Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp (EU)
Massdrop Liquid Carbon X + SDAC DAC/Amp (EU)
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Product Description
This DAC/amp brings two of the community’s favorite designers together in one convenient, great-sounding package. It features the Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Liquid Carbon X amp, built by the founder of Cavalli Audio—a legend in the world of headphone amps ... Read More
4.6
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45 Reviews
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JimmyMac55
9
Jul 27, 2019
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Now I know why they call it Liquid!!!
When I first received my HD6xx headphones I was excited and quickly plugged into my AudioQuest Red. And I was almost very pleased with the sound. There was just something missing. It was clear that AudioQuest Red was just not up to the job. So now that I have upgraded my headphones now, I need a new DAC/Amplifier. Looking around Drop I came across the LCX+SDAC and it seemed to fit the bill. After reading the reviews and other information I could find online I decided that this was the one for me and ordered one. And I also paid attention to all the suggestions that this amp be used in balanced mode only. Having learned that I ordered a balanced cable for Corpse Cable on eBay. Some reviewers have suggested that this amp is not powerful enough. They must be using the SE connection. Using the balanced connection, it has more than enough power to drive the HD6xx’s. I am no longer the critical listener that I used to be so I will leave it to others to speak about bass, treble, etc. All I know is that I have not enjoyed listening to music like this in a long, long time. Now I know why they call it “Liquid”. This made me feel like the music was pouring over me and completely enveloping me in GREAT music. And that is what counts. I have been using this beauty for a week now and have only one complaint. There needs to be a white dot on the volume control so I can see its position.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Jul 27, 2019
ddager
0
Jul 22, 2019
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Very good would buy again!
This is a really good setup. Sound is clear, has enough juice to power anything I got, and looks clean! Only thing i wish it had was a bass boost button like the gain one it has, and a booklet that shows what input is which. Would absolutely recommend.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Jul 22, 2019
JoeKnott
25
Jul 11, 2019
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Ease of use is great! But no power
This definitely is so easy to use and is such a sleek piece of equipment. Sound is great but the power is not there and it does not get loud. If you have a hard to drive headphone you will want to spend more money and get a set up with more power.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Jul 11, 2019
JoeKnott
25
Aug 15, 2019
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I will admit it has gotten louder as it breaks in. I don't notice much of a problem now.
Aug 15, 2019
Evshrug
1225
Aug 15, 2019
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That reminds me, Cavalli actually included a note with my unit, recommending some hours of break-in. Forgot about that! Glad your experience improved. I upgraded to a Sennheiser HDV 820 (sound is not far from a Liquid Gold), but I’ve not been able to let go of my LC because it is such a good amp. It’s coming with me if I ever start working at an office!
Aug 15, 2019
elitw14
1
May 21, 2019
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Good, lack of DSD files playing, not as powerful as expected. Have a real difficulty in driving my FOSTEX TR-50 III generation headphones
May 21, 2019
IData
4
Jun 18, 2019
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I mean, it’s bizarre because it should output 2.8 watts per channel on balanced, which should be more than enough to drive the t50
Jun 18, 2019
rslatara
163
Jun 29, 2019
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+ 15 gain on Peace works fine on SE for T50 MK2 Balanced is more than powerful enough unless you have a faulty unit.
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Jun 29, 2019
GMPO
0
Apr 7, 2019
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My expectations were a bit high for this product, it is good, but not excellent for the price. It does run a bit hotter than other DAC/Amps I've used. I'm paring it with my HD 6XX with balanced cables... and well, what can I say... it sounds balanced.
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Apr 7, 2019
GMPO
0
Apr 10, 2019
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MichaelAnda
72
May 7, 2019
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Corpse Cable on eBay offers Sennheiser HD6XX balanced 4 pin XLR cables. Stock and re-terminated models. Both are $55.
May 7, 2019
beardieboi
14
Apr 5, 2019
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Decided to spend my tax return this year by getting into audiophile equipment. I've been listening to a lot of underground black metal so I figured an upgrade would be quite nice. My desktop is a micro itx setup that I do a bit of gaming on, so upgrading my soundcard was going to be pretty hard if not impossible. After doing a lot of research I settled on the LCX/SDAC since it seems pretty flexible with Amp/DAC pairings should I wish to "invest" more money into my setup. I first bought the Hifiman HE4xx and balanced cables to pair with this. I also had a pair of PortaproX's that were my first massdrop buy, which I've enjoyed using straight into my computer and phone. Shortly after I got the Fiio F9 pro and a balanced adapter to try IEMs and have the flexibility to travel with an Earstudio ES-100. As other reviews have noted, the SE output pales in comparison to balanced, so I didn't even bother trying it out too much, except to hear what the Portaprox would sound like through them. They sounded nice, but the HE4xx and F9 Pro were heads and shoulders ahead of them balanced. Where to start... my ears are now open I guess you could say. When I first started listening, the highs seemed a bit overwhelming, but I think my ears just needed to adjust...or burn in happened... Regardless, after about a week I definitely started to notice a lot more detail in my music and could listen for hours without feeling fatigued. With the HE4xx I finally got what was meant by "soundstage" as it felt like I was in the room with the band on certain tracks. The F9 pro is clear, lively and precise but doesn't have that warm enveloping sound the HE4xx has. I like them both and have a lot of fun swapping between them. I really enjoy the neutrality from the Amp/DAC and can pick out what each instrument is doing, even at lower volumes. As other reviews noted, there is imbalance at very low volumes, but I'm never down there. I play heroes of the storm while listening to music and notice that the music definitely overpowers the game more than it used to when I just listened through the PC. Not sure if this is down to the SDAC or Amp, but I don't really mind since I'd rather hear the music anyway. I also like how I can run the sound out to an old set of Klipsch KG2 bookshelf speakers paired with a jvc ax-r350 I nabbed from my parents. Just like with everything else, the sound is way more precise and clear coming from the SDAC. The signal must be pretty strong because I only have to turn up the volume a tad bit before it gets ridiculously loud. For a noob I couldn't be happier with my first foray in audiophile land.
Apr 5, 2019
czrem
12
Mar 16, 2019
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I have read some of the reviews. They are overall pretty accurate observations. I'll ad a few views from my perspective. The amp section works very well as long as you know it's limitations. As Massdrop's manual states, "Upgrade to balanced before judging amp's performance". This is true. I am using the Sennheiser 800s with these and comparing the balanced to single ended, you notice a very noticeable difference in power. While the audio quality in single ended is not bad you can easily top the vol to max and still listen without discomfort. The downside to this is the dynamics will surfer and distortion can set in. Balanced is the way to go. The DAC is OK. If you have another better quality DAC, save and buy the amp only version. However, it's not a bad choice if you don't already have a DAC. Fortunately, you can always add one latter. I am using this with the ASUS Xonar Essnce STX DAC as it performs better. I have also tried the AQ Dragonfly red with it and it performs even better. Also, as a comparison to the CTH, the CTH does have that slightly warmer sound with less well defined Bass but it is still less fatiguing to listen to for longer periods and has a more open sound stage. I keep gravitating back to the CTH with the T1 2nd combination. You can pass the signal thrug to the CTH however if you want to connect the LC to the CTH while using the LC's DAC, you need to use a 3.5mm Male to 2 RCA Male. This sugests to me that the designers, as a cost cutting measure went this route knowing that someone more serious about audio wouldn't use this built in DAC as an end game DAC anyhow. This makes it a versatile, good quality amp for the novice as well as a more experienced headfier. I have a Beyerdynamic A20 amp and that one is more dynamic, resolving and powerful. But that amp cost almost as much as this one but is just an amp with no DAC. The LC and CTH are also handsome units that go well together and look good on a computer desk. I do recommend this amp whole heartily.
Mar 16, 2019
OMan
49
Mar 8, 2019
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In summary, it is a good combination of DAC \AMP, and it works fine with Windows, which it was my main reason to get it. Negatives are it does not support DSD, it runs hot, it does not have auto shutdown, lacks power at times to drive the HD6xx; DAC is nothing special, just good enough. I think, it is pricey for what you get in the features. I just hope that it is a durable unit. This review is based on my requirement of a good desktop DAC that works well with Windows 10.  I bought this item because of the association with Alex Cavalli, and because it didn’t require any drivers for Windows. Even though the unit is good, I was expecting more from Alex Cavalli. I have only used the unit with the 6.5 (with 3.5 adapter). I don’t have any balanced headphones or cables. I have tested the unit with several headphones. It drives all of them to a satisfactory level. Sometimes, I like to listen to some songs louder than normal. The unit lacks a little of power to drive the HD6xx to ear damaging level. I guess it is a good side effect, since it stops you damaging your ears! The DAC was a bit of disappointment. I have an AudioEngine D3 USB DAC and AudioEngine HD3 powered speaker that comes with the headphone Amp and both of those units are as good as this one. Also, I have a Chord Mojo. The Mojo is superior in every way, but I had had a lot of issues with Windows drivers for it. Positives: 1.     Works fine with Windows without any drivers 2.     The AMP is powerful enough for the majority of headphones that I have. 3.     DAC is good enough to enjoy music and gaming Negatives: 1.     It does not support DSD 2.     It runs hot 3.     No auto shutdown (you have to remember to shut it off when your turn off your computer). 4.     Pricey based on features. 5.     It comes with US power cord only. Headphones Tested With: HD6xx Thinksound ON2 Mitchell & Johnson JP1 Mitchell & Johnson MJ1 PSB M4U1 Blon BossHifi B8 Wooden (Fantastic headphones for the price) Acoustic Research AR-H1
Mar 8, 2019
rhythmicnature
25
Apr 12, 2019
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Thanks for the comparisons. Esp to the Mojo. :) _Personally,_ I'm not convinced that balanced is any better than single-ended with a decently shielded cable for personal headphone use. https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/audio-myth-balanced-headphone-outputs-are-better
https://www.moon-audio.com/single-ended-versus-balanced-connection
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/balanced-vs-single-ended-poll.576339/ This hobby is expensive enough! ;) Thanks again.
Apr 12, 2019
rslatara
163
Jun 29, 2019
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Yes but you can avail of the extra power.
Jun 29, 2019
DamienR
81
Mar 7, 2019
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There is a lot I feel I need to write on this, but I'm not sure im going to explain it well enough. The description for the power adapter is misleading. tl:DR You get a US plug only. No options to change.    Power adapter (add plug adapter for your country's outlet) For NZ users you all you need to buy is a "Figure 8 Power Cord - 2 pin plug to figure 8 connector 7.5A". The unit sparked the first time i plugged it in. Not impressed with that! I have unplugged & replugged it in a few times since trying to get a video but it hasn't done it again, it was just the first time plugging it in. So first off the #1 question can you use this for gaming? Yes! It works well with gaming, its only issue is the soft treble making gunshots not sound right, footsteps sound softer but you can still hear them just fine. Explosions are something to look forward to. Using balanced (over SE) the soundstage opens up even more in some games, Its great! The packaging is quite nice, I was expecting no frills & mostly is but the box art is quite tasteful. Inside the Box everything is well packaged, nice velvet cover on the foam, Amp is inside a dust proof bag. Honestly as nice as it is, they could of probably cut more costs here... I've been using this with the HD800s since I'm familiar with it. The Dac: It is kind of disappointing in a few ways, they used the standard Sdac (class1) & not the balanced Sdac (class2) which is... well stupid, but it works fine & cuts costs. The Dac lacks power at times when a lot is going on in songs & comes through in a very obvious manner that QA would of heard it & seemingly ignored it during development. Its like when music is full the sound drops from bass when theres treble heavy parts & when theres bass heavy parts the treble sound drops. Mids seem less affected by it but not immune from it. Its not just the sound but also the detail e.t.c. like it cant handle multipul signals at the same time very well. The more layers of sound & the quality of sound starts dropping. more apparent in "band" music than "electronic" music for some reason. The Combo works very (Very!) well with J-pop, K-pop, all Electronic music & more dynamic songs, some classical to a degree, but the treble issue affects classical music as well as rock & metal in a bad way. I've tried the USB cable that came with it as well as a better cable that's thicker & insulated with the same results. • Bass - Extremely well done & detailed ~ Most of the time, but not all of the time. •Mids - forward & good. (possible random bleeds into treble/from treble) •Treble - This is the biggest issue/s. The treble is poorly done in a few ways: It depends on low or high gain of the amp.... Treble is actually better on low gain. On high gain: •• I'm bright sensitive so I don't mind a mild tone down in Treble, but this Dac/Amp doesn't even come close to hitting peaks in a normal/natural way (or in my opinion acceptable way), its nerfed noticeably & I've heard treble toned down systems before this one has the softest treble so far, its actually bad & the treble range as a whole needs to be bought up 1 level at least to be acceptable, 2 levels to be neutral, 3 levels to be perfect. (hopefully that's enough perspective on that) • •On top of the soft treble its also harsh (Glare) E.g. with rock/metal cymbals sound like shakers mixed with static & not cymbals at all. A perfect example of this is if you have ever owned the ATH-2000x & 1000X its like plugging in your 2000x & getting the 1000x treble/cymbals sound but the rest of the 2000x sound/clarity/detail e.t.c. (oh another good one, Making your HD660s sound like a HD58x! Is actually perfect way to describe it! & for those unaware No those 2 headphones don't sound the same!) It gives the HD800s treble which is Great with average & higher gear the harsh treble issues the SHP9500, X2, ATH-1000x headphones suffer from, to name a few, regardless of dac/amp they are attched to. I stop just short of saying it makes the HD800s sound like the Philips X2 at times. (Yeah its that bad!) I've seen some people say the Dac sounds "Sterile" I'd agree, Its fantastic for its price but its not good enough to be paired with this amp. Something I noticed is if you see a review or post saying I use this Dac/Amp with the HD650/HD6XX you should ignore it, they wont be helpful unless you own a HD6XX/50 because the issues aren't as apparent when using them in balanced on the LCX-Sdac. The Amp • SE - Nil use. • Balanced low gain - Lacks power, but works fine, Treble is actually better on low gain but you lose soundstage its not a good tradeoff.. • Balanced High Gain - Still lacking a bit of power, werid "Blurr"/"muddy" treble issues at times (could be due to the dac issue i menchioned at the start), Soundstage is good & a bit larger. • Sound separation is good. • Heat is fine, it gets hot but its more a warm hot than a burning hot. So that all said, Its not actually bad in anyway. Its good, with its own colourful sound, I do recommend it. sorry its a lot to read, hopefuly you can follow it. I can't wait to try a balanced Dac with it & will update this when i do, because im not 100% which issues are Dac or Amp, i assume i'm right but who knows.
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Mar 7, 2019
DamienR
81
Mar 8, 2019
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Thought i'd update 2 things, my unit has an issue with the Dac where it "stalls/freezes". Massdrop offered to refund it! so thats good but not needed since I tried another Dac & have had no issues since (SU-8) So during that I found if I disable the "Quick charge USB 3.0" feature common on Asus MB's in bios the Sdac's, treble glare dropped slightly. Cymbals sound more like Cymbals, its not perfect but Its enough of a change i can listen to rock & metal on it now, where as before i was very reluctant due to how bad it was (to my ears).
Mar 8, 2019
Jcd1
2
Feb 21, 2019
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the dac/amp combination is really good and sounds good with the SE output but when I listen to it balanced is way better and neutral like the way I like it .. the amp by itself with a other dac or input is awesome too and very loud
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Feb 21, 2019
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