Review - Kiwi Ears Allegro

Topping L30 - Problems and their fixes...

English | Español
Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

This is just a quick entry to mention the issues and supposed fixes of the Topping L30.

Before starting, let me say that I am trying to look at this from a neutral point of view, I am neither in favour nor against Topping. I have various Topping products and have not had issues with any of them, even the L30 faults have not affected me personally, but that does not mean that  these faults should not be considered serious.

In case you are not aware, this amplifier has 2 known issues that can be considered as very bad, especially when combined.

The first of the issues, and the worst of the two, that could even be dangerous, is the lack of DC protection on the outputs of the amplifier. A brief summary of the issue is that, in case of failure, the L30 can send a rush of DC to whatever is connected at the time and result in damage of said headphones (or even other equipment if using the amplifier as a preamp). There have been reported cases where headphone drivers have literally melted, this could also be dangerous for our hearing if we are listening to the headphones at the time.

The second issue is that the amplifier is not correctly protected against ESD (static electricity) meaning that when touching the amplifier, if our body discharges static electricity, it can damage the internals of the amplifier, damaging the amplifier. This issue, added to the first issue, means that if we discharge static electricity into the amplifier (when adjusting the volume for example), this can end up destroying our headphones and, even worse, possibly our hearing.

According to what has been published by Topping, they were aware of the first issue and added DC protection in all models that have a serial number starting with 2012****** or later. However, this was done (and they did not inform anyone) before people started reporting cases of destroyed headphones.

When they investigated the ESD issue, they decided to implement a fix for this also, offering all owners of an amplifier with the serial number 2011******* or earlier a replacement, free of charge.

However, while they have implemented this fix in all of the models that have serial numbers starting with 2101******* or later, in the case of units from the 2012******* batch, the made a fix “on the fly”, which involves them soldering a small pin on to the board that makes contact with the case when closed. 

As some of the 2012******** models had already left their factory, they (Topping) say that there are approximately 10% of the units that do not have this added fix.

If you own a 2012******** model, you can test if the ESD fix is present by checking continuity between the ground of the RCA connectors to a screw that holds the back plate in place (you can see a demo of this in my video on YouTube, although the video is in Spanish, you can find it here: Ep.44 - Topping L30 - Fallos & supuestos arreglos)

As I said, I am trying to keep this neutral as there are many who are prising Topping for the fixes and others who are not willing to purchase a Topping product ever again.
If I had to give my personal opinion, which I don’t but I will anyway, I think that all electronics can have issues but in this case, Topping did not deal with it in the best way (for example they will not cover the damage caused to peoples headphones, some of which were very expensive models) but at the same time, they did implement the fixes very quickly and were very quick shipping out replacement amplifiers to those who have requested them.

I cannot comment on the fixes as I am not an engineer, I can only go by what Topping has said, however, I will say that I have seen photos of some of the added pins and their soldering left a lot to be desired.

So, as a quick recap:

If you have an L30 with a serial number that starts with 2011***** or less, contact your seller for a replacement.

If you have an L30 with a serial number that starts with 2012*****, check for continuity as mentioned, if there is no continuity, contact your seller.

If you have an L30 with a serial number that starts with 2101***** or more, both fixes are implemented.

Whether or not you should now trust this amplifier or Topping as a company is a totally personal decision that only you can make.


To comment or contact, visit any of the following social media platforms: