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Massdrop x THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier - Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by XERO1, Mar 1, 2018.
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  1. CoFire
    Anybody have comparisons of this amp against the Massdrop LCX, Grace m9XX or Gilmore Lite MKII?
    cardeli22 likes this.
  2. Baten
    The only one that might be on the same level is the Gillmore, but the THX smokes them all in terms of power. If you need stupid amounts of power definitely get the THX.

    The LCX is only good via balanced, it's simply bad in single ended. As an amp it sounds more warm and bassy, not exactly neutral.
    cardeli22 likes this.
  3. CoFire
    Anyone with a Gilmore Lite MKII comparison. I think I read some chatter about a balanced Gilmore Lite Mark II coming out in the future, is this amp comparable to what that might look like? Coming in at less than the Gilmore Lite MkII even.

    This amp perks my interest but at the same time, "Super O2" gives me am expectation of something cold and analytical.
  4. 2323
    The most obvious difference between the m9XX and the THX AAA 789 would be the noise floor with IEMs where the m9XX is kind of unusable (my opinion) with something sensitive like a Noble K10U without something like an IEMatch as opposed to the THX which is silent (or close to it)

    Take the following with the usual grain of salt since the test was sighted and I usually use the m9XX with different headphones than the THX (+Eitr+Modi2U). I can try to test something specific if I have it.

    My subjective opinion comparing with a HD800SDR (single ended) between the m9XX (F1 filter = sharp rolloff, linear phase, Volume = 55~65 for 1/4" or 90 for lineout) alone versus adding THX AAA 789 as its amp is that the THX seems to have better sub bass transients and impact, slightly smoother highs (not less detailed; female vocals and cymbals slightly sibilant with the m9XX alone had less of an edge with the THX), and better separation and less intimate soundstage, but perhaps overall the differences weren't huge. Testing with a LCD2C, similar comments but I would need to do more testing to speak specifically (not sure the m9XX was handling higher volumes well with the LCD2C).

    Aside from sound impressions, I quite like the THX AAA 789 as it has no major usability issues compared to certain other amps (ZDT Jr's transformer noise or Magni3's terrible pot or m9XX's noise floor) though some pot imbalance near the bottom of its range is present in my unit, but at least it can be offset using the -10dB gain switch.

    I wouldn't say it is cold but it is definitely not biased warm (or with 2nd order harmonic distortion for low frequencies) like some amps. I have never heard the O2 so can't comment on that.
    money4me247 and CoFire like this.
  5. Zachik
    Gilmore is coming out soon with "GS-X Mini" which is essentially a balanced version of Gilmore Lite Mk 2 + more power + other improvements / enhancements.
    The GS-X Mini was at their table during RMAF last month. GREAT amp!
    @kevin gilmore / @HeadAmpTeam can provide more info, although maybe this thread is not the right place for that discussion :wink:
    alphanumerix1 and Baten like this.
  6. BrotherKathos
    Hello everyone. I've got a question I was hoping someone here could answer. If I'm using a source dac that only has rca outs, can I still get output from the balanced headphone jack? I'm assuming that you can, but has anyone here tried. I'm a bit curious since I read in the user manual that the balanced input is disconnected from the SE line out.
  7. Alcophone
    Yes, all outputs are active regardless of the selected input.
  8. BrotherKathos
    Thank you! I've got some balanced cables on the way for my he-400i and hd6XX and was hoping I did not have to switch dacs to use them. I'm having a hard time deciding which headphone I like better with the thx 789 right now.

    Its strange, but I seem to get a bigger sound stage out of my 400i vs the hd6xx. I've always heard the sound stage is weaker on planars, but in at least two of my rigs that is not the case. One being a LCD2C with schiit mimby and asgard 2 combo. And the 2nd being the thx 789 with topping D50 and he-400i. The 400i does have the Dekoni fenestrated sheepskin pads so that might be affecting it a bit, but both setups give a better sound stage with the planars. The only rig I have that is better wit the HD6xx is the magni 3 and Loki with SMSL SU-8 setup.
  9. Baten
    Not so strange. The HD6xx sound super natural in timbre and very relaxing, but their sound stage is really just flat/in-your-head. It's probably their main disadvantage.
  10. Nosaj1969
    I'm very impressed with this amplifier. I have an Audio-gd balanced amplifier, and can honestly say that I like this one better! It was about double the price, and I think there isn't anything I've heard at the price point of this amplifier that will outdo it. Wonderful soundstage and openness. Love it.
    omniweltall likes this.
  11. Den Sol
    Just received mine last Friday. Used it with my HD6XX single ended for a brief listen, sound is quite clean and responsive, it feels like the amp is transparent like it disappears from the chain, which I like.
  12. Baten
    That is the point :D power with no color. Few amps achieve this honestly. Just "wire with gain".
  13. CoFire
    Which Audio GD balanced amp are you referring to? Any more comparisons? Eager ears and eyes awaiting impressions.

    I heard someone mention these might not pair well with HEX or HEK, glad to see the HD6XX users giving some nods of approval.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
  14. Nosaj1969

    I have several other amps, here is the list:
    Audio-gd NFB-1
    Massdrop Alex Cavalli CTH
    Massdrop Alex Cavalli Liquid Carbon X
    Massdrop x THX AAA 789
    Schiit Vali 2
    S.M.S.L sAp-9
    Schiit Jotunheim
    Massdrop Objective 2
    I also have an S.M.S.L SH-8 on order, and can't wait to use that with my second SU-8 at work.....

    For Dacs I have:
    Audio-gd R2R 1
    Schiit Modi Multibit
    2- Grace SDACs
    2- S.M.S.L SU-8s

    Focal Massdrop Elex
    Mr. Speakers Aeon Flow Closed
    Audeeze Sine Closed (work headphones)
    Hifiman Massdrop HE4XX
    Sennheiser Massdrop HD-6XX
    Sennheiser HD-600
    AKG Massdrop K7XX
    AKG K533 Pro Studio Monitor
    Monoprice M1060
    Monoprice M560

    So far, I've only listened to it for a couple hours using my Focal Elex. I'll post my views shortly, but more listening first!
    palchiu likes this.
  15. BrokeSkoolBoi
    So I just saw that the THX 789 is back on massdrop with immediate shipping, (as always..). But my question is, why would I buy this over the thx via Monoprice which includes a balanced dac for less $$ than you could possibly find a balanced dac to compliment the massdrop THX? Are there any cheap balanced DAC's that you all think are worth pairing with the THX 789?

    Does anyone have thoughts about the balanced Sdac (which i dunno where to find at the moment) vs a dual AKM that (i think) is used in the Monoprice THX amp?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
    alphanumerix1 likes this.
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