Well, I guess I’ll get this party started with some short impressions of the RebelAmp (in green, of course).
Direct comparisons were made to the Drop THX AAA 789 using Focal Elex and Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones. I also briefly tried IEMs and can confirm the noise floor remained quiet.
The RebelAmp has a more full bodied sound with a meatier note weight compared to the 789, possibly due to the bass decay lingering a little longer; not in a bad way mind you. Changes to the the upper registers were subtle, but provided an overall smoother presentation without losing detail. The THX has a reputation for being extremely analytical and faithful to the recording, and while true, it can sometimes sound sterile, thin and sharp. The Green Monster is still faithful to the recording, but it seemingly rounds off the edges of said sharpness so they’re more tolerable. The Green Machine provides just as much detail as the 789, but it more accurately represents the space around instruments to my ears; this provides what I call spatial tactility (I.e. pinpoint 3 Dimensionality). Tonality changes overall are quite subtle, but they’re just what a headphone like the Focal Elex (or possibly the Clears) needs, smoothing out the treble peakiness and adding a touch of body and warmth overall.
Physical Dynamics are quite good with both amps, neither lacking any punch, but to my ears the Verde Vixen scales swings between softer and louder passages better. Soundstage width didn’t change much, but the stage is deeper through the RebelAmp. Imaging also seems to be more pinpoint with Gumby, likely tied to the soundstage improvements. Timbre changes were nonexistent, unless you count the smoothing over of the treble peakiness, which, to my ears, took away some of the metallic timbre that is sometimes heard with Focal headphones.
Both amps come with three levels of gain, and I settled on the middle setting for both amps while listening/comparing. I fully expected the RebelAmp to have less headroom due to the lower power specs, but I have reserve power in spades and really think there might be something to the whole “Class A watts are better” notion.
Overall, I am extremely happy with my purchase and will be selling the THX amp. Without truly going to the “dark side” and delving into the tube world, I believe Rebel has created a superior product while still offering a design that doesn’t skimp on detail retrieval, dynamics or faithful representation to the source - I am quite confident this amp is all I’ll need for a while. In my world, it’s all about the music, and that’s what this amp does - it just allows me to get lost in the music. What more could I want!?