The Cavalli Liquid Carbon

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by maxedfx, Oct 17, 2015.

  1. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    Dislikes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    Has anyone else encountered this?
    (posted in the All Purpose Advice Thread)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
  2. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    gixxerwimp, Lyander, Jerry and 3 others like this.
  3. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,720
    Dislikes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    So...

    Just looked in the manual for the Liquid Carbon X and it does give two Caution's that are listed in bold. One right after the Initial Start-Up..

    "CAUTION: Remember to run down the volume (or power down completely) before plugging or unplugging any sources or headphones into or from your Liquid Carbon X."

    and after the Using the Amplifier section...

    "CAUTION: Do not modify a single-ended 3-wire cable to connect a 4-pin XLR. This has a common ground connection to the headphones and will damage the amplifier and void the warranty. Use only fully balanced 4-wire cables that separate signals for right and left channels. Balanced cables supplied by commercial manufacturers will operate properly."

    I know myself and others have stated this in this thread and I think it cannot be stated enough with this amp in either V1, V2 or Drop X version. All are going to behave the same. My V1 failed because of this either because I had the volume up when plugging the unbalanced connection in, or I had a short in one of my headphone cables. I am not sure which, because it happened about the same time. Now that my Carbon X has arrived, gonna be extra careful this time.

    The Carbon X manual also mentions grounding and ground noice may occur in unusually circumstances. It also mentioned that the there are no other serviceable parts in the amplifier other than the tube, lol.
     
    gixxerwimp and Lyander like this.
  4. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    6,989
    Dislikes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    :D

    On a vaguely related note, I've been looking around and while it's entirely possible I simply missed it: has there been a comprehensive sound comparison between the original Liquid Carbon and the (Mass) Drop X variant? I know I nitpicked loads of things in my impressions but that's just how I tend to evaluate gear— I am honestly genuinely smitten by the amp and would be loathe to lose it should anything go amiss, whether resultant of my own carelessness or of pure happenstance.

    Also, I really should get around to sealing off the SE out...
     
  5. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,720
    Dislikes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    I had the V1 and just received the Carbon X, so based off initial impressions and a month or more in-between amps, from what I recall...

    It seems the LCX seems cleaner and more in control of things. The bottom end is not as "loose". Might be slightly better details. The V1 was kind of warm amp to me, and this is definitely more neutral. Still only a few hours in and not even close to the "100 hours" break in. Subject to change. Crystal Method's "High Roller" still gives me the chills and has that hard impact while keeping everything SO open and out of the way on my LCD-2C's.

    The only obvious thing is that when cranked up the V1 had a tendency to sound like there was a soft-knee compressor or limiter on the stereo bus. I think the beefier power supply helped mitigate this issue and giving it a cleaner sound overall when cranked and keeps up the dynamics.

    The volume knob has more in-balance at the low end for sure - and more apparent at high-gain. I think the volume is the weakest part of these Drop X Cavalli amps, CTH included. Too late to do anything about it now production wise. Certainly worthy of an upgrade once my warranty expires.

    Either way, it sounds like nice changes and certainly sounds more organic. I used to think of the V1 as being slightly artificial sounding, but the LCX I feel is better overall. Similar character as the Liquid Crimson, although that amp is in another class with things wider/deeper, etc. The LCX is probably like 85% there of that amp at WAY less price.
     
    penguins, Sqveak, CEE TEE and 3 others like this.
  6. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,720
    Dislikes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    After 100 hours, I do have to say the Drop Carbon X is a clear winner to me. Break-in did not do much except maybe open up the low end and make it warm. However this seemed to be pretty early on (10-25 hours maybe). Meaning day 2 started to sound warmer than day 1, but it did not change much after that, and I have had it on since thing almost continously. Not at all like the break in on the MCTH, which is more due to both cap and tube break in.

    I do actually like the new Carbon X it a bit more than the original Carbon. The newer Drop Carbon X version just has more clarity and more control in the low end - not as flabby and not as aggressive. I attribute this to better power supply and it does seem to add more damping to the amp. It might give it a bit of clinical presentation to some. It has some of the open character of the new Monolith Liquid Platinum and I said earlier, that amp is wider, deeper, and more detailed, and with the same authority of the Carbon X amp on stock tubes.

    The original Carbon X to me had to to be really cranked to sound it's best. It would get really aggressive an powerful with some heft and slam. This thing can cruise better at low to medium volumes (volume pot imbalance aside). Cranked up it still can still slam on some EDM tracks or other rock tracks, but I don't the amp struggling or change in sound - it just sounds louder (as it should).

    Overall it just seems more lively and somehow more transients come through cleaner. It always catches me off guard how clean and open it sounds first thing in the morning. Super engaging sound. Amazing value amp for sure.
     
    gixxerwimp, Lyander, Sqveak and 4 others like this.
  7. tubefans

    tubefans Rando

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2020
    Likes Received:
    3
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    san francisco
    Can't believe LCX is only $200 on Drop, that seems a good deal. Is it better than 789?
     
    rtaylor76 likes this.
  8. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,720
    Dislikes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    YES!
     
    Jokko likes this.
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    1,389
    Dislikes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Bay Area
    For being an amp designed for iem’s, using expensive low noise parts throughout, the LCX sure has a lot of noise using CFA iem’s. There’s a pretty loud hiss. And a lower gain setting would be nice.

    As for LCX vs 789, I think it depends on the headphones. They’re pretty evenly matched for iem’s (running both balanced) i actually prefer the 789 most of the time but I’m not sure yet they both do things well. But I have no doubt that the LCX is the better amp for full size headphones using the balanced output. I wish I had some balanced full size phones to try with it.
     
  10. Sqveak

    Sqveak Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    415
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    NSW, Aus, Terra, Sol.
    The low gain setting is literally 1x.
    Are you also having trouble with usable range volume control or channel imbalance? I haven't tried a sensitive BA IEM with mine.
     
  11. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    1,389
    Dislikes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Yep. Volume has basically no usable range unless I turn the volume down on my iPod/computer (current source until my pi2aes comes together) which my RDAC allows but many DACs lock the volume control.

    the 789 amp has I believe -6dB as the lowest gain setting and it’s really nice. The 789 is also much much quieter.

    I’m really surprised by this considering Cavalli’s mad skills, that he wasn’t able to make a quiet iem amp with low enough gain for sensitive iem’s. :(
     
    Sqveak and Michael Kelly like this.
  12. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    That's because the 789 uses feedback within feedback within feedback plus dsp to give you "the best" amp.

    Most sources today are hot (2 to 4v) which means that even 1x is going to be loud with sensitive headphones. Noise floor is an issue when you use minimal feedback with sensitive headphones but the cheap solutions all compromise absolute fidelity.

    I would opt to use the digital volume option in a dac or digital player to reduce input volume.

    To check noise floor of the amp without measuring equipment, you can ground the input and see what remnant noise you hear. (Don't leave the input open. )

    ..dB
     
    gixxerwimp, Sqveak, edd and 2 others like this.
  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    1,389
    Dislikes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Bay Area
    I’m retarted and don’t know how to ground the input. I told you teaching g me to solder would be hopeless. :eek:

    for some reason the 789 sounds better to me with the Andromeda 2020, more transparent, open and expansive. With the og Solaris it’s more of a toss up, I go back and forth day to day. The lcx does good things with the dynamic driver I think, grabs it more firmly by the balls.
     
  14. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,720
    Dislikes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    I would agree that the 789 sounds just absolutely amazing with IEM's. BA's just seem to get along with that amp in some strange way. It almost has too much gain for balanced IEM's, and unbalanced sounds exactly the same, just quieter. The added feedback is likely going to give this amp tons of damping, which helps control the BA and grip that tiny piston "by the balls" as @rhythmdevils would say.

    The LC is pretty okay at IEM's, but I doubt that was the main purpose behind the amp. It always seemed a bit too weak or something with IEM's and did not have tremendous impact.

    To me, the LC always shined more with planars and other hard to drive headphones (HD600/650, etc.). I have not tried any Beyer's, but I would think they would be in the same category and would excel, especially given the extra warmth.

    It is funny how damping is not really a factor that is specked out in headphone amps, but I think would help explain quite a lot about certain amps.
     
    yotacowboy likes this.
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    1,389
    Dislikes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Bay Area
    I heard from the horse’s mouth that it was, it was supposedly designed as a balanced amp so Alex could focus on using super quiet parts. And that’s why the se out is gimped as it shouldn’t really even be there. That’s just what I heard though.
     
    rtaylor76 likes this.
  16. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    Dislikes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
    Thanks for the reply @dBel84. I only just saw it now due to being distracted IRL.

    None of my XLR cables (IC or headphone) have the shell grounded or attached to the shield. I'm only using the XLR output of the LC now anyway, so I've mooted the problem.

    Will have to remember to do this. I don't usually make a habit of turning amps off before plugging/unplugging. Nothing's happened so far ... :rolleyes:

    This is Drop trying to be funny, right? Almost caught me out .. "Wait, isn't this supposed to be a fully solid state amp? As in "carbon"?"
     
  17. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,720
    Dislikes Received:
    91
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    I think it is just leftover from the CTH manual.
     
    gixxerwimp likes this.

Share This Page