Liquid Gold X Balanced Headphone Amplifier from Monoprice by Alex Cavalli

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by jexby, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I just tried SE in and out with the amps&sound converter box (uses Cinemags, don't know which, Justin wouldn't tell me :(). Rest of the chain was the same as above (Pi2AES -> Pavane XLR -> Freya S (passive mode) -> XLR to RCA converter -> amp). I still hear the same issue, it could be RD's Jensen converter masks the issue or my amp could have more upper mid harshness than RD. Or something else...
     
  2. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Regardless of any issue, thanks for sharing your impressions on this relatively obscure amp @rhythmdevils and @loadexfa

    Reason why I'm curious on the Gold X is because I thought the Liquid Platinum sounded good, and even bought one myself. Using Bifrost 2, I find the Liquid Platinum to be a different sound from Jot 2. Enough to keep both of them, depending on the headphone.

    Out of the Bifrost 2, Jot 2 is more heavy-handed, thicker powerful sound, great nuances, and great macrodynamics. Kinda tilting towards warmer sound, which is great. But for warm headphones, it can be a tad warm.

    Liquid Platinum, instead, is light-footed, airier, has enough bass ommph, liquid midrange, and smooth highs, and neutral tonality. Better match for the HD650, for example.

    If Gold X can provide that same neutral tonality, I may want to consider choosing it instead of the Platinum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2021
  3. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Glad you found it helpful, I do think this is a really good amp despite my issue.
     
  4. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    Been listening to the Gold X, perhaps a week or so, but I have also been waiting for the sound to stabilize before putting any of my thoughts forward (RCA vs. XLR, the general burn in required of Cavalli, and the HD8XX that is still new to my ears).

    However, this is easy to answer because I have been going back and forth between Jot2 and Gold X. The Gold X is clearly warmer. The Jot2 is the lighter on its feet of the two. Lots of subtle nuances, which I cannot describe in a sentence or two. And the Gold is not so dark that I could not use my HD580. But it was far too dark for Bifrost 2. Whereas I could use Bifrost 2 or Soekris dac2541 for Jot2. With Gold X, I have been on a strict dac2541 regimen for listening.
     
  5. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Thanks @sheldaze

    Very useful points to triangulate. Which one has more subtle nuances again?
     
  6. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Interesting. The LauX walks all over the J2 in both technical abilities and tonal balance IMO. The J2 sounds like a 400$ amp to me. The LauX sounds like something in the 1k+ price range. Barring the upper midrange question which could be a non issue, it’s the best SS amp I’ve ever heard and one of the best amps I’ve heard period.

    IMO! ;)
     
  7. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    I'm still in the "it depends" part of the listening...

    I've gone from Jot2 has qualities A, B, and C which I obviously could not live without. It is the best of the two! Then I switch. And I soon feel Gold X has qualities D, E, and F which clearly make it superior! Is there a compiled list of the must have traits of an amplifier? I can see how these both provide some engagement to the right listener.

    On the surface, I still hear more of the subtle nuances from the Jot2. But it is layered on top of an audio canvas that I do not hear anywhere else - it could be construed as, the deltas are there, but the starting canvas is so colored that it does not sound like what people expect. Then when I switch to the Gold X, I hear more of a standard, white canvas background. But the colors (music) do not pop out as vivid. Perhaps more correctly on the Gold X? Because sometimes the vivid colors of the Jot2 are called congestion or a little grit in the higher frequency range? I absolutely hear no grit or odd noise from the Gold X, using either RCA or XLR as input (direct from dac2541, which leaves a little on the table via RCA - just a little).

    I feel like without having the objective list of "good amplifier" traits, I am only adding more noise to this thread. Will come back when I have something more definitive. These deltas between these amplifiers are pretty straightforward - just need better labels to describe.
     
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  8. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Update:

    I owe the LauX an apology.

    I was finally able to compare the LauX to the Magni 3+ which is a known reference and definitely doesnt have harsh upper mids. The LauX is actually a bit smoother in the upper mids compared to the Magni 3+. The Magni 3+ has slightly more forward midrange in general including vocals. But the LauX isn't recessed here at all. I would say they are both in the neutral camp, just slightly different.

    This is what happens when I'm modding orthos and my headphones are in a constant state of flux and I add extra unknown variables like a new amp and DAC and various methods of connecting them to the mix. Just too many different factors to keep straight. The problem was not actually the damping scheme I was trying on the LCD-X but the pads I was trying. I have abandoned them since then.

    I wish I didn't mention it given all the variables, I was just trying to provide an explanation for others if they heard the (non) issue.

    So I don't think @loadexfa 's fatigue issue came from harsh upper mids. Josh has fatigue issues with many amps and we're trying to figure it out, but it's hard to explain, we're not sure what is causing it. Surely something, his experience is coming from something. But it could be more personal preference than an inherent problem with the amp. He also found the Black Widow to be fatiguing, and it is smooth as hell to me, and definitely doesnt have harsh upper midrange. I prefer the LauX to the Black Widow, which is too rolled off on top for me and has fake tube coloration which is a bit much for my headphones. I'm not picking at @loadexfa here just trying to explain the upper midrange of the LauX and say I don't think that was his problem with the amp. HIs experience is totally valid though, I just don't think it was the upper midrange. I don't think there is any problem there with the LauX.

    I still love this amp and think it deserves more attention here. Hopefully I'll get the demo unit from Monoprice soon for a loaner here. Which @CEE TEE helped us procure. thank you @CEE TEE !
     
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  9. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Maybe @loadexfa should just transition to tube amps if not already?
     
  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I don't need to speak for him too much here, but he already has a DNA tube amp, but is looking or a SS amp to use sometimes and not burn through those expensive tubes. His DNA amp is his favorite amp by far AFAIK.
     
  11. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    @rhythmdevils skip this amp for IEM usage? I believe that is the case here.
     
  12. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I haven't tried it... it has a low and high gain mode but the two aren't that different. I only own CA iems and I'm scared to plug them in to even try. I would guess skip, but I don't know for sure.

    Maybe for your JVC's or non CA sensitivity iems it would work. I'll have a demo JVC woody here soon and can try with that and let you know.

    I can say that it's very quiet. No hiss at all with the LCD-X which is the most sensitive headphone around.
     
  13. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    You might like the woodie JVCs, it does give me woodies.

    But I bet with DD IEMs the LauX should be solid like you say. I'm waiting for the loaner so I can try out everything.
     
  14. loadexfa

    loadexfa MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Thanks for the clarification @rhythmdevils I’m definitely a fatigue weirdo.

    @Magnetostatic_Tubephile basically what RD said. I have three tube amps but am trying to power the Hifiman 6se better and want something for more casual listening.
     
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    It’s definitely real. You must just be sensitive to something that others aren’t. I would call it a special ability (which is a curse in this hobby, same as my sensitivities). We just need to figure out what you’re sensitive to so we can put you to use ;)
     
  16. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I'm seeing some kind of audio guardians of the galaxy franchise in the works here.
     
  17. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic banned from ASR

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    I compared it both XLR and SE straight from Yggdrasil with Marantz CD6006 as the source. Interconnects and power are Blue Heaven. I listened with both Utopias and modded HD800; they both have LQI cables. - both balanced and single end. I have 61 year old ears and am no expert so take this with the proverbial grain. I used the Sony Gold Mastersound version of 'Wish You Were Here'. Don't think a lot of those gold Mastersounds, but they got this one right IMHO.

    I hear a slight difference in the volume; lower from the SE. It may also be a tiny bit less detailed from the SE, but only in as much as say the HD650 V 600 - and even so, this may be just me hearing a difference that is not there as I search for something. All in all, not much difference between SE and XLR to me. I tried the higher gain once with the 800's and some LCD-3's and found that not quite as rounded and 'smooth' sounding also as the lower one.

    While I agree with @rhythmdevils excellent observations, I would love to hear him, Marv or someone more qualified than me to A,B this amp against the Phonitor XE. I still stand by what I stated in my original review, in that the Phonitor is the slightly better resolving and even more neutral amp, but as I also said then - it's definitely not 2K better.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  18. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I find this highly offensive because I like the LauX and you saying it's not the best ever hurts my sense of pride. I define myself by my audio purchases and The LauX defines me as a human being. I'm so butthurt I'm going to go sit in the corner and cry.

    *In all seriousness, despite my severe Cavalli bias, I wold love to compare to the Phonitor
     
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  19. Pancakes

    Pancakes Friend

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    Got my 2nd unit today (first was DOA). When plugging in the PSU, there's a spark every time. This doesn't happen with my LP. This is consistent with either of the two PSUs (they are the same for LP and LAuX). Is this expected behavior? Anyone else getting that?
     
  20. ilikebananafudge_

    ilikebananafudge_ Facebook Friend

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    Are you sure you didn't order the Liquid Spark by accident?
     
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