Massdrop x THX AAA 789

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by neogeosnk, Feb 26, 2018.

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  1. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    Heard one of these amps at a meet yesterday, belonging to @Ninja Pirate . He had it hooked up to RME ADI-2 pro and it was very impressive. Lots of clean power, not sterile or dry sounding. Smooth, fast, detailed. Could use with hd800 or he6. The number of amps that work with both are few and far between. Did it drive he6 to its fullest capabilities, the best I've ever heard it? No, but it was 85%+ of the way there. Without going BW2/Rag it's the best headphone amp I've heard it with. Meet conditions etc etc, but warranted a further look, so I have one of these in the mail for further testing. Massdrop shill / hype train ftw.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
  2. taisserroots

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    [​IMG]

    Someone posted this on discord.
    It's the internals of the 789.
     
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  3. brencho

    brencho Loves pumping iron (Moderator)

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    NSFW, please dog
     
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  4. pure5152

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    Yep, there are definitely op-amps in the balanced path. Can anyone comment on the quality of these op amps? (Tbf, I still think the balanced XLR sounds better, maybe because of the extra power?)
     
  5. Baten

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    The XLR is definitely substantially more powerful.
     
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  6. taisserroots

    taisserroots Acquaintance

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    It's unlikely to be power unless you have an he6 because most headphones need a few milliwatts.

    I prefer the higher gain settings and lower on the pot than lower gain and higher on the pot. A bit more dynamic.
     
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  7. Soups

    Soups Sadomasochistic cat

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    According to this guy the balanced XLR outs of the Gungnir Multibit A2 are in many ways superior to the SE, which might be a factor in your case. I know that my SRM-353X is a different animal (with greater dynamics, less haze) fed via balanced from Gungnir Multibit A2. Also figure THX didn't cut this corner too deep, using some less compromising op-amps?
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018
  8. taisserroots

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    Doesn't the Gungnir Multibit sum the SE output with a meh transformer?

    In which case it wouldn't apply to this.

    Also the opamps are fine, not totl.
    This is a good opamp implementation which is very good progress considering how it sounds.
    I guess the implementation is the novel thing with thx.

    I usually hear a similar timbre with burrbrown opamps and dacs which i'm not hearing with this thing.
    This is a lot more neutral than the typical n shaped Sig from most of these burrbrown op amp amplifiers.
     
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  9. Negura

    Negura Friend

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    The great measurements are only part of the story. It's also the feed forward, which corrects errors better under dynamic load conditions, as opposed to negative feedback, which supposedly is only efficient under static loads. That's the literature at least.

    The heavy use of opamps, likely single ended volume control and conversions seem to be all cost savings. A bit dissapointing, but well, it is budget priced.

    From what I am reading the better connectivity to use for this could be single ended input with a natively single ended DAC.
     
  10. Pillars

    Pillars Embarrassment to Colorado crew

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    Happy Thanksgiving all! My delivery time was bumped up to today from Saturday so I'm excited to enjoy this over the holiday.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  11. Greg Brown

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    I'm listening to my 789 as I type, started with Utopia and now HFK SE. I hesitate to offer too much as the first listens are always full of too much emotion, but I would say that in comparison to my Magni 3 the additional power seems to be helping with better dynamics. I was likening it to cars with the same horsepower but one has much more torque that the other. That's the way this 789 impresses me.
     
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  12. Pillars

    Pillars Embarrassment to Colorado crew

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    I liked the Magni 3 quite a bit but yeah, this is a definite step up. When it comes to the 789 the new outer surface coating is much better than the old. I don't know what they were thinking with the LCX but it is decent now. The amp sounds really clean and runs cool after hours of play. Can't complain.
     
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  13. davis_man

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    I purchased one of these amps on a whim and have been testing it out for the past couple of days. For the asking price, I do not think you can go wrong, but I still like my Mjolnir 2 better. I was hoping this would not be the case, because 6922 tubes are silly expensive these days.

    It has a really clean punchy sound that I am sure many will like. It actually pairs well with my Ether 2 headphones. But I still prefer the extra staging/holographic sound you get with tubes. At least that seems to be the biggest difference to me. I don't have a good way to switch quickly because I need to test both using the xlr outs of my Gungnir Multibit.

    I am not a huge fan of the power button, but overall the build quality seems really good. I think massdrop will sell a bunch of these. Plus I really like the fact it comes in black.
     
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  14. taisserroots

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    IveI checked it out, the balanced output has a higher gain 16db as opposed to 10
     
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  15. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Isn't 6db a doubling? Makes sense - between single ended (unbalanced) and differential (balanced).
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018 at 10:54 AM
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  16. TazerMonkey

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    I've had my Ember II for almost three years now. I've recently been running it with a RCA 6SN7 tube, Schitt Eitr + Modi Multibit as source. Headphones are HD650 and ZMF Ori.

    Because the Ember isn't really considered competitive anymore by the community-at-large, I've been considering an update for some time now. I've auditioned the Schitt amps with visits to the Schittr, but there has always been something holding me back -- the OTL Valhalla 2 is great with the HD650, not so with planars; Jotunheim (original) sounded flat and harsh SS. I've considered some of the Massdrop amps, particularly ZDT Jr (but OTL, wait time, Russia) and the CTH. The THX 789 was on my radar earlier this year as well, but was dismissed because of the wait time. Time to be patient.

    When I saw recently that the THX was now available for instant shipping, I decided I'd done enough waiting and pounced.

    In a word, this amp is clean. Background appears to be completely silent, imaging is wider than I've been hearing with Ember and much more precise. Detail is greatly improved. It feels like I'm listening only to the music instead of distortion and a scratchy volume pot.

    The brighter nature of the THX 789 also pairs wonderfully with the Modi Multibit and the HD650. There's a particular symbol crash in an orchestral track to which I often listen that has never sounded right from the Ember; the decay never felt natural from either the Senns or the ZMF. From THX 789, it sounds effortless. Best of all, despite the sound being clearer and brighter, the THX remains wonderfully smooth in the treble from the Senns (mostly true of the ZMFs as well, although there is occasional stridance probably because of those modded Fostex drivers; still trying to pick an upgrade from there).

    In short, the THX 789 completely outclasses the Ember II. I feel like I now truly understand the term "warmpoo." I would definitely consider it a significant upgrade.
     
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  17. PacoTaco

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    I just got my THX on Monday.

    So far so good. It pairs well with the Aeolus and HD800. Maybe it's because most of the solid states I've heard came from Schiit, but it doesn't seem to have a lot of the same pitfalls other solid-states have. The HD800 with the Vali 2 wasnt fantastic for me (it was glarey,) but the THX was a lot smoother.
     
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  18. Jerry

    Jerry Almost "Made"

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    All these new offerings at roughly the same prices make it hard to choose. Anyone can share more comparison between THX AAA 789 vs Liquid Platinum vs Gilmore Lite mk2?

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  19. Jerry

    Jerry Almost "Made"

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    Decided to get this. Thanks to Cee Tee for his advice. Finally arrived after a long journey and expensive custom about a few days ago. Build quality is better than my expectation. It feels solid for the price. Compared it to my Burson CV2+ and Mogwai

    Chain: modi multibit v1 => Eitr => Saga => THX 789/Mogwai/Burson CV2+ => HD800/HE-4XX

    Vs Burson CV2+
    CV2+ comes at $1500 MSRP and it is a hefty amp with 2 large toroidal transformers. And...........the 789 simply beats it. This is an amazing feat for a small $350 amp.

    This Burson is a much less warm amp than the original Conductor. I used to think it sounded pretty neutral. Only when I compare with 789 that I notice it is still slightly on the warm side. The 789 has better bass extension and smoother treble. There is something annoying with the CV2+ treble. I can't stand hd800 with it. The Burson is known for its impact and attack, but the 789 matches it equally. Detail is slightly better on the 789 too. Soundstage is slightly wider on the Burson and imaging are both roughly equal.

    This CV2+ will go. I see no point in keeping it. The 789 has all its strength, plus smoother treble and much cheaper price tag.

    Vs Mogwai (Auricap upgrade with Shuguang KT88 and Sylvania 6SL7 GT)
    Now this is a more interesting comparison. I would say that this is apple vs orange. Coming from the Mogwai, I immediately noticed the 789 sounds thinner and brighter. Female vocal is also more forward with the 789. It took me a while to get used to this, after listening to the Mogwai for months.

    The Mogwai has a richer and sweeter mid tonality, making vocals really enjoyable. While the 789 just presents the mid as is, with no added coloration. There is no hint of sweetness, just very clear. I find it too flat at times and find myself missing the Mogwai when I listen to vocal tracks. Bass is more rounded and thicker on the Mogwai, making the 789 sounds like it has better and flatter bass extension. Quite impressive for this little guy. But the Mogwai wins in slam and impact. The Mogwai also has slightly wider and deeper soundstage but not night and day difference. Imaging, however, is tighter and more solid on the Mogwai. This is one of Mogwai's strength. Imaging on the 789 is also precise (not diffused), but more ethereal and softer in comparison.

    Overall, the 789 presents a whole different flavor to the Mogwai. Its clean clear flat sound from down under up to treble is really enjoyable in its own way. Some tracks shine better on it.

    HD800sdr
    Surprisingly, it sounds really good with the 789. It sounds thin but in a smooth kind of way with great bass extension and attack. Details are coming from everywhere. I didn't even feel this with the Mogwai.

    Overall, the Mogwai is still the better pairing. It gives HD800 overall more meat, and the bass slams like no other amp I tried. BUT details are easier to notice from the 789. Mogwai does have details but it is more subtle, hiding behind its thick sound.

    HE-4XX (with ZMF lambskin)
    The 4XX has a thin but sharp tonality that doesn't go very well with the 789 (HD800 is thin but not sharp). It can be a wee bit uncomfortable on the upper-mid and treble sometimes for me. Maybe because I am still used to the Mogwai sound.

    Now that I have listened to the 789, I'm mostly curious about 789 vs Liquid Platinum. I have never heard of Cavalli sound before.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018 at 9:33 AM
  20. Baten

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    Got mine too. Been stuck to my desktop/amp all day, it's that good. Listening fatigue is the lowest of any device bought or store-audited I've ever heard. Maybe the sound is a little thin/flat compared to super expensive devices, but it's easy to forget this amp costs $349.99

    This is the best budget thing, and perhaps the easiest way to end-game to have come to the head-amp world in many years. It's insane THX just gamed the market with this amp, there is nothing that competes in driving headphones as clean/well, and offers great-sounding balanced out from whatever input (not even a balanced input strictly necessary besides the obvious benefits).

    For those that were still doubting they need one, hit that Request button. A small batch will hit massdrop soon and considering its continuing success I'm betting they will sell out quite fast. Last thing I wanna try is hook up a tube buffer in the chain with this amp but I don't know if I'll even need the syrupy tubeyness, it's already so pristine sounding!
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018 at 1:38 PM

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