Massdrop x THX AAA 789 Amplifier - Official Thread

Bummed that I hesitated and missed this one.

So been listening to this more today… and with the Focal Clears it sounds wonderful balanced. Threw on my HD800(SDR) and was not pleased synergy was not good for me.

I went back to listening with my Bottlehead Crack and Cayin HA-1A MKII, with my HD800 … Much better!

I do like the THX 789 with the Focal lineup though, it has good synergy there, at least for me.


The 789 is unforgiving of any high range harshness or other issues. But it’s becoming “normal” to me over time.


What types of gain settings do you recommend with 789 and focal?

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I used the middle setting, during the majority of the time that I used it.

I run my 789 almost always in the middle setting. The dial is between 8:00 and 1:00 depending on the headphones. Focal Elex are set around 10:00.

The lowest setting may be required for IEMs or mobile headphones.


Back in stock, get em while they are hot!!!


You snooze, you lose. Sold out.

It’s really bizarre to me that given the demand for these things, they wouldn’t up the supply. Instead they upped the price, which seems like peanuts compared to what they could do if they actually meet the demand.

I think part of the price update is due to lack of parts + tariffs + inflation.

That said, I still am waiting for mine from the sale earlier this year. I dont know if I will end up keeping it though.

I got there while there were still 10 left, I hovered over the buy button until I saw “scheduled to ship in August”… I don’t have that much patience :smiley:

I agree with @antdroid that there must be supply chain issues. Knowing the competition, every day brings us closer to a knock-off or 7 with similar performance. Massdrop is losing potential profit and market dominance every day.


I feel ya. I bought mine a month ago second hand because I didn’t want to wait.

The amplifier is so pure and linear with my Focal Clears that it’s almost boring. I never thought I’d say that.

Cost of parts or making price match the demand, either way it’s smart for massdrop. It’s best to control supply to avoid being commoditized by oversupply in second hand market.

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You aren’t the first to make that observation. The 789’s greatest value comes from using it with headphones in the next tier down, where they generally have more weaknesses or quirks. The 789 neutralizes the excessive glare of the Focal Elex/Elear, and makes the Sennheiser HD-600 perform better than I ever imagined it might.

I don’t see the need to move up in price. Following a bunch of high-end headphone demos, I heard little or no meaningful improvement versus the Elex and HE-560 on the 789.

I actually prefer my modi vali stack to my 789 su-8 stack.

Managed to get in the latest drop for this 2 days ago. I’m happy with my Jotunheim/Topping D30 stack currently, so I won’t mind having to wait until August for shipping.

I’ll probably pick up an su-8 so I can have a full balanced chain feeding my Focal Clear. Seems like the su-8 objectively measures amazing for its price point, and looking at the SINAD chart on AudioScienceReview I’d have to go to a much higher price point for a higher performing balanced dac.


You have a $1200+ headphone, why keep wallowing around mid-fi purgatory with the smsl? Save up for a matrix x-sabre pro, Gumby, or something worthy.

Besides, balance versus unbalanced really doesn’t matter as much as implementation or synergy.


I always that that audio was about what sounded good together, not how many dollars it added up to.

I am not saying that a Sabre Pro or Gumby aren’t better than the SU-8 as I have no idea, just commenting on the fact that not always two items sound better with each other just because they are both expensive.


Well put. I agree. As I said, synergy is key. Let us know how you like the smsl

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This is a well-trod path in audio. When a person has a particular preference there is no ‘better’ option at any price.

In the 1980s Coca Cola suddenly dropped their original formula for “New Coke.” This faced intense protests from buyers, who insisted it was worse. Some TV show conducted a blind test and about half of a protest group couldn’t taste the difference. But that didn’t matter. Classic Coke was quickly introduced and New Coke disappeared. Later, some people discovered Mexican Coca Cola as made with sugar instead of corn syrup and has a more intense (and slightly bitter) taste. It now has a cult following in the US.

Some shop by label (e.g., North Face jackets) or reputation instead of the product’s actual value. BMW buyers are split between the hardcore who understand what rear wheel drive is about, and naive owners who’d likely be better off with a front wheel drive car but who fell for “Ultimate Driving Machine” marketing.

Regarding the 789: I’ve tested it with headphones that are absolutely, positively, more resolving than the studio equipment used to produce the content. I hear recording roughness/hotness that likely sounded smooth to the engineers/producers/artists. Whether or not the 789 is classified as “mid-fi” or “hi-fi”, with many sources there’s no true need to throw more money around.

By spending more or less money on products with ‘euphonic’ distortion (e.g., Chord, Audio G-D or Loxjie), one can have a different experience. It’s not better or worse and sometimes I prefer it too. It’s just an aesthetic choice.