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Review and Measurements of Massdrop Alex Cavalli Tube Hybrid (CTH) and JDS O2 Headphone Amps

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I owned the Element and I loved it, but it seems overpriced since you can buy cheaper DAC/amps with better performance.
With that much power and low impedance? Like what? I'm in the market, so am open to Element alternatives.
 
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I owned the Element and I loved it, but it seems overpriced since you can buy cheaper DAC/amps with better performance.
At the full 350, yeah, it's a bit pricey. At b-stock 300 USD, I think it's pretty competitive against other options. Sure the Magni 3 might have a little bit more power, and you could pair that with like a Topping D50 to get a better DAC, but I really want to see how the amp section compares against stuff like the Arcam rHead and Magni 3. You do pay a little for the aesthetics, but I think it's worth it if you don't require Optical/Coax input.

We should have a better idea sometime soon-ish. I know someone was sending their Element in, or supposed to soon. If that one doesn't show up, I'll send mine in around early September or so.
 

Luke

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At the full 350, yeah, it's a bit pricey. At b-stock 300 USD, I think it's pretty competitive against other options. Sure the Magni 3 might have a little bit more power, and you could pair that with like a Topping D50 to get a better DAC, but I really want to see how the amp section compares against stuff like the Arcam rHead and Magni 3. You do pay a little for the aesthetics, but I think it's worth it if you don't require Optical/Coax input.

We should have a better idea sometime soon-ish. I know someone was sending their Element in, or supposed to soon. If that one doesn't show up, I'll send mine in around early September or so.

I have sold my rHead to Amir (still in transit, but it should be with him soon). I would have loaned it to him if not for being in the UK.

I didn't have a reason to sell it, but I'm interested to see how it measures, and I can always buy another one as they're very reasonably priced here in the UK.
 
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I have sold my rHead to Amir (still in transit, but it should be with him soon). I would have loaned it to him if not for being in the UK.

I didn't have a reason to sell it, but I'm interested to see how it measures, and I can always buy another one as they're very reasonably priced here in the UK.
I was really seriously considering the rHead before settling on my Element. In the end, it came down to aesthetics and customer service. But the rHead with features like taking balanced-input, and stepped attentuater were really tempting. Should be interesting to see measured.

Yeah, getting it in the UK is a lot easier than elsewhere. Most sites selling it won't sell outside the UK. Though there are some, and when on sale it's not too expensive since the dropped the price from like 600 to 200.
 

Luke

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I was really seriously considering the rHead before settling on my Element. In the end, it came down to aesthetics and customer service. But the rHead with features like taking balanced-input, and stepped attentuater were really tempting. Should be interesting to see measured.

Yeah, getting it in the UK is a lot easier than elsewhere. Most sites selling it won't sell outside the UK. Though there are some, and when on sale it's not too expensive since the dropped the price from like 600 to 200.
I don't think it will measure as well as the O2 or Element, but I don't think there will be any flaws, and it's probably still transparent. I would rather have its stepped attenuator than a few extra zeros!

If you're still interested after Amir has measured it, and have any problems finding one at a good price, feel free to PM me and we can work something out :)
 
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I don't think it will measure as well as the O2 or Element, but I don't think there will be any flaws, and it's probably still transparent. I would rather have its stepped attenuator than a few extra zeros!

If you're still interested after Amir has measured it, and have any problems finding one at a good price, feel free to PM me and we can work something out :)
I appreciate the offer, but I'll stick with my beautifully engraved fancy volume knob... I mean, uh, my Element.

I am not sure, I expect it to at least be pretty competitive against an O2, though not quite as powerful as an Element. The stepped attenuation is honestly what really sets it apart from other products. Those are relatively rare because of their price. It should perform very well in the channel balance test Amir runs.
 

Timbo2

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when the volume knob is adjust to pretty low it is clearly audible. that's my only complaint on the O2.
Agreed. That is a problem with even high quality analog pots.

You can select custom gains with the O2 and partly get around this by selecting a 1x gain as your low gain. But with a source closer to 2V and sensitive IEMs even 1x can be a little problematic. I’m lucky as with my setup I can just get out of the audible imbalance range.
 
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I too was very much interested in Element but the ODAC in it is a bit disappointing. They could have used some thing better. Even their own OL DAC is cheaper.
 
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I too was very much interested in Element but the ODAC in it is a bit disappointing. They could have used some thing better. Even their own OL DAC is cheaper.
It's not an ODAC. It's the same DAC chip as an ODAC, but we see them rate it with different specs, so it's almost certainly their own implementation of the DAC chip. That's like calling an RME-ADI 2 DAC disappointing because it uses a Modi 2 when you see an AKM AK4490 listed as the DAC chip. I'm not saying it's that level of difference, but if their specs are accurate, it is an improvement over the ODAC in most areas and spec'd similarly to their OL DAC, but only slightly worse. Their OL DAC is also like a year newer of a product than The Element.
 
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It's not an ODAC. It's the same DAC chip as an ODAC, but we see them rate it with different specs, so it's almost certainly their own implementation of the DAC chip. That's like calling an RME-ADI 2 DAC disappointing because it uses a Modi 2 when you see an AKM AK4490 listed as the DAC chip. I'm not saying it's that level of difference, but if their specs are accurate, it is an improvement over the ODAC in most areas and spec'd similarly to their OL DAC, but only slightly worse. Their OL DAC is also like a year newer of a product than The Element.
There is no reason to complain as El Amp is $279 and Element B-stock os $299. Still one likes to complain :)
 
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There is no reason to complain as El Amp is $279 and Element B-stock os $299. Still one likes to complain :)
I've always liked to do the price breakdown in my head as 70 dollars for DAC, 230 for amp, and 50 dollars for aesthetics. And you can save 50 bucks getting B-stock(as you sacrifice some of the aesthetics budget with a potential minor blemish[though I've heard good things about the level of their B-stock usually being quite good]). Because it's decent for a 70 dollar DAC, The amp at 230 is somewhat respectable, and I'd pay 50 dollars to make a different DAC/Amp look like an Element if I had been getting something else.

To me the DAC choice was: Well, I could get the EL Amp, and spent 100+ on a DAC that won't quite match the aesthetic unless I spend 200 for an EL DAC and be in 480 dollars... or I could accept that the DAC differences are likely minimal to the ear, and I didn't REALLY need that optical input, and save 130-180 dollars. But I wasn't gonna give up on that knob.
 

Grave

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It's not an ODAC. It's the same DAC chip as an ODAC, but we see them rate it with different specs, so it's almost certainly their own implementation of the DAC chip. That's like calling an RME-ADI 2 DAC disappointing because it uses a Modi 2 when you see an AKM AK4490 listed as the DAC chip. I'm not saying it's that level of difference, but if their specs are accurate, it is an improvement over the ODAC in most areas and spec'd similarly to their OL DAC, but only slightly worse. Their OL DAC is also like a year newer of a product than The Element.
I am quite sure it is the ODAC. . .
 
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It is supposed to be marginally better than O2, with double the power. And above and beyond in looks department. If you think of O2 + ODAC rev. B cost, it is not pricey. Just $60 more for all that glory.
 
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Seems like they were working on ODAC rev. B and Element at the same time. The design might be similar. Specs might be different even with the same circuit design as one is laid out on a two layer board and the other on a 4 layer board.
 
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