Massdrop x THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifiersearch

Massdrop x THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier

Massdrop x THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier

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Movies
THX Ltd. started as a company with a directive to ensure that upstream quality in cinema audio made it all the way to the audience in the theater.
In the movie theater, you need great power in order to get the dynamic range needed for impactful music and action...with a very low noise floor and low amounts of distortion in order to hear crisp dialog and all the detail in the recording.

Measurements
Patrick Flanagan at THX is one of those quiet guys who goes about his business with an engineer’s mind and a craftsman’s attention to detail. You may have met him at a Head-Fi meet in California as Jude Mansilla has been able to have him offer some free headphone or IEM measurements to the community on multiple occasions.

We met him at the 2016 SF Head-Fi Meet where he provided us with some measurements of IEMs we were working on:
THX provides development and certification services to ensure that a whole range of audio products meet objective performance and quality metrics from frequency response to low distortion, with the goal of accurate sound reproduction.

New Technology
The Massdrop x THX Achromatic Audio Amplifier (THX AAA™) 789 represents the next chapter in THX contribution to the audio world, where THX provides underlying circuit technology in the gear itself.
The new design was born of necessity. THX needed amplifiers to power line arrays of speakers in their facility. Class A topology amplifiers run too hot and are inefficient to run for long periods of time. THX needed the cleanest signal possible, low noise, low distortion, cool temperature, and efficient power consumption. These requirements led THX and SVP of Audio R&D Laurie Fincham to revisit negative feedback designs, figure out how to implement feed-forward correction, and create the quietest, lowest distortion amplifiers.

THX Ltd. At-A-Glance:
I. Highest quality sound for the utmost in cinematic experience (George Lucas’ original vision)
II. Development and certifications for pro audio and audiophile gear (people like Patrick)
III. Technological intellectual property in pro and consumer gear (Laurie Fincham’s amplifier design as an example)

A Series of Fortunate Events
If we didn’t talk about Patrick, you might not know that THX is working every day behind the scenes to provide information to companies making audio gear…with and without the THX logo. And if we didn’t meet Patrick, this collaboration might not have happened.

Meeting Patrick at the event pictured above led to our visiting THX and seeing some of the measurement labs plus their demo room. (Fun stuff and just happens to be walking distance from our office in San Francisco!)

Visiting their headquarters led to an invitation for a sneak peek of the THX AAA feed-forward topology during the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival in Colorado 2016.
We immediately saw the potential of this amplifier technology when we learned about it’s goals. Hearing the prototype- clean, clear, and natural (not sterile)...we knew that our community would like it too.

THX understands Massdrop’s connection with the headphone audiophile community and our drive to create custom-tailored products. THX collaborated with us to develop and bring this linear amplifier technology to you in this particular package, with the flexibility for in-ear monitors to large headphones. Capable for use in professional audio applications or for the audiophile that demands the most transparent upstream gear possible. This amplifier delivers the upstream quality of your music to your own personal headphone theater- in the comfort of your home or on your desk at work.

Massdrop x THX AAA 789 Linear Amplifier At-A-Glance:
I. Lowest THD in class – world class transparency
II. Extremely low channel crosstalk
III. From low to high power – for your IEMs and your hard-to-drive headphones
IV. Flexibility – from single-ended input/output to fully balanced throughput
V. Form factor and usability - small, cool, efficient energy consumption
VI. High value – high power and best performance at a low price point
By the way, we’re lucky to have Andrew Mason as a member here on Massdrop. Andrew is the THX expert in analog & power engineering who helped implement the THX AAA technology into our final product. If you have some technical questions about the amplifier, Andrew may just be around to answer them!
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Andrew we need another drop, Monoprice's Dual THX788 Headphone Amp is delayed Oct and its been pushed out further twice :-(
CEE_TEE
Andrew whats the difference between 788 vs 789? Does have dual balanced 788's have greater quality, performance than what appears to be one 789 in this Massdrop version?
Jude getting some measurements to us...will try to post here as soon as I can!
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Does this product have a burn-in time before giving 100% performance?
Caps forming etc, is it mumbo-jumbo?
Hi rajapruk
It wouldn't change the noise. Perhaps the 20-40 Hz distortion might get even lower.

No burn in time is required for the 789. I have a more detailed post on this in this forum.
Thanks!
Would love to see this dropped again in the future. Perhaps a DAC/Amp Combo with the SDAC could happen? :D
AndrewMason I was wanting to know what the balanced output power level is at 50 OHM?
jmdgames
3800mW unclipped, bal into 50 Ohms.
Warning: May cause spines to tingle and/or ears to bleed :)
Not sure if this has been asked already but, can the 2 SE jacks (6.3 and 3.5 mm) be used together?
AndyMok
Hi, yes both 3.5mm and 1/4" jacks are connected to the amplifier output. So you can leave headphones connected to both at same time. BUT! 2 cautions:
- watch that neither headphone is over-driven to the point of damaging them (e.g. IEMs)
- I recommend that the parallel loading of the two phones is > 12-16 Ohms nominal.
Want to buy a linear power supply for this, had some questions. It's 24v does it have the same Output DC plug size: 5.5*2.1mm as the Massdrop Cavali Tube Hybrid?
edwoodjr
Power supplies other than the stock one may void your warranty, because the amp requires a 24.0 Vdc +/- 5% regulated supply for all line and load conditions. Higher voltages may damage some ICs inside (e.g. from unregulated linear supplies at idle). The jack/plug is 2.1mm x 5.5mm.
Any possibility of this getting a redrop? I'm trying to decide between this and the LCX+SDAC, and while the differences are subtle, I would much rather have this than the LCX.
Will it have tube version??
What was the price of this drop?
I joined this drop and I don't see it in my account. Can anyone tell me where am I supposed to find updates and status on this drop.
Would iFi's new DC iPurifier2 work with this?
Edit: Oops, the version 2 is new, apparently, and there doesn't seem to be a link for it yet...
How do i change the shipping address? Going to move soon:p
Considering the max output current on this amp, would it cause damage IEMs?

Or would itbe fine as long as I listen to moderate volume?
ridhuankim
You will be fine as long as you leave the gain at 0 and keep the volume low. You might want to pick up an iFi Ear Buddy or Garage1217 attenuator cable though, just in case the potentiometer that they use cannot get the volume low enough for your IEMs without having issues.