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Let the burn-in commence! Happy to have received my Massdrop x THX AAA 789 amp today (originally scheduled for Feb 2019). The first thing I noticed is in Gain setting I (lowest) I have to turn the dial to 2-3pm to hit the sweet spot on the Focal Elegia -- which are very easy to drive. On Gain setting II (medium) I only need to hit about 11am to hit that same level of output. Have not tested gain setting III (highest) as I've seen in reviews and charts which doubles the THD (although still incredibly low). In comparison with exact same setup but with Feliks-Audio Echo (only has one gain mode) the Elegia hits their sweet spot at around 8-9am. Can't make any comments yet to its fidelity or sonic performance as I haven't had yet the chance to do quiet and critical listening. But I have it going with some music in the background for burn-in purposes.
thumb_upjonRock, DaveMFox6Tweeker, and 8 others
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rdodev
607
Nov 16, 2018
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Alright, I've listened to this amp enough to actually give an informed opinion: It's aggressively transparent and ruthlessly free of distortion. I cannot over emphasize how clean and clinical the THX AAA 789 is. If you like color, or character in your amps, you will not enjoy the 789 to its fullest. If you appreciate preposterously low noise floor and absolutely faithful reproduction and rendition, this amp should be at the top of your shopping list.
Nov 16, 2018
ProfessorPat
366
Nov 16, 2018
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Just to comment on Gain, since I doubt a lot of people actually know what it does: Gain is the factor that the input is multiplied by before it hits the output and should be selected based on your source. You're tweaking the input sensitivity when you adjust gain. Ideally, you set the gain to exactly what is needed to take the output of your source to the max swing of your amp. That would result in a maxed volume control for full output. Higher gain doesn't result in more output power at that max level. By going beyond what is needed to take the peaks of your source to the max of your amp, all you do is clip and distort. It can still get louder that way, but that's probably not what you're after. Most people run waaay more gain than they really need. You won't see much issue in running more than needed if you set things to levels that are actually sensible and aren't hitting the limits of your gear, but you're only wasting power somewhere along the way by running higher than needed. Side note, THX is actually one of the reasons everything has too much gain for the average person these days!
Nov 16, 2018
cwelton17
101
Nov 16, 2018
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Ok so as a novice maybe I'm doing Gain wrong. Where can I learn "the right way" to do Gain? Or do I need a PhD to really answer that question?
Nov 16, 2018
ProfessorPat
366
Nov 17, 2018
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Not sure where to point you for it, so here's some info. Formatting is going to be awful here, but bear with me. To calculate necessary gain, you can use this equation: Gain = Output (Vrms) / Input Sensitivity (Vrms) Assume input sensitivity is equal to your source device's rated output voltage. Let's say 2V for simplicity's sake here, but it can be all over the place depending on what you're using. Now most things don't give you output voltage, so use this to find that for your amp. E = sqrt( P * R ) [Voltage = sqrt( Power in Watts * Resistance in Ohms)] ^ This is just Ohm's Law if anyone doesn't know where this comes from. Magni 3 for example, because it's easy to find these numbers for it: E = sqrt(2 Wrms * 32 ohms) E = 8 V You get 8 Vrms out of a Magni 3. Gain = 8 V / 2 V Gain = 4 You need a gain of 4 to get full output from a Magni 3 with a 2 Vrms source. Now, you can skip over all of this if you have a rated input sensitivity. Just compare your output to the required input. Realistically, you want more source voltage available than the minimum required by the input sensitivity if you're aiming for that full output. This is because you probably don't listen to nothing but full scale sine waves. Real music sits below that full output, some significantly more than others. Obviously, you can swap different known elements in to figure out different things. If you have a known gain, you can find input sensitivity, for example. We know the Magni 3 has a gain option of 2 or 7. 2 is going to net us 4V of the 8V available at full output. That's fine... but you're not going to make use of the full 2W output. At 7, you'd swing 14V if it was capable of it. Instead, you're chopping off 6V (sort of... all of these numbers are RMS, and it'll swing more to the peaks, but ignore that and just assume you're clipping signals here anyway) if you run full 2V into it with no attenuation. But like I said, music isn't full scale all the time, and you're probably using that volume knob. Of course, my original comment on full output and gain not being load dependent doesn't mean everything else isn't. Do you actually need full output is the next question. You have a super sensitive Grado or just about any in ear, and an amp that will dump 2W into that impedance. 2W is well in excess of SPLs capable of deafening you for both options. I mean, it's probably going to kill those drivers too, but whether you actually need full output is important too, and a lot of things are getting so powerful that you probably don't a lot of times. If you don't need 2W, that low gain of 2 and the 4V swing is potentially very useful now. If you actually needed more than 2W, then you want a bigger amp, not more gain. That's just distortion and compression, not real power. So it all depends... Sometimes less than full is great, others you're great at that ideal number, and sometimes you still need just a little more. But let's say the Magni had 3 gain settings, 2, 6, and 12. You have no need for that 12 in any scenario with that 2 V source. The 6 already does more than it's capable of. 12 is just additional distortion over the 6. All I'm really saying in all of this is if you have enough to hit your max at a lower setting, that higher one is only going to do negative things. You really need to know how much power you actually need if you want to calculate every little detail about what is enough for you, but don't worry about it too much. It's only really worth thinking about if you're curious which gain setting to use on something with options, or you're trying to minimize any excess gain in a chain or something.
Nov 17, 2018
Megazine
459
Nov 14, 2018
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Question, why didn't you buy the Liquid Carbon X + SDAC over the THX 789? Love the pic!
Nov 14, 2018
jaydunndiddit
2706
Nov 15, 2018
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At least for me, the THX is cleaner (lower distortion) and more powerful. It also has better gain options and the inclusion of more outputs (3.5mm, 6.35mm, and 4-pin XLR). Also, the new balanced SDAC has more inputs and I believe is truly balanced where the LCX is using a phase-splitter so the new implementation as well as other updates are substantial for the slight tick in cost ($80 to $150). Overall, it made more sense to get the more powerful and flexible system for $120 more over the LCX. If the THX 789 and Balanced SDAC didn't exist, the LCX would be the top dog. Otherwise, it's a very solid #2 but may also be better to some folks that prefer a bit more warmth over the seriously uncolored THX.
Nov 15, 2018
rdodev
607
Nov 14, 2018
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By far the most peculiar aspect is that it runs remarkably cold! It has been playing continuously for hours and it still is cold to the touch both the top and bottom of the unit. Truly impressive. Shows great thought was put into its efficiency and cleanliness.
Nov 14, 2018
Megazine
459
Nov 15, 2018
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Electro comes with the science once again
Nov 15, 2018
ElectronicVices
1941
Nov 16, 2018
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I am bit of a research nut and been at this for two decades. I still have only scratched the surface of all the factors at play in audio reproduction. I did a significant amount of research around 2007 when I bought I my first separate amp for my HT. I also have several friends making their jump to separates over the last couple years so feel free to hit me up with amp questions as needed.
Nov 16, 2018
Boxster
14
Nov 14, 2018
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Focal elex: worth the price and if so, why?
Nov 14, 2018
REVMAD
103
Jan 18, 2019
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yes, especially when compared to the price of the elear and the clear. Most review of the elex are excellent. For me the elex was good enough for me to retire my sennheiser hd650.
Jan 18, 2019
MichaelAnda
82
Jan 19, 2019
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Don't know anything about the Sennheiser HD650, but… Man do I love the Elex's. I received a pair of the Massdrop HiFiMan HE-4XX's yesterday and they are quite satisfying, too. Not exactly in the same league as the Focal's, but… You can buy 4 pairs for the price of the Elex's. Going to buy myself a pair of Meze 99 Noir's the next time they drop and hopefully call it a day for headphones. I want a set of closed back units with the same cord configuration as the others.
Jan 19, 2019
jaydunndiddit
2706
Nov 14, 2018
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Glad to see you got your pair back. Did Focal ever deny/confirm the issue you were experiencing? Also if you can, run the Elegia balanced. They become just absolutely wonderful and can really highlight the acoustics of the room/chamber/venue quite well. It's an interesting effect I've been enjoying in a lot of tracks that I know up and down. Plus, their bass tightens up and really helps round out the sound that much more with some added weight.
Nov 14, 2018
rdodev
607
Nov 14, 2018
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I have a balanced cable on the way, really looking forward to trying that. As for the defect of my first pair, I never got word. Headphones.com peeps are amazing. I sent them back and as soon as they got new stock, they shipped one to me all at no-shipping-cost to me. They're def good folks I plan to buy cans from next time.
Nov 14, 2018
jaydunndiddit
2706
Nov 14, 2018
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That's good to know. I can vouch for Moon Audio myself as well as they expedited mine on shipping and answered all my annoying questions via email very promptly. Nice to be able to add another vendor to the "trusted" list, haha.
Nov 14, 2018
Senpai-sama
84
Nov 14, 2018
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What are your thoughts on the Elegia?
Nov 14, 2018
rdodev
607
Nov 14, 2018
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I wrote some first impressions here: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/10199/focal-elegia-impressions-to-be-updated-as-i-break-them-in?utm_source=linkshare&referer=UHWMCL TL;DR: they're fantastic. They have my previous fav pair, AQ NightOwl, hanging from their perch getting little use.
Nov 14, 2018