Driving WATT/Puppy 5: Mark Levinson No.434 vs Topping LA90 Discrete


I’ve been looking for an amplifier that’s stable down to 2 Ohm to drive my WATT/Puppy 5 Speakers, and I have found a potential match here in Germany: a pair of ML No. 434 Monoblocks for 3000€. They received a Capacitor upgrade in 2020 by a reputable ML Dealer, Sun Audio.

Now I’ve just got an email from Shenzhen Audio notifying me about the summer sale, and that the Topping LA90 Discrete are on sale. I’ve been interested but hesitant to get them since their launch, since they are only rated at 4 Ohm, and the WATT/Puppy 5 system has an impedance which dips down to 2.9 Ohm:

However the LA90 Discrete has much better measurements than the ML434 - I’m just not sure how well they can handle a 2.9 Ohm load.

Regardless of price: which mono amplifiers do you think I should get for my WATT/Puppy 5 - the ML434 or the LA90D?

If it helps, the system is composed of an iFi Zen Stream, ML360S and Topping A90D in Preamplifier Mode.

Thank you for any insights :blush::dizzy::pray:

Those speakers deserve as much grunt as you can give them and MLs were designed to drive this kind of hi end speaker… personally I’d go with the MLs.
If you can find used Krells or big Classe monoblocks these would also be a great pairing.

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do you crank it up? most amps can handle most loads, just not at max volume. majority of amps rated for 4ohms will handle a 2.9 dip. not many amps made for hifi will be rated for 2 ohms. but something with overkill watts for your speakers, rated for 4ohms, will be fine for instance. impedance matters for the limits. what those limits are depends on the impedance and what the amp is rated for. the bigger the difference, the less you can crank it.

but a 2.9 dip isn’t much for a 4ohm speaker. theres about a 99% chance that dip is in the bass somewhere, most likely near the woofers natural resonance.

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This is insightful for me. Thank you for helping me understand the relations between impedance capabilities and output rating!

I will be picking up the ML434’s this Sunday! Will report back to say how the sound changes after replacing my 40W EL34 integrated tube amp.

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Those are classic speakers and are still capable of blowing your mind in the right system.
Im kinda jealous.
Can you use the valve amp as a pre amp? That might be quite sweet.

That is a great idea! Until now, the EL34 amp has provided lush mid range and treble that I can listen to for hours, but the bass quantity has been lacking. Maybe if I use it as a preamp to the 434, I could have all three. Thank you for the comment :relaxed:

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