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Topping L50 Review (Headphone Amp)

Quick question as I'm considering buying this to combine with my just purchased D10 balanced, if my Sundaras currently operate with a balanced 4.4mm cable would said cable work with the L50 with a 4.4mm to XLR adapter?

I run a 3m cable at the moment for my headphones and unlike the Zen Can I'm using at the moment I gather from this review and specsheet the L50 isn't balanced out on the front. I'm not opposed to buying a new cable for my Sundaras that is XLR, just wondering first if an adapter is fine. Effectively, the question I'm really asking is, is it OK to run a balanced cable into the L50?
 
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if my Sundaras currently operate with a balanced 4.4mm cable would said cable work with the L50 with a 4.4mm to XLR adapter?
Yes.
I gather from this review and specsheet the L50 isn't balanced out on the front.
Correct
I'm not opposed to buying a new cable for my Sundaras that is XLR, just wondering first if an adapter is fine.
An adapter is fine!
Effectively, the question I'm really asking is, is it OK to run a balanced cable into the L50?
It's OK to run a balanced cable both into the L50 from your D10B, and out of the L50 into your Sundara.
 
Yes.

Correct

An adapter is fine!

It's OK to run a balanced cable both into the L50 from your D10B, and out of the L50 into your Sundara.

Thanks that answers all clearly, some deals on the L50 just now so time to retire my whole Zen Stack.
 
Alright, L50 for £169 or an original A90 (not discrete) for £250 (second hand)?

In theory looks like the A90 is a no brainer if it can be bought for a decent price, in reality is there going to be much difference? Amir measures the L50 marginally better, and while I get confused super easy with understanding the power stats, the A90 being balanced out clearly has more power.

Just rocking Sundara's, upgrade path from here will likely be Anada's, I like open back planars.

My TV5s are on their own DAC, a Scarlett Solo, so a pre-amp is not necessary for my desktop setup.

Pricing isn't really an issue, it's just one of those scenarios where if I go with the L50 I'll chuck the difference into my headphone upgrade pot (will likely always keep the Sundara's, I really like them).
 
Alright, L50 for £169 or an original A90 (not discrete) for £250 (second hand)?

In theory looks like the A90 is a no brainer if it can be bought for a decent price, in reality is there going to be much difference? Amir measures the L50 marginally better, and while I get confused super easy with understanding the power stats, the A90 being balanced out clearly has more power.

Just rocking Sundara's, upgrade path from here will likely be Anada's, I like open back planars.
Anandas and Edition XS are both really quite sensitive so no you're on the right track, I would think an L50 would suffice.
 
Anandas and Edition XS are both really quite sensitive so no you're on the right track, I would think an L50 would suffice.

My Peace pre-amp is only at -6.5db so I presume the L50 would more than handle that. I've looked at Amir's ifi Can review (this is what I currently have) but I still get confused making heads or tails of understanding the power output lol. It seems like the L50 is a little bit less powerful than the balanced Can output. It just measures a lot better.

My Sundara's at the moment are only on 2nd Zen gain setting (+6db) and usually 11~12 o'clock is more than loud enough.
 
My Peace pre-amp is only at -6.5db so I presume the L50 would more than handle that. I've looked at Amir's ifi Can review (this is what I currently have) but I still get confused making heads or tails of understanding the power output lol. It seems like the L50 is a little bit less powerful than the balanced Can output. It just measures a lot better.
I actually think the L50 is just better even comparing to Can's balanced out. Take care comparing the Distortion+noise vs Output Voltage. I see L50 being a bit better and pushing more power when I trace every line comparing both :p
 
Is there a difference between red and blue trs cable?

How do i connect these between e50 l50 ? The one side has a plastic wrapper , the other not
 

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Thanks man
All those labels :p
blue would traditionally be left channel and red would be right channel but it doesn't matter as long as you match them at both ends. n have them connected to the out on the E50 and in on the L50 rather than the passthrough. but they're the same cables no difference :D
 
My D10 balanced arrived, lovely wee unit. Paid £90 for it, this is second hand but it's mint. Saved a bit off UK RRP of £139. I have indeed carried out my plan above, and I bought an L50 for £150. This was new, so good saving here.

A friend wants my Zen stack if I'm not going to keep it, so likely will move it on. Served me well but that lack of digital volume control in Windows is such a pain with the DAC. I did a bit more reading and some suggestions were around ifi including MQA support causing this. MQA, something I have absolutely no care for :facepalm:
 
With potentiometer based volume knobs, you will get the best channel matching at or close to 100%.
On Amir's unit, channel matching was perfect from about 40% to 100%:
View attachment 248026

How good is the matching up to 40% because I returned two L50s (which themselves were returns) on the basis that there was a noticeable imbalance? I wasn't using any measuring equipment.
 
See the graph in the post that you're quoting. It shows how good the channel matching is across the entire volume range, from 0% to 100%.
Thanks. Yea I can't really make sense of that graph, I'm a lay person It would probably take you too long to explain it. I spoke to the company I bought the second amp from, Electromod, and they've tested it and told me it's fine so I'm getting it back and I'll try swapping the input leads to see if the problem lies in the leads. I'll also use the pre-amp.
 
My Peace pre-amp is only at -6.5db so I presume the L50 would more than handle that. I've looked at Amir's ifi Can review (this is what I currently have) but I still get confused making heads or tails of understanding the power output lol. It seems like the L50 is a little bit less powerful than the balanced Can output. It just measures a lot better.

My Sundara's at the moment are only on 2nd Zen gain setting (+6db) and usually 11~12 o'clock is more than loud enough.
I have the Zen stack and also using L50 / D10b with Sundara, Senns 300ohm headphones. I find that the Zen stack gives more power and like you I use it at the 2nd setting on the Can but the L50/D10b looks aesthetically better.
 
I have the Zen stack and also using L50 / D10b with Sundara, Senns 300ohm headphones. I find that the Zen stack gives more power and like you I use it at the 2nd setting on the Can but the L50/D10b looks aesthetically better.

Good to know, will find out shortly. I read some comments saying the Zen is current starved compared to the L50, but not entirely sure if they were accurate. Hands on testing like you have done will quite clearly allow for volume level testing.

Biggest thing I wanted changed was the Zen DAC V2, I want digital volume control back. I'll then play around with the Can and L50 and see what I find! I've got an XLR to 4.4mm cable which I can actually hook up to the D10b (with it's adapters) and test it with the Can. Haven't disturbed my Zen stack as of yet as I was waiting for the L50 to arrive first.
 
Just to confirm, medium gain can be maxed out on the volume knob with Oratory1990 EQ preset which has a preamp gain of -7.5 without hurting my ears. Even with the PEACE preset turned off I can still listen with volume knob turned to maximum only with a little discomfort on some sources.

High gain can get to about 1~2 O'clock before getting uncomfortably loud/worrying the headphones will explode.

So, I have to say the Zen Can does seem to deliver a bit more power, but the D10b and L50 stack looks much nicer, and of course measures a good bit better than the Zen stack.

edit - I should add I have Spotify normalising audio at 'normal'. With that off or even on 'loud' even medium gain at full volume becomes a bit painful on the ears lol.

edit2 - After even more playing around I think the biggest change in perception, ignoring raw measurement figures, is the Zen Can having 4 gain settings. Smart move by ifi as it allows more granular control over gain from the medium -> high blow your eardrums out experience of many other AMPs with 3 settings. With high gain measuring a bit worse on this AMP in the OP, the preference is obviously to try and keep at medium gain. I'd say overall with Sundara's this is doable, but ymmv depending on your EQ settings and what volume normalisation you might have going on with music streaming services. Putting the AMP on high and attempting to turn up the dial does reach "ears are bleeding/headphone is about to explode" levels from around 12 o'clock onwards, so any of my musings above are hardly an attempt to say this AMP can't power Sundara's. It clearly can (no pun intended), switching over from the Zen Can just requires acknowledgement of how different the gain settings are.

And finally, for the big question, can I notice a difference between the Zen Stack? Well, the D10b/L50 feel ridiculously transparent leading to there is something different from the Zen Can, which I believe uses a Burr Brown chip. What was more important to me was ditching MQA and getting Windows digital audio volume control back. The L50 also having great single ended means if I pickup non-balanced headphones I don't need to suffer given many other balanced front output AMPs in this price range see single ended as an afterthought.
 
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