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Review and Measurements of Cavalli Liquid Carbon X

Pillars

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Lol well, as terrible as it measures the amp sounds just fine to me. Is it as technically capable as my 789? No.. is it engaging and enjoyable as heck? Sure is..
 

FireLion

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Lol well, as terrible as it measures the amp sounds just fine to me. Is it as technically capable as my 789? No.. is it engaging and enjoyable as heck? Sure is..

I just picked one up. Hopefully It's decent and I'll hand it over to a guy who developed audio equipment to test. Z review also thought it was a very good amp balanced.
 

Veri

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I just picked one up. Hopefully It's decent and I'll hand it over to a guy who developed audio equipment to test. Z review also thought it was a very good amp balanced.
It isn't bad balanced. It just really sucks single ended.
 

SMc

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Is there a way to use the balanced output with the NAD HP50? I haven't found a definitive answer in my searches. I would hope an adapter could do the job. I'm not willing to mod the headphones themselves.

I hear a zingy quality over the 6.3mm output that corresponds with Amir's description of distortion. I prefer my NAD D1050 headphone amp at this point but I'd like to give the LCX its best chance.
 

FireLion

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It isn't bad balanced. It just really sucks single ended.

I will be using balanced as I make my own cables, couldn't say no as I got it for a bargain. I am pretty sure it's going to be a decent sounding amp. I'll report back and compare it to the THX 788 from memory.
 

Jimster480

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I will be using balanced as I make my own cables, couldn't say no as I got it for a bargain. I am pretty sure it's going to be a decent sounding amp. I'll report back and compare it to the THX 788 from memory.
That isn't possible to do really. Your brain has only 7 seconds of "audio detail" memory.
I've tested both of these amps side by side and the Cavalli loses high level details but has a warmer sound. Interesting amir didn't find any difference in frequency response but we tested the amp with about 6 headphones from planars to dynamics to IEM's and its definitely warmer than the 789 which makes for a "more engaging" experience if you listen to things like modern rap or rock music and pair it with a bassier headphone.
 

FireLion

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That isn't possible to do really. Your brain has only 7 seconds of "audio detail" memory.
I've tested both of these amps side by side and the Cavalli loses high level details but has a warmer sound. Interesting amir didn't find any difference in frequency response but we tested the amp with about 6 headphones from planars to dynamics to IEM's and its definitely warmer than the 789 which makes for a "more engaging" experience if you listen to things like modern rap or rock music and pair it with a bassier headphone.

I can pretty much remember how detailed and dynamic it was(detailed no). The only thing that came close was my workmates custom amp he built and gifted me but thanks for the lengty response.
I'm ok with a warmer sig at half the cost if it has decent sound stage, imaging and some timbre.

Using the Balanced or SE with a khadas plugged in I get lots of interference. The khadas still sounds better than the built in sdac.
I am not overly impressed. The khadas on my friends custom gainblock/opamp hybrid unit is perfect, no interference and it's an open pcb, I also have the khadas in a metal housing.

Edit: My xDuoo has a cleaner sound with a nice Mullard IEC tube, pretty sad when a tube dac is cleaner than a solid state with no bloated mid bass. The TA-10 is an exceptional unit and even made Zeos Pantera cry after I loaned him the GE NOS tube.
 
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FireLion

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OK so I ended up getting a straight up LCX and thought it was OK and the SE was pretty poor. The combo unit is handy but the DAC is weak and not that loud. BUT....I then paired it with a SDAC Balanced and it is now very good indeed, almost a different amp and even SE performance is now respectable thanks to the extra gain.

This amp is now a favorite of mine thanks to the SDAC-B
 

Jimster480

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OK so I ended up getting a straight up LCX and thought it was OK and the SE was pretty poor. The combo unit is handy but the DAC is weak and not that loud. BUT....I then paired it with a SDAC Balanced and it is now very good indeed, almost a different amp and even SE performance is now respectable thanks to the extra gain.

This amp is now a favorite of mine thanks to the SDAC-B
By SDAC do you mean the Grace DAC? Or what?
 

Veri

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OK so I ended up getting a straight up LCX and thought it was OK and the SE was pretty poor. The combo unit is handy but the DAC is weak and not that loud. BUT....I then paired it with a SDAC Balanced and it is now very good indeed, almost a different amp and even SE performance is now respectable thanks to the extra gain.

This amp is now a favorite of mine thanks to the SDAC-B
Yeah the measurements show the balanced output on the LCX is far far better than SE so use balanced in balanced out if you can.

By SDAC do you mean the Grace DAC? Or what?
Grace SDAC Balanced.
 

trl

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Take a look here for some decent pictures. It does seem to resemble Hotblack Desiato's stuntship from HHGTG.

This is a very interesting headamp, with a different topology and schematic then regular headamps tested here. It's hard to measure like OPA1612/LME49600 amplifiers for sure, but I really appreciate it's bold design.

From what I see, there is a pair of IRF510/IRF9510 on each channel, so probably by carefully adjusting the bias current might decrease few dBs the amplitude from the 3rd harmonic. However, I really don't think the first couple of harmonics will be ever audible by any regular humans if they're at least 90dB away from the fundamental sound, so don't think worth the trouble, especially that the output DC might suffer.

However, I see no transformer inside the case, so perhaps the mains hum comes from the surroundings, or maybe the volume pot or the outer case is not properly grounded; sometimes the audio ground is better to be separated by the mains ground, so not sure what's the designers approach on this one, but worth "investigating" by simply touching the outer case with your hand, then touching the volume knob, then touching the RCA/XLR ground as well and see if the mains increases or decreases. Very sensitive IEM's can be used, but also a regular sound-card connected to headphones-out as well.

Of course, AC ripple can be measured with a scope around the power regulators (yes, same IRF510/9510), just in case this main noise might come from in there. Not sure how the voltage rail splitter was done here, due to the IPB120P04P4L MOS-FET from the input (just after the power plug), but I'm guessing there's sort of dual power supply built around the 2 x IRF510/9510 MOS-FET pairs. So, the mains hum might be from this rail splitter, but it's impossible to know without a scope. Perhaps the input transistor (after the power plug) acts in a similar way like the TLE2426 or like a Zenner diode, but I'll let an EE to "investigate" this further.

An interesting project with same MOSFET transistors can be found here: http://xen-audio.com/documents/f5ha/F5-HA Description V1.4.pdf .
 

FireLion

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Did you ever test it with a balanced DAC in? I enjoy this amp immensely.
 

FireLion

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@amirm I noticed when I plugged in the power a few times now the unit sparks, more than I'd like and I thought I had fried it.

I wonder has it a similar grounding issue like the Jotunheim had and was there anyone here that could test it and maybe remedy it.
 

FireLion

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@trl did you see any sparks coming out of yours when the power was plugged in where the connector goes in?
 

Jimster480

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@amirm I noticed when I plugged in the power a few times now the unit sparks, more than I'd like and I thought I had fried it.

I wonder has it a similar grounding issue like the Jotunheim had and was there anyone here that could test it and maybe remedy it.
Sparks where?
 

trl

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@trl did you see any sparks coming out of yours when the power was plugged in where the connector goes in?

@FireLion, I don't have this headamp, sorry. Like Jimster480 says, where are those sparks coming from, please?
1. I recommend you to unplug the DC plug from the headamp and the AC power supply from mains, leave it for few seconds disconnected from mains, then plug the DC jack into the socket and with the headamp powered OFF (check the power switch) you can plug the AC power adapter into the mains outlet. Now you can power the headamp ON again and see if it works or not.

2. If still spikes somewhere, then unplug everything again, unscrew all the screws and make it naked like here: https://www.head-case.org/forums/topic/13268-massdrop-cavalli-lcx/. Then do the steps from item# 1 again and let's see where the sparks come from: DC power socket? headamp power switch? from one of board's MOSFET transistors?
 

FireLion

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@FireLion, I don't have this headamp, sorry. Like Jimster480 says, where are those sparks coming from, please?
1. I recommend you to unplug the DC plug from the headamp and the AC power supply from mains, leave it for few seconds disconnected from mains, then plug the DC jack into the socket and with the headamp powered OFF (check the power switch) you can plug the AC power adapter into the mains outlet. Now you can power the headamp ON again and see if it works or not.

2. If still spikes somewhere, then unplug everything again, unscrew all the screws and make it naked like here: https://www.head-case.org/forums/topic/13268-massdrop-cavalli-lcx/. Then do the steps from item# 1 again and let's see where the sparks come from: DC power socket? headamp power switch? from one of board's MOSFET transistors?

It's when you put the connector in the back it sparks there.
 

trl

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You might want to do a few seconds movie with your cellphone. Plugging the DC power jack intothe amplifier if the power switch is already in ON position might trigger few sparks, this is why I recommend to power OFF the amplifier, unplug the PSU from the mains, then be sure the DC jack is connected and later you can insert the external PSU to the mains and let's see what's happening when you power it ON from the switch. You can record a small movie with the outer case off, just to be sure we can see where those sparks come from.

Although, you might better visit an EE or someone that can do a basic diagnose in there. Maybe something got broken in there.
 

maxxevv

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I recommend to power OFF the amplifier, unplug the PSU from the mains, then be sure the DC jack is connected and later you can insert the external PSU to the mains and let's see what's happening when you power it ON from the switch.

Yah... that's the correct way to do it. I can hear electrical arcing when I plug the power cable into my laptop power supply too if the plug is hot.
 
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