The Massdrop x Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid: In With the New
The new Cavalli Tube Hybrid is an evolution of the original Compact Tube Hybrid DIY project.
The new “CTH” has significant improvements to the original design: Higher power output, approximately 1W into 50 ohms. The new CTH has some global negative feedback reducing the gain from the mu of the triode to a more manageable gain of 8x. By reducing the gain, we are able to make the amp work with the widest array of headphones through a very simple design to operate. The unity gain, discrete output buffers on the new CTH are updated versions of the buffers used in the Cavalli Audio Liquid Glass amplifier and provide the same or better performance.


The original CTH used a 24VAC wall wart power supply. This is suitable for a DIY project, but this type of power supply is uncommon and introduces raw power line AC and rectifier noise into the power supply circuit and the amp. The new CTH uses a 28VDC external power supply which is quieter than the original 24VAC supply. The power supply has no rectifier noise at 120Hz. The power supply also handles universal voltage (100-240V) for a single power supply version (use with plug adapters for your country if needed).
Anything the same? The original CTH has an auto-bias adjustment circuit on the tube so that no manual adjustments are needed. The new CTH does too.
PLEASE NOTE: The original CTH was designed to roll many different types of tubes. The new CTH is designed around the 6922 for simplicity of use. Owners can roll different types of 6922 or equivalent tubes, but they cannot roll other tube types into this new amp.

You’ll hear the differences in the new Massdrop x Cavalli Tube Hybrid.
Quieter, more powerful, easier to operate, higher resolution while maintaining that touch of tube warmth.

Massdrop 101: What Is An Amp?
Massdrop 101: What Is A DAC?
thumb_upgorian2222, Scott Makeig, and 28 others

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Feb 9, 2020
Just below this there is a review by Array1138 that I agree with entirely which made me want to post this. As I type, I'm listening to Pat Metheny through a pair of active Mackie hr624 speakers run from the output of a Cavali CTH. The sound is stunning in ways I took for granted until just recently when I had the Cavlli out of the mix for a brief spell. The Cavalli pairs with the Mackies so well as a sort of pre-amp with master volume that I started searching online to see if anyone else was using the amp in this way. That's how I found Array's post, and why I thought I'd say a little more about this use case. I use the Mackies in a smallish bedroom purely as listening speakers and not as Monitors. The 624s, like the 824s, have great built in filtering and attenuating switches to help tailor the sound to a difficult listening environment. With smaller bass drivers, the 624s are a great choice for smaller rooms particularly given how affordable these are on the 2nd hand market. Anyway, to focus more on the CTH, since first receiving it about a year ago I've had it setup in this bedroom as a headphone amp and easy to reach master volume for the Mackies. A few weeks ago I finally received a THX 789, and I was eager to compare the two amps. When it came to headphone listening, it was no contest. The 789 performed like a fighter jet, and the Cavali was like a comfortable bicycle. I was floored by how much of massive leap up in quality I enjoyed from a pair of 6xx headphones in particular. Mid range syrup, slowed transients and mud in the low mids present on the Cavali were banished by the 789. Shockingly the 6xx started to sound fast and precise, not that far off from planars in the bass region, again without some of the low-mid bump that is often associated with the 6xx (650), and so shouldn't be thought of as strictly emanating from the CTH. Rather the CTH didn't tame this. Next up it was time to plug in the Mackies. There I found the matter utterly reversed. For the first time I started hearing the Mackies as the supremely flat monitor speakers they were intended to be. The only thing is, they sounded like ... well I don't want to set off a debate about recording gear. I'll just say when I replicated the configuration I had setup with the Cavali, routing output from the 789 to the Mackies to use that amp as a master volume, the Mackies didn't sound like the sorts of monitors that would be my personal choice for recording (I've done my share). Then again, I should note I have them setup for casual listening in a bedroom, and it could be that properly positioning them for monitoring would take them to another level. So with the caveat my negative comments about their sound through the 789 doesn't necessarily accurately reflect the true potential of the Mackies, I found them to sound clinical, exactly as monitors should sound, but lacking in imaging characteristics. Clinical but bland. The difference was subtle but very substantial. I was extremely surprised. I picked up the Mackies for casual listening after receiving the Cavali, and had never listened to them without the Cavali in the Mix. For months after getting them I was floored by what underrated gems I thought the Mackies were and how fantastic they sounded. Low and behold it turns out the sound I was adoring was deeply indebted to the touch of tube harmonics being imparted by the Cavali. The CTH, it turns out, was a magical ingredient transforming their presentation from flat, but in a somewhat limp kind of way, to something lush, euphonic and addictive. So now I have a little stack in my bedroom and am making effective use of the RCA pass through on the 789. I use the CTH just as a tube pre for my active Mackie 624s and I'm so impressed by the combination that I went searching online to see if anyone else has written about this. Would I recommend the expenditure to transform a pair of active monitors from soulless to fun and lush? Yes. I think the transformation of the Mackie's into supremely enjoyable listening speakers is very noticeable and well worth the investment. My experience is the tube harmonics do wonderful, wonderful things to the depth of the soundstage in the stereo image for these active speakers. The combination of the flat monitor response and solid state character of the CTH keep things from getting out of hand and becoming unresolving. Instead the transformation is from clinical and dry to utterly fun and engaging while still being tight and clear. As per Array1138's post, it sounds as though this is an experience that can be repeated. I enjoy the results enough I wanted to share the findings along for others who might be interested in bringing a bit of fun and delight to an active monitoring setup. It's certainly a whole heck of a lot cheaper than investing in another pair of speakers.
Jan 15, 2019
It works very well as a preamp using the 4 pin out to a pair of Mackie HR824 MK1's. more musical with NOS 7308's, and more detailed with Sovtek 6922's, it replaced my Musical Fidelity X-Can V8P, which uses two 7308's and now I'm Shopping for a Schiit Valhalla 2 in order to try an OTL amp for the first time. The best thing about these new amps is their affordability. LOL
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Oct 25, 2020