Topping L30 II is the latest revision of the most affordable head-amp in the brand’s lineup. Its overall design and dimensions are meant to match Topping’s capable entry-level DAC E30 II perfectly. But how much performance can you expect from this affordable headphone amplifier? Let’s find out.
The topping L30 II is made mostly of aluminum that comes in a black or silver finish. The front panel is black on both versions though and it’s some sort of acrylic glass that looks slick. If I were to nitpick, I’d prefer for the pointer on the volume knob to be a little more visible. Aside from that the unit is built and finished to high standards.
Features and Connectivity
There are two switches, a 6.35 mm headphone jack, and a volume knob in the front. In the back, we find a 15 VAC power connector, a pair of RCA inputs, and a pair of RCA outputs. The volume knob controls the level on both headphones out and RCA output and this means Topping L30 II can be used as a preamp. You can select either head-amp or preamp mode, but both outputs can’t be deployed simultaneously.
Topping lets you select a gain level in three steps, meaning you have a choice between -14 dB, 0 dB, and +16.5 dB. The first one can be useful if you tend to use highly sensitive earphones, for example, but most users will probably keep it on 0 or +16.5 when paired with bigger cans.
The Topping L30 II features Ultra-High Performance NFCA modules, using the same NFCA (Nested Feedback Composite Amplifier) module from the brand’s flagship A90. High output current drive capability is supposed to allow L30 II to drive low-impedance headphones with ease. Output impedance on headphone out is less than 0.1 Ohm. In preamp mode, output impedance is as low as 20 Ohm, which Topping claims to be widely suitable for various devices.
The maximum output power of L30 II is a respectable 3.5 W @ 16 Ohm. Unlike the original L30 which needed 3.0 V on its input to achieve that power, version II can deliver it when it’s fed with much more common 2.0 V. Output voltage goes up to 37 Vpp which is very high and important for driving high-impedance headphones well.
Topping L30 II sounds clean and precise. The bassline is deep, punchy, and well-controlled. Midbass is equally energetic and almost thick, which is a change of direction compared to the more restrained nature of the original L30. As a result, vocals and instruments are lent some fullness and thickness. The tone texture is revealed to a very satisfying level. The highest spectrum feels well-extended, smooth, and not too prominent. If anything, L30 II presents the highest frequencies in a slightly tamer manner.
The soundstage is pleasantly wide and relaxed. All instruments are nicely layered and separated in front of a dark background. Thanks to a healthy amount of clean power, dynamics are respectable too and Topping L30 II can sound quite punchy and exciting when asked for.
All these qualities considered, Topping L30 II is probably as good of a head-amp as you can get at this price point.
Topping L30 comes to mind as the most logical comparison. The original sounded similarly revealing in high frequencies but with a leaner tonality and flatter sounstaging. L30 II actually improves on these shortcomings, sounding weightier in the bass and midbass section, which lends boldness to the whole sound too. But it adds a darker background with better layering and a more three-dimensional presentation. All of this makes L30 II a noticeable improvement over the original L30.
SMSL SH-6 is slightly more affordable and offers a similar feature set. SH-6 sounds warmer in the bass, midbass, and midrange, and slightly darker in the highest spectrum. I quite liked its full-bodied and punchy presentation but I have to say that L30 II is doing all that but with even greater clarity and separation, with a slightly darker background as a bonus too. So if you already have SH-6 by any chance, don’t worry, it hasn’t been destroyed by L30 II. That said if you’re currently in the market for a new head-amp, I would recommend paying that small difference and going with L30 II.
Topping L30 II is a worthy successor to the popular budget model. Built and style haven’t changed but those really didn’t need changing. The price stayed the same while performance took a decent upgrade – what’s not to like about that?
|TOPPING L30 II – CHARACTERISTICS
Output up to 3500 mW ×2 @ 16 Ω and 560 mW ×2 @ 300 Ω