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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: 155 24.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 405 64.4%

  • Total voters
    629

edwardgrey

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That's great!

4 v or 5 v doesn't matter, for the LS90s bridged, even 2 v is more than you need for the highest peak in music. Most of the time the Pre90 output would likely be very low depending on the contents, especially if the gain is set to high.

What was the higest volume setting so far? I bet it will be lower than -10, but I am guessing.

I've been running the gain on low so far as I don't seem to need that much volume; my seating is ~3m from the speakers and there are very few tracks that I would play louder than -20-25db (also living in an apt so cannot max).

Will measure with my phone and report back, the Focal 948 speaker sensitivity is: (2.83V / 1m) 92.5dB.
 

Gabriel1

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Jun 9, 2019
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The la90 …… With my 92db/watt speakers the bass is as deep, tuneful, fast, tight and punchy at reasonable volumes and with my 85 db/watt speakers, well, not so much, no surprise! Still delightful sound there too, only lacking in bottom end extension and punch.

The ahb2 very similar on the 92db/watt speakers (perhaps a blacker background), on the 85 db speakers…..a different story altogether. All the bass I could expect from those speakers. That, said the la90 still sounds very listenable driving the low efficiency units too (but for bottom end punch). I had considered a second la90 and perhaps some power supply upgrades (more capacitor values) but realized that the benchmark makes more sense here.

These amps both sound excellent in their element and really very similar in terms of transparency, speed, tunefulness and quiet background. Both are musical, open sounding low fatigue offerings that excel at their price point. Yes you can get more watts for your money (I have many such explorations here too) but ….. then there’s the music!

I might add that for reference my 300b coincident Frankenstein mk11 are in many regards rivalled in “musicality“ by either of these solid state offerings.

Both are are new purchases and neither will be exchanged for the foreseeable future.

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peng

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I've been running the gain on low so far as I don't seem to need that much volume; my seating is ~3m from the speakers and there are very few tracks that I would play louder than -20-25db (also living in an apt so cannot max).

Will measure with my phone and report back, the Focal 948 speaker sensitivity is: (2.83V / 1m) 92.5dB.

Then you are in great shape. The measurements show no penalty for the high gain setting. That being the case, I would use the high gain setting for sure, but if the low setting is good enough for you then there is no need to change.
 

don'ttrustauthority

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Due to more power available now, we cross the amazing 140 dB SNR threshold. What this says is that even if you play at 140 dB, the noise level will be at or below threshold of hearing!
I thought it meant that there is no noise to be heard. Anyone try these with Buchardt s400? I'd love to get this just to have bragging rights.
 

wemist01

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Jun 18, 2019
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Telarc did that with those cannyons ????
Or when the bells were rung ?
All the time thinking it was my system and in fact was the CD !!!!
Just compared waveforms on the SACD PCM layer and the old CD. The CD is clipped, the new one not. Surprising it ever happened, but with the original, they probably couldn't visually inspect it.
 

pma

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Due to more power available now, we cross the amazing 140 dB SNR threshold. What this says is that even if you play at 140 dB, the noise level will be at or below threshold of hearing! Of course there is not enough power there to do that but basically you know that noise is not part of the equation with LA90 as even 5 watt measurement hits below threshold of hearing.

Which makes almost no sense as there are very few recordings with usable dynamic range >60dB, for many reasons. This is a number race only, no audible benefits.
 

Billy Budapest

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Just compared waveforms on the SACD PCM layer and the old CD. The CD is clipped, the new one not. Surprising it ever happened, but with the original, they probably couldn't visually inspect it.
Telarc went back to the 1979-era 16/50 Soundstream tapes to create the DSD program on the SACD, and then used the DSD version to create the redbook program on the SACD. This was something like 20 years ago. I’m not sure if they were looking at digital waveforms at any point in time during the process.
 

F1308

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Just compared waveforms on the SACD PCM layer and the old CD. The CD is clipped, the new one not. Surprising it ever happened, but with the original, they probably couldn't visually inspect it.
Let's see what they say in 25 years time about the SACD....:):):):)
Be back in 2047, please.
 

Billy Budapest

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Which makes almost no sense as there are very few recordings with usable dynamic range >60dB, for many reasons. This is a number race only, no audible benefits.
If you are taking about reproducing content with 60dB or lower, then anything with higher capacity than a vinyl LP is a “numbers race” with no audible benefits. That might be taking your statement to the extreme, but certainly anything over redbook quality (with a theoretical maximum dynamic range of 96dB) is a “numbers race” with no audible benefits (if dynamic range is your only indication of sound quality).
 

mike70

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If you are taking about reproducing content with 60dB or lower, then anything with higher capacity than a vinyl LP is a “numbers race” with no audible benefits. That might be taking your statement to the extreme, but certainly anything over redbook quality (with a theoretical maximum dynamic range of 96dB) is a “numbers race” with no audible benefits (if dynamic range is your only indication of sound quality).

Yes ... and that's why our daily basis recordings just already sounds wonderful on vinyl.
I'm saying vinyl is better than cd? No.

I'm saying that with our recordings and speakers / room acoustics ... vinyl it's enough to produce really good sound.

It's my only physical format, in the digital world I prefer the more convenient/easy format: streaming.
 

Billy Budapest

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Yes ... and that's why our daily basis recordings just already sounds wonderful on vinyl.
I'm saying vinyl is better than cd? No.

I'm saying that with our recordings and speakers / room acoustics ... vinyl it's enough to produce really good sound.

It's my only physical format, in the digital world I prefer the more convenient/easy format: streaming.
I like vinyl as well, because for all of its shortcomings, there is something about the sound quality (a midrange “immediacy” for lack of a better word—although some people call this midrange forward sound “warmth” or even “realism”) that sounds really good. Probably some sort of distortion related to either the mechanics of the medium or the effects of RIAA equalization and subsequent re-equalization. Plus, vinyl LP poster art is the best!
 

mike70

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I like vinyl as well, because for all of its shortcomings, there is something about the sound quality (a midrange “immediacy” for lack of a better word—although some people call this midrange forward sound “warmth” or even “realism”) that sounds really good. Probably some sort of distortion related to either the mechanics of the medium or the effects of RIAA equalization and subsequent re-equalization. Plus, vinyl LP poster art is the best!

I like the experience ... taking the record out from the jacket, put it on the platter, the "tump" of the stylus ... and then sit down and relax watching the cover art and the record spinning. It's magic ... better with a scotch. Only when I have the time to do it.

For the daily music I use the plug and play streaming.

Did I find the digital way sounding superior? Not really, maybe I'm a bit deaf or whatever, but ... I don't care much about it. My goal is the contact with the music in the best way ... vinyl brings me goosebumps just as digital.
 
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