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. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    I'm pretty sure the same guy called the AGD Singularity 19 DAC a Schiit Yggdrasil/Holo Spring killer.

    I went looking, and can't find his Head-fi post. I can't find his YouTube video on that DAC either, but I clearly remember watching it. He did a full review. He probably removed them after the world realized the S19 was complete dog shit.

    I stopped taking anything he had to say seriously after that. YMMV.
     
  2. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    Yeah, most of us know who "this guy" Amos/Currawong is. Thanks for sharing.
     
  3. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Yeah I find zero value in what he has to say unfortunately.

    There was a guy in youtube whom I give a lot of weight on what he said. Too bad he stopped his reviews. He had to buy his own review gears as manufacturers did not want to provide him. And he also got heat from some manufacturers because of his negative reviews.

    Yup I remember that video. Did he take it off?

    This guy is a big supporter of AGD products in general.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  4. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    He must have. I searched his YouTube channel for it. Nada. Lots of 2 hour long AGD videos there. Fanboi extraordinaire.

    (They're not actually 2 hours long, but watch one from start to end and you'll swear it was.)

    The part that gets me is that he was quite active in the AGD S19 thread on HF back then. I remember reading it, because we were calling it the worst DAC ever made, and HF was in full "it's better than breathing air!" hype mode. Now that thread is just a skeleton of disjointed posts, and most of his are gone. Ponderous man. Really ponderous.

    If anyone tells you Jood doesn't actively censor his forum in favor of members of the trade, or even his favorite members, then they've lied to you. That's just my 2 cents.

    Anyway... sorry to derail thread. Please carry on with discussions about the antiseptically boring but wonderfully measuring THX thingies. (Am I being unfair? I don't think so, but... meh, to each their own.)
     
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  5. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Acquaintance

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    You made a good call,I had the Sp200 as well and I find the Asgard 3 to be better in every way.

    Your completely right about the volume knob being absolute crap, its the worst one I have ever seen on an amp at any price. The knob on the o2 even was better. Even worse is the fact that they did a bait and switch with it, they changed to a linear pot while the review units they sent out all had logarithmic pots.Its complete insanity to put a linear pot on a amp as stupid powerful as the SP200 is, I wouldnt be surprised if someone blew up a IEM or really sensitive headphone on it.

    I also thought it sounded really terrible, one of the worst amps I have heard to the point I am pretty confident it was defective. It was super harsh, bright and disjointed sounding. It also had a strange hum at 11 o clock or higher on the volume dial. The seller I bought it from claimed it was working fine when I sent it back, but not sure that I buy that because it was so crap.

    I had a Drop 789 from one of the first releases and from memory it sounded far better than the SP200 I got did. I suspect the QC for it is just non existent as i have seen a few other people describing it as having the same issues. I would strongly recommend people avoid it.
     
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  6. Baten

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    That sounds very odd. From memory mine sounds identical to the Drop 789 to be honest. just with faster increasing/stupidly higher gain. Yours was likely defective :/

    Volume balance is perfect on mine too even at lower volumes, I lucked out on the volume pot apparently. Good for resale value LOL
     
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  7. Ice-man

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    This Drop 789 amp has been on my radar for quite some time, but just never got a chance to audition it until this past week. I wanted to post a few impressions on it as I've found it quite enjoyable and very good on the price/performance scale.

    The GOOD:

    *very much an uncolored and neutral signature, but never lifeless, boring or harsh. You will hear GOBS of detail.

    *lets the headphones and DAC control the sound (I like this approach)

    *fantastic price/performance. Now that these are fairly easy to pickup on the used market, somewhere around $330-$350 is basically a steal for this level of performance.

    *effortlessly powerful with ironclad grip on the transducer.

    *can be equally as good with dynamic driver and planar magnetic headphones

    *offers both balanced and SE inputs/outputs (not truly balanced amp though)

    The BAD:

    *nothing special about the chassis or build quality. It look and feels a bit cheap TBH, but nothing that seems it will fall apart as long as you are reasonably careful about using it.

    *somewhat of a "truth teller." This can be bad or good depending on your needs and preferences. With brighter/leaner sounding headphones this amp can sound piercing (ie hd800) The hd800 will always sound best with mods, EQ and a good tube amp like Eddie Current IMO.

    *powered by a wal-wart which I'm not much of a fan of.

    *very lightweight and can slide around easily on the desk when plugging and unplugging headphones.

    For me, in the right setup this amp can sound truly impressive, stunning even. But you'll need to be careful about component and headphone matching. Personally, I LOVE the Bifrost 2 with this amp. Because the amp is so uncolored, you are able to hear and appreciate just how special the Bifrost 2 really is in all it's glory. The 789/bf2 combo for right around $1k offers staggering performance. The 789 really does need a good DAC behind it to get the most from it. I tried the 789 with the Modi Multibit and it just didn't quite get there for me. The SDAC didn't do it for me either.

    And then there is the choice of headphones. I have found to get the best synergy with this particular setup my trusty hd650 was nearly a perfect match and compliment (the ETHER 2 was almost equally good for pairing). The 789 does in fact compliment (and to a degree overcome) the shortcoming of the 650. The 789 gives a better sense of speed to the 650 and improves that "wooly" bass with some tangible texture and better transient response.

    Most of us who've been around the block with the hd650, know that plugging this headphone into a very good amp will put a big Cheshire grin on your face and sometimes cause you to catch your jaw hitting the desk. The ECP amps come to mind as an example. The 789 is simply a wonderful complement to the 650 and I get that same "wow, listen to this headphone scale" with the 789. This amp acts to mitigate many of the shortcomings of the 650 in a very enjoyable way. With the right DAC and headphones, the 789 amp is truly impressive at it's price point and one of the best bargains that I've come across since getting into the hobby.
     
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  8. Baten

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    That's really high praise! I do agree with most things said :)

    Can you elaborate, do you use the Bifrost balanced? How about your headphones?

    Cheers
     
  9. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    I've tried the bf2 both balanced and SE to the 789. Balanced worked best for me with both the hd650 and ETHER 2. I wouldn't say that there was any night and day difference but I liked the power from balanced overall.
     
  10. Jerry

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    @Ice-man thanks for sharing. Nice impressions.

    It is funny how people can have very different perception on build quality. I thought the build quality (and look) is really good, especially for the price. Everything about it is solid (except for the power supply). What is it about it that feels cheap?
     
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  11. Ice-man

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    I suppose that I like the heavy polished aluminum chassis of the Schiit amps better. The CTH that I had seemed a little better on fit and finish, but the 789 (although it looks like the same chassis) has sharp edges on the front corners. But it's not bad. I suppose that I'm nit picking a little.
     
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  12. Josh83

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    Can anyone explain to me why the Massdrop and Monoprice THX amps clip on high gain if you’re feeding it a balanced source? The Massdrop’s manual warns of this, but I don’t quite understand why it was designed this way.
     
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  13. CEE TEE

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    It’s about how hot the source voltage is- on Gain 3 highest gain, you can overload the input if over 2.1V. I’m not at home and don’t have the max voltage with me at the moment but on Gains 1 & 2 you can go with up to 6 or 7V at the 789 inputs before clipping. Try Gains 1 & 2, you can get huge power that way.

    The other way is to inhibit your DAC output at the DAC or in the software to ensure you are not going over about 2.1V and then you should be getting max out of Gain 3. I should be able to find my previous comments on Drop or here and copy/paste later if needed.
     
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  14. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    Thanks for the help. I understand what’s happening. I guess I’m just not sure why it was designed that way.
     
  15. Armaegis

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    @Josh83
    My best guess is that on high gain with a hot signal you're bumping up against the supply rails of whatever input receiver they're using. Yeah you can get parts that work at higher voltages, but they usually don't perform as well.
     
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  16. CEE TEE

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    Here's my post on input voltages: https://drop.com/buy/drop-thx-aaa-789-linear-amplifier/talk/2502447

    Where we landed in Gains:
    Balanced: Gain: 0.66x , 2.0x, 6.6x (-4, +6, +16 dB), selectable via front switch.
    Single-Ended: Gain: 0.33x , 1.0x, 3.3x (-10, 0, +10 dB), selectable via front switch.

    INPUT Maximums
    The 789 can tolerate the following rms input voltage from your DAC without clipping:
    -10dB Mode: 7 V
    0 dB Mode: 7 V
    +10 dB Mode: 2.1 V

    Same maximum input voltages with either SE or Balanced DACs.
     
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  17. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Can't believe I owned the 789 for a year now. Do I still like it? VERY.

    I moved away from cans and into IEMs due to I was getting headaches from various can's headbands. I still have my HD600 but that's for uses here and there. The Various Gain settings is VERY HELPFUL for IEMs. It seems like I have plenty of knob control on at least the Campfire Audio stuff. I dunno if that was an input from @CEE TEE at the time, but for me it played very nicely with any IEM I throw at it without iFi Match (which I'll use it for my computer desk with the newly ordered Mangi 3+).

    Still highly recommend it for various of uses. I would tilt it heavily if you are into IEMs, because with the settings I don't feel you can blow them up. As I stated on my original review post here, don't worry about it if you are feeding the amp either SE or Balanced, any headphone input will do fine for the most part (unless you need all that power, then you have to use the Balanced).

    I really like how transparent the amp is, however, a bright DAC is not a good idea here. I'm enjoying this with the Modi 3, but once I move into my new place next month I'm putting a Bifrost 2 with it. The Modi 3 will stay on my desk with the Mangi 3+.
     
  18. CEE TEE

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    ^Yes, we played with different gain levels until we could use Andromedas on Gain 1 (with nominal source voltage of 2.1v). Andros are very sensitive so if they have no noise/hiss and you have some usable pot movement, you should be able to use any IEMs with the 789.

    Glad you are still rocking the 789 and enjoying it!
     
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  19. Ice-man

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    I have enjoyed the 789 WAY more than I expected to. I always felt that the CTH was a very good amp and had impressive price/performance. The 789 is easily better in that regard.

    I suppose that my preconceived notion was that the 789 would be bright and "unmusical." (hate using that term) But it's much more than that. DAC matching and synergy are important though. When paired with the BF2, the 789 just hits the sweet spot for me. Tone is lovely. Bass is clean and very extended...good slam.

    The 789 gets out of the way and let's me enjoy and appreciate just how good the bifrost 2 really is. Very impressed with this amp.
     
  20. Guidostrunk

    Guidostrunk Rando

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    I'm really interested in picking up a 789. I'm currently using the MCTH with the Rdac. My concern with going to solid state is based on a previous experience I've had with the Mjolnir 1 vs 2. With the LSST tubes in the MJ2 they were pretty much indistinguishable. Once I put some glass in the MJ2 it was immediately noticeable what tubes delivered to the sound. Now I know that it boils down to a preference between SS and tubes, and I've always leaned towards the latter.
    For me tubes add an extra something to the music. Especially in the soundstage presence. Notes seem to have more of a float/suspension with a sense of breath/air in between with tubes.

    I've been reading all the various reviews and the overwhelming consensus is that the 789 is detailed and transparent. I'm really curious about the soundstage and imaging.
    Hopefully someone that has owned both the Mcth and 789 chimes in with some thoughts on how they compare. Especially in soundstage and imaging.

    Thanks!
     

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