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View Full Discussion Update Nov 24, 2018 - I'll cut to the chase, you need to balance all your headphones with proXLR balanced connectors and cable. Currently listening with my newly proXLR terminated Fostex TR-X00's. The first gain level is now sufficient for almost all music, AND the channel separation sounds glorious (I swear almost ZERO crosstalk between the channels). Makes the music sound more holographic. I always thought this was one of the flaws of the TR-X00's is that they have a rather crammed sound stage -- NO MORE. I also used to think the Fostex's were "slow" and lacked transient detail -- Again, complete improvement.
My DAC? iFi iDSD Micro Black Label with the GTO filters (this is a big deal https://ifi-audio.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/iFi-audio-Tech-Note-GTO-filter-FINAL.pdf) the iDSD Micro is set to direct DAC output to the RCA connections. Currently using High Quality, short RCA cables into the 789. At the moment (RF environment is fine), I don't see a need for a balanced dac, but I have my eyes set on the iFi iDSD pro, again because of its superior filters and DSD playback.
Sorry for the lack of photos - my room is a mess, but my equipment is all very well taken care of.
Original review: For the price I simply don't know how it could sound better. My dac is a ifi micro BL with the latest GTO filters, running rca into the 789. Not the most powerful amp, but the sound is nothing short of amazing.
What is GTO filter? I have the micro BL too btw, what headphone do you use? I’m currently using the aeon flow open right now.
Those tech notes were MUCH more involved than I was expecting. Thanks for sharing, it was an interesting read.
Yes. I'm telling you you'd be hard pressed to find another company with the same output filters... The idea behind MQA is that they would tightly control both input and output filters.
PCM has major issues when you don't use the same input and output filters. GTO is the best compromise on output, supposedly.
It is a very powerful amp.
I'm about to get some balanced cables. The manual says the single ended output is only half the power of the amp. For my SE fostex x00 there is more than enough power. But for my hifiman sundara, the 3rd gain isn't enough.
How are you getting to this math? The Sundara are 43 ohms and have a sensitivity of 94 dB/mW and they only need 1 mW to hit 90 dB SPL. The highest gain option should more than power them just fine. I mean, the THX puts out 1.8W at 32 ohms SE. The Sundara can't even handle more than 1W of power anyhow before destroying the driver. I don't know what volumes you listen at but I think anything else would be overkill unless you're going balanced for lower distortion at a lower gain setting. The HE4XX are harder to drive (49 ohms and 1.51 mW for 90 dB SPL) and I was able to get them plenty loud SE and still had plenty of headroom left.
I also have the Fostex Ebony's and they wanted more power than you would think. I actually use them on the 3rg gain option to really get them sounding their best. This shocked me and actually has me thinking of getting a balanced cable for them especially since we know their biodyna driver can handle something stupid like 1.8W before smoking and going caput. Just my .02.
The amplifier puts out the power you described only if there is enough gain at its input to drive it to full power.
This is the problem. I have found the gain on position III to be insufficient to achieve loud volume levels on high impedance or inefficient cans and music mastered at -16 LUFS or below, even on position III, with DAC volume all the way up and amp volume all the way up. The amplifier has the power, but the power is not being utilized due to lack of sufficient input gain from the preamp stage to drive the power amp stage to the levels it is capable of delivering.
This shows on the hifiman planars. They're inefficient, especially with more quiet classical music.
It was notably worse on the 600 ohm version of the DT880.
I've been listening with the Meze 99 classics powered by the THX via the DAC section of the xduoo xd-05 and I am.really enjoying this combo. No unpleasantries up top.