Cavalli Audio - Official Thread

Massdrop has the Toppings D50 back up…I almost picked it up because I want to see what all the hub-ub is about…but the new Lego Voltron set just dropped as well…and Voltron wins!!!

I mean seriously look at how awesome this Lego set is!!!

https://shop.lego.com/en-US/Voltron-21311?icmp=HP-SHE-EG-ID-exclus-867

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I enjoyed Voltron immensely in my college days, when properly lubricated. After my roommate Nick explained that the show was actually created by splicing footage from a defunct series and then overdubbing new vocals, it took on a whole new dimension. Watching colors noticeably shift mid sequence was just one of the many little joys!

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I grabbed the Voltron as well. Happy Early Christmas to me! It is awesome!

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Massive…

Edit: sorry for the derail, Back to Cavalli Audio!

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Yep, the box was a lot bigger than I expected!

My Liquid Spark arrived (@antdroid beat me to this, as you can see here). This was not something I was going to really play with, but having briefly gotten my ears on the Liquid Platinum at CanJam this weekend, I was sufficiently intrigued to give this little guy a try.

Two days later, and here it is … paired with something a bit unconventional (for me) …

Note that running the D50 at -3 dB seems to reduce the level of hash and grain I hear with it when run at 0 dB (especially when dealing with lossy content - which I try not to do). It’s a much more enjoyable listen run this way than at 0 dB … which is counter to my normal experiences in which I do NOT want digital/software control involved … especially when there’s an analog amplifier in the chain.

I generally consider the D50 to be rather on the bright and tetchy side of likable (other issues not withstanding), so I was very surprised to see how rich, warm and generally smooth this combination sounded … even when paired with a neutral headphone (Focal Clear).

I will let this sit and play for 100 hours or so and then come back and see if I still hear it the same way. As well as pairing the little Spark with some other headphones and sources.

So far, though, it’s quite an engaging little thing …

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Man this picture really strikes home how small the D50 is!

Wow didn’t realize the D50 was so small! My impulsive purchase of the LS is turning out pretty good. I am enjoying it as a small little amp to use at work. I had previously had a SMSL VMV VA2 and a Schiit Magni 2 at work but sold both and just stuck with my Onkyo DP-S1 DAP for work use. After using just that and then using it plugged into the LS, the warm, rich, and smooth (as you described it) was very audibly apparent. It makes the Onkyo, which uses dual ESS chain, sound very lean in comparison.

I have been primarily listening to it using the Audeze Sine headphones since they are my closed backs of choice for work, but did also try using them with the BGVP DMG I recently posted about and currently trying it out with the Focal Elex. I am really enjoying this change of pace sound from my usual fare of the Onkyo DAP and the Topping DX7, which to me, share the same sound profile with the DX7 having significantly more power/headroom.

I had built the Starving Student Tube Hybrid to pair with the DX7 as a way to smooth out the sound for the HE560/Elex I have but this Liquid Spark is doing a heck of a job so far for $100. I have the Massdrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid downstairs but haven’t listened to them side-by-side yet. Maybe that’s my next thing to do this weekend.

I did notice that the Spark was pretty treble harsh out of the box but I don’t notice that anymore at all after letting it warm up for a couple of hours.

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For $100 this sounds like a real bargain! I’m interested at how comparable…no identical the specs are to the Schiit Magni. It looks like they had a target and are going after it pretty heavily. I’m really enjoying all the stuff Monoprice has come out with lately.

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There are some differences in the specifications. The Liquid Spark has more distortion (though we’re still talking numbers so low it really doesn’t matter), lower output impedance (though again, both are well under 1 ohm, so this isn’t really a factor) and different levels of gain. But yes, they are very close in their advertised capabilities.

The sound, however, is another matter!

From a technicalities perspective they have different strengths/weaknesses - though both perform at a similar level overall - and one that would have been unthinkable in units at this price a couple of years ago. They do have noticeably different signatures. Noticeable enough that even just plugging in the Liquid Spark and listening to it on its own, it was immediately apparent that it is a warmer/richer sounding unit.

More specifics will have to wait until the Spark has some more run time on it, and I can do some critical listening/comparisons. But so far it’s a very compelling little unit.

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Just picked up the CTH and SDAC combo from Massdrop. Any thoughts on this combo unit?

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I don’t have the combo but the standalone MCTH and I think it is a great amp. It is a good jump off point for Tubes. I still really enjoy mine (when I have time to listen to it lol) I am thinking I’ll have to become one of those people that has pelican cases to transport my audio tackle back and forth from work and home lol. Seriously though!

The MCTH has a really nice relaxed sound, but fair warning the tube will need to be broken in, and you will get all sorts of cool pings and what not while it is going through the break-in process (@Torq gave me a lot of good advice in this realm) I can’t remember which thread it was though, but basically take your time and listen to it as it breaks in to better understand how it changes over time. It was a cool experience, one I did again with my Bottlehead Crack (almost time for that Speedball).

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I have a Vali currently which I have broken in a few 6922’s on, one being a bugle boy which I believe is fairly highly regarded among 6922 NOS. This has about 100 hours on it and I’m probably going to tube swap to this once the CTH arrives. I’m wondering if it will provide better performance than the Modi/Vali combo. If not, at least I reclaim a little bit of desk space?

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I don’t have the combined MCTH + SDAC, but I do have both of them as separate units. It’s a very nice combination. Decent amount of power, and excellent bandwidth, from the MCTH - combined with a hint of tube-color/warmth and a little extra bottom-end weight go well with the smooth and largely neutral signature of the SDAC.

Some other similar-level DACs will give a slightly more realistic bite/edge to brass, and have a hint better clarity, but even then - unless you compare them side-by-side you’re unlikely to find it lacking at all.

It’s a lovely listen, a lot of performance for the money - and a setup that is hard to beat, overall, without going up in price by a significant portion of the entire units cost.


On tube burn-in … I think @Darthpool is referring to this post.

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Nice burn in post. I usually leave the tubes on for a few minutes in order to get warm before I play anything through them. Nice thoughts on the CTH + SDAC. I’m excited now.

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Allowing for different subjective preferences, I would say it should.

I’d put the SDAC on about the same level with the Modi 2, though with different signatures, and behind the Modi 3, again with different presentation (I mention both, since I don’t know which Modi you have … okay - it’s actually in your profile … my bad).

And the MCTH beats out the Vali 1 and 2, though the Vali 2 is quite a bit closer in overall performance than the Vali 1 here.

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Thanks for your thoughts. As always a wealth of knowledge on this forum. I do have the Modi 2u and Vali 2 so maybe not a huge performance gain, but its always nice to have new gear :grinning:

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It should be a useful audible improvement, all the same - and definitely a different presentation!

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I have the MCTH but not the combo unit. I dont know if you’ll actually claim any desk space switching over. the MCTH is a lot wider than a Vali/Modi (if you stack them). Its about the same width if you put them side by side.

I really do enjoy my MCTH but I havent used it too much. It’s part of my living stereo unit, but I tend to listen to my floorstanding speakers more often if I’m relaxing in the living room. When I did have my MCTH hooked up to my desktop unit (Topping DX7 DAC), I was hooked on it. But for now my source going into the MCTH is my Cambridge Audio Azur Amp with Integra CD player, Raspberry Pi DAC streaming box, and U-Turn record player. When it does get used, I enjoy the smoothness it provides to the HE560 and Elex. The Cambridge has a decent to good Class-A headphone output itself and is relatively warm, but the CTH has a little more detail clarity that the Cambridge Azur doesn’t. It seems to handle the planar magnetic headphones better than the Azur does.

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which version do you have? that is a handsome piece of kit! One day I’ll have a living room setup (having a young child running around is problematic for this) or I’ll just have a nice listening area. Now that I think about it, I have multiple places where I have speakers lol, dining room has them built into the wall, living room has a sound bar system, and a 5.1 setup in the movie room. Almost all of them are rarely used since the lil dictator was born (outside of her watching her shows).

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