Massdrop x Cavalli Liquid Carbon X (LCX) Balanced Headphone Amplifier - Official Thread

Following on from the original, transportable, very-limited run of Liquid Carbon amps from Cavalli, this is a balanced, powerful, solid-state headphone amplifier using the same topology in a new form-factor.

It has been popular enough that it has transitioned into a “stocked” item on Massdrop, making it available on a daily - immediate shipping - basis.


This is the spot for discussions on the LCX …


i always enjoy your insightful commentary, Torq…thank you for your contributions here.
i’m considering both this one as well as a
different cavelli amp, the one by monoprice that came out last month:
the monolith liquid platinum at US$699
…hopefully you or someone else can get a chance to compare them
side by side… both these amps seem to be good offerings by both massdrop and monoprice


Very informative. It is beautiful looking, seems a good value for the dollar and 5 year warranty. What’s not to like. I will keep this one on my radar.

1 Like

I nearly pulled the trigger on the Monolith Liquid Platinum when it launched. One of my local friends (“Atomic Bob”), who some of you may know from other forums, has one - has good things to say about it (audibly and measurably), and plans on keeping it around, so it’s possible I’ll get to hear it at sufficient length to make a comparison.

A comparison would certainly be interesting. But as its not really on my radar for my own use, as it’d wind up in my bedroom rig, which is not a good spot for exposed tubes (and I have an iFi Pro iCAN there already) - and it falls above my “buy it for the hell of it” watermark, absent borrowing Bob’s it’ll fall to someone else to do!


So, @CEE_TEE has very kindly given us one of these amplifiers for a review/impressions tour!

Initially I am going to do this outside of the normal Community Preview Program, so participation requirements are going to be a bit different. If this works well, I will consider using it as a model to add other gear to the CPP that isn’t carried by partners.

And, after the initial tour, I may well add it to the library of gear available as part of the CPP.

Here’s how this will work:

  • You’ll have the amplifier to listen to for 7 days.

  • After your time with it, you’ll ship it directly to the next person on the tour.

  • You must post impressions of the unit, in this thread, in a timely fashion (ideally before the next person receives it). Pictures are not required for this. If you want to post a full review with pictures, that’s even better - but it still needs to be timely.

To participate, you must be a regularly active member of the forum (at least trust level 2 or “Member” status), which is a lower bar than for the CPP - beyond which participation will be at my discretion.

And you must have a balanced headphone or IEM to try it with; this unit is definitely at its best from it’s balanced output. A balanced source is less of a concern.

Your “cost” to participate is purely in your shipping it to the next person on the tour. It’ll need to go “signature required”, with a trackable carrier (UPS or Fedex preferred), and insured at $300. For this unit, this will typically run about $20-25, depending on where you are and where the next recipient is. I will optimize the shipping route/sequence to keep costs as low as possible.

For now, if you want to participate, shoot me a private message rather than cluttering this thread. For this first round I want to see at least 5 participants before I kick it off, 10 would be ideal. In the future, if I/we do more of these, I’ll do it via public threads for sign-up and tracking (in their own category). This first run is an experiment.


kudos for your collaborative efforts (and good connections) Torq.


Just to reiterate, or clarify, one point here … based on a few private messages I’ve gotten …

To be eligible for this particular loan/tour you do have to be an active participant here. That means posting, and engaging with the community, and not just reading.

While I said you’d need to be at trust level 2 or “Member” status, that’s an absolute minimum and in reality you’re going to need to have made more of an impact than the three posts, three likes given/received and an hour of reading that that status requires.

Think about it like this … the lower bar for eligibility here vs. the Community Preview Program still seeks to have gear in the hands of people that will share their thoughts on it. And for that to be meaningful I want participants to have enough presence and engagement here that others reading their comments can go back and look at prior posts to get an idea of what that person likes, dislikes and so on.


Thanks for getting this going. This is really cool and one of the amps I’ve had in the back of my mind – both really, the tube one moreso, but also the solid-state. Would be nice to hear some user impressions on this from the folks here who I’ve gotten to know their habits.


I would love to be able to participate myself. But I am realistic and know the constraints that me residing in the UK brings. Still I look forward to all the reviews and discussion brought about by the Loan/Tour. :grin:


here’s hoping those lucky to participate will also compare it’s sound sig to other hp amps they might also have on hand.

1 Like

Any updates on this thread?

So far the only people that have actually asked to participate in this tour don’t qualify on the basis that they are not active in the community here to a sufficient degree. More than half of those that asked to be included only had a single post, some didn’t even have that, and a few more were same-day sign-ups.

The bar for “Member” status is not very high. It’s something like making three posts, receive three likes, visit 20 topics, read 100 posts total over a rolling 100 day period, and then visit the site 15 days out of those 100 days (which can be 15 consecutive days). And because that’s such a low bar, there’d be some subjectiveness based on the type of engagement and quality of those posts at work too.

So, this can still happen if appropriately engaged parties want to participate.

In a similar vein, we’re looking at making some changes to the “Community Preview Program” to have more people participate in that. Fundamentally that means classifying the gear available into different “tiers” and lowering the requirements for access to the lower tier(s)/less expensive stuff. Though “Core Team” membership would still be required for the top tier.

Right now I’m assuming that the lack of qualified people with interest is simply down to the LCX being sufficiently well regarded, and inexpensive, that people are just buying it and don’t necessarily need to have one on loan to qualify a purchase.


Do you have experience with their amp dac version of this? Been thinking about either or jotunheim to go balanced with my Focal Clear and Elegia.

1 Like

I have the separate SDAC unit, which is the same thing they put in the DAC/amp builds of their amps. I went that route as I have the LCX, MCTH and THX AAA 789 and didn’t want to pay for three SDACs (when I knew that’d be a comparison I’d want to make).

It pairs nicely with all of them, and is a very nice little DAC in its own right.

What is it that’s pushing you to want to go balanced here?

Good question. I was mostly hoping to get rid of even more noise. Thoughts on balanced?

What sort of noise are you talking about?

You probably want to start by reading this thread - and not just the Benchmark paper the first post references, but the whole thread.

There are pros and cons to both balanced sources, amps and source-to-amp connections, and those are different to the pros and cons of “balanced” headphone drive. But in both cases the cons can be exacerbated in inexpensive balanced implementations to the point they outweigh the pros.


Wow! That was quite a thread to read. Left me with the feeling of most things of it’s subjective.