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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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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Phase splitter is at the SE input only. When you give it a balanced signal it does not go through a phase splitter.
CEE_TEE
@CEE_TEE When will the next amp only drop be?
Has anyone tried this with sensitive and low impedance IEMs? Im wondering if hissing is present on a low gain setting?
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).
Anyone try this with he560 in balanced?
Support DSD?
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?
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.
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?
This or a Schiit stack? Deciding on a good dac/amp combo to use at home so I can stop using my portable gear at home.
TacoHerder
The Magni 3 is more powerful on single ended (1.3W RMS per channel on the Magni vs the 0.7W RMS per channel), but the balanced on this unit is more powerful (2.8W RMS per channel). So if you're using the balanced portion, you'd definitely benefit from this guy, but if you're not using balanced cables and such, then you're better off getting the SDAC here on Massdrop and pairing it with the Magni 3 for a stack of $250.
EnsisTheSlayer
I don't own any balanced gear yet. But depending on if my recruitment recovery in my left ear. I might get a hearing aid implant for my right ear if the sound is natural. Then I might want to get some balanced gear. Don't really want to wait until next year for the SDAC though. Who knows, maybe either a Schiit stack or this plus a Magni 3. Looking forward to listening to music again. So I would like to return to some new gear for my home.
Does anyone have measurements at this point? Jitter, THD+N, Frequency Response, etc.
Any who owns LCX+SDAC, could you please post a picture of the power supply? Does it look like this
search
the XLR port on the front accept microphone input or is it an oput only?
iLLin
Output only.
Does anyone know where I can find a replacement power adapter? Mine has oddly stopped working (light won't turn on). I believe I'm looking for a generic class 2 30v @ 1.25a but can only find 30v @ 2a. I assume that's ok but want to make sure I won't risk damaging anything.
frivoflava29
Being it's expensive I'm a little hesitant to say this, but the important things to match up is plug size, voltage, and enough current. The current will only flow at 2A if the circuit demands it, which is only possible (I think) if you short circuit it or try to power 4 ohm speakers or something like that (not headphones). 1.25A is crazy amounts of current for headphones. Wrong plug size is an issue for obvious reasons. Too little voltage and the amp may not perform optimally or at all and too much can fry and explode components.
With that said, it should work. But the issue is the included ac to dc adapter might have superior filtering compared to typical common adapters. Poor filtering for amps mostly will just mean you'll hear hiss. Not sure how DAC's react to it, probably similar with no risk to damage.
Perhaps the Carbon X has additional filtering under the hood but I really not all that familiar with this product. Given DACs really don't ask for voltage above 5 or 6V, I assume there's at least some power conditioning (filtering) to step down the voltage from 30V to 5V for the DAC. Or, well, the dac is powered by the USB like many are. Like I said, not familiar.
Michael-Q
Thanks for the detailed response, I really appreciate it! Massdrop is going to have me send back the whole LCX+SDAC. I'm happy using my CTH for now.
How important is turning the unit off before unplugging/plugging any cables (as stated in the manual)? I'd like to be able to A/B headphones but it's hard with a 10-second delay to turn it off and let it warm up.
Jestercow
Not too sure, but at least pause the track/song if you try A/B'ing headphones. Maybe others know more of why you should follow (or not follow) these instructions. I'm really not too sure.
There might be a risk you'll short circuit the output to ground as you insert or remove a plug. Never seen it happen but not exactly going to try to make it happen ether. I'd have to get a good view of the internals of the stereo jack as one plugs in headphones. Not too familiar of what could go wrong with XLR.
If it's paused (and perhaps turn volume way down), the amp should be outputting nearly 0 Volts. 0 volts to ground is harmless. If you're playing music with a positive output, any voltage to 0 will draw a lot of current possibly damaging the amp. With XLR balanced output there might be a sudden surge as you complete the circuit mid "slam" on a track.
Generally it's dangerous to do those type of things with headphones on your head. The amp has enough power to do serious damage to your ears. Going from super sensitive to super unsensitive is risky. Also, if you're swapping inputs, it's even more dangerous you'll plug a too strong of signal in and blow your ears out. Or inject random (static) loud noise into the inputs.
With that said, have I done these things before? Yep, but I try not to anymore. I swap headphones with the amp on but off my head. I don't see the issue if the amp is stable.
Jestercow
Buy an A/B switch. Then you can use the same output from the amp.
I have to say I'm fairly disappointed that with the LCX and CTH next to each other is is very obvious they have a different finish to them. The CTH is more matte and not as deep of a black.
rbn920
agreed, such an eye sore
I really like the "look" of this and the fact that it is a Dac/Amp combo but I wonder if there is anyone here who has experience with both this and the Audio gd NFB.11.28? They are at similar price points and I've never heard or read anything bad about the NFB.11.28 as opposed to this unit. I've seen a few complaints be it quality control issues or hissing and cracking at a certain point. And I've also read that this unit is a bit cold which I wouldn't expect. I'd think it would be more neutral if anything, especially if it places itself in this price point. I'm literally just looking for something that sits pretty on my desk and is an all in one beast to replace my current Schitt stack and Mayflower ARC (which I happen to love by the way). Hopefully someone has some input to share. As always, thanks in advance.
Ordered one a few days ago, excited to have it come in new to the audiophile world :3
This looks just like the Schiit Jot with a bit less power SE and half the max power balanced but this is $130 less than Jot with 4490 dac. Has anyone owned both or has a comparison been done?
RareAirs
I've compared it to my Asgard 2 with Bifrost 4490. The only noticeable difference was the LCX was a bit brighter. As far as sound clarity between the SDAC and the BF4490, I couldn't tell the difference when I was A/B'ing it (I used a this https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008BMLXAU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). The Asgard 2 definitely has more power compared to the LCX. There was no reason to keep the Schiit gear, I sold it, plus I didn't like the Silver. I'm happy with the LCX/SDAC and CTH.
1. Does the phase-splitters converts external DAC into balanced signals too? 2. Does LCX (without grace DAC) has phase-splitters too? 3. About the dac, Is Grace DAC better than apogee groove? Thanks everyone provides idea in advance
jeeyi345
1. if u used xlr inputs no 2. same as 1st 3. no idea
Onslash
Thank you
What kind of differences are there between the CTH and the LCX in tonality and soundstage/imaging after burn-in? Like my cth but I'm looking at the LCX as an option to upgrade.
If I'm only using single-ended headphones and earphones, should I get this or the THXAAA789?
phoenixsong
The THX AAA 789 without a doubt. This unit is really meant for balanced use and has a relatively weak single ended output. Plus, THX AAA is looking like THE amp solution going forward. I wish I had the patience to get a THX instead of compromising with my LCX.
Exceptional investment for the price. My first leap into a balanced amp, i've got it paired with Fiio x5 3rd gen dap-Sennheiser HD700 with 4pin balanced cables and Audioquest cables connecting amp and dap. Great sound very pleased with investment. HiFiman 400i as backup when I want different sound. Keep on making great collabs sir, my thanks a loyal customer.
I am very close to pulling the trigger and buying this amp, however I am new to audiophile and I hope to make the best purchase for my $400 budget. I have the HD58X from Massdrop and I am currently using my iPhone with the FIIO e9. Any advice? I also have a very nice upgraded balanced cable for a balanced amp like this one. Thanks!
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Trigger pulled! I went with the Jotunheim with balanced DAC. My headphones have been transformed. Music has never sounded this good outside of a live concert. I’m listening to my music on Tidal, worth every penny. I am just waiting for the Fanmisic C6 balanced cables. I love this hobby!
Whittpix
Good choice, I love the Jot but it never available in black, it's in stock at times but gone quick. I'm happy with what I have for now.....
Anyone tried this with SE846 balanced?