A Deep Dive into Mini Desktop Amplification

In the ever-growing world of audiophile equipment, choosing the right amplifier for your setup can be both an exciting and daunting task. Today, we're comparing two excellent small desktop amplifiers: the SMSL SH-6 Mini Desktop Amp and the TOPPING L30 II Headphone Amp. By assessing their performance, design, usability, and unique selling points, we hope to guide you towards an informed choice.


Power and THD+N: Slight Edge for TOPPING L30 II

The SMSL SH-6 boasts an impressive output power of 2.6W x2 at 16Ω and 1.3W x2 at 32Ω, indicating it's well-suited for driving most headphones. Moreover, its ultra-low THD+N, as low as 0.00006%, underscores its efficiency and fidelity.

On the other hand, the TOPPING L30 II, with its redesigned NFCA amplifier, offers an astounding 3500mW x2 @16Ω, making it suitable for even the most power-hungry headphones. When it comes to distortion, the L30 II slightly outperforms with THD+N values lower than 0.00008% and 0.00007% under certain loads.

SNR: Practically a Draw

Both amplifiers boast extraordinary Signal-to-Noise Ratios (SNR). The SH-6 impresses with an SNR of 134dB, while the L30 II inches ahead slightly with an SNR of 144dB. For the regular user, this different is negligible, practically speaking.

Design and Usability

User Interface: A Draw in Minimalist Design

Both the SMSL SH-6 and the TOPPING L30 II champion minimalistic design principles, ensuring a sleek and uncomplicated user experience. Their interfaces, characterized by unobtrusive features and streamlined aesthetics, look incredibly similar, giving neither a definitive edge in this department. Where they do diverge slightly is in color availability. The SH-6 is available in classic black and silver, while the L30 II broadens the palette with options in black, silver, blue, and red. This wider color range from TOPPING offers users a bit more customization, though the fundamental design philosophy remains consistent across both models.

Gain Settings: Versatility with TOPPING L30 II

While the SH-6 offers a two-step gain switch, the L30 II takes it up a notch with three gain settings ranging from -14dB to 16.5dB. This added versatility allows the L30 II to cater to a broader range of headphones and sensitivity levels.

Unique Selling Points

Built-in Power Supply: Advantage SMSL SH-6

A defining feature of the SH-6 is its built-in low-noise power supply. This eliminates the need for an external adapter, making it a neat fit for compact setups.

The L30 II, however, takes pride in its compatibility. Its capability to drive anything from power-hungry planar magnetics to sensitive IEMs demonstrates its versatility.

Spec Differences Highlight

While both amplifiers boast remarkable technical specs, a few distinctions stand out:

  • Output Power: The L30 II clearly has a higher output, especially evident at 16Ω.
  • THD+N: Both amplifiers have incredibly low THD+N, though the L30 II has marginally better values under certain conditions.
  • SNR: A close contest, but the L30 II nudges ahead with a 144dB SNR against the 134dB of the SH-6.


Both the SMSL SH-6 and the TOPPING L30 II are exceptional amplifiers that would enhance any audiophile’s setup. Remember, while technical specifications are crucial, the ultimate measure of an amplifier's worth is the listening experience it provides. Both these products promise a sublime auditory journey, making the final choice a matter of personal preference.