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I read somewhere recently where someone wrote, "I don't know how Massdrop is able to sell this amp for this price". Once I started to really listen to this amp, when compared to my other amps (LCX, CTH and Emotiva A-100), this is what I was thinking. If you are reading this review and are undecided on which headphone amp to purchase, look no further - the search is over. My only advice is to look for and use a balanced DAC (if you don't already have one) with this amp.
Doesn't Massdrop sell a balanced version of it's SDAC?
Indeed (and for a great price) but there are other options out there. I use the VMV (SMSL) D1 and it has served me very well (sound-wise... it has other quirks). It's a dual-DAC fully balanced DAC. The SDAC-B has a single DAC chip for both left and right channels. Now, I'm just a simple music lover with simple opinions (I call it as I see it) who hasn't listened to the SDAC-B, so, does one DAC chip for both L and R channels make a difference to how you hear music? Don't know. I'll leave that discussion to the scholars...
It depends on how that single DAC chip is designed. Many DAC chips today has differential output, which means one single chip can output 4 signals (left hot, left cold, right hot and right cold). DACs built with such chips can achieve true balanced output even without dual-mono schema.
I also own the CTH and Emotiva A-100. I love them both for different reasons, but based on your experience how does the THX compare to these 2. And I'm pretty sure the answer is gonna be yes, but is it worth getting one even having these 2 amazing amps already?
My headphones are HD800S, HD6XX, Sony MDR-Z7.
The THX, especially paired with a clean 'balanced' DAC (like the Grace SDAC Balanced), will be super clinical. Imagine yourself sitting at the mixing table with monitoring cans looking through the glass into the recording studio with a band playing. That's the THX (with proper DAC). Source and headphones will also make a difference.
I can hear the distortion on the A-100 (but that's because i removed the capacitor clips). The CTH will have a slightly warmer sound when compared to the THX. Again, the source and headphones in your audio chain can also color the sound from the THX.