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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. oqvist
    I will say though my Trafomatic Audio Head One for some reason sounds absotutely insanely good with the Focal Elear. Which is of course tuned differently then the Clear and Utopia but give it a shot. It´s a match made in heaven I never saw coming... I could go pages and rave about the match :wink:
    THX AAA 789 is the best solid state I heard for it but it´s not in the same ballpark at all in term of perceived realism.

    Curious if it would do similar trick to Clear and Utopia but I shot my headphone budgets for decades to come already and why when the Elear sound this good. But then we have the HD800S on the THX AAA 789 and the LCD-2 on this or my RDS-440. I wish I was a hydra.
    Baten likes this.
  2. Wallboy
    Anyone from Canada ordered one of these units? What sort of custom/import fees did you have to pay?
  3. jcadduono
    Since you would be ordering from USA there would only be HST on import and the fees of the courier if you ship it across the border.

    $350 USD declared = $465.60 CAD
    $465.60 * 0.13 = $60.53 in HST

    I assume Massdrop ships this with UPS Ground.

    UPS will charge $48.25 as a "Entry Preparation Fee" for packages declared up to $500 CAD.
    They will also charge you 2.7% of the taxes that they pay for you, or $5.85 minimum.

    2.7% of $60.53 is only $1.63 so you will be charged the $5.85.

    $48.25 + $5.85 = $54.10
    $54.10 * 1.13 (HST on additional UPS fees) = $61.1

    $60.53 (item's HST) + $61.13 (UPS fees) = $121.66 paid at the door when it is delivered to you.

    So overall you would pay $587.26 CAD for this amplifier, not including possible 2-3% additional foreign transaction conversion fees. I have no idea if Massdrop charges extra for shipping to Canada either.

    I had used a no FTF credit card and shipped it to a US border package pickup which costs $3.00 so I paid:
    $465.60 + $60.53 + $3.00 = $529.13 to do all of this myself instead, and the gas to drive there. Hmm, I guess UPS ain't so bad.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
    omniweltall likes this.
  4. MacMan31
    I've ordered from Massdrop before and once the item is in Canada it gets delivered via Canada Post. At least that's been my experience. Either way do you still think this amp is worth almost $600?
  5. jcadduono
    if you're fortunate enough to have it go through USPS to Canada Post then you'll probably just have to go to the post office and pick it up and pay $9.95 handling + $60.53 tax which is pretty nice.
    Sometimes Canada Post is processing so many packages at once that it skips Customs Clearance and you don't pay a dime. I've had this happen a few times.

    well, it's essentially the best solid state amp you can buy right now under $2000 so I'd say the $600 is worth it. I'm replacing my Audio-gd NFB-28.38 with it. (trying to sell it for $850 CAD)
    This + Topping D50 + LCD-X is my end game and I'm here!
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
    cardeli22 likes this.
  6. Roen
    You mean like the top illustration?


    Also, if using such a RCA -> XLR cable, normally, the balanced out is approx 2x the voltage relative to the SE out. In this case, the voltage is still the same 1x SE out since all we're doing is changing a wire path and not actually doubling voltage?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
  7. Wallboy
    Thanks for the detailed approximation. I can't justify dropping over $100 extra at the door. Massdrop needs to step up their game with international shipping. I see quite a few large dicussions on there about people outside of the US getting nailed with really large customs/import fees. Even if this amp is worth more than it's cost, I just can't justify paying that much more out of principle.
  8. AndrewM888
    Yes, build it like the top image so noise currents can flow from RCA sleeve to pin 1 and leave the pin 3 wire with no ground bounce voltage on it. Not like bottom image which yields no benefit.
    Yes, often a DAC BAL out is 2x voltage of its SE out, so you need adequate gain in the amp. 789 in "Gain 3" is designed for 2Vrms sources - either SE or BAL.
    And if you have DAC with BAL XLR and SE RCA outputs, then another reason it's preferable to use the BAL is usually the SNR is around 3dB better.
  9. alpovs
    Unlike the theoretical answers above I can say that I received this amp. I am in Ontario and I had to pay $70.03 CAD in customs charges which were $60.03 in 13% tax and $10 processing fee, no duties. The package was delivered by Canada Post. It had been shipped by DHL from New Jersey. I believe DHL does the shipping and delivers packages to major Canada Post hubs and then Canada Post does the local delivery. I got mine at the peak of postal strike and it didn't seem to affect the shipping. I got it in 5 days from the shipping date. The shipping cost $25.25 USD. The charge for the amp plus shipping was roughly $510 CAD including currency conversion fees, so the total cost for me was $580 CAD. CAD/USD exchange rate changed a bit since then, so today it will be a little more.
  10. Roen
    Just so I don't misunderstand. My DAC will send out a 2Vrms signal over its SE out through RCA. If I use this RCA to XLR cable, the amp will still only see 2Vrms through its Balanced input, correct? There's no voltage doubling that occurs?
  11. alpovs
    That principle is Canadian taxes. Does it matter if you pay them at the door or if Massdrop charges them when you order? The total will be the same.
    cardeli22 likes this.
  12. alpovs
    I ordered many items from Massdrop and they ALWAYS shipped by DHL->Canada Post. And DHL takes care of the customs charges, Canada Post only collects the money. As a result they NEVER skipped customs charges even for inexpensive items, and there is always a $9.95 processing fee, even if the tax is less than $9.95.
  13. MacMan31
    I have an Aune X7S so I’m not sure if this is a worthwhile upgrade.
  14. AndrewM888
    Correct! A "balanced input" done right is actually just a "differential input" in that it subtracts IN- from IN+ and doesn't really care if the signals are equal and opposite, or not. If you have RCA output DAC and have RCA to XLR-3 cable, then at the amp input the XLR pin 3 (IN-) will be just held at ground (0V) and the XLR pin 2 (IN+) is swinging 2Vrms with respect to ground. So 2-0 = 2V differentially seen by the amp XLR input.

    The 789 works well with 2V rms on either XLR or RCA input. And with 2V input you're free to use any of the 3 gain positions without fear of clipping.
    BrokeSkoolBoi, Baten and Roen like this.
  15. Roen
    Thanks for the explanation!
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