2nd Headphone Amp - Massdrop CTH, Archel 2, Atom, or other?
Oct 31, 2019 at 1:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3


New Head-Fier
Feb 15, 2016
So I dipped my toes into the discrete headphone amp waters earlier this year when the Bravo V3 was on sale for $45. I actually really enjoyed the sound I got from it, but there was also an annoying whine that I couldn't eliminate. Prior to that, I hadn't felt the need for an amp because my motherboard has a built in NE5532 op amp that's advertised as being able to drive 600 Ohms. To my ear, that sounds excellent (though I don't have much else to reference), and I'm slightly skeptical that any solid state amp will make a significant enough difference to warrant its price - although with the acclaim that several of the recent 100-dollarish solid states are getting, I'm certainly reevaluating that calculation.

The short question is, what are your recommendations for an affordable (sub-$250) amp to drive my HD6XX and HE4XX? My short list right now is the Massdrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid + SDAC, which is currently $220, and the Geshelli Archel Pro 2, which is on a preorder price of $120. I'm also considering the JDS Atom, Schiit Magni 3, and Monolith Liquid Spark.

To me, the CTH has a number of things going for it - hybrid tube sound that should provide something significantly different from my onboard sound, an essentially free DAC included, and every review I've read of it gushes over the pairing of it with the HD650/6XX.

Then there's the Archel 2. I haven't found any reviews, but the early measurements seem to have put up flawless numbers, and impressions I saw compared it to the THX 789.

Very hard to choose between those two though. I might just get both lol.
Oct 31, 2019 at 1:53 PM Post #2 of 3


Headphoneus Supremus
Sep 1, 2011
The Cavalli tube hybrid comes with a balanced headphone jack, so you can try your headphones with balanced headphone cables.
The Cavalli + SDAC uses a USB digital input, which bypasses the computer's headphone features, can we assume you have no need for headphone surround sound?

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