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Sam Posten

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Fans of Home Theater United know that Brian and I got to spend some time with Steve Martz and Andrew Mason last week talking about the history of THX, their acquisition by Razer, and the launch of the first product with THX branding, the THX Onyx. I also let it slip that I was mid review of this interesting new product and that my initial impressions were super favorable. Well here we are a week later and I’ve spent hours with my head ensconced in a few different Beyerdynamic cans ad I’m ready to tell you all about it. Let’s go!
The hardware
IMG_0770-1024x768.jpg

THX Onyx ships in a box about the size of a 3×5 card, opens with a slick magnetic latch, and presents a classy out of box experience with the left side showcasing how easy connections are and the milled aluminum chassis of the unit shown in a curl.
IMG_0771b.jpg
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Continue reading...
 
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Ronald Epstein

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Sam, this is a great, in-depth review and it has certainly piqued my interest in a possible purchase. I realize you provided many videos to watch, but I’m still in morning mode and have yet to get into the proper frame of mind to watch them. For that reason, please excuse me asking questions that may already answered with the information you provided…

$200 is an expensive purchase, but certainly within affordability for most. I just want to make certain that the results I receive support the purchase price.

I use Apple AirPods Max. As you are aware they don’t support lossless audio. Looking at the photos you provided, the Onyx connects to the lightning audio cable that you have to pay $30 extra for through Apple.

So, my first question would be, do these support Apple AirPods Max and is there any limitations using the lightning cable when attached to the Onyx amplifier?

Secondly, do you sense an uptick in overall quality of music that warrants the $200 purchase price?
 

Sam Posten

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Ron as far as I can tell there is no physical cable attachment option for AirPods Max so they like the earbuds style AirPods would not work. You need a TRRS tipped cable to make any DAC work, wireless is not an option!

You are right that I didn’t address the price! I think there’s great value here. The kit is supremely well crafted from CNC milled aluminum, the design is smart, the amplification is beefy and the ability to process MQA is key for those with demanding audiophile quality ears better than mine. $200 is nothing to sneeze at tho, it’s going to be a niche purchase!
 

Sam Posten

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Apparently you can connect a lightning to stereo cable to AirPods max to do what you want from a physical connection. That adds a 3rd dongle to the mix :)



BUT these are powered headphones! I don’t know how well they react to getting more juice. I think the lightning connector there would totally curb it, you are going digital to analog to digital in that chain. So you can make the connection but you lose all the benefits I think.
 

Sam Posten

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Apparently Tidal does have spatial audio tracks, these are buried deep but have the tag 360 on them.
174D9530-A0C4-4AC1-AC2F-E2C54E6E4045.jpeg
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when playing 360 tracks on Tidal the Onyx shows 3 blue dots.

I still have yet to find a way to get Amazon Atmos music on iOS. It seems they continue to stupidly lock that to Fire devices
 

JohnRice

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It makes zero sense to use a headphone amp with powered headphones.
 

Josh Dial

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I've had an a THX Onyx since mid-May. I ordered one the first day they started shipping to Canada.

I mostly use it for music I have ripped and encoded myself from my own physical media collection (I encode to FLAC or PCM). On occasion I've used it for streaming audio through Tidal.

Personally, I hear a significant difference. Note that I've also done a few "tweaks" to my playback setup, including making sure my media player has its WASAPI plugin turned on. There are a number of external DACs. I've tried a few. I think the THX Onyx is a worthy entry.

That said--and perhaps this answers your question, Ron, about value--I think the THX Onyx will tend to show the weak link in your setup. You need good headphones. Frankly, if you don't have at least entry grade audiophile headphones I don't think it's worth it.
 

Ronald Epstein

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I've had an a THX Onyx since mid-May. I ordered one the first day they started shipping to Canada.

I mostly use it for music I have ripped and encoded myself from my own physical media collection (I encode to FLAC or PCM). On occasion I've used it for streaming audio through Tidal.

Personally, I hear a significant difference. Note that I've also done a few "tweaks" to my playback setup, including making sure my media player has its WASAPI plugin turned on. There are a number of external DACs. I've tried a few. I think the THX Onyx is a worthy entry.

That said--and perhaps this answers your question, Ron, about value--I think the THX Onyx will tend to show the weak link in your setup. You need good headphones. Frankly, if you don't have at least entry grade audiophile headphones I don't think it's worth it.

Josh,

Thank you for this detailed summary.

I am not a huge headphone person. The best headphones I own are the Apple Airpods Max and they will absolutely not benefit from this device.
 

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