Yes, I got the THX AAA 789 amp and was very impressed.
But I didn’t have a top quality DAC to go with it.
I had a Chord Hugo 2 but it was used elsewhere.
I tried a few DACs in what I thought was a reasonable price range to go with the 789 but wasn’t impressed. Price shouldn’t be a determinant, call me irrational.
So i did three things.
- I got the Benchmark HPA4, which is based on the same THX technology as the 789 but with significant investment in other parts (e.g. volume control). With that I got the Benchmark DAC3 B which doesn’t include a headphone amp (so I can’t comment on the one built into their other DACs). They work well together. A fabulous combination. I mostly use it with Audeze cans.
- I got the Chord Hugo TT2 + M-Scaler, which is a fabulous DAC and integrated headphone amp. Also very impressive. I use it mostly with the Hifiman Susvara which are extremely demanding, neither of these amps break a sweat driving it, but the Chord + Susvara combo is sublime.
- I still wanted a good DAC with the 789 that started all this, so I got the SMSL SU-8 (from Massdrop, now Drop), which was priced appropriately and did very well.
These three solutions are all very satisfactory and cover several price points:
789 + SU-8: $600
Benchmark DAC3 + HPA4: $5,000
Chord M-Scaler + TT2: $10,000
And with the Susvara added to the Chord combo, the price is nosebleed territory.
Why did I get all three at these prices? Because I had reasons I wanted to set up three rooms, and because I was curious and wanted to evaluate those, and because I could.
I am very satisfied with all three. When I do a careful systematic evaluation, it’s difficult to tell the difference. When I just sit back and enjoy the music, my preference aligns with the cost.
(All other headphone amps have been discarded, except the Hugo 2 which is battery powered and is used outdoors and in other special circumstances.)