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WolfX700 Measurement of Topping L30 Headphone Amp

mt196

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Live sound goes thru a lot of processing during production. Reproducing the digital result of that accurately may not be what we should obsess over.

Accurate reproduction of the digital file might not actually mean it’s accurate and true to what was being recorded live.

Reproducing sound in a way that makes it more lifelike might be far more important and actually a lot more accurate than reproducing it in a way that measures in a way that corresponds to the digital file most accurately.
Adding distortions cannot solve the problem, it just masks the possible errors during productions. If production is done correctly, a good measuring audio chain will give the life-like feeling that most of the "audiophiles" claim their stuff produce.
 

MSTARK

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Given the fact that both headphones are planar and that both amps can just as easily drive these headphones I do not see any reason why the L30 would 'complement' the IHA1 in such a way that it would change the tonal balance/signature.
Why buy an L30 when you already own audio jewelry... the only reason would be to downsize the setup if you want to replace it.
What would be the goal you want to achieve here ?
Given the fact that both headphones are planar and that both amps can just as easily drive these headphones I do not see any reason why the L30 would 'complement' the IHA1 in such a way that it would change the tonal balance/signature.
Why buy an L30 when you already own audio jewelry... the only reason would be to downsize the setup if you want to replace it.
What would be the goal you want to achieve here ?
No, not replacing it. Yes, it can drive both cans. And yes, it sounds pretty good. However, as in any tube amp design there are few shortcomings. Even though it doesn't sound like any of those syrupy, lush, classic tube designs (it's pretty transparent for what it is) it can't match well designed solid state amplifier in bass rendition, impact and quickness. Top end (anywhere from 4K to 8/10K) seems fine but I feel that it could use a bit of "sparkle", definition, extention if you will (hard to describe it). I don't think that top end of Inspire IHA1 is significantly rolled off but tubes that came stock with this amp might be. Aeons on the other hand are like hand in glove with this amp and need absolutely nothing. Aggressive top end and robust bass of Aeons complement Dragon's inheritance of common tube circuitry flaws. This amp is king of midrange and soundstage tho.

My though process looks like this:
DAC/streamer/phonostage into Dragon
Dragon pre-out to L30
Hooking up LCDXs to L30 would give hybrid "effect". Tube preamp and SS amp. Hopefully compensating for less then optimal top end and bass extention of Dragon but with some of that midrange glory coming from tubes. Of cause both amps could be utilized, depending on music choice and source. I think it could be an interesting experiment.
Aeons would probably be hooked up to Inspire amp permanently. But who knows, perhaps it can play nice with L30 as well.
If that works, I would replace L30 with similar design amp but with a bit more setup flexibility and options.
 
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raistlin65

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Low gain performance is similiar to high gain performance of THX 789. SP200 low gain is +6db. L30 low gain -9db, med gain 0db. THX 789 low gain -10, med gain 0 db.
I see. Doesn't have much of a low gain. I could see how that would be a problem for very sensitive low impedance IEMs. But I would be surprised if the LCDX has a problem with that.
 

MSTARK

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I see. Doesn't have much of a low gain. I could see how that would be a problem for very sensitive low impedance IEMs. But I would be surprised if the LCDX has a problem with that.
I'm not the most knowledgeable person (far from it) when it comes to headphone spects. But I have been told that low impedance planars such as LCDX don't play nice with tube amps. Something about tube amps having trouble pushing low impedance cans. Any truth in this statement and if so, can someone explain this to me?
 

solderdude

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This tube amp has an output transformer. It can provide 1.7W in 32 Ohm so will have no problems driving the LCD-X but the AEON may be a bit low in impedance. Fortunately it is very efficient so doesn't need a lot of power.
Given the fact it is specified for 32 Ohm only and not for 300 Ohm and has 4 Ohm output R it appears to have been designed for low impedance headphones.

The problem you mention is true for tube amps without an output transformer. Not including OTL speaker amps though.
 

MSTARK

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Very sound explanation. You've been very helpful. Thanks
 

Racheski

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Live sound goes thru a lot of processing during production. Reproducing the digital result of that accurately may not be what we should obsess over.

Accurate reproduction of the digital file might not actually mean it’s accurate and true to what was being recorded live.

Reproducing sound in a way that makes it more life like might be far more important and actually a lot more accurate than reproducing it in a way that measures in a way that corresponds to the digital file most accurately.
This depends on the individual's preference of what they want to hear reproduced, and will vary by the genre of music...all discussed in a previous thread btw:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...he-gold-standard-for-audio-why-why-not.14814/

Admittedly, distorting music to make it sound more "life-like" is a bizarre concept to me that I don't understand.
 

raistlin65

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This depends on the individual's preference of what they want to hear reproduced, and will vary by the genre of music...all discussed in a previous thread btw:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...he-gold-standard-for-audio-why-why-not.14814/

Admittedly, distorting music to make it sound more "life-like" is a bizarre concept to me that I don't understand.
Me neither, as most of the arena shows I went to the sound was worse than listening to the studio album at home on my setup. For that matter, most live albums, since they are typically able to record directly from the mixing board, sounds better than what I've heard at a lot of large shows. So I'm not sure I get this idea of adding distortion.
 

NDC

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Again, in theory yes. But I don’t think you could guarantee results that would suit every one. Have you ever heard speakers with almost flat frequency response? I have, didn’t like it. Boring, not engaging, flat is how I would describe it. But they sold a bunch of those so somebody did like it enough.
But then you could EQ it to taste... or purchase a speaker that measures in line with your preferred target curve. At least with verifiably flat gear up until the last possible point you can understand what your preferences are and how to achieve the colouration of sound that you want.
 

MSTARK

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But then you could EQ it to taste... or purchase a speaker that measures in line with your preferred target curve. At least with verifiably flat gear up until the last possible point you can understand what your preferences are and how to achieve the colouration of sound that you want.
I know what you’re saying and you make valid point. And if the goal was to aim for flattest freq. response and neutral front-end gear to drive those speakers, then probably the only way to achieve that would be by including EQ or DSP of some sort. Using same EQ/DSP to tailor sound to taste is also valid approach. I just haven’t heard it work so well in home setting. I’m sure there are products out there that can make this process easy and enjoyable. The closest that I came to enjoy that approach was years ago with TacT RCS 2.0 room correction system. It was powerful enough and sophisticated enough to fix some problem without screwing up transparency and sound staging to much. As good as it was, that sound got old within a year or two. Went back to purist approach and it has been like that ever since (that’s almost 20years).
The only real world product that I would be willing to look at with goals and features that you mentioned is new Buchardt A700 active speaker system with DSP. It has a lot of potential.
 

MSTARK

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They’re preping my for shipping. I guess you were one of 1st to order....

Will you post your impressions here?
What cans are you going to use it with?
 

raistlin65

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They’re preping my for shipping. I guess you were one of 1st to order....

Will you post your impressions here?
What cans are you going to use it with?
I already have a JDS Labs Atom (which I will repurpose for something else or sell), so I do not expect to hear any sound quality differences. I can already drive my headphones on low gain with the Atom.

Moreover, I do not have the equipment to properly volume match the L30 to the Atom or run an ABX test. Sighted subjective evaluations of amps are unreliable. Read this to learn more: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-we-hear.html
 
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GPJ

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It's really a shame the E30 and L30 did not launch at the same time. I feed E30 into SP200 and for obvious reasons won't stop doing that. L30 won't be in my future even though it would be cool to have a matching stack.
 

MSTARK

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I already have a JDS Labs Atom (which I will repurpose for something else or sell), so I do not expect to hear any sound quality differences. I can already drive my headphones on low gain with the Atom.

Moreover, I do not have the equipment to properly volume match the L30 to the Atom or run an ABX test. Sighted subjective evaluations of amps are unreliable. Read this to learn more: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-we-hear.html
I see.
 

raistlin65

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Weird, I ordered from Apos as well and haven't got any shipping notice yet.
They might have processed me very early. I emailed them on Friday last week to see if they were going to accept pre-orders. They wrote me back pretty quickly and told me they didn't know when Topping was releasing it. I replied with the link to Topping's post on Facebook stating the release was this week.

So it could be they bumped my order up once I put it in since I was trying to pre-order last week.
 

MSTARK

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Hai

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They might have processed me very early. I emailed them on Friday last week to see if they were going to accept pre-orders. They wrote me back pretty quickly and told me they didn't know when Topping was releasing it. I replied with the link to Topping's post on Facebook stating the release was this week.

So it could be they bumped my order up once I put it in since I was trying to pre-order last week.
Just received an email from their support. They said "Due to the unexpected supply chain constraint and disruption as a result of the ongoing global pandemic, the production ramp-up for the TOPPING L30 has been notably slower than we initially anticipated." Apparently they said they'll be able to fulfill the l30 for me by August 10th.
 
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