup is totally fine. L50 is extremely capabable on both aspects.
 

JeremyFife

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Hi, can I ask for a sense check please:
I am considering the Topping L50 as my headphone amp (don't have decent 'phones, will probably go for Sennheiser 560 or 650).
I am attracted to this by the performance/price ratio but also because of the balanced passthrough functionality.

My intention is to have the L50 in the chain between my miniDSP Flex (balanced) and the Topping PA5 as this lets me use the miniDSP for EQ for the headphones. I'd just turn off the L50 for "normal" listening on the assumption that there would be no audible impact and the signal would be passed through transparently.
#1 Does this make sense?
#2 Is there a better (cheaper, simpler) way

Many thanks
 

RHO

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#1 Does this make sense?
I'm considering a very similar set-up. So, yes, to me it makes much sense. :)
#2 Is there a better (cheaper, simpler) way
Will you use the Flex specifically for your headphone EQ or do you plan on running room EQ too?
If only for headphone EQ, I would leave out the Flex and use EQ APO/PEACE.
For room EQ the Flex is very interesting since you get the option of running Dirac on it too.
There are cheaper solutions to power your HD560s or HD650, but the L50 will do it with plenty of power in reserve. (which is actually not needed but good for peace of mind)
 

JeremyFife

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I'm considering a very similar set-up. So, yes, to me it makes much sense. :)

Will you use the Flex specifically for your headphone EQ or do you plan on running room EQ too?
If only for headphone EQ, I would leave out the Flex and use EQ APO/PEACE.
For room EQ the Flex is very interesting since you get the option of running Dirac on it too.
There are cheaper solutions to power your HD560s or HD650, but the L50 will do it with plenty of power in reserve. (which is actually not needed but good for peace of mind)
Thanks :)
My main listening will be through the speakers, just personal preference, so the Flex is mainly for Room EQ. Being able to use it for headphone EQ is an attractive bonus but I wouldn't have bought it just for that purpose
 

wacomme

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Hi, can I ask for a sense check please:
I am considering the Topping L50 as my headphone amp (don't have decent 'phones, will probably go for Sennheiser 560 or 650).
I am attracted to this by the performance/price ratio but also because of the balanced passthrough functionality.

My intention is to have the L50 in the chain between my miniDSP Flex (balanced) and the Topping PA5 as this lets me use the miniDSP for EQ for the headphones. I'd just turn off the L50 for "normal" listening on the assumption that there would be no audible impact and the signal would be passed through transparently.
#1 Does this make sense?
#2 Is there a better (cheaper, simpler) way

Many thanks
I use the L50 with the SMSL DO100 dac. I connect these together with both SE and balanced cables. With the L50 on BAL I play my headphones. In OFF mode, I play my SE powered speakers. The volume control for both is via the DO100 with the L50 volume set to max.

It works great, and easily powers my Sundara headphones.

When I buy speakers with balanced inputs, I'll be able to remove the RCA cable between the amp and dac. Until, then, it's cable heavy on the backside.
 

RHO

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Thanks :)
My main listening will be through the speakers, just personal preference, so the Flex is mainly for Room EQ. Being able to use it for headphone EQ is an attractive bonus but I wouldn't have bought it just for that purpose
Yeah, when using speakers the Flex is a great tool. I think you have a great set-up. Enjoy it. :)
 

tiramisu

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Purchased an L50 today... Unless it dies I am fairly sure I will never need another headphone amp. Pretty sure I didn't need that much but you get so much for the price that it's just hard not to buy once you decide you want a headphone amp. Slippery slope. I managed to use my old MDR-7506's happily for the last 20 years but now I'm thinking HD 600. Damned audio bug.
 

koravei

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Hi guys! Today i purchased E50 + L50, i see they support both BAL and SE connectors. I have a question, will i have any benefit if the connection between E50 and L50 is TRS balanced instead of RCA, while my output is to SE headphones?
 
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Chagall

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Hi guys! Today i purchased E50 + L50, i see they support both BAL and SE connectors. I have a question, will i have any benefit if the connection between E50 and L50 is TRS balanced instead of RCA, while my output is to SE headphones?

Yes, benefit would be more power! Regadless of the output (same on both connectors).
 

tiramisu

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Yes, benefit would be more power! Regadless of the output (same on both connectors).
My L50 arrived this evening. Compared to my garbage headphone amp on my audio interface, the sound quality is much improved.
Driving the headphones with adequate voltage makes things much snappier.
You don't realize how bad underpowered speakers sound until you add more juice.

Now I want me some betterer headphones. Have my heart set on the HD600.
After 20 years with the old MDR-7506's, I'm hoping to hear the difference.

This is kind of fun
 

Chagall

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My L50 arrived this evening. Compared to my garbage headphone amp on my audio interface, the sound quality is much improved.
Driving the headphones with adequate voltage makes things much snappier.
You don't realize how bad underpowered speakers sound until you add more juice.

Now I want me some betterer headphones. Have my heart set on the HD600.
After 20 years with the old MDR-7506's, I'm hoping to hear the difference.

This is kind of fun
Now that you have power to spare, try EQing your headphones first. Google Oratory's measurement for 7506 and if you are using PC, try EQ Apo. There are lots of tutorials here on the forum.

Also compare HD 600 frequency response. It's a great headphone, but bass light and a bit narrow soundstage. Depends what you value most in a headphone.
 

tiramisu

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Now that you have power to spare, try EQing your headphones first. Google Oratory's measurement for 7506 and if you are using PC, try EQ Apo. There are lots of tutorials here on the forum.

Also compare HD 600 frequency response. It's a great headphone, but bass light and a bit narrow soundstage. Depends what you value most in a headphone.

I use my headphones for a lot of dialogue monitoring so I don't really want to make them sound "better" ala Harman I am looking for fidelity and I "believe" diffuse field provides that better than Harmann. Pretty sure that you can eq the HD600 either way. Previously the MDR-7506 (With not enough power) just sounded muddy if I tried to apply a Harman curve to it. .... I am now off to GitHub to see if I can find EQ measures for both Harman and Diffuse (one for music, one for work) and what the outcome is.

Thanks... for the reminder on apo. I still have it installed but haven't been using it.


.... Harman Curve applied am now listening to my trusty Pink Floyd... Wish You Were Here... oh my goodness that is pleasant.

The difference between the EQ and no EQ is surprisingly subtle. I think I will have to spend some time doing a listening course so that I can pick out the changes. I can't describe what is better by ear. It just sounds a touch betterer and makes me smile.
 
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Chagall

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I use my headphones for a lot of dialogue monitoring so I don't really want to make them sound "better" ala Harman I am looking for fidelity and I "believe" diffuse field provides that better than Harmann. Pretty sure that you can eq the HD600 either way. Previously the MDR-7506 (With not enough power) just sounded muddy if I tried to apply a Harman curve to it. .... I am now off to GitHub to see if I can find EQ measures for both Harman and Diffuse (one for music, one for work) and what the outcome is.

Thanks... for the reminder on apo. I still have it installed but haven't been using it.


.... Harman Curve applied am now listening to my trusty Pink Floyd... Wish You Were Here... oh my goodness that is pleasant.

The difference between the EQ and no EQ is surprisingly subtle. I think I will have to spend some time doing a listening course so that I can pick out the changes. I can't describe what is better by ear. It just sounds a touch betterer and makes me smile.

Yeah, that's the beauty of it. Having measurements available and tweeking the sound to one's liking.

In that case, HD 600 is the headphone for you. It still needs some tweeking: Diffuse EQ and Harman or variation for music/movies - great stuff!

Can't say for 7506, but with HD600 or HD800s and depending on what track, difference EQ/noEQ can be subtle or night and day.
 

p0tat0

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Hi all,
I've recently decided to buy my first headphone amp and went for L50.
Can someone help me with a few noob questions:

1) I'm using Motu M2 as DAC, will it "limit" the L50 in terms of clarity, details, dynamics, etc.? Is it worth to change M2 to something like Topping E50?
2) How do I distrubute volume levels for least possible distortions? PC volume 100% -> Motu M2 volume 100% -> Topping L50 volume to my taste?
M2 doesn't have line outs, so i consider using balanced monitor outs which are volume controlled.
 

TK750

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Hi all,
I've recently decided to buy my first headphone amp and went for L50.
Can someone help me with a few noob questions:

1) I'm using Motu M2 as DAC, will it "limit" the L50 in terms of clarity, details, dynamics, etc.? Is it worth to change M2 to something like Topping E50?
2) How do I distrubute volume levels for least possible distortions? PC volume 100% -> Motu M2 volume 100% -> Topping L50 volume to my taste?
M2 doesn't have line outs, so i consider using balanced monitor outs which are volume controlled.

1) No, the dac portion of the device is very good, not quite state of the art but you won't hear any difference if you changed it to a state of the art dac either -> https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/motu-m2-review-audio-interface.19911/

2) Yes that's exactly what I would recommend, a couple of TRS cables should do the trick nicely.
 
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