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Topping L50 Review (Headphone Amp)

Veri

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Another newbie question, to use the XLR port do I need of a complete new cable for my headphones or is it enough an adapter like this? Example
That can break your amp you can't connect single ended cable to balanced amp like that.
Edit: @JediMa I thought it was 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm (TRS), 4.4mm is balanced and is fine!
 
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JediMa

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That can break your amp you can't connect single ended cable to balanced amp like that.
Edit: @JediMa I thought it was 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm (TRS), 4.4mm is balanced and is fine!
So to be sure 100% if I use that "dongle" with this cable 4.4 balanced it will work perfectly?
 

Veri

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So to be sure 100% if I use that "dongle" with this cable 4.4 balanced it will work perfectly?
It will work but don't bother with this amp, it provides an XLR output for headphones but it's not balanced it's for 'convenience' to plug headphones with balanced wiring into it. It won't get louder.

When L50 came out it was a bit of a trend to do this. Many people would mistakenly think then it's a balanced amp.. check the output levels if it's the same as single ended. Then you know.
 

JediMa

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It will work but don't bother with this amp, it provides an XLR output for headphones but it's not balanced it's for 'convenience' to plug headphones with balanced wiring into it. It won't get louder.

When L50 came out it was a bit of a trend to do this. Many people would mistakenly think then it's a balanced amp.. check the output levels if it's the same as single ended. Then you know.
Well thank you, at least I learnt something new tech wise.
 

marses

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Hi all. Wondering, im using e50 with this. Im using the balance output of e50 to speakers and SE to l50. Does the sound difference significant using l50 between balance and SE.

Im thinking if i should change to balance input and balance output for headphon to / from l50.
 

milosz

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Hi all. Wondering, im using e50 with this. Im using the balance output of e50 to speakers and SE to l50. Does the sound difference significant using l50 between balance and SE.

Im thinking if i should change to balance input and balance output for headphon to / from l50.
Sorry, I can't follow what you are asking... could you please clarify?
 

marses

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Sorry, I can't follow what you are asking... could you please clarify?
Let me rephrase. From E50 --> L50 using SE and L50 --> headphone (SE). Is there any significant sound difference between using SE and Balance?

Im trying to justify having e50 --> L50 (balance) and L50 --> headphone (balance).
 

usern

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If you use headphones that don't distort at high gain 100% volume with RCA input, then you can push them even louder with balanced input to L50.

Headphone out with 4 pin XLR and regular connector have no difference.
 

milosz

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Let me rephrase. From E50 --> L50 using SE and L50 --> headphone (SE). Is there any significant sound difference between using SE and Balance?

Im trying to justify having e50 --> L50 (balance) and L50 --> headphone (balance).
Using a balanced line input to the amp should result in little less noise - maybe a few dB

Using a balanced connection to the headphones themselves - driving them with a balanced amplifier - should result in better control of the headphone driver diaphragms, which can result in somewhat tighter bass. There is also increased amplifier power available to drive the 'phones with a balanced amp, which can be important with low-efficiency headphones. My experience is that headphones seem to sound a little better in balanced drive mode, especially in the bass. But this may just be placebo, just a sonic opinion based on my thinking and emotions, rather than a reflection of some objective reality. I would have to do some blind listening tests to decide if what I think I hear is real. In any case, I LIKE using balanced 'phones because it SEEMS like the bass is tighter, and so that is what I tend to do. I do have some headphones amps with single ended output only, and I do use them and they sound good too, so I am not certain that balanced drive really results in audible benefits.
 

djtetei

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Hi all. Wondering, im using e50 with this. Im using the balance output of e50 to speakers and SE to l50. Does the sound difference significant using l50 between balance and SE.

Im thinking if i should change to balance input and balance output for headphon to / from l50.
The choice between balanced or unbalanced connection is dictated by two factors: noise rejection over distance and voltage gain over signal to noise ratio.
You can choose to use a balanced connection in order to prevent audio signal degradation over distance or to take advantage of a source higher nominal output level over balanced connection and use less voltage gain on the amplifier side in order to preserve or improve the system dynamic range (signal to noise ratio).
When I am talking about noise rejection, I am referring to the inherent noise floor present in all audio equipments.
If, on the other hand, the audio material is noisy, using a balanced connection cannot prevent the noise from the audio material to carry over the signal path.
In any case, if you decide to use a balanced connection I suggest to use headphones with balanced input and keep the entire system on balanced connections.
If you are thinking that using a balanced connection will make your headphones sound different or louder, don't go that route. An audio connection, balanced or unbalanced, is not supposed to alter the original audio signal, but to preserve it and reject or prevent any other interferences.
Headphones, like any other loudspeaker, are able to withstand a certain power capacity and to provide a certain SPL level that is alot higher than the level you are supposed to listen safely, without damaging your hearing.
 
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Veri

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Using a balanced connection to the headphones themselves - driving them with a balanced amplifier - should result in better control of the headphone driver diaphragms, which can result in somewhat tighter bass.
Errrrrrr. Citation needed?
 

milosz

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Balanced amp driving headphones - I am talking here about an amp that has active output stages for both the + and - leads going to the headphone driver - will have twice the output power of the same amp in single ended topology, and half the source impedance. More power will benefit many headphones, especially lower efficiency models; and lower source impedance increases damping factor, hence "improved control of the diaphragm." This is basic electrical engineering.

Some people also say that interchannel separation is better for a four-wire connection to the 'phones, va a single-ended 3-wire layout, and I can see how this might be - but typically I don't think that this is significant enough to be audible, if it's present at all.

Remember I am describing a balanced output stage - four power output stages per stereo headphone- for driving the headphone diaphragms here, not the balanced audio input line connection. Typically a balanced headphone amp has a balanced input line connection, but this is not necessary- you can build a balanced amplifier to drive headphones with a single-ended input; however, balanced line inputs typically have lower noise.
 

Audioboxer

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Experienced flashing white LED today. Had the unit since December last year and this is the first time.

It powers some Sundara's from my PC using the D10 balanced.

Was listening to music in Spotify and the music just cut out and the unit is flashing white. Just powered down and will leave off for a bit.
 

djtetei

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Experienced flashing white LED today. Had the unit since December last year and this is the first time.

It powers some Sundara's from my PC using the D10 balanced.

Was listening to music in Spotify and the music just cut out and the unit is flashing white. Just powered down and will leave off for a bit.
Check the gain settings on Topping L50 and ensure you're not clipping the output signal on the pc side.
 

Audioboxer

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Check the gain settings on Topping L50 and ensure you're not clipping the output signal on the pc side.

Yeah it's back to normal now. I've reduced the unit volume knob on medium gain and simply increased Windows digital volume higher. So this is likely more user error than anything, someone did warn me about running the unit volume knob near maxed out at all times and favouring using my keyboard volume knob which is just controlling the volume slider in Windows.

The Sundara's are pretty power hungry when equalised but they get loud enough for me on medium gain.
 

djtetei

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The Sundara's are pretty power hungry
Power hungry?
Let's see what we have here: a nominal impedance of 32 ohm (stated by manufacturer) and an efficiency of 94 dB/mW, which translates into a sensitivity of about 109 dB/V.
If we assume a power capacity of 200 mW, the Sundara"s can take up to 2.53 V RMS and can deliver up to 117 dB SPL.
You say that your signal chain consists of a Topping D10 balanced USB DAC and a Topping L50 headphone amplifier.
The Topping D10 balanced outputs can deliver 4.2 V RMS.
With the Topping L50 headphone amplifier set on medium gain (-0.3 dB), the available power output is 514 mW.
Given the fact that the Sundara"s can reach 117 dB SPL with 200 mW of power, you have 4 dB of headroom (reserve power) available on the headphones amplifier, which is plenty.
So, you see, I don't think your headphones are power hungry at all.
 

Audioboxer

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Power hungry?
Let's see what we have here: a nominal impedance of 32 ohm (stated by manufacturer) and an efficiency of 94 dB/mW, which translates into a sensitivity of about 109 dB/V.
If we assume a power capacity of 200 mW, the Sundara"s can take up to 2.53 V RMS and can deliver up to 117 dB SPL.
You say that your signal chain consists of a Topping D10 balanced USB DAC and a Topping L50 headphone amplifier.
The Topping D10 balanced outputs can deliver 4.2 V RMS.
With the Topping L50 headphone amplifier set on medium gain (-0.3 dB), the available power output is 514 mW.
Given the fact that the Sundara"s can reach 117 dB SPL with 200 mW of power, you have 4 dB of headroom (reserve power) available on the headphones amplifier, which is plenty.
So, you see, I don't think your headphones are power hungry at all.

EQing drops them down another -7.5db https://www.dropbox.com/s/o3fza1a4kmmy4vr/Hifiman Sundara (2020 revised earpads).pdf?dl=0

But yeah I won't argue with measurements, I guess my laymans "power hungry" was just judged off how I can manage to keep them on my ears at medium gain full volume without my ears bleeding lol. Though that is also with the music streaming apps normalising volume, if I turn that off it does get into uncomfortable volume on listening at max on medium gain.

So I in no way meant the L50 has any issue powering these, I'd even go onto high gain if I needed to. Just initially stayed off it because of amir's review saying high gain has some noise penalty.
 

djtetei

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with the music streaming apps normalising volume
Why would you use the normalisation feature and degrade the entire system dynamic range and signal to noise ratio?
You have a volume knob available, so use it!
If you would listen from a CD player or a turntable, you won't have any normalisation algorithm available.
Enjoy the music as it was intended by its creators.
 
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