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Hi Everyone,
The Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid Amps are on their way to our warehouse in New Jersey! Once they arrive they will go through receiving and quality control checks. We are on track to meet our estimated ship date of February 27.
We are looking forward to everyone receiving the first production of the Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid Amp!
Are the Carbon X's also on the same boat since the ship date is basically the same?
Oh boy... Where do I start?? The journey, the designer, or the amp?

As an enthusiast myself, the coolest thing at Massdrop is getting to work with and know the people who make our favorite stuff. I’ve had the privilege of being able to speak with and learn from Alex Cavalli over the past year while working on this new amp with him. I understand more about the design decisions in amplifiers and what’s possible given different goals and constraints. (Though Alex would probably half-joke that “it still isn’t much”.)

Entry-level End-game Amp? Is that a category?

This project started out as a conversation to take a community-favorite DIY amp engineered by a community-favorite designer and make it accessible at an entry-level pricepoint. But when the prototype arrived, it had been completely re-worked by Alex. In comparison to the original Compact Tube Hybrid, it was a whole new amp. Sticking to the original vision, we worked toward the most accessible pricepoint possible while keeping the high-end sound that Alex passed down from his more expensive and more powerful amps. The amp needed to be audiophile-approved, more affordable, and simple to use. It also deserved a nice chassis, one that has some room in it and some stackability…

I’m sure there will be a lot more discussion these next few weeks. We’re working with Alex to have some information for those interested regarding the differences between the Compact Tube Hybrid and the Cavalli Tube Hybrid. Alex happens to have some travel during the drop so we may have a Q&A session where we’ll collect questions and Alex will answer them during the second half of the drop.

This is an important step for Massdrop, it marks the evolution of our ability to work with the best partners and designers to bring you the best versions of products for our communities. Each one of these collaborations is the result of our coming together to keep growing and moving our hobby forward.

Thanks for your participation!

EDIT 8/12/17: Here is a link if you are interested in the differences between the original COMPACT Tube Hybrid and the new CAVALLI Tube Hybrid.
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I am really enjoying my CTH with the LCD2C as well as my Hd800. I never bothered to check the serial no. Perhaps, i would just for curiosity.
Hi Cee Tee,

Can't seem to find much info on the circuity in the amp. Any possibility of a Massdrop schematic or a current link to some more information on the original Compact tube hybrid ? This amp sounds so good that I'm thinking it might be worth modding to get the last bit of performance out of it.
Hey folks. Here's a post I made at headfi. In case it's useful.

I see that many of you have or are about get your CTHs.
Since I happen to have Serial #00001 I thought I might make a few comments on break in.
First, the amp sounds pretty good out of the box, at least to me. But, as we all know tubes take about 50 hours to clear out the impurities still clinging to the various internal parts and SS portions do need some time.
I don't think it's necessary to do a marathon break in session for 10,000 hours before listening.
My experience has been that after about 25 hours playing music the amp begins to take on its full character. And then after that it evolves into is inherent sound signature.
For me, I was able to listen fairly happily even with no hours, noticing the changes at about 25 hours and then better over time. I still have less than 100 hours on the amp. YMMV some.
I hope you all like it. It has a long history from a popular and very compact DIY project to a much more sophisticated amp.
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Hello, is it safe to use a 7dj8 in the CTH ? Thank You
Probably not. The heater will run cool, possibly limiting the cathode current which in turn would prevent the auto bias from homing in. If it is able to bias the sound could be a little lean.
The "high end" version of Cavalli seems to be planned by Monoprice:

Only $699.

Is this Amp worth $355 Canadian? What would I use as a DAC? I have the 6XX being powered by my Micca Origen+ DAC/Amp.
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It depends where you live, but I ended up having to pay about $430 CAD total.
Thanks for your information. I live in ON. Anyway, for 6xx, I guess C$260 for headphones, C$20 for shipping, then C$150 for taxing? Then it almost equals to HD600/650 on sale at Amazon.
Anyone knows how this amp is compared to the Elemental Watson Gen II?
Hi All,

After doing quite a bit of research I have a question/concern about using this amp (or any really) the way I'm planning to. I'm hoping to get some feedback before making any purchases. The headphones I will be driving will be the HD6xx when they arrive later this year. The system I will be listening to them from is built on top of an ASUS Z170-A motherboard, which has a fairly capable audio system already.

I have dug up the audio specific details on this board and it has a Realtek ALC-892 for a DAC and a TI R4580 for the amp (full amp specs here: ASUS has also taken some measures to protect the audio signal further, such as a pre-regulator in front of the ALC-892, splitting left and right audio signals between different PCB layers, various levels of EMI shielding, and a de-pop circuit.

I'm not very well versed on reading amp spec sheets, but from what I can gather from the link above, combined with what the headphone power calculator on digizoid is telling me, it actually seems like this amp probably could power the HD6xx fairly well, though probably not with the headroom many here would recommend, and it's likely that bass frequencies especially could suffer a bit. So... I am looking for a good amp that will supply this headroom and really breathe the life into the 6xx that they deserve.

I am planning on starting with just an amp, as the 24bit/192kHz the Z170-A integrated audio is capable of seems more than sufficient for me, for now at least. Because of this, my plan then is to drive the amp straight off the motherboard, with a 3.5mm to RCA (L/R) cable off of the headphone jack. My concern is, given the fairly high output of this board's amp, won't this be "double-amping" the signal, or will the Z170-A essentially be acting as a pre-amp in this case?

Will it just be a matter of turning the system volume in the OS down to a lower level to prevent too high a signal coming into the amp? And, if so, if the OS level accidentally gets turned all the way up at some point, do I risk damaging any of the hardware (amp and/or headphones), or eardrums (I guess this one's fairly obvious)?

Since the Z170-A also has an optical output, would I be better off putting a DAC with an optical input in between the motherboard and the amp to avoid this issue?

Sorry for the long, rambling post. As you can probably tell I've been doing a lot of reading lately (maybe too much).
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Not sure what to say about the clips on that page. If I hear any difference between the clips there it is fairly minimal, other than the obvious increased level of static white noise in some of the 1kHz samples with jitter introduced. Maybe my scumbag ears are just incapable of hearing it, or my motherboard or headphones are not representing it properly. The only external (USB) sound device I have available at the moment is the cheap-o HyperX virtual surround device that came with my Cloud IIs, and I heard (or didn't hear) the same things through that as I did my on-board audio, for whatever that's worth.

Oh well, I guess. At the moment I still don't see a huge need to go out and get an external DAC.
"Double amping" isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds. The MCTH should have an input impedance of 20 - 50k ohms, so even if you were using a DAC / headphone amp as a source (like your front out) you're putting next to no load on the source amp thanks to ohms law, and thus getting the best possible performance out of it. Having said that, definitely use your rear stereo out, even better if is specifically configured as a line out and front out's can pick up a lot of noise.

There's nothing wrong with using mobo and picking up an external DAC later on if you feel the need to upgrade.
Wonder if anyone else is dealing with this issue: I took out the amp's stock tube for some reason, reinserted it and now am getting an occasional hum and very low volume on the left channel compared to the right (this side seems normal). But when I put on another pair of headphones, I'm getting the exact same problem in the other channel, as the left side sounds normal and the right is very quiet.

I don't know if the tube is faulty or this is something of my doing. All I'm looking for is balanced sound from both sides. :)
In your opinion, ¿What would be the best matching DAC to use with this amp and a pair of Sennheiser HD 6XX, Audio Technica ATH A900X or some HiFiMAN HE-4XX?
Is this one a good amp for a planar headphone like the hifiman 4xx?
i am currently using just pc and laptop output.
In order to try and minimize the amount of travel adapters plugged into my powerboard, does anyone know if I could use a 24V DC 1.25a power adapter with this? I've found one where the only difference to the one supplied is the voltage, and an Australian plug.

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