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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 6.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 151 25.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 381 63.8%

  • Total voters
    597

kenshone

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Which ones? Almost all of them have at best 80 SINAD amps inside.

You shouldn't really compare the amp inside an active studio monitor to an external amp.

Most recent comparable ones I've heard are the Neumann KH80's. I'd be very surprised if the amps inside them are <= 80 SINAD, but I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't as good as the LA90 in terms of SINAD.

But again, not an apples to apples comparison.
 

Ra1zel

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You shouldn't really compare the amp inside an active studio monitor to an external amp.
Why? An amp is an amp, it does what an amp does so it is as comparison friendly as possible.

JBL 706P for example has an 55 SINAD amp inside, it would make it one of the worst measured here.

Oh and BTW Genelec claims that good enough amplifier should have 10 times less distortion than transducer it drives, 0.01% thd+n amp for 0.1% thd+n speaker is their recommendation. Do you insinuate that Genelec has no clue what they say and that your amp has to be 0.0000x% like most people here are obsessed with?
 

BoredErica

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Why? An amp is an amp, it does what an amp does so it is as comparison friendly as possible.

JBL 706P for example has an 55 SINAD amp inside, it would make it one of the worst measured here.

Oh and BTW Genelec claims that good enough amplifier should have 10 times less distortion than transducer it drives, 0.01% thd+n amp for 0.1% thd+n speaker is their recommendation. Do you insinuate that Genelec has no clue what they say and that your amp has to be 0.0000x% like most people here are obsessed with?
My best friend claims to hear 8030c hiss 40in away in a very quiet room. So I would say yes, the amps on a lot of actives are absolutely unacceptable to me. There have been many comments on ASR complaining 8030c's hiss.
 

Sokel

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Oh and BTW Genelec claims that good enough amplifier should have 10 times less distortion than transducer it drives, 0.01% thd+n amp for 0.1% thd+n speaker is their recommendation.
Logistically makes absolute sense,however the feeling of owning something measurably good,or aesthetically good and heavy and shiny (or not) or even to your taste without caring is another story.
 

Mnyb

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Don't forget that by removing for example passive filters with inductors in them active speakers remove a major source of distortion . And by driving the drivers directly damping factor above 20 can actually make some sense .
But it would be more comforting if the amps in actives where a bit better, i actually have no idea how the amps in my Meridian DSP5200 performs ? I liked them enough when i bought them i haven't been bothered by any hiss or apparent amp problems .
However I'm bothered by their acoustic performance .
 

Ra1zel

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My best friend claims to hear 8030c hiss 40in away in a very quiet room. So I would say yes, the amps on a lot of actives are absolutely unacceptable to me. There have been many comments on ASR complaining 8030c's hiss.
Exactly

On genelec forums people requested amplifier data but were consistently refused... well nothing to brag about since all genelec monitors use class AB chip amps.

Superior sound quality from active systems doesn't have much to do with super clean amps although those exist

Mesanovich RTM10 uses hypex ncore
Kii Three no idea specifically but most likely purifi tech
Gradient also uses hypex
GGNTKT uses Pascal (not as good as hypex but good enough)
 

kenshone

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Why? An amp is an amp, it does what an amp does so it is as comparison friendly as possible.

JBL 706P for example has an 55 SINAD amp inside, it would make it one of the worst measured here.

Oh and BTW Genelec claims that good enough amplifier should have 10 times less distortion than transducer it drives, 0.01% thd+n amp for 0.1% thd+n speaker is their recommendation. Do you insinuate that Genelec has no clue what they say and that your amp has to be 0.0000x% like most people here are obsessed with?

Because an amp designed to be placed inside of an active speaker cabinet has quite a different use case than an external amp.

As @Mnyb said, such amps could be specifically designed to only ever power a tweeter, or mids, or woofers, and should not be compared as apples-to-apples vs. external amps, as they are not necessarily designed to stand on their own.

Would you compare the SINAD on an active subwoofer's amp to the LA-90 as well?

It is quite possible for "inferior" amps to end up producing better sound if an active speaker is designed around it intelligently. This happens all the time.
 
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Ra1zel

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Because an amp designed to be placed inside of an active speaker cabinet has quite a different use case than an external amp.
Any amplifier has only one use case, to amplify a signal, make one signal into a bigger signal with no other changes.

Would you compare the SINAD on an active subwoofer to the LA-90 as well?
As per Genelc themselves 10x less distortion than the transducer it drives is good enough.
 

Ra1zel

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It is quite possible for "inferior" amps to end up producing better sound if an active speaker is designed around it intelligently. This happens all the time
That's what I say, active system are inherently better, but this does not substract that most of their amps are by ASR standard absolutely terrible at being an amp.
 

tonycollinet

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Any amplifier has only one use case, to amplify a signal, make one signal into a bigger signal with no other changes.

That's it's function/job.

Use cases are about how the amp is used.

Built in to speaker
Separate
Professional/gigging.
Home use
Bi Amping
Big room/Small room.
Sub/Bookshelf/floorstander

Etc Etc.
 

Ra1zel

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That's it's function/job.

Use cases are about how the amp is used.

Built in to speaker
Separate
Professional/gigging.
Home use
Bi Amping
Big room/Small room.
Sub/Bookshelf/floorstander

Etc Etc.
Yes absolutely, yet it creates an interesting dilemma right? Either 110dB SINAD matters and 60dB is trash and therefore Genelec/Neumann/JBL amps are trash or the current state of knowledge is correct and harmonic distortion is extremely poor predictor of sound quality and of non importance in modern designs. Either Genelec is right and good enough amplifier has 10x less HD than transducer or only the blue asr region amps are good enough.
 
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mdsimon2

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Yes absolutely, yet it creates an interesting dilemma right? Either 110dB SINAD matters and 60dB is trash and therefore Genelec/Neumann/JBL amps are trash or the current state of knowledge is correct and harmonic distortion is extremely poor predictor of sound quality and of non importance in modern designs. Either Genelec is right and good enough amplifier has 10x less HD than transcer or only the blue asr region amps are good enough.

I wish this point was made more on ASR because I 100% agree with it. I think THD audibility is way overblown.

When looking at an amplifier review I pretty much only look at 5 W SNR (noise), gain, max power output and frequency response as those will tell me 99% of how the amplifier will perform in my system.

Michael
 

kenshone

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I scrutinize the sinad because an amp may be a part of a large signal chain. The shorter the signal chain, the less it matters.

Also, I would appreciate a link to the Genelec quote or study that keeps getting touted.
 

mdsimon2

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I scrutinize the sinad because an amp may be a part of a large signal chain. The shorter the signal chain, the less it matters.

Also, I would appreciate a link to the Genelec quote or study that keeps getting touted.

The claim is made here -> https://assets.ctfassets.net/4zjnzn...iers_for_Active_Loudspeakers_Applications.pdf, although it is really more of a mathematical fact than a listening based study.

If the harmonic distortion of a good active loudspeaker [8] is less than 0.5 %, an amplifier can be considered good enough if its distortion is insignificant in comparison to that, say 0.05 %. All of the amplifiers in this study are more than good enough even up to 7 kHz, beyond which third harmonic distortion is inaudible.

Michael
 

Ra1zel

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I scrutinize the sinad because an amp may be a part of a large signal chain. The shorter the signal chain, the less it matters
Arguably the better the stransducer the more it matters thats why I think, for the sake of argument only, active monitors that claim to be state-of-the-art should at least use amplifiers that would be scrutinized here at ASR and it's stringent requirements.

If anything preference for active systems despite "poor" amplification inside, shows us that distortion hardly matters and "the magic" is in avoiding energy loss in passive crossover, accosutic efficiency and maximized control exerted by the power amplifier’s damping on the driver’s voice coil.

It would be hard for me to go back to passive speakers after my tri-amped diy active speakers.
 

Billy Budapest

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So what’s the verdict—has the latest firmware fixed the issues some people were having with the amp?
 

NG3

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I got mine from audiophonics this week. First I was very disappointed because I had the protection issue during startup. I only managed to start the amp with every third try. Then I found that v1.2 was installed. Installed v1.3 and it works flawless now. I'm very pleased soundwise. Nice holographic sound with lot of details but without edges. Nice bass refinement. Enough power for my use case (90db 3 way floorstand at 30m2). I doubt that the amp will get any positive feedback, as long as version v1.2 is sent to the customers. Actually if i didn't know this page, I would have sent it back although its sounds that great.
 
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jjmanda

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So what’s the verdict—has the latest firmware fixed the issues some people were having with the amp?

Well, firmware v1.3 fixed my issue which was exactly as described by NG3.

I think I saw one other say it did not fix theirs - amp remained in protection mode.

I got mine from audiophonics this week. First I was very disappointed because I had the protection issue during startup. I only managed to start the amp with every third try. Then I found that v1.2 was installed. Installed v1.3 and it works flawless now.

Because v1.3 fixed my issue and has been working just fine since then, I cancelled the RMA and kept the amp.
 

kenshone

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Arguably the better the stransducer the more it matters thats why I think, for the sake of argument only, active monitors that claim to be state-of-the-art should at least use amplifiers that would be scrutinized here at ASR and it's stringent requirements.

If anything preference for active systems despite "poor" amplification inside, shows us that distortion hardly matters and "the magic" is in avoiding energy loss in passive crossover, accosutic efficiency and maximized control exerted by the power amplifier’s damping on the driver’s voice coil.

It would be hard for me to go back to passive speakers after my tri-amped diy active speakers.
I am saying that the same end result in sound quality seems to be achievable with a lower SINAD amp in an active setup in which every component was designed with specific amps in mind.

I'm actually not sure if you're agreeing but acting disagreeable, or genuinely disagreeing, but if someone who is more technically knowledgeable than me could clarify, it would be appreciated.
 

kenshone

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The claim is made here -> https://assets.ctfassets.net/4zjnzn...iers_for_Active_Loudspeakers_Applications.pdf, although it is really more of a mathematical fact than a listening based study.



Michael

I don't have enough technical knowledge in this field to authoritatively refute the claim. But I will take a stab at interpreting it, which is that the paper is looking for cost effective active speaker performance, rather than the best performance under more general circumstances. There is little doubt that well-made active monitors offer the most cost effective hifi performance. The cost effective market has little overlap with the market for flagship products such as the la90.

In addition, the paper you quoted handpicked parameters such as the "typical listening volume" parameter without justification. I guess the author is lacking the tools that Amir has, or doesn't want to use them for some reason, but I would expect a 3d graph for each amplifier of thd+n vs frequency vs wattage if the author was trying to be thorough in making his point, or at least 2d graphs of each pair.

Finally, before the author's "cost compensation," significant differences do appear in the measurements.

TLDR: The paper does not prove that the loosely defined heuristic is a "mathematical fact" to my mathematically trained eyes.
 
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