Initial impressions (disclaimer-I have yet to give it a full run-down, nor is my rig configured optimally yet):
DAC SMSL SU-8, RCA out (balanced yet to be tested), Audioquest Evergreen, Focal Elex 4-pin XLR, Blue Ella single-ended
my personal mix of Tech and Progressive Trance from good ol’ vinyl (Blank and Jones, 4 Strings, Dyloot, etc.), recorded FLAC
The 789 is a buttoned-down unit. Beautiful and at home on a desk or in the studio- it’s that good. It stacks beautifully with my CTH. Definitely end-game material. Gobs of power to drive my Elex (104db, 80 ohm) and harder to drive Blue Ella planars (94db, 50 ohm). The sensitivity knob clicks firmly, the buttons press and depress confidently, and the volume knob is smooth and sturdy- no audible scratchiness to it at all compared to my CTH. Coming from an O2, which is also by no means anemic, the build, feel, and power is simply THERE. Massdrop and THX hit the nail on the head. Sound wise, crosstalk is inaudible - channel separation is superb. One way I check is to remove a left or right input cable and listen to the opposite headphone cup, or both, to check for bleed. None. No sound even when the volume knob is turned all the way down. None. The song Desire, by Blank and Jones, has a synth vocal (bom-bom) that bounces from left to right, and it pans and decays just right with the Elex. Because I used vinyl in my mix, with the 789, I could pick up the slight scratchiness of the record. I switched to the digital version of Desire to check and the resolution increased as expected. No scratchiness and punchy, deep bass and the cymbals crash with accurate authority. In hindsight, I should have cleaned my records and needles before I recorded the mix, but I also love that genuine analog sound. While it is technically a recording blemish, it does pay homage to a dying art in an industry dominated by CDJs, USB interfaces, and Serato. Frankly, with the right source, or the wrong source (given you have resolving headphones) the 789 let’s you hear everything - as it should. I took it for a spin on Ableton Live 10 to check a song I was producing using my old rig. It’s very detailed and revealing, black when it needs to be, and I trust it when I need to spot-check instrument volume levels, proper attack, decay, etc. It’s a formidable workhorse. Clean, clinical, and analytical. If I want something more sachrine and colored, I’d pick up my Blue Sadies and plug them into my CTH. If you missed it last drop, hang in there and hope it drops again or hunt Ebay/search the FS threads of your favorite audio forum - because at just shy of $350, this black box was worth every penny.