Massdrop x THX AAA 789

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by neogeosnk, Feb 26, 2018.

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  1. adeadcrab

    adeadcrab Acquaintance

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    I hope I still love listening to music at 71 as much as I do now!

    Have to wait until November for my 789 to get here.

    edit - to add something more, impressions I've read on Drop's reviews tab say it doesn't have the tallest imaging/stage. I don't think it will be an issue with the Focal Elex, and the ESP/95X (a guilty obsession of mine) is plenty tall enough. The driver is the size of the entire earcup!
     
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  2. greyscale

    greyscale Rando

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    Don’t look now but the Drop THX 789 is back up for sale again:D.
     
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  3. YMO

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    With some of the recent posts here, I want to do an almost nine-month follow up since owning the THX 789.

    Still an amazing bang for the buck neutral head amp that's a perfect fit for a computer setup. No changing cables since you have the three most popular headphone inputs (Balanced, 1/4, 1/8), enough power for anything you throw at it, and a clean design. This and using the Modi 3 for my DAC is a great combo that I can live with until I feel like getting a better DAC.

    I still think this is an underrated amp. If you can, try to get one and give it a shot. You won't be losing much money if you want to sell it.
     
  4. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    THX+Modi3 does seem like one sweet set-up with tons of outputs and polite sound that does nothing 'wrong' ;)
     
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  5. futbutts

    futbutts Acquaintance

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    I've been using my 789 for the past week now since delivery. I've been frankly really impressed. I'd read a lot of impressions that stated that it was definitely not 'cold' or 'clinical', but based on experiences with other nigh-perfect-measuring equipment was still somewhat expecting that experience. Lo and behold, it's just a really solid amp. The low-end is linear and reaches deep in relation to, say, the ZDT Jr I've been using. Nothing feels remotely accentuated, timbre and detail retrieval is excellent. It's just super balanced, basically perfect neutral, I'd say, and the SE output doesn't slack off either which is usually an issue with anything balanced out (granted, the AAA 789 isn't truly balanced). The choice between three gain stages and three different outputs is really convenient, as well, and the pot on my unit seems to have no channel imbalance issues at all at my listening levels, which is pretty quiet.

    At one point I thought I maybe was detecting something akin to haze? Like the slightest, sliiightest gauze-iness to the sound that was giving me some fatigue. But I haven't really noticed it since which leads me to think it was probably just listening fatigue at that point.

    Like I said -- color me surprised. I enjoyed the ZDT Jr enough I thought for sure I'd just give the 789 a listen and sell it off -- now I'm really not so sure. I think the ZDT Jr juuust edges it out in timbre sweetness and the sense of depth/soundstage... but the more linear bass and slightly superior imaging and really excellent separation are very enjoyable from the 789, as well. I guess I'll just keep A/Bing and my choice will make itself apparent before long.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
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  6. Wushuliu

    Wushuliu Acquaintance

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    Neti, Neti.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
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  7. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Really?
     
  8. Wushuliu

    Wushuliu Acquaintance

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    A little bit.
    It's not a reflection on the amp itself. I've had gear I like that they like too - just for the wrong reasons...
     
  9. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    Lets not say anything about ASR.
     
  10. Wushuliu

    Wushuliu Acquaintance

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    Post modified.
     
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  11. Baten

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    I got my SMSL SP200 in. Essentially a Chinese THX AAA 789 clone, using the same/similar THX modules. I don't really know why I bought it, I sold my 789 because it just didn't engage me (...and well, 'cause I could sell it on head-fi for $100 more than I bought it lol).

    Anyway, the SP200. It's basically the 789, cheaper and with a pretty lousy volume pot which has very little resistance and feels like a toy. On the other hand, the massdrop pot sometimes crackled a little at lower volumes and this one doesn't do that. The gain however is different, and you don't get unity gain, only medium and high gain. With RCA input this already makes things quite loud for most headphones, balanced 4V input will just make sensitive headphones completely unusable.
    That, together with the volume knob problem makes this amp mostly good for volume hungry headphones unless you're willing to lower volume digitally. I don't like to do that, so I'm a little bit conflicted about this amp. It's affordable, clean sounding and powerful, but there's the mentioned cons.

    About the sound. To me it simply sounds like it has zero character. Sure it amplifies well, stage is decently large just like the drop 789. But everything sounds like sterile background music. My favorite tracks don't engage me, or at least not really. I've no idea why the THX feed-forward stuff seems to do this, but it doesn't make for a "fun" amp. It takes the signal and seemingly removes all the fun out of it. Admittedly, this kind of sound did impress me initially but it's not something I'd want to listen to in the long term.

    Guess I'll sell it off soon and get an Asgard instead. Heck I'm sure it's likely the new magni does a lot of stuff better than this amp. As always, YMMV. For me it's my second and final try at settling for a THX amp. Not that it's all terrible, just not my thing at this point. If the Schiit Heresy sounds anything like it, I recommend going for Magni 3+ in its stead :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  12. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I bought one as well out of a lack of patience with Drop. I think it's clean nature favors a more colored/mid-centric headphone like the HD650 or LCD-2. just like the 789, the transient presentation is lightning-fast.
    I agree it's not optimal for sensitive headphones as there's just too much gain.
    With my 600 ohm 1st gen T-1s it never passes 11 oclock, and it's definitely on the lean side.
    i'll probably keep it around as a high-powered neutral reference and alternative to my Crack and a custom OTL a friend is building for me. I'd definitely like to compare it the the Asgard 3, which i've heard, but not compared.
     
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  13. Baten

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    Yes that would be a good idea. Definitely interested in an Asgard comparison ;)
     
  14. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    Has anyone with the Drop version heard the Monoprice version?
     
  15. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Aren't they the same insofar they even have the exact same toggles, inputs, outputs?
    I would expect them to sound the exact same, would be very surprised if they didn't.
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I say we assemble all the affordable 0.000x chip based amps together, put them on clay pigeon throwers, and let @LetMeBeFrank have at a go at them with various gunpowder launched projectiles.
     
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  17. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    so THX (as a cheap chip chifi implementation) = advanced CMOY? Yawn.
     
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  18. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I thought I'd read on this forum a couple times that the monoprice one actually sounded better than the massdrop version?
     
  19. redrich2000

    redrich2000 Almost "Made"

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    This guy on youtube thinks the SP200 sounds better than the MD 789. I don't know him at all so take with with the proverbial.

    I'm also very keen on Asgard comparisons. I have an Asgard at home and am looking to get another SS amp for the office. I have been looking at the 789 but if it's no better than the A3. I've seen a few comparisons. A certain nameless ex-headfi mod reviewed the 789 and thought it better than the A3. But some here have the opposite view.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  20. Majestyk

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    This guy gives the THX 789 a very favourable review and compares it with some high end headphone amps.

     
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