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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. alpovs
    @Alcophone, do you have new impressions of this amp, especially compared to the Jotunheim? With the Yggdrasil, does it flatten the soundstage too? Any other impressions?
  2. Roen
    I'll have a couple of cables sent to me to try this halfway house method of reducing ground noise on an unbalanced DAC out. Might as well lol.
  3. LevPush
    Did you pull the trigger in the end? Interested to know the difference.
  4. MacMan31
    I did not pull the trigger yet. I think money is a bit tight right now so I may have to wait.
  5. oqvist
    Had the amp on for 48h it´s luckily as soft and smooth as ever. If there is any difference at all surely have to a-b them at the same time.
  6. RNST
    I have the Jotunheim and just received the 789 yesterday. I haven't really done a head to head comparison yet but did spend a few hours trying out the 789 with different music genres. Some say there is no burn in period so these comments are purely from a fresh out of the box perspective.

    I'm new to audio reviews so please bear with me. I'm mostly a vinyl guy who avoided iTunes and have jumped into Hi Res in the past few years.

    I'm using a Pono as a source in Balanced mode with dual 3.5 mm to XLR Surf Cables. The headphones are H6xx with a Cardas 4 Pin XLR Cable.

    I played a few tracks from U2 Achtung Baby 44.1 kHz 24 bit, Steely Dan Gaucho 96 kHz 24 bit, Aerosmith Get a Grip 192 kHz 24 bit, Herbie Hancock at Massey Hall 192 kHz 24 bit and Norah Jones Day Breaks 192 kHz 24 bit.

    I started using Pono at 3/4 full power output and the 789 on gain setting 2 at almost full power.

    With the rock tunes, I found the bass a little on the light side. Turning down the volume and using gain setting 3 then turning up the volume the bass and drums kicked in. From there I found the listening experience to be quite good with a lot of clarity instrumentally and with the vocals.

    Going back to gain setting 2 for Norah Jones and Herbie Hancock was best for me since I typically listen to this type of music at a lower volume as a background while reading. There was clarity of the instruments and Norah's voice had the airiness I expected.

    I've had the Jotunheim c/w Mulitibit DAC and a WYRD for about 6 months. Its connected to a MacBook Pro with SSD for Flac Files and it's connected to a Pioneer Blu Ray player.

    Without doing a head to head, Playing Steely Dan Gaucho, the Jot sounds warmer while the 789 is a bit brighter. That was my first impression last night.

    I picked mine up at the PO outlet yesterday and paid $33.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
    omniweltall and alpovs like this.
  7. LevPush
    So I am planning to pair it with my current Modi 3 right now. Is there any benefit in upgrading to a balanced DAC, what would be the difference be? And if so, which balanced DACs should I consider?
  8. Baten
    Balanced is converted to SE during amplification. Stick with your SE DAC!
    cardeli22 likes this.
  9. BrotherKathos
    Your cheapest option for a decent balaced dac is the SMSL SU-8. Compared to my Topping D50 the balanced SMSL dac does give a bit different of a presentation. The overall sound signature is the same as the D50, having lots of clarity and fairly warm for a sabre dac, but still a tad brighter than the D50. The biggest difference between the two was that the balanced dac pushed the instruments a bit apart and different sections seemed closer or further back than the unbalanced D50. My favorite combo with the thx right now is the Schiit EITR and modi multibit. This has the best overall presentation, bass, spaciousness, and clarity while being the smoothest and least fatiguing. The balanced dac was my least favorite, with the D50 and modi multibit being very close without the addition of the EITR. I used both for a while by themselves and it really was up to my mood as to which was better at the time. Without the Eitr the D50 just has a slight advantage with a kind of 3d like effect on some songs and a bit better bass, but the mimby has the edge in depth, openness, and spaciousness. I think its my dirty laptop usb that is a problem for me and the EITR helps. I've not tried the EITR with the D50 yet though so not sure how that pairs and if its truly the usb though that makes a diference.
    alpovs likes this.
  10. BrotherKathos
    I did prefer my D50 in se to my SMSL SU-8 in balanced with the THX. I wonder if it has anything to do with the conversion on the amp side, the balanced connection, or just the differences in sound between the two dacs themselves I was using much 'better' cables with the balanced connection(Cardas quadlink) vs some cheaper mogami rca with the D50.. My favorite is the SE mimby with EITR combo. Probably going to stick to this combo for a while.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  11. Baten
    Using BAL doesn't hurt of course but there's no real benefit to do it with this amp. Since BAL is converted to SE during amplification and then back to BAL, while SE will also get output to BAL (therefore SE input comes down to the same thing, makes dac/amp pairing very easy indeed).
    cardeli22 likes this.
  12. LevPush
    Hmm I see, so bascially I dont need to worry about balanced dac. Maybe I could upgrade from modi 3 to modi multibit some time later if I find them to be that much difference. Maybe off-topic here but mimby is like 2.5x the price of modi, is there going to be that much of a difference?
  13. Baten
    More Euphonic sound. Hard to quantify in "much" or "little" honestly. If you already have modi3, it's probably a lot of money to go multibit, little too much (my opnion)
  14. BrotherKathos
    I have the modi 3 as well and paired to the thx its very good and nips at the heels of the mimby and D50 quite honestly. I would say getting an Eitr to use with the modi 3 would be better than upgrading to the d50 or mimby, but of course you could also upgrade to the mimby and eitr for the ultimate budget head fi rig :) The modi 3 on its own has a tad less pronounced bass and treble than the d50. Its closer to the mimby in signature, but you loose just a tad of depth, spaciousness and you do still get a bit of that delta sigma edge as well, alshough not as much as the d50. definitely the trademark akm velvet sound in play on the modi 3, which to me is a good thing.
    tim0chan and Baten like this.
  15. LevPush
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