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A community member
Aug 2, 2018
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It sounds good, but I prefer the CTH by a wide margin.
The LCX sounds a little faster, as if the slew rate is better. It has the positive traits of a solid-state amp without the glare, glassiness, or coldness often found in inexpensive transistor-based amplifiers.
But, it does not provide the fun of the CTH. The CTH's smooth, round punch at the bottom and tubey sparkle at the top are missing here.
But, it does have a pleasant, smooth character about it.
The only real gripe I have about the LCX is that the bottom end sounds strained. If you are listening to music with sharp transients on the kick drum for example, or music mastered with a lot of compression and low-end presence, the amp sounds like it struggles slightly to deliver on the bass notes.
I am surprised by the power rating and wonder about its accuracy. Even with the LCX's gain set to high, and with the hardware volume on my USB DAC (Hifime Sabre 9018 USB) all the way up, I can get louder levels before distortion with the CTH than I can with the LCX, and the bass is more impactful and powerful-sounding on the CTH than the LCX. Maybe the gain stage is insufficient to drive the output stage to full power?
Note that the strained bottom end I mentioned is something with the LCX and not the USB DAC's output op-amp being overdriven, because it is still there when I throttle back the hardware output on the DAC, and I don't have this issue when I use the same DAC and same headphones on the CTH.
For comparison, the balanced HP amp on the SMSL DP3 provides a notably more impactful and solid bottom end than the LCX despite having a much lower power output rating, but the rest of the spectrum definitely sounds better on the LCX.
Also note that thus far I have evaluated the LCX with single-ended inputs and balanced outputs only, using the HD6XX and HE4XX headphones.
Bottom line is, I like this amp, but I don't love it like I do the CTH.
Aug 2, 2018
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