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Topping LA90 Review (Integrated Amplifier)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 27 3.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 48 6.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 171 24.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 465 65.4%

  • Total voters
    711

soundofmusic

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Hello. I've got Polk R200 speakers, has anyone tried using them with the LA90? Somebody on Reddit has tried it and says there's not enough volume using one LA90 and there's excess volume using two. If I used two is it possible to turn the volumes down a bit and match their levels exactly? I'll then use a preamp to control the volume. Topping only talk about bypassing the volume.
 
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Doodski

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Hello. I've got Polk R200 speakers, has anyone tried using them with the LA90? Somebody on Reddit has tried it and says there's not enough volume using one LA90 and there's excess volume using two. If I used two is it possible to turn the gain down and match their levels exactly? Then I can use a preamp to control the volume.
Yes, the levels can be matched fairly exactly. Much more accurately than your ears can detect. It depends on how accurate your meter is but really any decent meter these days can measure accurately to small parts of a volt. So you need a AC volts meter preferably RMS, test leads (Preferably alligator clips or some form of clips.) plus a PC for a source and a oscillator that you can find here set @~ 300Hz like I set this one to be for you @ 50% volume.
 

James Romeyn

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Hello. I've got Polk R200 speakers, has anyone tried using them with the LA90? Somebody on Reddit has tried it and says there's not enough volume using one LA90 and there's excess volume using two. If I used two is it possible to turn the volumes down a bit and match their levels exactly? I'll then use a preamp to control the volume. Topping only talk about bypassing the volume.
I'm happy to share this info I just discovered in the last 2 days. LA90 rear panel has a "Bypass" mini slide switch which bypasses the volume control like a so-called "HT Bypass" or if you're older (cough, cough) the proverbial "Main Amp" input. (Some recall integrated amps with two vertical RCA pre-outs (typically L/up, R/down) next to matching "Main Amp" RCA inputs with 2 U-shaped horizontal shorting jumpers connecting the L/R pairs.)

Bypass is one of 3 mini-switches in a row. IIRC the other 2 are input Polarity Inversion and a Hi/Lo Gain. Google "Topping LA90 User Manual;" the OEM page has great diagrams; it's easy to maximize the PDF view.

LA90 value seems superb. If it sounds as good as I hope, I get a 2nd one for mono use.

Best wishes on your audiophile journey.
 

James Romeyn

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Hello. I've got the Polk R200 speakers. Absolutely fantastic. I've got a Denon PMA-800NE integrated amp which I like but I think it could be improve so I'm debating whether to get the LA90. I use only an RME 9632 soundcard as a DAC with RCA outputs which sounds fantastic but I'm interested to hear the Topping D90LE.

Of course, the D90LE and LA90 can use balanced connections. Has anyone compared the D90LE/SE to the RME 9632 or similar? I bought the RME ADI-2-DAC in both it's AKM and ESS versions and I didn't like them as much as my PC soundcard but I was using a worse amp and speakers.

Finally, do you think the LA90 has enough power for the R200 speakers, or not? I listen to music at a good volume - I just did a 10 minute dB test with my phone and the max is 83.5 dB. I'm currently listening to them at a distance of 2.8 meters but I might want to listen to them at a distance of 4.5m.
On the subject of how much power is enough I suggest the following, presuming the magnitude of power is suspect, in the gray zone, not on the extreme ends of the curve. Each person can and may have a unique answer to this Q. There are simply too many variables for anyone to answer accurately for someone else.

I'm not "married" to the following idea, so no need for anyone to argue, but many subscribe to it. Because tube amps generally clip so much more gracefully than SS, some equate the ratio of tube to SS watts in the range of 2:1, IOW a 25W tube amp may satisfy similar to a 50W SS amp. When clipping the tube amp is of course limiting dynamic peaks but it's simply more tolerable because when the SS amp clips it sounds harsher and less musical. Class D tends to be even worse than typical SS class AB, which is why, typically, Class D needs more headroom than class AB.
 

SuicideSquid

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On the subject of how much power is enough I suggest the following, presuming the magnitude of power is suspect, in the gray zone, not on the extreme ends of the curve. Each person can and may have a unique answer to this Q. There are simply too many variables for anyone to answer accurately for someone else.

I'm not "married" to the following idea, so no need for anyone to argue, but many subscribe to it. Because tube amps generally clip so much more gracefully than SS, some equate the ratio of tube to SS watts in the range of 2:1, IOW a 25W tube amp may satisfy similar to a 50W SS amp. When clipping the tube amp is of course limiting dynamic peaks but it's simply more tolerable because when the SS amp clips it sounds harsher and less musical. Class D tends to be even worse than typical SS class AB, which is why, typically, Class D needs more headroom than class AB.
Given the use of the regulated power supply and near-identical numbers between "max power" and "peak power' measurements, I suspect the LA90 would perform more like a Class D amplifier than a traditional Class AB amp in regard to its performance when you're pushing it to the red line.
 

James Romeyn

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Given the use of the regulated power supply and near-identical numbers between "max power" and "peak power' measurements, I suspect the LA90 would perform more like a Class D amplifier than a traditional Class AB amp in regard to its performance when you're pushing it to the red line.
That is a great point. LA90 is a Class AB amp based on a chip/IC with bipolar output section. But when "push comes to shove" as my Italian-American friend in San Francisco used to say, it may well distort more like a Class D amp.

Is it appropriate to think of an output/power chip as a discrete circuit shrunk down to the size of a chip?
 

SuicideSquid

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That is a great point. LA90 is a Class AB amp based on a chip/IC with bipolar output section. But when "push comes to shove" as my Italian-American friend in San Francisco used to say, it may well distort more like a Class D amp.

Is it appropriate to think of an output/power chip as a discrete circuit shrunk down to the size of a chip?
That is beyond my level of expertise. Perhaps someone else can opine.
 

Konstantin E

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Hi!

I needed a good and very compact amplifier for my small bedroom where I listen music on low level. I can not use components from my main setup due extremely small space (9 sq.m). So, my choice was LA90 . Also I'm using Dac SMSL DO200 and preamplifier SMSL HO200 with XLR connection. After several days of investigation, I set LA90 to bypass mode. HO200 give more deep sondstage and "analog" sound than internal control from LA90. It was unpleasent surprise for me.

Before LA90 I used compact Class D amplifier SMSL AO200, wich was big dissapoint for me. I like Pink Floyd (in DSD quality) and I know how it should be sound. If you also like Pink Floyd, never buy AO200.

Concerning LA90 - it is quite good, comparing to my big setup, but now I dream about clear Class A amplifier in small body, wich will be able to drive 3 Om speakers...
 

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SuicideSquid

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Hi!

I needed a good and very compact amplifier for my small bedroom where I listen music on low level. I can not use components from my main setup due extremely small space (9 sq.m). So, my choice was LA90 . Also I'm using Dac SMSL DO200 and preamplifier SMSL HO200 with XLR connection. After several days of investigation, I set LA90 to bypass mode. HO200 give more deep sondstage and "analog" sound than internal control from LA90. It was unpleasent surprise for me.

Before LA90 I used compact Class D amplifier SMSL AO200, wich was big dissapoint for me. I like Pink Floyd (in DSD quality) and I know how it should be sound. If you also like Pink Floyd, never buy AO200.

Concerning LA90 - it is quite good, comparing to my big setup, but now I dream about clear Class A amplifier in small body, wich will be able to drive 3 Om speakers...
Have you done any of these comparisons blind? What speakers are you using? You've mentioned it's a very small space - have you done any room treatment? How close to the walls are your speakers?

It's likely that all of these amplifiers sound identical, or so close to identical that you can't hear the difference, and what you're experiencing is psychoacoustics. Without knowing what speakers you're using, it's hard to comment, but if you're listening in a small room at low volume levels, you're almost always going to get a superior experience from active monitors plugged straight into your preamp than from passive speakers and an amp. Might be worth investigating that before spending more money on amplifiers.
 

Sokel

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but if you're listening in a small room at low volume levels, you're almost always going to get a superior experience from active monitors plugged straight into your preamp than from passive speakers and an amp. Might be worth investigating that before spending more money on amplifiers.
Active monitors are mend to be used in well treated environments to shine,a small bedroom is usually not such a place.
Not worthing the money for good treatment also I think.
 

SuicideSquid

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Active monitors are mend to be used in well treated environments to shine,a small bedroom is usually not such a place.
Not worthing the money for good treatment also I think.
Many modern active monitors include DSP for room correction, or at the very least contain various roll-off settings to compensate for placement near a wall or for room modes. They tend to sound much better in a small space when sitting close than do passive speakers in a similar price range.
 

Sokel

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Many modern active monitors include DSP for room correction, or at the very least contain various roll-off settings to compensate for placement near a wall or for room modes. They tend to sound much better in a small space when sitting close than do passive speakers in a similar price range.
You're right about it but what I'm trying to say is that in such environment (a relaxed bedroom) where critical listening is not the goal I would keep the cost the absolute minimum.
Some decent bookselfs,a small low cost integrated amp with streaming capabilities ideally and that's it.
 

SuicideSquid

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You're right about it but what I'm trying to say is that in such environment (a relaxed bedroom) where critical listening is not the goal I would keep the cost the absolute minimum.
Some decent bookselfs,a small low cost integrated amp with streaming capabilities ideally and that's it.
But that is clearly not what the person I was responding to is doing.
 

SuicideSquid

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Are we both talking about the person with the 9 m² bedroom or I have missed a post?
Yes the person with the 9m2 bedroom who spent over $1,000 on multiple amplifiers chasing some kind of hi-fi sound.
I'm saying you could spend a lot less than what the LA90 costs to get a pair of active monitors that will likely sound better in that environment - the JBL 305PMKII, for example, are almost half the price of the LA90 and don't require an amplifier, and are an appropriate speaker to use in a small space.
 

Sokel

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Yes the person with the 9m2 bedroom who spent over $1,000 on multiple amplifiers chasing some kind of hi-fi sound.
I'm saying you could spend a lot less than what the LA90 costs to get a pair of active monitors that will likely sound better in that environment - the JBL 305PMKII, for example, are almost half the price of the LA90 and don't require an amplifier, and are an appropriate speaker to use in a small space.
Ok then,we probably try the same thing,reduce cost.
I only think practical about the difficulties as in a 9 m2 bedroom 4 of them is the bed only and what's left can be challenging for optimal placement so the expectations can't be very high.
 

Konstantin E

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Sokel

SuicideSquid

Thank you for advise to try an active monitors. I thought about this. Unfortunately, I never heard on Hi-Fi exhibitions small speakers acceptable for "big scale" music on extreme low volume (for sleeping). Maybe in future I'll find something good :)

Also I don't use any computer equalizer or special room correction (but I have a carpets in my bedroom). I like "Direct mode" sound :)
 

SuicideSquid

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Sokel

SuicideSquid

Thank you for advise to try an active monitors. I thought about this. Unfortunately, I never heard on Hi-Fi exhibitions small speakers acceptable for "big scale" music on extreme low volume (for sleeping). Maybe in future I'll find something good :)

Also I don't use any computer equalizer or special room correction (but I have a carpets in my bedroom). I like "Direct mode" sound :)
For your specific use case, consider this speaker - it may fit the bill: https://www.amazon.ca/IK-Multimedia-Studio-Monitor-IP-ILOUD-MTM/dp/B07NC6KFL8/ref=sr_1_1_sspa
 

DrDen

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Sokel

SuicideSquid

Thank you for advise to try an active monitors. I thought about this. Unfortunately, I never heard on Hi-Fi exhibitions small speakers acceptable for "big scale" music on extreme low volume (for sleeping). Maybe in future I'll find something good :)

Also I don't use any computer equalizer or special room correction (but I have a carpets in my bedroom). I like "Direct mode" sound :)
If someone used to listen good music with good equipment, he wouldn’t like anything less than perfect, even in small bedroom. Totally agree)
 

pvehling

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Ended up buying one of these and am enjoying it a lot. Paired with Crites-upgraded 90s Klipsch KG 8ohm 92dB sensitive speakers and SMSL SP400, this can drive my speakers to very loud levels even at low gain, without the distortion present in my previous amp. I can't speak to bigger rooms however, but in a small to medium space, this can drive to very loud levels with the right speakers. If your speakers are power hungry however, you'd have to run two of these bridged.. or just go for Purifi for cheaper and more power.
 
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