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THX Onyx Review (headphone adapter)

Xulonn

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THX is not making any wild claims. The Engadget writer has read the MQA press dossiers and seems to like the "origami" metaphor. This is routine work in tech news blogs. "Another day, another dollar". The writer may not know the basics of current audio gear. And the MQA organization is good at propagating catchy "memes".)

I am quite aware of all of your points. Every time I omit the "/s" (end snark) notification, someone seems to take me at least semi-seriously. Many things that are written or spoken as part of the modern media complex are worthy of at least a bit of mild snark.

My "high-fidelity" source preference is 256-320Kbps MP3, although I have some audio files in flac format. I have absolutely no interest in MQA except as an observer of superfluous audio consumer junk.

I am very familiar with audio and computer consumer-oriented journalism, having begun my reading on the subject with Audio Magazine in 1958 when I was a high school student and an usher for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the Fritz Reiner era. (Audio had dropped the word "Engineering" from the magazine's name in 1953.)

Audio-1958-July.jpg
 

metaleggman

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@amirm and others, how does this compare to ES100 and Qubelix 5K balanced output; not sure the SINAD measurements are comparable between reviews. I'm also curious how to best interpret the clipping graphs; is higher better, in the sense that you're getting more power before clipping?

I have an ES100 mk2 right now, but was thinking of getting something else (or another) so I could keep my now 2 year old unit in my car, but since I swap between Shure SE535, Hifiman HE-4XX, and Senny HD6XX, I feel like having the option of balanced output is more beneficial (for the latter two) than MQA, between the Qudelix (what I'm looking at) and the Onyx (I do find MQA interesting) on mobile. Thanks for any help :)
 

Archangel

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How does this compare to the E1DA 9038D? I am trying to chose between them for one that is superior, however I have never listened to either and as I have seen: the objective results aren't always reflected irl (irl the device has to interact with you, your pocket, your phone battery, and more)...
 

NHL99

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I now have the THX Onyx as a DAC streamer, setup with a Raspberry Pi. Music is selected via the mobile, Raspberry takes care of the streaming.
Must be one of the better price - performance options. Way too many DAC streamers have phantasy price tags.
Takes a while to adjust to the ESS chipset, previous setup had an old DAC from another brand.
Listening to Gojira Magma, right now.
 

AdamG247

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I now have the THX Onyx as a DAC streamer, setup with a Raspberry Pi. Music is selected via the mobile, Raspberry takes care of the streaming.
Must be one of the better price - performance options. Way too many DAC streamers have phantasy price tags.
Takes a while to adjust to the ESS chipset, previous setup had an old DAC from another brand.
Listening to Gojira Magma, right now.
Welcome Aboard NHL99.
 

NHL99

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This is the ~300 Euro streamer in action, volume adjustment can be done with very small increments. The metal case package can be hidden, due to small form factor.
THX Onyx Raspberry Pi.png
 

pk500

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Don't want to start a flame war in here, but this chap does a pretty comprehensive job of deconstruction the myth of MQA and pointing out its many flaws:

I found that video very interesting. But even my old ears told me during testing of streaming services that Qobuz and its non-MQA files sounded better than the MQA files of Tidal and Amazon Music HD. Clear difference -- pun intended.
 

Matias

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Don't want to start a flame war in here, but this chap does a pretty comprehensive job of deconstruction the myth of MQA and pointing out its many flaws:

I found that video very interesting. But even my old ears told me during testing of streaming services that Qobuz and its non-MQA files sounded better than the MQA files of Tidal and Amazon Music HD. Clear difference -- pun intended.
There are already other threads for that.
 

pk500

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There are already other threads for that.

Fair enough. But part of the discussion of this product in this thread was whether MQA was a worthy feature, so I thought this may add context. I'm NOT trying to start a flame war, as I have no dog in any hi-fi fidelity hunt. I'm a Spotify 320 kbps user who has tested a number of hi-fi streaming services -- that's all.
 

Junglebook

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ZMF claim they need 300mw at 300 ohm (97 dB sensitivity). I tried my ZMF Verite Closed with the Onyx that according to the specs outputs less than that, and it got them plenty loud with lots of headroom, and they sounded great, including the bass region. Am I deaf?

I’m considering replacing my desktop setup with the Onyx.
 
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staticV3

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ZMF claim they need 300mw at 300 ohm (97 dB sensitivity). I tried my ZMF with the Onyx that according to the specs outputs less than that, and it got them plenty loud with lots of headroom, and they sounded great, including the bass region. Am I deaf?
What ZMF?
 

Impossible

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How does this compair to the chord mojo?
Would there be a noticeable difference?
 

staticV3

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I believe they all have the same specs? My Verite and Verite Closed have 300 ohm and 97 sensitivity.
Yes, they're all very similar. I assumed they weren't, sorry.

ZMF's current offerings are all rated at 300Ω with a sensitivity of 97, 98, or 99dB/mW.

Meaning:
-100dB SPL (moderate): 0.61-0.77Vrms, 1.24-2.0mW
-110dB (fairly loud): 1.94-2.45Vrms, 12.5-20mW
-115dB (very loud): 3.46-4.35Vrms, 40-63mW

So the Onyx should manage 108-110dB SPL out of your ZMF.

300mW into a ZMF headphone would result in 122-124dB SPL, which raises the question if ZMF wants to actively murder their customers' hearing
 

Junglebook

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Yes, they're all very similar. I assumed they weren't, sorry.

ZMF's current offerings are all rated at 300Ω with a sensitivity of 97, 98, or 99dB/mW.

Meaning:
-100dB SPL (moderate): 0.61-0.77Vrms, 1.24-2.0mW
-110dB (fairly loud): 1.94-2.45Vrms, 12.5-20mW
-115dB (very loud): 3.46-4.35Vrms, 40-63mW

So the Onyx should manage 108-110dB SPL out of your ZMF.

300mW into a ZMF headphone would result in 122-124dB SPL, which raises the question if ZMF wants to actively murder their customers' hearing

Thanks for that. Diving a bit deeper, as I understand many or most dynamic drivers have variable impedance in different frequencies, typically higher impedance in the bass frequencies. To my ears the Verite with the Onyx sounded great, definitely comparable to my RME, including in the bass range - plenty of impact / slam. I guess I’m looking for someone to tell me why not to replace a desktop setup (assuming I don’t need any of the features) with the Onyx if it can seemingly get all of my headphones to super loud levels, including my ZMFs and Abyss Diana v2.
 

maverickronin

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300mW into a ZMF headphone would result in 122-124dB SPL, which raises the question if ZMF wants to actively murder their customers' hearing

Or just give a big enough number that no one will ever come back complaining that their recommended power wasn't enough.
 

Ismapics

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@amirm This review is not listed in the Audio Electronics Review and Measurements Index. Or at least I could not find it.
 

Darwin

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I'm getting one of these and also a Helm Bolt to try. The Bolt is half price for veterans. Now that Apple music is going hi res I want to be able to download everything to my phone and iPad Pro so I don't have to stream. My new 12.9 iPad Pro has 1 tb of ssd so shouldn't be a problem. Also an M1 processor and 16 GB of ram with micro LED screens and 5G :) That will be great for couch listening with one of these or at work whenever we end up going back into the office. Plus it's USB-C so won't need a dongle for lightning. I'm not one of the MQA haters as I have had good experiences with it on Tidal but I will have no use for Tidal when my Apple music sub has high res for no additional cost. Yes I've read and seen all the MQA haters nonsense and I don't care what people think, it has been good for me. But I think it's really going to hurt MQA that Apple is going hi res at no additional cost as well as Tidal and Qobuz. Looks like Dorsey bought Tidal at exactly the wrong time...
 
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