Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Ampsearch
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Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp

Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp

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(26 reviews)
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We received many requests for a version of the Cavalli Liquid Carbon X (LCX) with the Grace Standard DAC (SDAC) inside.
Thank you! Turns out, this is an extremely versatile system. :) The LCX+SDAC is all you need with your computer and headphones or in-ear-monitors (IEMs) to have a great musical experience.
And, this DAC/Amp combo can be used to test other gear (if you ever wish to): -LCX+SDAC allows you to compare the internal DAC with an external DAC. The LCX can be fed from external sources (DACs, CD players, digital audio players). -The LCX+SDAC can be used as a DAC into another amp. You may want to try a tube amp on top. -Single-ended versus balanced operation…you can try your headphones and in-ear monitors on both outputs. -The LCX+SDAC can accept single-ended or balanced DACs.
The LCX+SDAC is a very high-quality audiophile Swiss Army Knife for sound. Topology - Quiet, Powerful Alex Cavalli and I have had many conversations over the course of the past year about what makes the Liquid Carbon amplifier topology special.
The original purpose for the Liquid Carbon was to make a high-quality, low noise balanced IEM amp with a gain of 1x, with the additional features of having a gain of 3x and a single-ended output for convenience.
The LCX utilizes unity gain current feedback discrete operational amplifiers derived from the output buffers used in the highly-regarded Liquid Glass amplifier. The Liquid Carbon’s balanced & bridged design rejects noise in the circuit, and can produce the clean power needed for both IEMs and headphones.
Grace Design Standard DAC (SDAC) There are phase-splitters in the LCX that convert the SDAC signal into balanced. I've done my own testing and can definitely tell a difference between the balanced and single-ended outputs with the SDAC.
Using Noble K10 IEMs with balanced cable (and adapter to 4-pin XLR), I can report that the Noble K10 balanced out of the LCX+SDAC is a great pairing...
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We're working on the first production run of these: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-grace-design-standard-dac-balanced
Amen to that
If I use the balance out of my DX150 to the XLR balanced input on the back of the LCX. Will that bypass the DAC on the LCX and just use the amp? Wish this sucker had a SPDIF input.
Found this used for $425. Is it worth it? I'm still considering the THX 789 when it drops again so I'm not sure I should get this one. Either one would replace my Aune X7S but the Liquid Carbon has the SDAC built in so I'd sell mine with the Aune X7S if I sold it. https://www.canuckaudiomart.com/details/649481043-massdrop-liquid-carbon-x-sdac-dacamp/
Curious what would be a reason to choose the LCX over THX 789? (ignore the DAC)
(Edited)
Can these output to speakers? Those SE Pass RCA jacks are confusing
I have to ask. The instructions for this amp mention that you shouldn't leave it on. Well, it turns out I have accidentally left it on for about a week. I'm not sure if there has really been any effect, but I am curious: what consequences could there be? I thought leaving amps on was bad for tube amps, but the description here says it is solid state, so what gives?
2-bits
Was music playing while it was on? You may have successfully burned in your unit (burn in is a good thing).
Is there a sonic difference between this model with the sdac and the standalone x version? T.i.a
I am loving this amp paired with the SennHDXX...Two quick questions I am not very well-versed in the electronics of this type of equipment (ohms, impedence, etc.) Would this amp be sufficient to drive Beyerdynamic Ti headphones? If not, what type of amp would be sufficient? Also, I have some hearing deficits and am loving the clarity and definition of the above amp/headphone pairing. Still trying to figure out whether I like the Gain button. I have eschewed it in the past but it seems to polish some of the music I have been listening to lately. Is applying the Gain the same thing as cranking the Volume knob or does it function as some sort of compressor pushes some sort of frequency? Thanks for your thoughts!
is there a difference in sound quality between this version that comes with the dac, to the amp only version?
24/96 and no 24/192? No DSD? No iso.? What are we in, 2015?
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There isn't. Look up Nyquist Theorem and research bit depth.
Pointy
I think you are missing my point. A lot of us have those larger files. I'm not going to debate whether or not they "sound better". The fact is, those file sizes and types are common and should be able to be read. If you use your computer, you can let software like Audinirvana change those files before it hits your DAC so that they can play them. If you connect a DAP to it, the DAC will just skip those files as unplayable. I don't think it's convenient at all to ask everyone to convert all of their Hi-Res files into a smaller bit rate to accomodate the DAC. Just put a better DAC chip in there that can read all the file types.
Any diagrams that would help me with this as far as hooking up to x and what cables I would need. X represents other hardware I need. Be patient as I'm am totally new to this. My 6xx are here and my amp/dac are marked for tomorrow delivery.
Works out of the box. Using it with XLR output to Focal Elex. Still early , 20 hours, but first impressions are not good. Source is Tidal. Was previously using Fiio X5 III to power the Elex. Fiio soundstage is much more detailed and warm. Cavalli is washed out and cold. Mids in particular are not engaging at all. I will keep burning it in but if there is no dramatic improvement will likely try and sell.
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What is your volume usually set to on your LCX? From what I remember from reading that manual, Cavalli's recommendation on the CTH is to set the volume to 10 o'clock and play music through it with no headphones (for burn in). As per habit, my volume is usually around 10-12 when listening, and source volume is adjusted accordingly to listening levels.
buffdudejapan
No boost. Volume turned full and then slightly backed off.
Thoughts on this vs Jotunheim with dac?
I have the stand alone SDAC paired with an Aune X7S. Would the LCX+SDAC be of any improvement?
I just pulled the trigger on this bad boy but need help from my fellow audio-heads. What would I need, to use this amp using an Apple TV as my source? I do have an optical laying around somewhere. Also right now my Apple TV (4th Gen) is connected to my reciever through HDMI; for simplicity reasons, is there an easier method? If I wish to use my iPhone with this amp, what would I need as well? So far my three sources will be: Apple Tv (4th-gen) MacBook Pro (only USB-C inputes) iPhone XS Max
Megazine
Ok so Firstly, for your MacBook Pro, you'll need to get a USB C to USB A dongle (I assume you have that) there should be a USB cable provided with this DAC/AMP plug those two together then go into System Preferences on your Mac and then go into Audio and then at the top there will be some tabs, click on Output (I think that's what it's called, not a daily Mac user sorry) and then hopefully this DAC should show up and you click on the DAC and enjoy. Now for your iPhone, I'd say just buy a 3.5mm to Stereo RCA cable and use that. For your Apple TV there's not really a direct way to connect that to the DAC/ AMP as it has no separate output, from what I know anyway. But because you have it connected to your receiver, that might have some RCA outputs or maybe even some XLR outputs, the latter would make your life very easy. But anyway if it doesn't have XLR outputs then get yourself some RCA to XLR Male cables and plug that into the XLR inputs of the AMP. And if you have XLR outputs then just buy yourself some XLR cables and off ya go. Hope that helped
Is it possible to use a turntable that requires grounding with this? Or would I have to get an external preamp with ground screw?
qaz11
External Pre Amp into the RCA inputs. From the specs I can't see that this unit has a Phono stage.
Utkarsh97
Thank you!
Hi all...I'm a newbie to MassDrop and headphone amps, etc. I just received the Liquid Carbon X + SDAC/DAC/AMP which I am hoping to use with the HD6XX. I was hoping to run my Ipad and/or Iphone off of this. When hooking everything up, however, my Ipad gave me an error message: "SDAC cannot use device because it requires too much power." I have no clue as to how to go about remedying this OR if it can be remedied. I am hoping some kind soul out there in audiophile land can help me figure out what to do next. I don't know whether it's relevant but I am using the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter (which works fine with my Dragonfly). Thanks so much!!
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If the Apple devices are charging, you have them plugged in wrong. The Apple device should be the host, so connect the hub *input* to the Apple device via the USB camera adapter, then plug the SDAC into any one of the "output" ports of the hub.
iamjamestl
Bingo!!! Fireworks! It's up and running and sounding beautiful. Much appreciated!!
Has anyone tried this with sensitive and low impedance IEMs? Im wondering if hissing is present on a low gain setting?
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I have two LCXs. Both have trivial channel imbalance with the volume knob from 7 (the start) to 8 o'clock (one to the left, the other to the right), then it disappears (as judged by the center image staying perfectly centered in my head). With my highest sensitivity headphones on the balanced output, I find the usable range on the amp to be from 8 (very quiet) to 11 (very loud). Because I want more usable range, I decrease the output from my computer by -9 dB. That puts the usable range more around 9 to 1 o'clock, well away from the channel imbalance at low volume, and more likely in the sweet spot of the amp. Decreasing the level output by my computer does not impact dynamic range in any perceptible way because I play 16-bit music scaled to the 24-bit output to the DAC. In other words, you have a ton of headroom from your computer to the DAC to put the amp in the best volume range for your IEMs, especially because the amplifier noise is so low.
iamjamestl
Thanks again for your detailed reply. I think I might dwell on this some more but your insights have certainly convinced me that I won't likely have volume issues. Cheers!
Is this SDAC Balanced? I want to know will it outputs balanced or not. The spec for me seems to be LCX (Balanced) + SDAC (Unbalanced DAC).
Shinade
The internal SDAC is singled ended and has a single-ended 3.5mm TRS output which operates simultaneously with an internal connection to the amp. The LCX has a phase splitter to turn the SDAC and RCA inputs into balanced signals, so both can be amplified and output from either the single-ended and balanced front jacks.
Anyone try this with he560 in balanced?
Support DSD?
Rayw
Negative on DSD, bit of a blind spot on MD collaborative products. The R-2R did get DSD, at least at DoP level. Denial of Superior Digital, or something...
Hi all,
Loved the unit, but all of the sudden, the light went out and it won't turn on. The power supply shows a green light. Don't know what happened.... Contacting customer support....
how will this sound with HD800s?
I just ordered a pair of argon Mk3's, would these be a great combo to push the power hungry t50rp mods?
Can i play from my android phone using otg?
bmwfan
Of course, it has micro usb input so it should work with any standard phone wire disincluding the new apple crap
Would this be a worthwhile upgrade from a geek pulse standard?
Hi. I'm now using DP-X1A with 2.5 trrs output. I'm thinking of connecting the DAP with this via 2.5-rca connector. However, I see the input impedance of the amp is fairly high(10kOhm), which is ~100 times higher than normal headphones which the DAP is intended to work with. Would this DAP balanced output - amp RCA input work properly?
cmspm6
I also want to ask this: is ground pole of two rca input connected? it says SE input on RCA... to use balanced input, is two xlr connection the only option?
If I get the schiit Loki, do I just run the cables from the rc out into the rc in of Loki. Then the the rc out of Loki to the rc in on the LCX+SDAC?
TacoHerder
Yes mine works just fine.
Can you use this as just a DAC and disable the amp?
Jedi_IT
Yes, with the 3.5mm output on back. The LCX SDAC doesn't have to be on to use it.
Jedi_IT
Buuuuut... that is an awfully expensive Grace SDAC... cheaper to buy the DAC alone, and it is a regular drop on MD.
Hi all, right now my setup is an Aune T1 (mk 1) to CTH to a pair of HE 560. I haven’t had the amazing experience that many people seem to have with the HE560. im looking into this as the next potential upgrade. Does anyone know if this will be a substantial upgrade over my current set up? Or even comment on CTH vs this?