Part of a Topping Mini-Series
- 11/28/20. Article posted.
- 12/7/20. Added video.
- 9/9/21. Fixed tone/wording in parts of the article.
1,473-word post, approx. 3 min. read
For those interested, I did a more in-depth comparison to another stack: Topping E30/L30 vs. iFi Zen CAN Signature 6XX
Before we get started, check out Apos Audio. They are a great up-and-coming distributor with a phenomenal-looking website and excellent customer service. They also offer free shipping, the lowest price guarantee, a 2-year warranty, and a 30-day return.
Greetings comrade and Welcome aboard. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music .. all over again, so…don’t want to read?!
Don’t forget to leave me some love and subscribe! 🙂
Before we get started, all links to these products, as well as any articles related will be here in this post. Check out my Gear Recommendations below as well for most of my top picks, all in one place!
If you do purchase through one of my Drop or Amazon links, I will get a small kickback depending on where you live. Purchasing through my links is a great way to thank me for helping you make a sound decision.
- ?Stu’s STORE FRONT/Gear Recommendations/Setups!
- ?$10 OFF your first Drop purchase!
- ?All Audiophile Drops (Massdrop)
As always, your continued support means the world to me, so thank YOU!
Now let’s talk about the Topping E30 and L30…
In the Box/Build
In the box, we’ve got the amp, a ¼” adapter, a user manual, a warranty card, and a power supply that’s DUMMY THICC…
As far as build goes, it’s excellent in both models. The L30 is heavier than the E30 at 11.8 Oz., but as a stack, they both feel very substantial in your hand. The E30 is 9.1 Oz. for comparison’s sake.
Regardless, you’ll know where your money went!
Both all-aluminum chassis’ has an incredibly small footprint, so if you’re hurting for space, don’t fret. They’ll fit nearly anywhere and look great doing so.
Both have a glossy front face and will collect fingerprints fairly easily, which is a minor gripe but largely inconsequential.
The L30 can be used as a preamp or headphone amp via the leftmost switch on the front of the unit and its RCA outputs. Next to that switch, there’s a switch for gain with -9dB, 0dB, and a +9dB boost. There’s also a set of RCA inputs for connection to the E30, or any DAC of your choosing.
The L30 provides plenty of clean, neutral power output for most headphones. I feel comfortable driving anything I have with it: The HIFIMAN DEVA, AKG K702, and K612, Sennheiser HD600, Philips SHP9500 and 9600, KPH30i, etc.
In my previous video comparing this stack to iFi’s, the L30 appeared to have more power on paper, but it was a bit of a misnomer.
Those numbers specify peak power and not continuous, but the unit still has plenty and you won’t have to worry too much about it.
How about the E30?
In the box, there’s the DAC, a warranty card, user manual, USB cable, and remote.
The E30 supports up to DSD512 and PCM 768kHz, which is nice in theory. The problem is that even despite the information being sampled much faster than that of a 24/44, or 24/48 file, you’re still not going to be able to perceive the time difference due to the limitations of human hearing, as well as the Nyquist Shannon sampling theorem which states that,
The upper magnitude of a piece of digital audio will always top out at half the sample rate. So even the highest sample rates you see are kind of a misnomer!
- Bit Depth vs. Sample Rate | MADE SIMPLE!!
- What Is DSD In Audio? Is It Worth Pursuing?
- Top 5 Considerations To Make If You’re NEW To Audio
There are many people who believe that higher sample rates can be felt on a subconscious level. To that, I say, more power to you, but what you’re claiming to hear in high PCM files could just be a placebo. In reality, a 24/44 or 24/48 are both more than adequate and there’s a reason they’re so widely used and accepted as the basis for engineers and producers when mixing or mastering a track.
Higher rates, such as those seen in expensive audiophile type of gear end up being a fantastic way for:
- Companies to make more money off of unsuspecting newcomers who aren’t familiar with what’s necessary and what’s not.
- People to try and justify an expensive purchase based on the perception that the music is going to sound significantly better, which in reality, it’s just not.
The more important thing to keep in mind is remembering that the way a track sounds largely has to do with how it was recorded, mixed, and mastered.
In my opinion, these numbers ruin the actual audio experience and result in people going back and forth about measurements rather than listen to and talk about music.
A measurement that does matter is the L30’s super-low 0.1 Ohm output impedance. This is perhaps the cleanest amp I’ve heard, alongside such favorites as the Topping NX4, FiiO A3, JDS ATOM & Objective 2, etc. I’m not including the Magni in there because it’s a piece of Schiit.
There’s not much more to say. It’s going to paint the music portrait exactly as it was recorded and sounds great. Crisp and clean, but surprisingly not overly sterile or cold. It’s a natural, effortless, portrayal.
The stack is capable of playing Tidal masters as well. Just make sure to set Tidal to exclusive mode first.
Go to File > Settings > Streaming, and scroll down to Sound/Sound Output. Right next to that it will say (more settings). Click that and tick the switch to exclusive mode. Now you’ll see the numbers change based on what you’re listening to.
Anyways, the E30 has optical and coaxial inputs, as well as a pair of RCA outputs for use with the L30. Connect it to your PC via the supplied USB Type-B cable, and plug it into wall power.
For single-player gaming, as well as film, this stack is great because you don’t have to move.
I use an optical cable from my PS4 into the E30, and then a pair of RCA to RCA’s from the E30 into the L30. Adjust the volume on the amp first, and then plop down on the couch and assume your sedentary position. You can now adjust volume based on what you’re doing with the supplied remote, i.e. you’ll never have to get up ever again.
To sum up, I like this combo quite a bit.
One complaint I have (and this applies to most companies) is that they hardly EVER provide the necessary cables to get started. I’m paying you close to $300 for this stack but you can’t put an RCA to RCA in there? You can’t put an optical cable in there? It’s just irritating.
The other minor gripe I have is with the remote. At times it’s a bit slow to respond when you click. It seems to be really particular about how you point it at the DAC as well. All in all, it’s a small concern.
What does separate the E30 from other DACS for me is the addition of said remote and the E30’s optical input, as well as the L30’s very low output impedance and more than adequate power output.
E30’s front-lit interface is also a nice touch. I probably wouldn’t rely on the L30 for really hard-to-drive cans like the LCD-4, but it’s going to do really well with most mid-fi offerings and sits in a nice wheelhouse for the majority of products that people will look to pair it with.
Interested in how the E30/L30 compares to the Zen Can Signature 6XX?
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Topping E30/L30 Stacked Review, and are better equipped to make a purchasing decision!
If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
Is the Topping something you would invest in? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!
Features & Connections5.0/5
- Clean, neutral sound
- Great build
- Easy to use
- Extremely versatile, great for gamers and film buffs
- Would have liked some RCA and optical cables in either package
- Remote is sometimes finicky
- Fingerprint magnet