Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid Amp (CTH)search
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Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid Amp (CTH)

Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid Amp (CTH)

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(93 reviews)
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Verified Purchaser
It's only been with me for a day, and it's not even run in yet, but I'm absolutely loving the amp. Listening to it using a pair of much loved DT770 (250 ohm). Very detailed but smooth sound already with only 5 hours of running in. As with all good hifi it will be ruthlessly unforgiving with poorly recorded material and with poorly structured or produced tracks. Listening to vinyl (Pro-Ject RPM 1.3) , CD (Arcam Alpha 5) and digital music via an Audiolab 8000DAC has been a joy, with fresh details and nuances heard on tracks I've listened to many, many times before. On some tracks which sample old vinyl (Groove Armada - Suntoucher) the cracks and pops of the original vinyl can be heard. Beautifully made and packed. Thank you Massdrop, would have reviewed sooner when it arrived yesterday, but had to buy a UK to US adaptor for the power supply!
Verified Purchaser
I am new to this community and was skeptical about whether or not I needed a headphone amp. After all my DAP could drive my headphones OK and they sounded fine. However, the extra power available from this amp and the higher quality circuitry made a huge improvement to sound quality for both pairs of headphones I own. Audeze Sine, Focal Elex.
Verified Purchaser
Compared to Schiit Vali 2, warmer sound with slightly more stage. Vali 2 was driver and less coloured, more neutral. Bass still not as powerful as I hoped compared to higher powered SS amps. Overall satisfied with purchase.
Verified Purchaser
Having gone through a fair share of audio gear in the past 10 years I can honestly say this is the one purchase(not headphones) I am 100% satisfied with. The sound! I don't know why I never tried tube or hybrid before(co$t/fear of co$st?) Started with; > Fiio e11/iPod classic. > Schiit stack, then Modi+Asgard, ASUS Xonar SC/Asgard. > Android phone/mojo > V20(mojo, e11,modi , magni all sold off) > Enter Shanling M3s. >Desktop kit limbo for a long while.... Very long time deciding if I want to be chained to desktop or have a comfy chair side listening station. Decided on the latter. Pulled the trigger and got the CTH, about 35+ hours on it now, being fed from M3s LO mode. Flac 16/44 and 24/96. Favorite combo right now is 4XX with ZMF oval cowhide pads and TO400s 😜. This is my first bit of Tube gear and I am very happy, almost makes me want to grab HD6xx(only ever heard 650 through SS gear, K701 was preference at that time) and hear them again through this amp.
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Verified Purchaser
Love how this sounds with the 6XX, brings up the bass perfectly to be level with the rest of the range, all the way down to 20Hz. Tons of dynamic range in the sound. Exactly what I wanted and expected from a hybrid amp. I'm not sure what other people are talking about the power supply being noisy. I can turn the volume all the way up without hearing any noise and I have my wifi adapter right on top of it, and I don't use it anywhere near that volume.
Verified Purchaser
Wow. Amazing amp. Both build and sound quality are absolutely great. Sounds like or even better than many amps with at least double the price. Pairs very well with any of my headphone. Particularly well with higher impedance (at least a little higher) headphones. Sound quality is so detailed that I notice quite a difference using different DACs. So given you have a high quality DAC, proper music files and high quality audiophile headphones, this imho is a real bargain. For my ears very close to end game.
Verified Purchaser
Terrific sound, great deal.
Verified Purchaser
Very smooth and balanced, have bout 260 hrs burn in and it’s a winner for me. I did install a JJ gold pin with balanced triodes at the beginning. Two thumbs up!!
Woodtunes94
its not balanced, it just has a 4 pin socket.
tyll
He was referring to the Tube he used instead of the stock EH tube...
Verified Purchaser
This amp would perform a lot better if they used a linear power supply instead of the noisy switching power supply that comes with it. It doesn't make sense to use a form of power delivery that's known to be noisy in an amplifier. It's really been the only aching problem I've had with it.
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I plugged it in the power outlet before the CTH which is at the end, so there is no noise from the house or other devices
mmatzenauer
Thanks. I was able to googlefu it. Internet lockdown at work, but managed to figure out it's a mains filter and not something "to plug into".
Verified Purchaser
Very happy owner, plays really well with my Sennheiser HD6XX. I've noticed that the source is vital, tried 3 different dacs, Audioquest Dragonfly Black, Nad 1050 and my main dac, a Heed Abacus. The Heed dac is absolutely the best one, but it is also a lot more expensive than the other ones. I also switched to a NOS e88cc Philips SQ tube which was a well worth upgrade cuz of the improved low end. Would like to give it 5 stars but I need to compare the amp to other amps. Still very satisfied, definitely a keeper. No technical issues, my amp is dead quiet when it's supposed to be.
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Verified Purchaser
Love this amp. its fun to listen to and gives neonates like myself the option to roll tubes w/in a limited set... No issues with the electronics at all.
Verified Purchaser
I have this amp at home but I don’t stay at home most of the time. Lets not talk about the sound quality. When I listen to this amp, there is a strange sound occasionally. I would describe it as a “pulse”. It only happens to the right channel. I found it really annoying as I cannot enjoy my music. This is a very bad experience.
Hahatiger
you should talk to massdrop and ask for a replacement. I find that this amp is not a good match for iems and maybe even low impedance and sensitive headphones
Verified Purchaser
I find the performance is well beyond the price bracket and the available upgrade tubes make it very flexible.  There are a couple of things that would easily improve this impressive design -  a better quality linear power to replace the switch mode one and a larger 35 - 40mm hole on top (tube hole) to allow the use of conversion sockets - a final small derail is to add a small white (or other color) dot to the volume knob. As the cost of the linear power supply would raise the cost of the unit quite a lot, perhaps have this as an optional extra and if it's an adjustable version, perhaps could be used on other products too, like dacs, etc 
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Yes, I think you're onto a winner - in years to come, this headamp will be a classic. I thought the Siemens PCC88 was a stepup in the detail department (a straight dropin) but the Telefunken a bit too bright for me - the 6C8G (same as 6F8G) is better again - the TungSol's are getting expensive but clearly better, more open sound than the RCAs that I've tried - personal choice now. It wasn't hard to 'pop out' the insides and drill/hole cut the bigger hole on the top to use change-over sockets but it'll forgo the guarantee - I'm waiting on 'vt4c' for one of those ring type tube guards.
j.hill
I have read that the Siemens is a good ugrade but the Tung-sol's seem to be a favorite with this amp. I got two over other tubes some enjoy on the way, the Amperex Orange A-frame ECC88 which people enjoy with this amp. Then, the Genalax gold lion ECC88, which some have said makes the CTH too warm/smooth, but I doubt they also had an lps hooked up too so it should be a good match :). I read in a forum that Cavalli suggests not to use 12AU7/12AX7 tubes since (i think I'm understanding this right) the tubes require 600mA but the CTH only runs 400mA through the tube. you could probably find some more info if you search online for about it.
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Verified Purchaser
been using it for 6months, no regrets!
Verified Purchaser
For $250, this is a great amp. Nice bass extension, smooth, involving, not harsh. Compared to more expensive offerings like the Linear Tube Audio MZ2 and Violectric V200 and you hear improvements with the pricier gear, but I think the comparison also increases the level of appreciation for the CTH. No idea how it compares to amps in its price category (I have no desire to own any Schiit gear) but I can't imagine it wouldn't be competitive. Cool looks, decent build quality, respected pedigree -- I'd say if this is your budget (and even a bit more), this is your amp.
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The more expensive amps bring more refinement and presence than offered by the CTH. You can hear limitations in the CTH in terms of extension and overall presentation when compared to the pricier options, which sound more liquid and organic, IMO. But I would think anyone would assume that, given that the more expensive amps are 5x the cost of the CTH. As I said, comparisons increase the appreciation of the CTH and for $250 it's a great amp. If still not useful, then this review just isn't for you.
tholt
Appreciated man, thanks ! Happy listening too :)
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Verified Purchaser
This has been my main amp for quite some time. I can hear "more" with this amp - compared to Magni 3. TBH, I got goosebumps many times when paring this with HD6xx, never thought my songs would sound this good; Think I would get bottlehead crack on someday. Right now waiting for THX 789 AAA to come.
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Is the THX 789 worth the price if only using the SE output or should I use it balance to get it's full worth? Would you say it sound very analytical or is there any warmth to the sound? Perhaps that depends on the DAC being used with it?
Mark_M
I started from Magni 3/Modi 2 stack then CTH and now 789. It is analytical and there is "fluid" in it, to me the amp is not boring. I am looking for a balanced cable but not yet found one in my country, plan to buy a new dac too; until then I can't answer above queries. :)
Verified Purchaser
Sounds very decent. But oh my lawd, the adapter for the power supply is terrible. Being 28V it's extremely difficult to find a suitable replacement. Would have given five stars if the supply had a IEC C8 or C14 socket so that the mains power lead is replaceable rather than having a supply needing to be perfectly balanced over a 2-pin adapter and turning off every time a moth flutters in the next room.
Verified Purchaser
Very nice sound. I have trouble with getting the pre amp tube to seat. My NOS aAmperex 6922 went out so I use the stock tube which is good otherwise. Should I use some electrical contact dope on the pins on the tube?
Verified Purchaser
I have gotten used to excellent headphone gear over the span of 5 years (wow time flies). Currently using a Chord Hugo 2 powering a set of Focals and Hifimans and I must say that for the price these were great. $250 I would say it provides excellent value and a taste of the good life which is that of hi-res music and fantastic gear. If you are looking at this, and you're wondering what's out there in the same range with possibly better performance. Look into the Project Horizon for high impedance phones. Also check out Bottlehead crack if you're going the Senn HD6xx/700/800 route.