Topping MX3 upgrade?

Looking for suggestions for a ‘direct’ upgrade for the MX3. I love the size and functionality of the MX3…how it recalls volume settings per input, as well as headphone vs speaker volumes. Main gripe is no pre-out and starting to notice some limitations with some higher tier headphones.

My desk has pretty limited space, but might be able to figure something out for the right device. A few that I’ve seen mentioned would be the Denon PMA series, PS Audio Sprout, and Peachtree Decco.

What’s a good bet under $1k. Phono in and Balanced out (both HP and pre) are a plus.

Hmmmm, well, I do think the sprout100 is pretty great overall with a real nice headphone out and speaker amp, and the dac is solid as well. The denon pma800ne I think might be a bit cleaner sounding amp wise but didn’t have as good headphone amp as the sprout. The peachtree is a bit too clean for my tastes but if you want something really clear sounding it’s not bad

Thanks, as always…any others you might think would be good options? Separates that would serve the same purpose with similar/better performance?

If you wanted an all in one the parasound newclassic integrated 200 might be able to be found used in the price range perhaps. Another good all in one is the Outlaw RR2160, look used for this one too. An Audiolab 6000A is also pretty solid too

If you wanted to go separates there are lots of options in this range for sure. Just wondering, what speakers would you be using? These recs have been for mainly speaker purposes

Nothing special…actually ASR recently did a spoof piece on them, the Realistic MC-1000. I think they sound pretty decent, though. Honestly, the headphone section is probably more important, as I also have a pair of Edifier S1000DB in my office.

That really changes things then imo. Here is what I would do. If you want something close to an all in one, consider a questyle cma400i + a parasound zamp v3 (or another capable headphone aio like a klipsch heritage headphone amp or a jds el amp 2 and el dac 2 stack). That should give you great headphone performance and still good speaker performance too

Either that or go with the sprout100 because it still has a decent headphone amp that they put care into (although the setups mentioned above would be more headphone focused imo)

1 Like

Thanks…I’ve kinda been eyeing the Klipsch. Any chance you’ve heard the Pro-ject MaiA DS2 as a comparison to the Sprout100? Forgot to mention that one before as one I thought looked interesting…or the Pro-ject Head Box DS2? I think I saw you haven’t been that impressed with Pro-ject aside from Phono, but it may have been in context with some higher tier or more specialized stuff.

I haven’t heard the maia ds2 so I can’t comment on that, the head box ds2 I got to try, and it was good but imo kinda pricey, I think at like 350-400 it would be more attractive to me. I was impressed with the pre box rs2 digital, that had some cool tricks up it’s sleeve, but if I recall correctly it might be too pricey

Yeah, the R2 and R2S lines are pretty steep

So for prices being essentially equal on the Klipsch and the Head Box DS2, you’d go with the Klipsch? I really like that XLR bypass on the DS2, but like the vintage look of both. I’ll check out the pre…wonder if the DS2 pre has similar features/sound quality?

Hmmm so guessing the questyle is out of the price range then?

I do see one here for a good price (there will be some that pop up if you wait as well)

Trying to keep it under $1k, so that’d work…that your top choice? 600i worth the extra? Guess I could always just run a better amp’s passthrough to the MX3 for the speakers for now too.

It depends on how much you can get a 600i for, here is a pretty good deal actually nvm it was sold

I do think that would be my top choice for sound quality for an all in one, if you are going separates that might change

That is true

What would you consider a good deal?

Aside from the RNHP (have it now), what’s something of similar quality with a balanced out and a bit more oomph?

Perhaps finding a used cayin iha6 or a monolith liquid platinum are good picks imo

Around 500 for the 400i and 600 for the 600i

Ended up ordering that CMA400i with a 10% discount code, so not a shabby deal, I think, …thanks for the advice! Will probably go for the Liquid Plat too at some point.

Now… recs for a decent and small speaker amp in the $200-$250 range? Will just use the MX3 for now, but feel like something dedicated may yield better results. Then I’ll either sell the MX3 or give it to my daughter as her first setup.

1 Like

So, actually look for a used parasound zamp v3 and use your cma400i to control it imo

Doesn’t seem to be much available out there, especially not in the $200-$250 range, so i’ll just have to keep my eye out, I suppose. Any thoughts on something a bit smaller for (crowded) desktop use?

How would you compare the built in DAC of the CMA 400i with the AK4490 vs the SU-8 with the ESS 9038Q2M? Wondering if it’s worth keeping my SU-8/SH-8 stack at this point. I get the variable balanced pre-out with the 400i, but lose a little functionality such as filters, but don’t really use it anyway. If the 400i is same or higher on the spectrum of Delta Sigma, may use that to help fund a Bifrost 2 to have a multibit variant, or perhaps the Liquid Plat since it just dropped another $50.

Something like a emotiva basx a100 or perhaps a topping pa3

I would personally say that it’s on a similar tier but different sound signature, but my preference does lean towards the questyle actually

Have ended up getting the zAmp v3, but came across this intriguing sound demo today comparing the MX3 to the PMA-600ne and thought I’d share. I know sound demos are notoriously suspect, but I generally like the comparisons from this channel and it’s surprising how close they sound…not to the raw track, but to each other.