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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

kenshone

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if you wanna go that route.. if the average consumer understood how pointless are these super high sinad numbers outside some very niche applications, and that they'd be much happier with an amp with lower sinad but significantly more features, better QC, better warranty and customer support... or just slightly lower sinad for less money... then the LA90 would sell even less

funny how this "consumer education" works, right?

Not sure where all these accusations are coming from, nor do I understand the inflammatory tone. I own many Topping products -- 3 DAC's, a headphone amp, and the LA90. I haven't had a problem with any of them. I've also read online that Topping honors their warranties, but you have to ship to China.

I agree that too much wattage and too much SINAD are both unnecessary for the average consumer. But wake up. We're living in a world of "too much." We have more quality and quantity than we "need" for just about anything, if you live in a first world country.

The reason engineering products - of *any* kind - demand a premium price is very rarely because the consumer needs that level of quality, but because of a kind of respect for the engineering achievement.

And hate all you want, but the LA90 breaks new engineering ground in at least one dimension. There's no arguing with the numbers. If you want to call it useless, that's up to you. I find that having 5x+ the wattage that you'll ever need for your use case is equally "useless" and much less impressive.
 

kenshone

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Overall, I really don't understand the camp that seems bitter that Topping decided to build a power amplifier in the LA90 that weights sound quality over power, and achieved that goal at the highest level. Can someone, ideally impartial, help us understand?
 

Sokel

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Overall, I really don't understand the camp that seems bitter that Topping decided to build a power amplifier in the LA90 that weights sound quality over power, and achieved that goal at the highest level. Can someone, ideally impartial, help us understand?
Why not have them both,like Purifi for example,plus the durability,gain selection and more important the piece of mind that your speakers will be safe in most cases?
Achieving a simple goal is admirable,making a more holistic solution that applies in most cases is what would be useful and that's really,really difficult while keeping a sane budget.
After all we're talking about a power amp.Power is what defines it at first.


Edit:Bad english
 
Last edited:

peng

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Overall, I really don't understand the camp that seems bitter that Topping decided to build a power amplifier in the LA90 that weights sound quality over power, and achieved that goal at the highest level. Can someone, ideally impartial, help us understand?

Some may feel that more power than they need for their applications would ensure their amps stay clear from the "clipping" point even if they listen to music contents that have 20 dB or even higher peaks. Others may think that for power output the more the better, or they simply don't realize 2X the output power could only deliver 3 dB more spl, all else being equal, or they forgot music signal is not a continuous sine wave. For me, if I need 100 W/4 ohms to stay below the clipping point for my highest listening level and allow for 20 dB peak, I would still want my amp to be rated for 2X that, i.e. 200 W/4 ohms. The 2X is just an extra assurance, for comfort level.
 

peng

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Bridging induces a requirement of 8R or higher on the speaker. That should be addressed in the next version.

It would obviously be great if the amp is 4 ohm rated (in that case, likely rated down to 2 ohms unbridged) even when bridged but there are not too many power amps rated for such use. Those rated for 4 ohm bridged and verified on the bench would likely cost much more or their spec is for short duration.
 

manisandher

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Can someone, ideally impartial, help us understand?

It's beyond me.

Many seem to miss the fact that not only does the LA90 have amazing THD and noise specs (better than pretty much any other amp out there), but that it's also very flexible:
- an integrated amp, with three inputs and a volume control
- a stereo power amp (vol. control bypassed)
- a mono power amp (vol. control bypassed)

I use it as a stereo power amp to drive my power-hungry headphones from three different sources, for which it is perfect. And the SQ is beyond reproach, to my ears at least.

For some, the PA5 might be a better fit as it's cheaper and has more power (83W vs. 56W into 4 Ohms)... but isn't quite as flexible, and has considerably worse top-end distortion.

Personally, I think it's great that people have a choice. If the LA90 doesn't fit your needs, there's plenty of other stuff out there that should.

Mani.
 

Talisman

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And hate all you want, but the LA90 breaks new engineering ground in at least one dimension. There's no arguing with the numbers. If you want to call it useless, that's up to you. I find that having 5x+ the wattage that you'll ever need for your use case is equally "useless" and much less impressive.
I swear I'd stop replying the same things over and over if people stopped saying the same things over and over.
Nobody hates anything.
Do you like LA 90 topping? Great, buy it and live happy.

To justify the purchase, do you have to say that too much power is useless?
Well no, I'm not there. If people knew how many and what different types of music exist and how many and what different listening environments and different speakers exist and that there is not only Brazilian jazz, but classical music exists, disco music exists, soundtracks exist etc. etc. would stop saying "if people knew how loud 1watt sounds"
I think it is unlikely that most of the forum members would blindly distinguish two amplifiers with the same characteristics but one with sinad 70 and one with sinad 100 in normal listening conditions (even near field).
If you were able to blindly recognize a pa5 from an LA 90 you would have hearing much more like a bat than a human.
Of course these are "great engineering steps", and you are willing to pay 500 euros more to reward the engineer capable of that, even if you CANNOT hear the difference with a product from the same manufacturer that costs 350 euros instead of 850.
So, in summary, what differentiates you, who spend 500 euros more for something you don't hear but you know is there, from any audiophile who spends 500 euros more for an object with a more refined and valuable design? You both pay for something you don't hear, but at least he has something beautiful to see ....

I add
If I could I would have even more power to my amplifier, because I have found that in different situations of use the request can easily become burdensome and reach clipping, and the YES you hear it. Conversely, having a sinad at 120 when I don't hear any hiss at 70 what should I do if not for the fetishistic pleasure of turning the volume knob up to the maximum, going to attach my ear to a horn loaded Tweeter with an efficiency of 98db and say all satisfied "ahhh now !!! Absolute silence from the dead"
 

tritopia

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I am trying to connect the 12V trigger terminal of A90D and LA90. Can I use a 3.5 TRS cable? Or do I have to use only the 3.5 TS cable? It's a pity that there are no instructions on this content in the manual.
 

kenshone

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I am trying to connect the 12V trigger terminal of A90D and LA90. Can I use a 3.5 TRS cable? Or do I have to use only the 3.5 TS cable? It's a pity that there are no instructions on this content in the manual.

TS should definitely work. TRS might. Haven't tested.
 

tritopia

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Yep, I just prepared a TS cable. I pulled out one analog synth patching cord. ;)


IMG_E5902.JPG

Thanks!!!
 

nagster

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Yes, it is a single 12V DC power supply.
I am quite certain this is used for powering the (12V) relays and maybe also feeds the logic circuits via extra regulators.

The 'device' between the electrolytics directly next to the DC input cable may have something to do with the virtual ground rail ?
It is the most logical place to do this. It is unlikely to be a 5V regulator or something like that. Dropping 57V is not logical.
la90_02.jpg
 

solderdude

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something that is switching it seems... unlikely to be for rail splitting.
 

nagster

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The presence or absence of the ring looks irrelevant.
la90_03.jpg
 

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solderdude

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less chance of shorting the 12V when plugging/unplugging the trigger TRS plug when the ring is not used.
 
Last edited:

kenshone

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Okay, a specific question.

This amp with a pair of Revel M16s in a room 5m x 3m (that’s 16’5” x 10’).

Comments? Enough Power?

If you look up a speaker spl calculator online, you can plug in the listening distance among some other numbers and determine if it's enough power for you.

You can also get some more mileage out of the LA90 with an active crossover to a dedicated sub if you have one lying around.
 

kenshone

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Why not have them both,like Purifi for example,plus the durability,gain selection and more important the piece of mind that your speakers will be safe in most cases?
Achieving a simple goal is admirable,making a more holistic solution that applies in most cases is what would be useful and that's really,really difficult while keeping a sane budget.
After all we're talking about a power amp.Power is what defines it at first.


Edit:Bad english

The Purifi is directly compared to the LA90 in some of the graphs of Amir's review. It's a great amp, and if cost is removed from the equation, maybe it's a better overall amp for many use cases. But it is class D and it doesn't beat the LA90 on SINAD, which is the LA90's claim to fame.

And before anyone goes there, I know it doesn't "need" to. That's not the point.
 

Selkirks

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The Purifi is directly compared to the LA90 in some of the graphs of Amir's review. It's a great amp, and if cost is removed from the equation, maybe it's a better overall amp for many use cases.

I own the LA90, Purifi EVAL-1 and Nord One SE NC500DM. I consider the LA90 to be the best value of the amps, if the power is adequate and no preamp is required. The Purifi with preamp is at least twice the price. With that said, if budget isn't an issue, I'd choose Purifi over the LA90 without hesitation.

My first LA90 crapped out in a few days so longevity and support might be an issue.
 

mike70

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how can be "best value" with that reliability?

you pay for reliability (in a way or another) ... i prefer when it comes included in the price tag
 
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