TOPPING E70 and L70 Review

Today, I’m looking at two new devices The Topping E70 DAC and L70 headphone amplifier/preamp. The Topping E70 features a flagship ESS ES9028Pro DAC chip while the L70 is fully balanced and comes with NFCA (Nested Feedback Composite Amplifier) technology. Both units are priced at $349 each.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Shenzhen Audio for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

TOPPING E70 and L70 Review
Verdict
The Topping E70 and L70 are exceptional HiFi components with unparalleled sound quality and performance in their price range.
Add your rating here!0 Votes
Pros
Neutral and transparent sound signature
The L70 has a very powerful output
Exceptional performance for the price
Attractive, compact units that are designed to stack together
Generous and versatile I/O options
Cons
Confusing setup menus
No MQA decoding (E70)

Topping E70 and L70

In the Box

E70

  • E70*1
  • Remote control*1
  • USB cable*1
  • AC cable*1
  • Bluetooth antenna*1
  • User manual*1
  • Warranty card*1

L70

  • L70*1
  • Remote control*1
  • AC cable*1
  • 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapter*1
  • User manual*1
  • Warranty card*1

Topping E70 DAC

Features

The E70 boasts exceptional audio reproduction quality, thanks to its use of the ESS SABRE flagship DAC ES9028PRO. This DAC features a 32-bit 8-channel HyperStream II architecture, which enables it to deliver both high performance and excellent sound quality.

In the E70, all four channels are connected in parallel to form a single channel, further enhancing its performance. Overall, the E70 offers ultra-low distortion and exceptional sound reproduction capabilities.

The E70 also comes equipped with the XMOS XU-316 chipset. It supports up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD512 via USB and PCM 24bit/192kHz via its optical and coaxial inputs.

Bluetooth 5.1 is provided by a Qualcomm QCC5125 chipset. Wireless audio codecs supported are LDAC/AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX LL/aptX HD and aptX Adaptive. LDAC supports up to a delicious 24bit/96kHz for lossless audio. In addition, the digital signal bypasses the QCC5125’s built-in DAC and is decoded by the ES9028 Pro.

Topping E70 and L70 review featured

Design

The E70 and L70 have the same chassis and measure 20cm x 13.8cm x 4.4 cm. Both have a touch-sensitive button on the left next to a white LED display and a multi-function knob on the right.

Their form factor might look utilitarian (well, except maybe for the sexy red ring on the volume knob) but the large, bright LED displays really bring them to life visually. Oh, and by the way, both of these units are available in black or silver.

A long press on the E70’s touch panel puts the device in and out of standby mode while short press cycles through the various inputs. All of the inputs and outputs are located on the rear panel. The available inputs are coaxial, optical, USB and Bluetooth. The unit has balanced XLR 4V/5V and single-ended RCA 2V/2.5V outputs.

Lastly, the E70 comes with a 12V trigger In/Out that can be used to wake up the device and other devices in the chain. This is a very useful feature for someone like me who often forgets to turn everything off when I leave the room!

Controlling the E70 DAC

Once things are set up, controlling the E70 is a breeze. In fact, after my initial setup, I haven’t even had to touch the DAC or its remote. Having said that, if you want to change any of the settings, you’ll need to visit the device’s setup menu.

To enter the setup menu, you first need to turn the device off. Once it’s turned off, hold down the volume knob and turn the device on. If all goes to plan, you’re now in the setup menu. I would advise having the user manual handy (it’s available here) because like most Topping devices, the setup menu is cryptic at best and incredibly frustrating at worst.

Once you’re in the setup, you can change things like the screen brightness, digital filters, and channel balance plus you can switch between the pure DAC and preamp modes. I’d love to see a more user-friendly menu system like the excellent one on the SMSL DO200 MKII but as I said before, once you have things set up you’re not likely to need to access the menu often if ever.

E70 and L70 stack displays

Topping L70 DAC Performance

For testing, I first hooked up the L70 to my Kali Audio LP-8 monitors via XLR in preamp mode. I later switched to pure DAC mode and hooked up the Topping L70 headphone amplifier.

The Topping L70 DAC is a true audiophile’s dream come true. Its measurements are off the charts, with ultra-low jitter and outstanding dynamic range. The distortion levels are virtually nonexistent, resulting in a flat and transparent frequency response. The sound signature is completely neutral, making it a versatile option for any type of music.

But don’t let its neutrality fool you – the L70 still manages to sound dynamic and exciting, with a good sense of rhythm that never falters. The soundstage is impressively wide, allowing for a truly immersive listening experience. And when it comes to tonality, the L70 delivers an uncoloured sound that is simply breathtaking.

I had the pleasure of listening to Opeth’s “The Drapery Falls” on the L70, and I was truly impressed by the natural tone of the acoustic guitars and the impressive width they reached past the edges of my speakers. The vocals were crisp and uncoloured, and the L70 reproduced the song with energy and verve, creating intricate imaging that made me feel like I was right in the middle of the action. If you’re looking for a DAC that can deliver an uncoloured, dynamic, and exciting sound, the Topping L70 is definitely worth considering.

L70 with Sennheiser HD650

Topping L70 Balanced Headphone Amplifier

Features

The L70 can be used as a preamp and headphone amp. It features Topping’s NFCA (Nested Feedback Composite Amplifier) module that delivers an insanely good dynamic range of 146dB. The THD+N is so low, I can’t even bring myself to type so many zeroes.

This device is powerful too; the balanced headphone output goes up to 7500mW x2 @32Ω. Even the single-ended output is a stonking 2300mW x2 @32Ω. In other words, the L70 amp can drive any headphones you throw at it. Not only that but with an output impedance of <0.2Ω (balanced), you can enjoy even the most sensitive multi-BA IEMs. The L70 has low and high gain modes, so you can always dial in the perfect volume level with precision and keep that background pitch black.

One feature I absolutely love is the volume memory. The L70 remembers individual volume levels for each of the headphone outputs! That means you can switch between the XLR, 4.4mm and 3.5mm outputs and have a preset volume level for each of them. For someone like me who’s always using gear with different terminations, this is pure gold.

Design

The L70 amp has the same outer chassis as the E70 but the front and rear panels differ. For a start, there are balanced XLR, balanced 4.4mm and single-ended 3.5mm headphone outputs on the front panel.

All of the other inputs and outputs are found at the rear of the unit. The device has balanced XLR and TRS combo inputs and single-ended RCA inputs on the back. It also has balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs. Also on the back, we find a 12V In/Out trigger, a ground loop noise terminator and a USB-C port for firmware updates.

Topping L70 display

Controlling the L70 Amp

Before you start using the Topping L70, you’ll probably need to configure it. Just like the E70, the remote buttons and the menu settings are a cryptic series of letters and numbers that aren’t likely to mean anything to you, unless you’re a talented codebreaker.

I recommend you have the user manual ready in front of you the first time you use the device. First of all, you’ll need to select either XLR or RCA as the audio input. Then, if you’re using the headphone amplifier, you need to select whether to send the audio signal to ALL of the headphone outputs or a specific single one.

You can set up different configurations and save them as presets to the C1 and C2 buttons on the remote. This can save you a lot of time and potential headaches later on when switching between configs.

Most of the functions can be accessed directly via the remote. But for some of the more obscure ones (like Safe Volume Setting) you need to dive into the settings menu.

On top of all the other cool features, Topping also added relay-controlled volume to the L70. This is a technology normally found in more expensive products and works similarly to the tech in R2R DACs.

The purpose of the relay control is to eliminate any channel imbalance and avoid the distortion that potentiometers sometimes develop. A nice side effect of this is the subtle relay click you hear with each step in volume. Don’t worry, the sound is only barely audible on the device itself and doesn’t appear in the actual audio output.

L70 rear panel with HD650

Topping L70 Amp Performance

I began my testing with the Hifiman Sundara using the Arctand Labs RUBI balanced 4.4mm cable. My source of choice was, of course, the Topping E70 DAC.

As soon as I hit play on Anathema’s “Ariel” (FLAC 44.1kHz), I was blown away by the stunning vocals and the epic scale of the track. The soundstage was vast and immersive, with sounds seemingly reaching beyond my headphones. The piano and vocals had a robust and solid presence in the centre, while the L70 effortlessly kept everything in check, even as the song got more chaotic towards the end. The L70’s exceptional clarity and resolution made it easy to pick out all the subtle harmonic details.

Next, I cued up “The Swan of Tuonela” in 24bit/96kHz FLAC format and opted for the single-ended Sennheiser HD650 headphones. The soundstage was wide and spacious, with excellent separation and clarity. The instrumentation was rich and full-bodied, with a great sense of depth and dimensionality. The L70 handled the dynamic range of the piece with ease, allowing the music to breathe and unfold naturally.

For the next round of testing, I decided on the Westone MACH 60 IEMs. The MACH 60 is not especially sensitive but it is all-BA and it scales well with better sources. Listening to Mathias Eick’s “At Sea” with this rig is a truly immersive experience.

The sound is rich and full, with a wide soundstage that makes it feel like you’re right there in the room with the musicians. The separation between instruments is exceptional, making it easy to distinguish between the violin and trumpet, even when they’re playing the same notes.

The impact of the kick drum is palpable, with a fast decay that doesn’t bleed into the midrange. You can clearly hear each note of the double bass, with a warm and rich tone that really brings the music to life. The timbre of the piano is spot on, with a natural and accurate sound that fills the stage.

The sheen of the hi-hats and cymbals is beautifully rendered, with a natural decay that really brings out the nuances of the music. The sound of the trumpet is clear as day, with a smooth and never-shouty quality that really showcases the talent of the musician.

TOPPING E30 II and L30 II review featured

Comparison

E30 and L30 Stack

The E30 and L30 are more affordable units and as such, they have a more basic layout and feature set. But for this comparison, I’m going to focus on the sound differences. The E30/L30 stack has a warmer presentation. It delivers amazing audio quality for the price but it’s simply outmatched by the E70/L70 combo.

The E30/L30 creates a narrower soundstage with less spacing between instruments. This is largely due to the E70/L70’s cleaner sound and improved dynamic range. It’s also partly a result of the abundance of power the E70/L70 stack provides, making it sound more effortless and confident, especially with more power-hungry headphones.

The E30/L30 doesn’t reach the same level of instrument separation and detail retrieval as its bigger brethren. This actually makes it more forgiving compared to the E70/L70 which is even more revealing and transparent.

At the end of the day, the E30/L30 rig performs really well in the context of its lower price. But when these stacks are compared side by side, the E70/L70 has more fidelity, grace and resolution.

L70 with Westone MACH 60 IEMs

Verdict

In conclusion, the Topping E70 and L70 are both exceptional pieces of audio equipment that offer unparalleled sound quality and performance in their price range. The E70 boasts the ESS SABRE flagship DAC ES9028PRO, which delivers ultra-low distortion and exceptional sound reproduction capabilities. It also comes equipped with the XMOS XU-316 chipset, which supports high-resolution audio formats and Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity.

The L70 headphone amplifier is a true audiophile’s dream, with outstanding dynamic range, and a neutral sound signature that is perfect for any type of music. Its rich I/O options make it super versatile as a headphone amp or preamp. It’s one of the most powerful headphone amps in its class and comes with XLR, 4.4mm and 6.35mm headphone outputs.

Both the E70 and L70 have a sleek and compact design, making them easy to integrate into any system or setting. Whether you’re an audiophile or just someone who loves great sound, the Topping E70 and L70 are definitely worth checking out. In fact, they’re so good, I’m giving them both the PAR recommended gold award.

Recommended award



Founder of Prime Audio
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x