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Topping LA90 Review (Integrated Amplifier)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 27 4.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 42 6.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 154 24.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 408 64.7%

  • Total voters
    631

raest

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what is this 80wpc amp you're talking about in the LA90 thread of 36wpc clean power? :p

That is a legitimate viewpoint. No one is arguing that the noise and distortion performance the LA90 achieves is audible. But to get near its envelope-pushing performance in that area, you need to spend a heck of a lot more than $800, with the notable exception of another Topping product which people similarly slammed for being “too expensive” and “underpowered.”

People like to complain just to hear their own voices and to see if they can bait others. That’s called trolling.
envelope pushing of.. inaudible stuff? you mean like fancy cables? why criticize those but give a pass to this? just hypocrisy or? shall we start measuring "best" speakers by how much they can play frequencies beyond 20kHz?

how are so few people here not understanding that these ridiculous lines of thoughts actually "delegitimize" this forum and what it stands for? that it gives actually legit and tangible "ammunition" to the detractors? that if taken further (i.e. Topping releasing a 10wpc with an even higher sinad and same lack of features), instead of it being the beginning of the revolution, it will become a joke and everything will go back to 5000$ cables and power conditioners and ethernet switches?

sad

btw, the complaints about power and $$$ were much much rarer on the PA5 thread.
 

hyfynut

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Your example is only 5 dB louder. But I agree with your point. But the options aren’t as prevalent as I would like. Here is a screen capture of the amps over 80 SINAD (my threshold given listening style and need for headroom) that have been reviewed. Is there a $400 to $800 dollar amp that does 150-160 into 8ohms at a reasonable SINAD, flat response, and low distortion across the spectrum? The only one I’m seeing on the list is the Outlaw 2200. It’s frequency response isn’t great, but it gets you 200 watts into 8 ohms and two channels would be about the same cost as the LA90. But if you don’t need the power (and many people don’t since 8/16 watts 4/8 ohms will give you 90 dBSPL at a 2 meter distance with 90db/watt/meter speakers), the LA90 is a bit better in some perhaps audible ways, much better in inaudible ways.

View attachment 209669

There is no practical difference between an 80wpc amp and a 120wpc amp if you are considering power output alone. It can get probably 1-2% louder at maximum volume—I can’t even guess how many dB that is but it’s got to be less than 1dB.
Who's comparing an 80w amp to a 120w amp? This is a 32w amp into 8 ohms. This amplifier has very very good specs, at 32 watts into 8ohms. It's numbers definitely do give it and it's owners bragging rights. No better sound, but yes it measures incredibly well. There are so many products on the market (several reviewed here) that offer better value is my point.
 

eboleyn

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what is this 80wpc amp you're talking about in the LA90 thread of 36wpc clean power? :p


envelope pushing of.. inaudible stuff? you mean like fancy cables? why criticize those but give a pass to this? just hypocrisy or? shall we start measuring "best" speakers by how much they can play frequencies beyond 20kHz?

how are so few people here not understanding that these ridiculous lines of thoughts actually "delegitimize" this forum and what it stands for? that it gives actually legit and tangible "ammunition" to the detractors? that if taken further (i.e. Topping releasing a 10wpc with an even higher sinad and same lack of features), instead of it being the beginning of the revolution, it will become a joke and everything will go back to 5000$ cables and power conditioners and ethernet switches?

sad

btw, the complaints about power and $$$ were much much rarer on the PA5 thread.

This is getting ridiculous. You really want to make the argument that going beyond what is necessary is equivalent to the fancy audio cable snake oil thing?? It really feels like you're making such an argument without actually considering the data.

2 things:

1) fancy audio cables don't even measure better in the 10Hz - 30kHz -ish range to begin with, or if so, only very marginally, at 6-10 foot lengths people typically use other than maybe using a truly grounded shield (which no amp supports!) and twisting, but hey maybe you can prove me wrong.

2) As to the argument that "the LA90 measurements could never matter in real life", well let's just put some numbers to that... so, in Topping's lineup let's use their next level down example, the PA5: For example, I have a 110db/watt headphone (at ~8 ohms impedance) that I could drive with my Topping PA5. However I really like quiet listening, and a recent test shows my listening level at times is around 60 db. Checking the Topping PA5's ASR measurements and assuming it goes down linearly to that level, that means the background noise would be at about -45db. That's in the zone of "inaudible, but not hugely so". Is it really fanciful to consider that I'd perhaps want it to be lower than that?

The only other ~$1000 amp that measures a bit better than that which delivers more than 1 watt is the Purifi 1ET400A, with the point being that the prices just go up from there. If you're wondering why I'm not considering headphone amps here which supposedly are better SINAD at low wattage, they are typically very impedance dependent, i.e. you have to look at the voltage delivery. Low impedance high sensitivity is where they break down and get into high noise too. The LA90 might actually beat or at least equal the best headphone amps measured on ASR, for example.

This is also just talking about the "distortion" measurement, and I'm still leery about IM distortion floors being higher than THD, so you have to consider that problem too.

So, it's not so far beyond the pale to consider cases in which higher SINAD is useful. How useful? Maybe not much, but I'm not convinced that the existing available products in the price range in question are so good that there is no possibly reasonable market for the LA90.

I'm going to be purchasing one myself, and you're welcome to call me a fool for it... but for sub-$1000 compared to other crazy audiophile amps which measure much worse, I'm reasonably happy for what I'm getting.
 
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raest

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This is getting ridiculous. You really want to make the argument that going beyond what is necessary is equivalent to the fancy audio cable snake oil thing?? It really feels like you're making such an argument without actually considering the data.

2 things:

1) fancy audio cables don't even measure better in the 10Hz - 30kHz -ish range to begin with, or if so, only very marginally, at 6-10 foot lengths people typically use other than maybe using a truly grounded shield (which no amp supports!) and twisting, but hey maybe you can prove me wrong.

yes, fancy cables measure better... marginally. so marginally, as to being totally inaudible as we're talking literally fractions of a decibel. why would i try to "prove you wrong" when that's what i'm talking about? wth you on?

2) As to the argument that "the LA90 measurements could never matter in real life", well let's just put some numbers to that... so, in Topping's lineup let's use their next level down example, the PA5: For example, I have a 110db/watt headphone (at ~8 ohms impedance) that I could drive with my Topping PA5. However I really like quiet listening, and a recent test shows my listening level at times is around 60 db. Checking the Topping PA5's ASR measurements and assuming it goes down linearly to that level, that means the background noise would be at about -45db. That's in the zone of "inaudible, but not hugely so". Is it really fanciful to consider that I'd perhaps want it to be lower than that?
you're telling me my arguments are "ridiculous" when you had to go out of your way to construct an example by using headphones on a speaker amp with no headphone out just to try and prove a point? lol

the audible benefits are super marginal and very very very niche in an already niche category, but can be found even in the speaker world (given by people, even in this very thread, iirc)

i stopped reading here because this is taking "ridiculousness" to whole new highs

the whole point was that calling this amp "the best", and i'm repeating myself for probably the 10th time here, when it's inaudibly better than what people consider "the competition" in roughly 99,999% of the use cases, but is actually audibly worse (less gain, less power i.e. will clip sooner) in a lot of use cases... is counterproductive and is just changing one cult for another.

not to mention that 99,99% of the people into high end audio wouldn't be able to tell the difference in blind tests between this and your average flat fr "big brand" integrated amp with a sinad score of 80-90 with orders of magnitude more features, often at a fraction of the cost
 

eboleyn

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...
you're telling me my arguments are "ridiculous" when you had to go out of your way to construct an example by using headphones on a speaker amp with no headphone out just to try and prove a point? lol

the audible benefits are super marginal and very very very niche in an already niche category, but can be found even in the speaker world (given by people, even in this very thread, iirc)

i stopped reading here because this is taking "ridiculousness" to whole new highs

the whole point was that calling this amp "the best", and i'm repeating myself for probably the 10th time here, when it's inaudibly better than what people consider "the competition" in roughly 99,999% of the use cases, but is actually audibly worse (less gain, less power i.e. will clip sooner) in a lot of use cases... is counterproductive and is just changing one cult for another.

not to mention that 99,99% of the people into high end audio wouldn't be able to tell the difference in blind tests between this and your average flat fr "big brand" integrated amp with a sinad score of 80-90 with orders of magnitude more features, often at a fraction of the cost
I'm still puzzled on the "why do you care so much to judge" thing. You also don't know my application. Yes my example above is technically a headphone, but it was one that is meant for being driven on speaker amp taps given the low impedance. There might be cases where it might dip as low as 4 ohms or lower depending on the cabling I use. Many ASR readers are audio geeks who do Weird stuff. :D

ASR's point is measurement (I'm sure people will correct me if I'm wrong), not judgement of application in general other than a simple scale of "it works great!" or "it works bad!". A new amp was delivered, measurement done. Simple guidance like "beyond audibility" was commented on, as well as being impressed by the technology. This is a technology forum too.

If you want a site that provides explicit "for this amount of money, you should buy $X in Y list of components to get the features you want for the best price", that's a different thing and to my understanding not what this site is providing. I'm sorry if that's what you expected.
 
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Ra1zel

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Yes my example above is technically a headphone, but it was one that is meant for being driven on speaker amp taps given the low impedance
You have a 110dB/W headphone with low impedance and you buy a speaker power amplifier to drive it? And you will be using the ****** pot to control the volume? I'm slightly confused.
 

RHO

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yes, fancy cables measure better... marginally. so marginally, as to being totally inaudible as we're talking literally fractions of a decibel. why would i try to "prove you wrong" when that's what i'm talking about? wth you on?


you're telling me my arguments are "ridiculous" when you had to go out of your way to construct an example by using headphones on a speaker amp with no headphone out just to try and prove a point? lol

the audible benefits are super marginal and very very very niche in an already niche category, but can be found even in the speaker world (given by people, even in this very thread, iirc)

i stopped reading here because this is taking "ridiculousness" to whole new highs

the whole point was that calling this amp "the best", and i'm repeating myself for probably the 10th time here, when it's inaudibly better than what people consider "the competition" in roughly 99,999% of the use cases, but is actually audibly worse (less gain, less power i.e. will clip sooner) in a lot of use cases... is counterproductive and is just changing one cult for another.

not to mention that 99,99% of the people into high end audio wouldn't be able to tell the difference in blind tests between this and your average flat fr "big brand" integrated amp with a sinad score of 80-90 with orders of magnitude more features, often at a fraction of the cost
What's the top speed of the car you own? What's the maximum speed you are allowed to drive it? Could you have bought one that was cheaper but a little slower but could still reach the maximum speed allowed?
 

raest

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What's the top speed of the car you own? What's the maximum speed you are allowed to drive it? Could you have bought one that was cheaper but a little slower but could still reach the maximum speed allowed?
lol what? that's such a misguided and misinformed and ignorant attempt at an analogy it's not even worth the bytes onto which it is now permanently recorded on the internet

but i'll bite, just to see the lunacy that will follow: i own a Kia Proceed from 2008. maximum speed... where? do you know how vehicles and roads and the laws governing them work? because from your questions it doesn't appear that you do
 

eboleyn

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You have a 110dB/W headphone with low impedance and you buy a speaker power amplifier to drive it? And you will be using the ****** pot to control the volume? I'm slightly confused.
Raal SR1a with modded cables and connected to a transformer to get that kind of sensitivity. Headphone amps work great for driving things with high impedance, but mostly not so great for low impedance, and most would heat up internally a huge amount in those kind of conditions, if not get damaged internally. You did note the "could go down to 4 ohms" comment, right?

I already use resistors ("passive preamps") to lower the input to amps for my sensitive driving applications, else it makes the noise floor from my DACs potentially go too high... but one is still subject to the distortion profile of the amp, tsk tsk.

Honestly do I intend on doing this regularly ... most probably not, though I'm curious how it will change the measurable sound characteristics to do that experiment. You could also have a super-sensitive speaker (in theory) that could have mildly insane low impedance too.

The main point was it's not beyond the stretch of imagination to have an application where ultra-low distortion could come into play as useful.
 

F1308

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I'm an electrical engineer and this is bullshit
So a pillar is a pillar and that is it regardless of it being made of wood (many types available), iron, plastic...graphene...
Guess then the same goes for fuels. It burns. End of the story.
Finding a good material for the light bulb took some time, I was told.
And the music ? Just C D E F G A B and at times F# or Bb. Cannot be made to sound much different.
Jet engines...? THE COMMITTEE ON GAS TURBINES appointed by THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES wrote.on June 10, 1940, that "In its present state, and even considering the improvements possible when adopting the higher temperatures proposed for the immediate future, the gas turbine engine could hardly be considered a feasible application to airplanes mainly because of the difficulty in complying with the stringent weight requirements imposed by aeronautics... .... ....", ending the note with "....a gas turbine seems beyond the real of possibility with existing materials"

Mr. Whittle nevertheless built the jet and when years later knew about that note he said : "Good thing I was too stupid to know this."
 

IPunchCholla

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So a pillar is a pillar and that is it regardless of it being made of wood (many types available), iron, plastic...graphene...
Guess then the same goes for fuels. It burns. End of the story.
Finding a good material for the light bulb took some time, I was told.
And the music ? Just C D E F G A B and at times F# or Bb. Cannot be made to sound much different.
Jet engines...? THE COMMITTEE ON GAS TURBINES appointed by THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES wrote.on June 10, 1940, that "In its present state, and even considering the improvements possible when adopting the higher temperatures proposed for the immediate future, the gas turbine engine could hardly be considered a feasible application to airplanes mainly because of the difficulty in complying with the stringent weight requirements imposed by aeronautics... .... ....", ending the note with "....a gas turbine seems beyond the real of possibility with existing materials"

Mr. Whittle nevertheless built the jet and when years later knew about that note he said : "Good thing I was too stupid to know this."
It would be nice if you cited the report, as I can’t find it and the British Air Ministry was testing planes with Whittle engines in 1939. My understanding is that development of the comet was slow due to safety concerns (pilots being more valuable than planes). Thus the quote you provide seems likely out of context and might be more reflective of resource allocation during an existential crisis, rather than pure possibility as it is used to imply here.
 

tonycollinet

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So a pillar is a pillar and that is it regardless of it being made of wood (many types available), iron, plastic...graphene...
Guess then the same goes for fuels. It burns. End of the story.
Finding a good material for the light bulb took some time, I was told.
And the music ? Just C D E F G A B and at times F# or Bb. Cannot be made to sound much different.
Jet engines...? THE COMMITTEE ON GAS TURBINES appointed by THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES wrote.on June 10, 1940, that "In its present state, and even considering the improvements possible when adopting the higher temperatures proposed for the immediate future, the gas turbine engine could hardly be considered a feasible application to airplanes mainly because of the difficulty in complying with the stringent weight requirements imposed by aeronautics... .... ....", ending the note with "....a gas turbine seems beyond the real of possibility with existing materials"

Mr. Whittle nevertheless built the jet and when years later knew about that note he said : "Good thing I was too stupid to know this."

Jesus!

The statement was:
Skillful selection of capacitors is the whole secret of the art of audio.

No-one is saying capacitors make no difference. But they are a tiny tiny part of "the whole secret of audio" And once you have the main parameters tied down (value, ESR, tech appropriate to application, basic quality) then "selecting" them makes little to no difference.
 

Ra1zel

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The main point was it's not beyond the stretch of imagination to have an application where ultra-low distortion could come into play as useful.
Actually it still is, noise? Fair. Distortion? I don't think so, unless of course someone has a proof.
 

eboleyn

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Actually it still is, noise? Fair. Distortion? I don't think so, unless of course someone has a proof.
Ah you mean, can I hear the ultra-low distortion at full power? Haha, agreed no.

I am indeed talking about being able to get acceptable levels of distortion/noise as the signal goes far below the maximum output level.

So, if there were amplifiers whose distortion/noise levels stayed at some "no human can detect it" level as the output level went down, that would probably work for me too.

Clearly there is some form of that effect in many modern low-distortion amplifiers (including the Topping LA90), as you can see that as the output decreases from the maximum there is kind of a "sawtooth" of the noise/distortion floor until it finally reaches some minimum and then it just slopes up as the output level goes down.
 
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