Member of the Trade: Worthy Audio
- Jun 25, 2011
The promotion is now live on Indiegogo. Click here to check out the page.---
The Newest Digital Music Player from Luxury and PrecisionHeyo Head-Fi,
I've got some exciting news to share today. Luxury and Precision's been garnering quite a bit of attention recently, particularly for their L5 Pro DAP. Twister6 and Cleg gave us some great reviews, and JohnYang's thread is over 1,000 posts of discussion strong now.
I learned about the company pretty early on when they had just come out with the LP5 Gold and got sent an early sample. Built and UI were pretty simple, but the sound really caught my attention and is one of my favorite DAP pairings with CIEMs to this day. Then the L5 Pro came out, and it was a significant improvement (IMO) in both build quality and aesthetics over its predecessor.
The Luxury and Precision team is well aware that the high price tags aren't covering the entire spectrum of demand. They've been in the process of making a product that builds on what they learned creating the L5 Pro, while simultaneously dropping the price to a more affordable level.
When Worthy Audio learned about the project and what they were looking for, we were happy to lend a hand. We're taking the reins on marketing, copywriting, customer support, payments, and shipping to make sure the support for overseas buyers is here and immediately available.
Building on the engineering gains from creating the L5 Pro, Luxury and Precision designed the L3 with many of the same great internal pieces and will be offering it when it comes to market at $400, a price point that's going to be hard to beat.
The company's been very encouraged by the western reception of their previous products, and to really get the word out and to help get manufacturing kicked off, Luxury and Precision will be offering bold early adopters (who hopefully will review the L3 in detail and get the word out!) a chance to get their latest and greatest product at the best price it will ever be offered at.
For this special promotion, we're going to be offering the L3 for $299 + $10 shipping in North America.
FeaturesLuxury and Precision's line of products has really lived up to the name. Whether it was the LP5 or L5 Pro, the team sourced best-in-class components to ensure that listeners only get the latest and greatest.
A main design consideration of the L3 was designing a product with an extremely low noise floor. At -115 dB testing with a 32 Ohm load, the distortion level was less than 0.0017%, providing a jet black background with even the most sensitive in ear monitors.
That doesn't mean it can't power headphones that need some juice to get going though. Whether you're rocking Sennheiser HD 598s or HiFiMAN HE-1000s, plug into the L3 and you'll hear your music loud and clear.
Flexible use case is an important function the Luxury & Precision team took to heart. Armed with headphone out (3.5mm), balanced out (2.5mm), line out and SPDIF out options, it's got everything you need to plug in and play no matter what kind of setup you're currently rocking.
Of course, the L3 is balanced out done right. Equipped with a dual DAC, dual OP amp true balanced architecture, we've got pictures below for your viewing pleasure.
The L3 also comes with a USB DAC plug, allowing you to double up on its functionality and plug into a PC to take over sound functions and improve audio quality.
- Digital to Analog Chip: Cirrus Logic CS4398
- OP Amp: Crown 18120 (x2)
- Headphone Amplifier Chip: Crown 1812A (x2)
- Coprocessor: 1812M
TimelineBecause manufacturing factories and times are already secured, we anticipate the L3 to be quickly delivered once orders come in. We hope to have production on this early adopter batch done mid-April, and then to begin shipping out soon afterwards.
Where Can I Get It?We're working on ironing out the final details now and anticipate to have it up and going within the next week or two. Once we start taking pre-orders, I'll link the page right here.
I'm happy to (try) and answer any questions people may have about the L3.
Looking forward to bringing this product to y'all!
Inside the L3 – Design and Measurements
DesignThe L3’s been in the works for a while now. In fact, before the original L5 was ever listed on the market, we were already in the process of hand soldering together an early test unit of the L3.
All three of our players use a 6-layer PCB stackup. The L3 and L5 Pro share many internal components, while also maintaining the same digital circuit architecture.
In our opinion, an important step of creating a high quality DAP is to separate the digital and analog signals cleanly. Digital circuitry is very noisy, whereas analog circuitry is vulnerable to noise. We accomplish this with different approaches in each of the devices.
In the LP5’s PCBA, the device separates the two parts, specifically in that the top half of the PCB is a digital circuit while the bottom half consists of the analog circuits. Between the two is a ground plane.
The L5 implements this slightly differently. One entire side of the board is completely digital, while the other is entirely analog, and the wires are kept apart by a ground plane.
The L3 is designed specifically for use with sensitive IEMs, and the most important thing is design a device that maintains a jet black background free of noise. Because the L3 has a smaller area to work with, the circuits on the device are all on one side of the board. To avoid interference between the digital and analog circuits, we implemented a similar design to the LP5’s vertical division with multiple ground planes: There are two layers of ground plane in the digital circuits that help block interference, and three layers of ground planes in the analog circuits. In addition, the analog portion is shielded so that there’s no chance of external interference.
MeasurementsLet’s start this section off by saying measurements don’t tell the whole story. Numbers are just a part of the whole, and having impressive measurements doesn’t ensure that the music you hear from a digital audio player will be reproduced faithfully.
But relying only on subjective impressions without any insight into how a device measures would just be taking a complete stab in the dark. We prefer to marry the two – design something that doesn’t have any glaring measurement issues, but also sounds good to our team’s ears.
3.5mm unbalanced SNR
3.5mm unbalanced THD
2.5mm balanced amplitude
2.5mm balanced SNR
Re: DAC Chip ChoiceIf you compare the signal to noise ratio spec-wise to other high end players, the L3 isn’t best in grade. There are chips on the market that measure better than the CS4398, notably (and one that was previously up for consideration) the ES9018.
Here’s where human subjective impressions came in. The team didn’t like the SABRE house sound in the player, and thought that the DAC chip that was finally implemented (CS4398) was the one that made the player sound the most open and natural.
Q&ADemo units when?
Yes, we do plan to send out units to some well-regarded reviewers here on Head-Fi and it's already in the works. However, timing-wise the reviews will likely not be complete and up on the site before the promotion goes live.
It's obviously not ideal for timing and as a consumer I understand the desire for qualified reviewers to take a crack at it as it's something I'd like to have myself. We can push back the offer a month or two and wait for reviews to make their way on the site, but this would also push back getting the L3 in members' hands and writing their own impressions up for others to read.
As this is a new thing for parties involved in this particular promotion we'll have to beg forgiveness for the lack of foresight.
Quantity limit on the promotion
Here's a bit of news that I wanted to share as soon as it came up today and to be as transparent with the community as possible.
After a chat with Luxury and Precision's international distributors, there was a concern about the quantity of units being offered. We want to get the L3 into early adopters' hands and to really spread the word, but the team also wants to respect those that carry their products and to make sure that everyone benefits once the (hopefully very positive) reviews and publicity start coming in.
We're here to market and offer something awesome, but we understand it's important for not only customers but distributors and the manufacturer to feel excited and happy about the promotion. We've reached an agreement to limit the quantity of units that will be offered for the promotion.
I'm not sure if the quantity restriction will actually be an issue (who knows how many units we'll move), but since there is a quantity restriction we will be posting an exact time the promotion will be going live before it happens. That way, everyone has a fair shot at the L3.
Currently, Worthy Audio has the right to distribute within North America. International members are allowed to place orders if the shipping address is to a location within the continent, but we will unfortunately not be shipping directly overseas.
Here's the breakdown:
First 50 orders: $299 + $10 shipping
Next 30 orders: $329 + $10 shipping
Next 20 orders: $359 + $10 shipping
It wasn't something that came up in the original talks, but we wanted to make sure no one with a vested interest in the L3 felt shafted by the promotion.