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So I thought that it was determined last drop that this amp is not balanced.
Okay, so I just emailed xDuoo and they helpfully confirmed the amp is single-ended. (Quite fast response, too, good for them.)

Hopefully Massdrop will update the title of the drop and the description to make clear that it's a single-ended amp that includes an XLR output, rather than a balanced amp. (Just like the CTH.)
kukkurovaca
kukkurovaca, thanks for letting us know! We'll look into this and make corrections for potential future iterations of this drop. I think there may have been some confusion based on what was listed on Xduoo's site, ‘from input to the out put, all using balanced transmission mode, the balance output can vibrate the headphones’. http://www.xduoo.com/xduoo/En/ProductView.Asp?ID=22/
Matt.T
Is this the same with this current drop?
Because it also says balanced here?

Is it balanced or not?
I must say I become suspicious of a device that claims to be "Balanced" but has the same power output on both the balanced and the single ended outputs.

Is that really true, or am I reading the specs wrong?

Also, are there really no other output power ratings than 1 at 32Ω? 6x gain seems a bit high for the 32Ω cans I'm familiar with.
This DAC/amp has a line output. Does this mean the output has a fixed signal (i.e. not controlled by volume)? Anyone knows?
andyo
If I recall correctly, line out is a fixed signal that is independent from the Volume controller, and pre amp out is signal controlled by the volume controller
I think the problem is they call it "Fully balanced from input to output" while it don't have balanced input.
But the digital input from USB can still be balanced as long as the amp is balanced. And this is the only way I will use this little device. i get the PC to pass the digital signal to it and do hardware decode DSD using TA-10. Sound is actually very good.

i have a pair of HD6xx and a HE4xx one the way too. the HE4xx will be my first planar. Can not wait to plug them in to the TA-10.
What are the pros and cons in getting a dac/amp combo bs getting them separate?
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I’ve been thinking of getting the purplehearts. Is there a dac/amp combo that works for that? I’m not planning on switching headphones for a while
Jack-in-the-Box
The first priority in a DAC is to get one with a decent power wart and not just USB powered. This reduces the noise floor as USB on certain systems can be noisy. The DAC won't color the sound as much as the amp unless you spend above $300 on a standalone DAC so that's a fast diminishing returns on DACs. I have the Topping D30 and a Focusrite Scarlet Solo, and the Topping is standalone DAC with a wall wart, no headphone out and not USB powered.

I haven't compared an O2 with the headphones I currently have, but it's a nice cost-effective amp but won't power much more than the 250 ohm beyerdynamics headphones effectively. The Magni 3 I have tends to dull the harshness of the highs in favor of mids and lows. It doesn't remove the highs too much, but the portable amps I have are brighter in the highs so you'd lose some of the brightness of the purplehearts, but boost it's lows and mids, almost making it more neutral. I also have the Xduoo x5 DAC/amp which is quiet but brighter than the Magni 3, and an smsl pro II amp which is also brighter than the Magni 3. If you like strong highs, look for solid state amps that aren't the Magni 3, the jotunheim tends to run bright so it might be harsh highs, but that's up to your sound tastes. Most tube amps run dark and enhance bass and low mids and reduce the highs harshness, so they make bright phoneseasier to listen to for longer but remove the bright high quality, but also boost bass since bright phones tend to have weaker bass (relatively, not a direct bright won't have bass, but Sennheiser tend to run bright with softer bass which is why tube amps go well with them, make the highs bearable and increase the bass to decent levels)

Check out the other amps here and on the purplehearts page if they recommend anything. I want the ebony but the extra money compared to regular is more than in my budget now.
Dumb question here, but when a company refers to "Balanced" inputs/cables...etc. and 4 pin, is there a difference, or are they one in the same?
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You can, but you also need two DAC chips for each left and right channels, which is why some DACs can be fed an individual channel and feed into a balanced amp's inputs, but you need two of the same DAC to do so, so it's much more expensive.

Balanced is essentially trying to eliminate cross-talk between channels which might create harmonic distortion into next or both channels. Typically the noticeability is rare until you get high-end headphones (HD 800 level/price competitors and up) and amps and DACs, so it's a lot of diminishing returns. If you're at an HD650 or even a Denon D2000 you probably won't notice as much between a balanced and unbalanced setup.

The biggest thing is noticing that the XLR 4-pin output is more efficient so you get more power (usually) than from the 1/4 or 1/8 plug on the amp. Of course, you need balanced headphone cables for the headphones as well, which from what I've heard for the HD650 run around $70? Not all headphones are set up for balanced cables, and typically higher end headphones and grados headphones are set to take balanced cables (ones that fork into a Y split, single ended headphones like beyerdynamics 880 250 ohms and the Sennheiser HD598 take some wiring expertise in comparison) so truly fully balanced costs a lot more than a unit that's balanced at least from processing to amp and out, which will cost more than just unbalanced DAC and amp, like the Topping D30 DAC I have is unbalanced out to my Magni 3 amp which is also unblanaced/single end out (1/4 inch jack). I don't have anything more than a Fidelio X2 and a PSB M4U 1 and beyerdynamics 880 250 ohm currently, but I'm going to try out some X00 ebony and I'm on the drop for the HD6XX so the Magni will be tested more then, and against the Xduoo x5 which will struggle with the 6XX more since it likely will only put out about half the power needed for the 6XX on average (bass supposedly runs peaks of 4-5 times what the x5 will likely output) so balanced isn't a huge issue to me currently, but maybe down the road if I pick up an HD800 or other top tier headphones then I might look into a balanced setup.

This will power just about any set of headphones, but be aware that planar magnetic headphones and IEMs might be too sensitive for this.
Brosefstalin42
Good info. Thanks for the help.
USB is the only thing I am using.
In my ta-10 spdif is dead... all other inputs and outputs works fine, but coaxial connection between TA-10 and Focal Power Bird don't work. Anybody have same problem ? ?
Just made a balance cable for my ATH-r70x. And also switched tube to ECC802s. So far one thing I noticed is volume is higher. Bass extension is much better.

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I like it very much. I only listen to it with ATH-r70x on balanced port. Base is very solid and powerful. High is very good too and never feel fatigue listen to it. At 52 year old, I can still hear 16k. I think it is pretty good.

Listen to some jazz vocal is wonderful. I don't fill recessed at all.

I have about 40 of listening on the little unit. I expect it getting better over time.

I changed the tube once I got it. So I can not say the original tube will be sounds same.

The one problem is the USB driver. It take me some time to figure it out and get everything working. Now the PC just hand the singnal to TA-10 and it will handle the hardware decode include DSD files.
Hey..business opportunity! 👌🏼👌🏼
Got mine two days ago. The driver installation got a bit problem. Windows 10 keep gave me error when try to run the install file. Ended up extract the driver from the install file and then the driver installation runs fine.

The sound is pretty smooth. Stage is very big (bigger than my Little Dot mk3). Only listening to single ended now. Will convert my ATH-r70x to balanced later on.

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