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Topping LA90 Review (Integrated Amplifier)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 27 4.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 38 6.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 153 25.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 382 63.7%

  • Total voters
    600

DDF

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I don't know how it is legitimate to already raise concerns on a completely different amplifier and design. A generic concern of that kind is fine which should just translate into waiting to buy. Not asserting that there is reliability issue for sure as the poster did. Even for PA5 we don't know what the failure rate is relative to the total sales of the product.
I stated this product had a risk due to its very tight packaging and Topping's trend for insufficient testing as evidenced in other products reviewed here. I find when people start putting words in my mouth, the discussion is not in good faith, so I'm bowing out.
 

muslhead

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This is generally true of any new release, however, given the problems, acknowledged by Topping (I refer to answers given to owners with the problem on a left channel, found in the pa5 thread) with a product that had aroused similar enthusiasm a few months ago, and considering the cost of this amplifier which is more than double the pa5, the doubts about the reliability I think are legitimate. This is already an important cost for an amplifier, it is no longer the boxes like A07 that if they break after three months are thrown away with a light heart.
i see, its guilty until proven innocent. Got it
 
D

Deleted member 46664

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My crazy uncle Zado used to race cars. One day lamenting the crappy performance of my company car I asked him how he got so much power out of his engines and ended up winning races ... his answer: "It only has to last for a quarter mile". Of course my car had to take me all over southern Ontario and still get me home for supper. It was a lesson in reliability that's pretty hard to ignore and to this day I still value reliable, stable equipment over the latest golly gee whiz blinky thing on the market.

Unfortunately after a rather disappointing time with a Topping DAC and now the PA5 mess going on in other threads... Topping itself has a big question mark behind it's name. Here is the LA90 another breakthrough product... but is it like the PA5, designed for the quarter mile at the expense of reliability?

"Topping?" what the heck?

It's wonderful that you've gained two of the top four slots in Amir's picket fence ... but at what cost?
Will people still be using your products in 10 years?
 

HiFidFan

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I don't get those that claim this amp for desktop use case.

For $800 one can get (2) Kali IN-8s with 140w of tri-amped power. Lots of other active speaker options for $800 or less/pair. For a couple hundred more, step up to Dynaudio etc.
 

tonycollinet

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I stated this product had a risk due to its very tight packaging and Topping's trend for insufficient testing as evidenced in other products reviewed here. I find when people start putting words in my mouth, the discussion is not in good faith, so I'm bowing out.
How do you know what testing was done or the sufficiency of it?

The nature of manufacturing is it is simply not possible to test enough to get to zero chance of a design or manufacturing error. You can only test with a limited number of units for a limited time, with limited number of people, then you go into manufacturing with 100's of 1000's. A failure with low failure rate may simply not show up in even an extensive test program. It is also quite possible for a failure mode not to be anticipated and so not tested for (no one can be certain they've thought of everything that can go wrong).

Then there is a possibility of a bad batch of components. Again goods inwards inspection can spot some of those - but not all.

All manufaturers (especially of complex kit) will have experience of product early life failures. What is critical is a responsive process to detect them and deal with them.
 
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DWI

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High SINAD is also a more worthy goal than sleeping naked in the snow.
Speak for yourself.

This amplifier seems to lay bare some of the the hollowness of SINAD. I can't easily remember the last time I gave more than cursory thought to distortion levels when buying an audio product, because it is now so rarely an issue. Think the last time was about 7 or 8 years ago when I considered a DSD DAC, tried a product and decided not to bother. Anyway, I listen mostly to vinyl these days.

The reality is that 88% of the votes are for FINE or GREAT without having heard this thing, it would likely be a massive fail with many people's speakers and heaven knows what happens when it's asked to do some heavy lifting in the bass department. Transient speed? Dynamics? Let's wait and see.

Call me cynical, but Topping send out pre-release units to ASR and www.l7audiolab.com/f/topping-la90/, both of whom give glowing opinions and top panther/wolf awards on the day the product is released. Is that more than coincidence? The concerns here are shared over there as well (power, price, impedance, build).
 

DesertHawk

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Speak for yourself.

This amplifier seems to lay bare some of the the hollowness of SINAD. I can't easily remember the last time I gave more than cursory thought to distortion levels when buying an audio product, because it is now so rarely an issue. Think the last time was about 7 or 8 years ago when I considered a DSD DAC, tried a product and decided not to bother. Anyway, I listen mostly to vinyl these days.

The reality is that 88% of the votes are for FINE or GREAT without having heard this thing, it would likely be a massive fail with many people's speakers and heaven knows what happens when it's asked to do some heavy lifting in the bass department. Transient speed? Dynamics? Let's wait and see.

Call me cynical, but Topping send out pre-release units to ASR and www.l7audiolab.com/f/topping-la90/, both of whom give glowing opinions and top panther/wolf awards on the day the product is released. Is that more than coincidence? The concerns here are shared over there as well (power, price, impedance, build).
What do you mean cynical? Did they provide samples with the assumed benefit of generating hype near their release? Sure, but I don't think that makes them evil. Did they bias Amir's or others' reviews? That a much, much more serious accusation.

As for the 88% rating it good or great, I mean the numbers are what they are. Assuming Amir didn't mess up (seems very unlikely) then this is an amazing amp. You can question reliability but Amir doesn't test for that. You can debate power or cost (and people have done that for a few hundred posts now).. But I don't think it's anything to be cynical about.
 

Billy Budapest

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what happens when it's asked to do some heavy lifting in the bass department. Transient speed? Dynamics? Let's wait and see.
Amir’s testing covered all those things. Look at the FR graph and multitone for bass performance. For “heavy lifting,” look at the power graphs. Look at burst test measurements for “transient speed”—whatever that means, aside from audiophile mythology. As for “dynamics”—again, whatever that means, aside from audiophile mythology—look at the SNR and SINAD graphs and measurements.
 
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Egoist

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Nice measurements, but that is surely one of the ugliest amps I have ever seen!
 

jrosser

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Curiosity got better of me. Hope no one objects. If so kindly delete this post.
I think I see ICs and some hidden modules.

View attachment 202490

I guess this is a composite LM3886 with perhaps some architectural similarities to the Neurochrome modules.

The power arrangements and the need to connect the -ve terminals together to bridge are interesting.
 

Ra1zel

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You can already tell some competing companies were anxious... Also I bet you if a western company developed this, it would be praised like no others.
Take a look at Matrix. Chinese company. Measured performance in SOTA region, great design, peerless build quality, responsive customer support. This is what any company should strive to achieve. Any western company should be shamed if they make something this limited in its use yet showcase it as the next best thing since sliced bread.
 

RayDunzl

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FYI those connectors are actually quite flexible. You can use either XLR or 1/4 inch plugs.

XLR or 1/4" TRS for balanced input, or 1/4" TR plugs for single ended input, would be my guess.

Anyway, nothing wrong with them that I know of.
 

SuicideSquid

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The reality is that 88% of the votes are for FINE or GREAT without having heard this thing, it would likely be a massive fail with many people's speakers and heaven knows what happens when it's asked to do some heavy lifting in the bass department. Transient speed? Dynamics? Let's wait and see.
Seems to me that 99% of all votes ever cast on this site for every product Amir has reviewed were in response to the review, and not after having done personal testing.
 

Ra1zel

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I have to ask, does anyone know what kind of protection system does LA90 use? 1 year warranty (or even 6 months someone said) doesn't sound very assuring.

Benchamark claims "The AHB2 drives difficult phase angles and low impedances with ease. Stereo loads as low as 1.4 Ohms can be cleanly driven to full output levels". They also offer 5 years of warranty to US residents. Add no crossover-distortion artifacts that all conventional class-AB amplifiers have (yes, I am aware that it's not a problem in this day and age) and advanced protection systems.

This amp is excellent for certain use cases. But I would always pay the premium for Benchmark if I need a pure power amp for full range speakers. (Actually no, just get the 2kW hypex and be done with amps forever.)
 

Massimo

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Take a look at Matrix. Chinese company. Measured performance in SOTA region, great design, peerless build quality, responsive customer support. This is what any company should strive to achieve. Any western company should be shamed if they make something this limited in its use yet showcase it as the next best thing since sliced bread.

I owned a Matrix Element I a couple years ago. Buggy firmware/software and Spotify Connect functionality was promised for two years but never delivered.
 
OP
amirm

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I stated this product had a risk due to its very tight packaging and Topping's trend for insufficient testing as evidenced in other products reviewed here.
You have had no opportunity to examine this product in person. I don't see how you can have a crystal ball relative to its "tight packaging" from just pictures. For the level of power it generates, combined with its low thermal impedance case and external supply, I don't see the design restricted at all. So again, you are making wild speculations.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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I have to ask, does anyone know what kind of protection system does LA90 use?
Nobody has any such answer about any amplifier without schematic. I see that there is a USB-C firmware port:

index.php


This tells me that it is using their most recent, microprocessor controlled system. And that it can be upgraded in the future if needed.
 
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