Chord TT2 + mscaler + budget SS amp = unheralded results
Jan 25, 2022 at 3:33 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

hypnos1

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Posts
4,411
Likes
1,563
Location
Suffolk, UK
Like many others, no doubt, I was convinced that direct out from the Chord duo could only be bettered by the addition of a really high end (and expensive) external amp, at questionable value-for-money. Unless seduced by glass wonders or the desire/need for far greater power delivery...viz Susvaras etc.

However, intrigued by the positive - albeit qualified comments heaped upon the budget Drop THX AAA ONE Linear amp (and its balanced sibling the 789), I was tempted to see what it might be capable of given a much better 30V power supply than the uninspiring stock wall wart...ie an inexpensive Chinese 'Ultra Low Noise' LPS, plus a cheap DC-DC step up/down converter.

In short, I wasn't at all prepared for the level of performance increase that resulted...and more so for not being simply a question of "amazingly good for the money". In fact, sound now exceeded direct out by a significant margin, and in ALL areas of delivery, bar none... highlighting the latent potential in an already top class product(s)....Edit#1 : actually, in both the Chord duo and the 'ONE'...#2 : oh, forgot to mention, the Empys also lol!

No doubt my easy to drive Meze Empyreans suit its 2.7W output at 32 Ohms admirably, along with it being a good match for other system upgrades, but I'm sure such unexpected results aren't limited just to my own setup lol!

And so for anyone interested in possibly replicating this upgrade to TT2's direct out performance for relative peanuts, I posted more detailed info here : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/drop-thx-aaa-one-linear-amp-transformation-david-v-goliath.961629/

ps. These findings have now been replicated unfailingly after more than a month's close scrutiny of test tracks I've used for assessment purposes hundreds of times over the past few years...with TT2/HMS; Hugo 2 and several tube amps.

Edit : pps. In addition to the areas of improvement mentioned in the above link, I would say that they negate any need whatsoever (unless in exceptional circumstances and system dependent) for use of TT2's filters and/or xfeed....which I personally found impacted negatively the sound from my own system anyway.
 
Last edited:
Feb 21, 2022 at 10:43 AM Post #2 of 4

hypnos1

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Posts
4,411
Likes
1,563
Location
Suffolk, UK
"I've spent £$thousands on my Chord gear (et al) and here's a ridiculously cheap component to add?!"

These are voices I keep hearing in my head...and understandably so. However, I now feel the need to highlight one very important aspect of just what this little amp can do, and which stands out even more since the demise of the PowerInspired Regenerator that was evidently affecting the performance of my AirlinkTransformers ASF 3000 Balanced Mains Conditioner + Avery Magnetics Filter System....ie the supreme transient response handling of the mscaler/TT2 combo.

Already top class direct out of TT2, I am bewildered by how Rob Watts's mammoth efforts are now even more in evidence via this apparent minnow of an amp. The precise; clean; sharply defined attack/sustain/decay/finish to notes brings an unparallelled clarity to the entire presentation, highlighted to great effect in extremely fast instrumental passages such as in much of Andreas Vollenweider's work...the lightning fast acoustic (flamenco) guitar runs in 'Jugglers in Obsidian' from 'Book of Roses' maintain a sharp precision that spotlights his (presumably!) masterly finger picking/plucking prowess - every note pin-sharp.

This also demonstrates the DROP's ability to reproduce the Chord combo's faultless speed/PRaT, in keeping with reviewers' confirmation that this lowly amp gives you precisely what it's being fed with. And all this - and more - for very little investment...not forgetting of course an upgraded power supply (in my case a Chinese Ultra Low Noise LPS that can be had for around £80, including shipping).

Hopefully this shines a bit more light on such an unlikely addition to an already first class combo...

ps I repeat the link to my post giving much more indepth findings : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/drop-thx-aaa-one-linear-amp-transformation-david-v-goliath.961629/

EDIT : pps Happily the ultra 'clean' presentation just mentioned benefits in no small measure much more complex orchestral/choral music. The voices especially of the lead soloist group and massed chorus in the Solti/VPO recording of Verdi's Requiem give a whole new layer to the sound delivery, not to mention the level of enjoyment...truly wonderful. And aided once again by a totally noise-free background that I suspect very few tube amps can match...in my own system at least...YMMV
 
Last edited:
Feb 22, 2022 at 5:10 AM Post #3 of 4

tunes

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
Posts
1,726
Likes
287
Location
New York
"I've spent £$thousands on my Chord gear (et al) and here's a ridiculously cheap component to add?!"

These are voices I keep hearing in my head...and understandably so. However, I now feel the need to highlight one very important aspect of just what this little amp can do, and which stands out even more since the demise of the PowerInspired Regenerator that was evidently affecting the performance of my AirlinkTransformers ASF 3000 Balanced Mains Conditioner + Avery Magnetics Filter System....ie the supreme transient response handling of the mscaler/TT2 combo.

Already top class direct out of TT2, I am bewildered by how Rob Watts's mammoth efforts are now even more in evidence via this apparent minnow of an amp. The precise; clean; sharply defined attack/sustain/decay/finish to notes brings an unparallelled clarity to the entire presentation, highlighted to great effect in extremely fast instrumental passages such as in much of Andreas Vollenweider's work...the lightning fast acoustic (flamenco) guitar runs in 'Jugglers in Obsidian' from 'Book of Roses' maintain a sharp precision that spotlights his (presumably!) masterly finger picking/plucking prowess - every note pin-sharp.

This also demonstrates the DROP's ability to reproduce the Chord combo's faultless speed/PRaT, in keeping with reviewers' confirmation that this lowly amp gives you precisely what it's being fed with. And all this - and more - for very little investment...not forgetting of course an upgraded power supply (in my case a Chinese Ultra Low Noise LPS that can be had for around £80, including shipping).

Hopefully this shines a bit more light on such an unlikely addition to an already first class combo...

ps I repeat the link to my post giving much more indepth findings : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/drop-thx-aaa-one-linear-amp-transformation-david-v-goliath.961629/

EDIT : pps Happily the ultra 'clean' presentation just mentioned benefits in no small measure much more complex orchestral/choral music. The voices especially of the lead soloist group and massed chorus in the Solti/VPO recording of Verdi's Requiem give a whole new layer to the sound delivery, not to mention the level of enjoyment...truly wonderful. And aided once again by a totally noise-free background that I suspect very few tube amps can match...in my own system at least...YMMV
Can you provide links fr potential purchase of the amp and the replacement power supply you recommend? Thanks
 
Feb 22, 2022 at 10:05 AM Post #4 of 4

hypnos1

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Posts
4,411
Likes
1,563
Location
Suffolk, UK
Hi tunes.

For low cost LPSs there's a good assortment of Chinese units on ebay.com under "Ultra Low Noise Linear Power Supply", at varying prices and differing designs...scrutinise and take your pick! I myself got 2 x 120VA models for the Chords initially but then made just one power both...the other now (fortunately) doing the honours for the DROP...and using a (not ideal really, but fine for now) DC-DC step up/down converter to get 30V. Luckily however it appears you can specify which output voltage is required in the LPS from the off, which is preferable of course. Both my units have performed impeccably for a year or so now, with even more stable V out than (my) Chords' stock PSes!
Here's the link for my own models : https://www.ebay.com/itm/273758162129?

ps. The DROP's DC input, as with the Chords, needs a 2.5 mm plug! And although the LPS' stock leads and plugs look fine (much more impressive than the Chords' stock PSes'), I personally upgraded mine with DIY cables (as I always do) and a nice gold plated, part carbon fibre barrel plug, also available on ebay.com

As for the DROP amp itself, you're fortunate being in its home country, with examples of the 'ONE' listed on ebay.com once again at $140 it appears : https://www.ebay.com/itm/393948928870?hash=item5bb92f9b66:g:zCwAAOSwkbRiEqBj
But for demanding headphones such as the Susvara, one may prefer the DROP 789's balanced out for a bit more? The 'One's 2.7W @ 32Ohms SE output is perfect for my Empyreans...(with SE even preferred by Rob Watts if I remember correctly). And in my case, I find setting the DROP to high(3) level gain and lowering TT2's (amp) level out gives best performance.

Hopefully this helps you...and brings the same surprise as I'm still experiencing, if you go ahead with this venture.

EDIT...ps...The DROP 789 needs 24V as opposed to the 'ONE's 30V...
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top