Monoprice Monolith Liquid Platinum Headphone Amplifier by Alex Cavalli

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Vtory, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. A Child of the Jago

    A Child of the Jago Acquaintance

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    Very interested to hear how your impressions are coming along even if you have got as far as inconclusive but indicative evaluations. I have half an eye on the RME ADI-2 PRO but am put off by some reports of anaemic SQ but here it's placed in your front-runners...

    My chain will be MacBook Pro -> DAC -(balanced XLR)> Liquid Platinum -(balanced XLR)> Ether 2.

    Running the LP fully balanced (i.e., in and out) is, according to Cavalli, his personal philosophy, he says:

    "And I have a general philosophy that a balanced amp should be run fully balanced in and out to get the best. Though this last idea is more of a personal thing than something measured out in detail."

    And goes on to say:

    "I should modify my reply above bc it wasn't detailed enough. In terms of output power and most other performance measures, if you are using bal out, the input choice won't matter that much. And you may not even hear differences if the sources are equal. There are slight differences that can be measured. My experience with the Carbons is that these slight differences are not possible to hear with any equipment that I have in hand.

    Most important is using the balanced output as this utilizes the full performance of the amp. I always feel that with a balanced amp balanced in (XLR) and balanced out (XLR) is the best way to go. The Platinum's RCA input have a built-in phase splitter to ensure that the full balanced capability is used."

    Anyone else with opinions please chime in.
     
  2. kirayamato

    kirayamato Friend

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    how does this pair with the hek v2's and how does the power /gain compared to the jotunheim
     
  3. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Almost "Made"

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    HEKv2 here. Good pairing. Adds a bit of richness to what I would call a somewhat thin/delicate sounding can. Maybe subtracts a bit more detail (vs SS BHA-1) compared to effect of LP/Utopia and LP/Auteur pairings. I'll have to go back to re-listen before I express any opinion on LP effect on HEK headstage.

    All based on LP/Siemens NOS E88CC setup. I never really listened to LP/Stock/HEK chain as I moved on from the stock tubes right away.

    Power output spec for Jot vs LP are pretty similar. Jot gain is 2X or 8X (6dB or 18dB, switchable gain). LP gain is 5X (14 dB, fixed gain). LP produces plenty of power to drive HEK with ease. Without any attenuation, you'll probably not turn the knob past 10:00 to 11:00 with balanced in and out (assuming around 4 Vrms input level), and even that will be pretty darn loud.

    Both amps have spec pages on their respective sites.
     
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  4. kirayamato

    kirayamato Friend

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    dont know about Vrms but have the yggdrasil a2 hopefully that has that I like having a bit left over power from what people usually recommend since I listen loud
     
  5. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Almost "Made"

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    https://www.schiit.com/products/yggdrasil

    scoll down, click on 'specs'.
     
  6. jazztherapist

    jazztherapist analrapist

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    Assuming you're running XLR all the way, I've gotta believe you're going to have the juice you want. Most of us using HPs in the 97db and above range weren't getting anywhere near noon on the dial.
     
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  7. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Almost "Made"

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    I did a bit more comparison between LP & BHA-1 driving HEKv2.

    Actually turns out to be pretty close.

    - BHA is a bit clangier in the upper mid/lower treble (Neil Young guitar 'Cinnamon Girl', 'Down by the River') could be the source of perceived detail dif.
    - LP digs a bit deeper into bass (bass line behind chorus on Lana del Ray 'Love') a bit fuller/richer
    - LP headstage is a little more spread out while BHA stage has a small amount of three-blobbiness
    - Vocal are slightly more forward from LP

    But these are all small gradations, and you have to listen carefully to find some of it. And on some tracks I don't think I could pick the amps out in blind comparisons.

    I hope that is useful -- I know O/P was asking for a comparo between these amps, but that's what I have to work with. Bottom line is that the HEKv2 pairs quite well with LP/E88CC.
     
  8. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Can you write a quick comparison on your 650s and Aeolus?
     
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  9. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Hm, well, I haven't pulled the ZDT Jr out in a while (bad tubes or something), and I sold the LP. Never did a side-by-side comparison.

    I am more inclined to recommend the ZDT Jr with high impedance dynamics, such as the 650 or Aeolus.

    LP's tone and such will change depending on tubes, but it overall sounds very clean, balanced, refined...I wouldn't call it relaxed, but it isn't explosive. Has plenty of dynamics. Digs plenty deep.

    I mean, it's hard to write about the LP because it's just a very good amp. Very well behaved overall. My only "complaint" would be that it has a hint of restraint to it.

    I would equate it to a more refined, sophisticated version of the Lyr 3, though with noticeably better staging (i.e. not so forward, flat, etc.).

    It also works well with about any headphone you throw at it.

    The ZDT Jr is a totally different amp. Tube + OPT is a very particular sort of sound that you can't capture with a hybrid amp like the LP. In that sense, it's a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

    First, the ZDT Jr does NOT pair well with every headphone. It can't drive planars well, and because it has a relatively high OI, it tends to interact with the impedance curve on most headphones. This is not such a problem with the 650, Aeolus, etc. And you may even find the effect desirable on lower impedance headphones, though it tends to make them bassy.

    The ZDT Jr does not sound as refined or clean. Generally just sounds a little rougher, a little noisier, less controlled. Doesn't have quite as much bass extension or quality, though reports about noticeably lacking bass extension I think come down to users unsure what they're really listening for (sorry, nerds) or tube lottery. Even listening at a spot on the pot with poorer channel balance can throw that sort of stuff off.

    Anyway, where the ZDT Jr excels is resolution, sounding actually 3D, not sounding restrained, and generally just sounding real/tangible even if it compromises in other areas. It's not a super well behaved, balanced, refined amp. It sacrifices some performance areas to sound near magical/TOTL in others.

    But, really, you just need to listen to both to understand and figure out what sounds best to you. These are very different amps that appeal to different tastes and needs.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Poor man's EAR.
     
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  11. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    Did you just call me poor?
     
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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  13. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I was able to participate in the generous loaner program (thanks @sheldaze !). Here are my impressions:

    Chain: Utopia and stock EH tubes, and compared to a stock Mainline. DAC is a Bifrost Multibit Multibit, Gen 5 USB. I have some switch boxes I made to easily switch between amps without removing my headphones.

    With the utopia, as many have noted, the gain is pretty high. Volume knob only useful up to 9:00. The LP sounded pretty good. Hard to distinguish between the two amps.

    Switching to a stock Massdrop HD6xx with homemade silver cable, it’s also really hard to distinguish. At least with the high impedance headphones the gain on the LP is more manageable. I can listen with the volume up to about 11:00 or 12:00 if I really wanted to rock out for a minute. Maybe, just maybe, it’s hits a little harder on the bass, or maybe it’s a tad slower than the Mainline, hard for me to tell. On a few songs I swear I think I can hear a little more detail with the Mainline. Another local Audiophile who listened at my house felt the same thing.

    I swapped the tubes to a some telefunken 6DJ8 tubes. Still using the HD6xx

    It all sounds the same to me. Maybe, just maybe, the bass on the LP sounds a teenie, tiny, bit fuller when listening really hard to try to hear the difference. May, possibly, there is a little more detail on the Mainline still.

    Using the Ether C 1.1:

    OK, I found a difference I can identify (I think)! In the opening/intro to Hotel California on the Hell Freezes Over album, the part between 0:33 and 0:50, the drum is beating and there is a counter beat of, what sounds to me, like two sticks being whacked together. The tone and decay of the stick whacking is a little muted/less on the LP. The vocals in the song are maybe, possibly, a tad less edgy on the LP than the Mainline, or possibly they are a tad laid back (just a tad compared to the Mainline); or maybe the Mainline is a bet more forward or more detailed. If the music you listen to has a lot of wood sticks being whacked together to hold a beat, be advised the LP might not reproduce the whacking as well as one might want. I guess this depends on how important whacking is to you. ;-)

    With “Let It Be Me” (Inger Marie Gundersen), the airiness of Inger’s voice is less on LP and easier to hear with the Mainline.

    Conclusion: The LP, even with the stock tubes, is pretty darned good. When it was on sale for $600, it was a steal. At $770, it still a good buy. I’m not sure about the need to add $140 (or more) of tubes. The stock tubes sound OK to me, but the upgrade might be worth it to some people. I could not hear a difference between the sets of tubes. Does the LP extract every bit of detail from the music? Possibly not. It it a really enjoyable amp? Yes.
     
  14. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    So the stock tubes that come with the Platinum are becoming noisy and hissy for me, odd after not even close to a year. After looking at the 6922 prices of current stuff and being disgusted, I settled for a pair of GE JAN 5670s from TubeDepot plus adapters for around $40 total (the equivalent of one Genalex Gold Lion tube...). Now a lot of people have said 5670s are pretty much 6922 equivalents with better bang for buck but I found this post by Dr.Cavalli on HF: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/mas...-dropping-monday.857673/page-24#post-14060562 saying they're not. So should I hold off on this purchase or go with it to see what happens? Would such a minute difference in specs cause anything catastrophic?
     
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  15. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    I didn't study enough in electricity to see if it would make a huge difference, but going from Dr. Cavalli's comments, I wouldn't risk it.
     
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  16. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    I just looked around in the CTH thread whether somebody eventually tried it and it did work for the CTH. I'll find a way to ask Dr. Cavalli.
     
  17. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

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    The heaters draw twice the current. This will destroy the amp over time.

    Stick to 6922/6DJ8 tubes

    .. dB
     
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  18. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

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    OK - I should not try and look up data on my phone

    If you use duncan amps tube data you can look at the tube characteristics

    http://www.tubebooks.org/tubedata/HB-3/Receiving-Type_Industrial_Tubes/6922.PDF

    http://www.tubebooks.org/tubedata/HB-3/Receiving-Type_Industrial_Tubes/5670.PDF

    I somehow misread the 6922 current as 150 but it draws 300mA - the 350mA of the 5670 will be within spec for the amp.

    Looking at the rest of the data, the 5670 will most likely work but the tube operating parameters will not be identical. ( ie the linearity of the tube current / voltage will not be the same )

    If I were looking to get the best out of the amp, I would stick to the tubes it was designed around . A car analogy would be to use reg gas in a high performance race car - it would get you from A to B but not be performing its best , but at least in this case you would not be putting diesel where petrol belongs.

    ..dB
     
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  19. Greg121986

    Greg121986 Almost "Made"

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    If I had direct feedback from the guy responsible for the design, I would follow his advice pretty strictly. You're risking a lot more by not following his advice than you would be to buy the right tubes. As a tube amp user, you must be aware that they are consumable and periodically need to be replaced. We can't accurately predict when they will need to be replaced, unfortunately.

    As another car analogy, when I spoke with the Chief Engineer of my sports car, he told me to be sure I follow their break in procedure for the V8 engine. I followed the break in procedure and I only use premium gas. :)
     
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  20. bilboda

    bilboda Friend

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    Replacing the stock tubes would probably have been a good decision form the beginning. Now you have an opportunity to upgrade the sound of your amp and should go for it with recommended tubes. Happy hunting.
    https://www.hifishark.com/search?q=6922+tubes
     

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