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So honestly, what's the better buy here, the CTH or this?
I'm in the same boat. The liquid carbon already exist and is a tested amp which has gotten great reviews. The CTH is a tube amp featuring a new design (?). The first question should be if you want a tube or solid-state amp?
I guess it's kind of hard to tell without being able to audition them, but there are a few differences that can be established just through the spec sheet. If you want to use it for IEMs, then the LCX would be the better choice, being solid state and advertised as having a lower noise floor. Another reason you might choose the LCX is if you are planning to use really inefficient balanced headphones, like HE6s for example, as it has a higher balanced power output. However, it's single-ended output has a bit less power I'm pretty sure. The LCX also has RCA passthrough, which is useful if you want to add another amplifier or powered speakers. If you want a DAC in the same chassis, then you could get the CTH W/ SDAC. And, of course, the CTH is $50 cheaper, or only $20 more with the DAC.
I'm also trying to decide which to buy, or if I should give both a miss. I probably would have already bought an audio-gd NFB 11 if it weren't for their ordering system. Decisions, decisions.
It all depends on your usage.
If you are running balanced or using IEMs, the LCX is a no-brainer, with its balanced topology and unity (1x) gain - which allows for more fine volume control for IEMs, since those do not need gain.
If you are running SE and using headphones, then the CTH has more power ( 1W RMS per channel means 2W RMS, compared to the 0.7W RMS on the LCX).
Also, you get to play with tubes at a nice price point.
It sounds like the CTH is definitely for me, as I primarily run headphones. What is running balanced/SE? Thanks :)
The way I understand it, a balanced output will send individual signals to each channel, through three conductors rather than two. One of the channels is 'hot' (with the original signal), and one is 'cold' (with a reversed-polarity signal). When the signal reaches the output device, the cold channel is flipped, giving two identical copies of the signal, with inverted copies of the noise. When these are added together the noise is canceled out through destructive interference, leaving a signal with lower noise than the original. Some people say it makes an audible difference.
Wouldn't the Cth have a warmer sound, or is that dependent on the tube used? I have an Ld mklll,and it's warm, but I haven't rolled any tubes because the stock are pretty good.
I think most people have been describing the CTH as being more on the neutral side of tube amps, and they all seem to agree that the stock tubes are good enough to be probably not worth changing. It's not really possible for me to comment much on the sound without having heard it though. Tyll from InnerFidelity did a pretty comprehensive review, plus there are plenty of impressions on SBAF, and probably on headfi too.
A bit OT, but if you're looking to "clarify" your Mk III, consider rolling in some Mullard M8100 (CV4010) vintage matched driver tubes. The upgrade still impresses me to this day. It's now my HD 650's favorite SE amp.
Do you know which end is hot and which end is cold? Cos my DAC has 2 xlr output mode, 2hot3cold and 3hot2cold and I don't know which is which?