Aug 16, 2018301 views

Grace m9xx vs THX AAA 789/Airist R-2R

I currently own the Grace m9xx DAC/Amp. I love it but I do know that I want another audio set-up, especially since I have a family member who wants it. I've been really eyeballing the THX AAA 789 Amp and the Airist R-2R DAC. I don't mind the wait into February for shipping!

I know that those two products are very new and there haven't been too much testing done with them, but specs-wise, what are the actual differences between the Grace vs the THX/Airist? What difference of sound signature could I expect? Is there anything that the Grace does better than that stack? The biggest question is if it's even that much of an upgrade. If I need to spend more to get a real upgrade, what would you suggest?

Thanks so much!
nanoushka, 衡曹, and 1 other

would be better to get the LCX and the airist. What headphones do you have?
My primary headphones are the HD 700!
For sure would get airist and lcx then, hd700 are cold and the 2 that I mentioned have a warm tilt.
Not at all trying to be a dick here but asking about sound signature comparisons before they've been released to the public is a bit unrealistic. Some things to think about from specs and my personal stance:
1) I like separates... the flexibility they provide is worth the extra space/cost to me. Not going to state they are "better" per se, just like being able to swap smaller pieces of my audio chain.
2) Do you have balanced or balanced capable headphones? If yes the THX makes 6x the power into 32 ohms and 8x the power into 600 ohms. The THX also puts out almost 2x the power in 32 ohms and 600 ohms in single-ended. This extra headroom may be handy if you have hard to drive planar magnetics or 300-600 ohm cans (Senn/Beyer).
3) The AA R-2R is an interesting topology, lots of subjective opinions on it having an inherently smooth characteristic.
4) The M9XX and the AA both do DSD
5) AAA has 3.5, 6.3 and XLR outputs, negating the need for any adapters.
In the end only you will be able to decide, for me I like separates and I own fairly inefficient planar headphones so the stack would be the way I would go . The grace is a nice piece of kit but may not be the best pairing with extremely efficient low impedance headphones or hard to drive cans. What headphones are you using?
Load 3 more comments
So that alone already makes it a major upgrade for my headphones. I never knew about the impedance swings! That's really good to know! Thanks guys!
How well would the Grace m9xx handle the impedance swings?
If you are running the grace with both usb inputs connected (hi power mode) I doubt you will have any trouble with the HD700 as it is fairly efficient. Remember that audio typically plays in an arena with seriously diminishing returns. The THX AAA could be a small improvement but I would be hesitant to call it major. If you had balanced planar headphones or very low impedance/high sensitivity headphones I could see a bigger return on investment. If you think your headphone collection will grow and you want the flexibility of separates then I say go for it. If you are completely happy with the HD700 I would just stick with the Grace but that also depends on the severity of your case of upgraditis.