Home Amps/DACS Topping E30/L30 Review – Just How Good Is It?

Topping E30/L30 Review – Just How Good Is It?

by Stuart Charles Black
Topping E30/L30 Review

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Part of a Topping Mini-Series

Updates:

  • 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

Now…

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?!

Video Review

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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.

Topping E30/L30 Review

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.

Topping E30/L30 Review

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.

The E30

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!

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:

  1. Companies to make more money off of unsuspecting newcomers who aren’t familiar with what’s necessary and what’s not.
  2. 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.

Topping E30/L30 Review

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.

Topping E30/L30 ReviewTopping E30/L30 ReviewTopping E30/L30 Review

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,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

 

Topping E30/L30

4.7

Build

4.8/5

Features & Connections

5.0/5

Sound Quality

5.0/5

Power Output

4.8/5

Accessories

4.0/5

Pros

  • Clean, neutral sound
  • Great build
  • Easy to use
  • Extremely versatile, great for gamers and film buffs

Cons

  • Would have liked some RCA and optical cables in either package
  • Remote is sometimes finicky
  • Fingerprint magnet

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8 comments

Guy who got his terms mixed up, no big deal. March 9, 2021 - 1:00 am

Seriously? Bit rate does not equal frequency… Hard to trust the review of someone who can’t even understand this.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black March 12, 2021 - 5:32 pm

Where exactly did I say “Bit rate equals frequency”? What you said has nothing to do with anything concerning Bit DEPTH. And Sample RATE.

Reply
Person September 9, 2021 - 1:54 am

its amazing how someone writing on a home audio blog can get this so wrong. You say “The E30 supports up to DSD512 and PCM 768kHz, but none of that even matters because you can’t hear anything over 20kHz.”

the statement draws a false comparsion that a khz measurement is only used for the sound frequency. the 768khz isn’t in reference to an extremely high pitched noise, its in reference to how many samples of audio data per second are streamed. kHz just means 1000 times a second. You’re actually a fucking moron.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 9, 2021 - 1:36 pm

Hey there, The problem is that you still can’t perceive that (meaning super high sample rates). That’s all I was trying to say. I never claimed it was in reference to high-pitched noise. I’ve written extensively on the topic of bit depth and sample rate, as well as the Nyquist Shannon theorem on this blog (which I have links for in the article). So I understand that it’s data being sampled. I definitely should have worded/clarified it better and have indeed fixed the tone/wording of the article as I don’t like how it came off after re-reading. Thanks for stopping by!

Reply
Rizzlah April 5, 2021 - 9:52 am

Hello, nice review, i have a one question tho.. do i really need the L30 ?

I have old amplifier without remote control and Q Acoustics speakers hooked to it, hooked to my Sony TV. The amplifier is an old Made in Japan premium Yamaha amp. As you can imagine, with no remote control it’s pain in the ass getting off the couch all the time and walking to it xD whenever there is a loud scene in movie or neighbors starts to yell.

I did some searching online and few solution came up, adding a circuit board with remote to my app.. which i know i would fck up and then DAC/preamp with remote control. E30 was the cheapest thing with remote i could find… so my question is, do i need L30 as well ? Will it improve the overall audio ?

Thank you

Reply
Stuart Charles Black April 6, 2021 - 5:55 pm

Hey man! Yeah, the remote controls the DAC so you may not need an L30. And yeah, it’s great for lazy couch potatoes like me (and you) xD L30 is simply a very clean, neutral, close to 0 output impedance amp. So if your receiver has a higher output impedance (which I’m guessing it does), then yes, the difference will likely be pretty significant to you. If you want a cleaner sound, I would stack the E30/L30. If you’re happy with what you have, my advice would be to just get the E30 and save some money. Let me know what you think!

Reply
Jr May 4, 2021 - 2:44 pm

Can drive a beyer dt880 600 ohms?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black May 5, 2021 - 2:48 pm

Hey man! Yeah I think you’ll be fine. 🙂

Reply

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