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. elwappo99

    elwappo99 Friend

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  2. nickwin

    nickwin Acquaintance

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    @elqappo99 nice find, thanks!

    Ive been eyeing this amp for a while as a possible upgrade from a Lyr 1 for my he-500s. Is this good match for he-500s? My setup is currently single ended, is this amp wasted in a se setup? Any thoughts?
     
  3. HotRatSalad

    HotRatSalad Friend

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    Snagged one off eBay, need a cheap balanced cable for HD6XX now :p
     
  4. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    Better idea: buy a cheap solder iron, solder, and Neutrik 4-pin connector for less than the price of a cheap balanced cable, and teach yourself a valuable new skill :)
     
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  5. HotRatSalad

    HotRatSalad Friend

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    I might just do that and use the HD6xx cable.
     
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  6. runeight

    runeight MOT: Alex Cavalli

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    Oops, included another answer to a different post. This is the post I meant.

    You probably know this, and my apologies if you do, but if you decide to do this make absolutely sure that you DO NOT connect the earpieces to a common ground (the normal 3 wire TRS wiring) as this will short out two of the amp's outputs. Each earpiece should go two wire separately to the plug.

    Don't make an adapter where the TRS plug goes into an inline TRS jack which splits out to 4 pins. This could easily damage the amp, although mostly it will sound bad and get a lot hotter.

    You can, of course, rip the plug off the current cable and separate out the 4 wires for connection to the 4 pin plug.

    Maybe this will be helpful to anyone who might go this route.
     
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  7. LetMeBeFrank

    LetMeBeFrank Won't tell anyone my name is actually Francis

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    I have soldered new ends on to two different hd650 cables. I'm not sure if the 6XX cable is the same inside but if it is enamel coated this will help you. The coating is a pain but can be surmounted with a hot enough soldering iron. You tin the end of the Iron with a little blob of solder, then hold it to the wire. It should smoke a bit, but once the solder absorbs onto the wire (capillary action) you are good to go. On my Weller iron I turn it to 4/5 to burn off the coating, then turn it down to 3.5/5 for the actual soldering.

    Here is the picture I used to help with soldering the xlr.

    [​IMG]

    Stock 650 cable; red=right+, green=left+, copper=negative. Even the negative has the coating on it.
     
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  8. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Is it obvious when you cut the cable of which copper goes to pin 2 or 4? Does it matter in the Platinum or MCTH? @runeight
     
  9. LetMeBeFrank

    LetMeBeFrank Won't tell anyone my name is actually Francis

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    It is obvious because it's two separate sleeves all the way to the cup plugs. The left negative will be in the same sleeve as the green coated wire, etc.
     
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  10. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Thanks! From what I've read the stock cable is actually decent so I'll probably just order one of those and an xlr connector.
     
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  11. runeight

    runeight MOT: Alex Cavalli

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    It matters on Platinum, but not on CTH. If you get Platinum wiring right it should be good for all other situations.
     
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  12. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    The stock cable is cheapest from Long & McQuade if you order online to pick up in-store. Pretty sure you'll find connectors there too.
     
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  13. nickwin

    nickwin Acquaintance

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    I just put in an order yesterday through eBay, but now I’m wondering if I made the right decision. I started looking at the specs/topology of my current amp (lyr 1) last night and I got me thinking about cost. To those of you with a decent understanding of designs and part costs, where is the price coming from with this amp and is it justified?

    For comparison purposes my lyr 1 is American made with (almost) all American made parts. It has a very robust construction that looks relitivly expensive, it has a linear PS with TWO toroidal transformers and it outputs 6 watts and was sold for $450.

    The LP is made in China, has a cheaper looking enclosure, external SMPS, and a fraction of the power output yet it sells for $700.

    Where is the extra cost coming from? Looking at pics of the board, it looks relitivly sparse, I don’t see any parts that I know to be highly expensive or super high quality (but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there). So were is all the cost coming from? Am I missing something in the design? Is the price justified in terms of materials/construction or are we largely paying for tuning/circuit design here?

    For the record I don't consider myself a pure objectivist by any means. That said, I do think approaching this hobby from a purely subjective perspective can get you in just as much trouble as doing so from a purely objective one. I think you have to consider both aspects and always have at least a shred of skepticism.

    Happy thanksgiving!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  14. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    @nickwin

    The Lyr 1 sounds like crap. The LP does not.

    Sound should justify the cost for you, not parts.

    Stop overthinking things.

    If you're really worried about value, you should buy a Vali 2 and never look back. It's better than your Lyr 1, anyway.
     
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  15. nickwin

    nickwin Acquaintance

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    @Skyline, I totally agree that at the end of the day, the sound is the most important thing, but its not the only factor. At the very least you have to consider longevity and reliability as well, right? The reason Im thinking about this in the first place is I think there is a correlation between cost and sound quality. I am definitely not saying you should pick an amp based on price, but quality parts are expensive, thats just a fact. For example LPS generally really do measure better than SMPS and many people (including many well known amp designers) think they sound subjectively better as well. Thats why they are used in most mid-fi and up audio products despite being exponentially more expensive. If there was zero correlation between SQ and price someone would have came out with a $100 giant killer amp by now and we would all be using it.

    I think thats a violent over simplification regarding the Lyr. Its not an all rounder by any means but it does some things extremely well, better than the Vali 2. Personal taste, different HPs and musical genres will determin which attributes are most important to each of us. I appreciate the opinion though, I agree in the sense that I do find it to sound like crap with many HPs.

    @atomicbob, thanks for taking the time to address my question! I do want to clarify one thing, I might have worded it poorly (usually do), but I didn't mean to imply that "sound quality/circuit design" had less value than parts/construction. In other words I wasn't trying to take away from what the designer accomplished here. Im just trying to figure out if thats the case and to what degree. From what I'm gathering from the comments thus far, a large portion of the cost here is in fact for the proprietary circuit design/tuning as opposed to expensive parts/construction. I didn't think I implied that I was trying to go DIY route or compete with Mr. Cavalli in any way shape or form, but If I did, that wasn't my intention.

    I will definitely check out those links. I know SMPS are getting better and better, but Ive experienced enough (some relativity new) that measured and sounded bad enough that I still as a general rule prefer LPS. Maybe that is no longer a sound assumption though?

    Thanks for taking the time to obtain all these measurements and sharing them with us! Im looking at them now, great stuff :). I do see some measured differences between PSs, but maybe they are inaudible?
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  16. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Higher quality parts from brand name vendors, several relays in high contact current operation, higher quality control throughout manufacturing and test, and last but not least, amortization of design time including Dr. Cavalli's lifetime of education. Everything learned from all previous designs has been applied to this amp.

    You are, of course, free to create your own amp with your own knowledge of amp design, specify components, select vendors, work out assembly, design test protocols, acquire necessary equipment and people to implement the foregoing, estimate quantities to be sold vs. parts costs at various volume levels, schedule the parts, deal with global parts shortages, maintain an online presence and then hopefully make enough to feed yourself while maintaining shelter, clothing, etc. Plenty of things I left out but you should get the idea.

    Please look at the SMPS vs LPS measurements here

    Better still, begin here
    Take the time to see why this is a special amp.
     
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  17. SPAZ

    SPAZ Rando

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    This is a great amp. I would have no reservations picking this one up. Don't look back.
     
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  18. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I thought the power supply issue was settled; the power supply is fine and a LPS really would not add any benefit.
    As Skyline said, you are over thinking the parts aspect. It comes down to what it sounds like. Sure, build quality matters for the long run, but both amps should last a lifetime.

    In Audio there is a law if demising returns. It's quite likely a $700 amp will not sound twice a good as a $350 amp. The assumption in the audio hobby is that a if the $700 amp sound better than the $350 amp, then its worth it for some people to spend the extra money. That's simply a decision for you to decide "do I want better".

    Also, lots of folks in this hobby are in it for the gear; they just like to listen to something different. Some justify "different" as better, and others just enjoy trying new things.

    You got a great deal on your amp. Try it for at least 4 weeks and decide if you like it. If you don't , sell it on HF for what you paid plus PayPal and shipping costs (or here for cost), and you'll be even, and someone will still get a deal.

    Of course if you like it and you want it to sound "better", you buy Gold Lion tubes. Then you'll want it to sound better, and you'll buy NOS tubes. Then you'll want a better DAC, then bette cables. Then better power cables. Then a better headphone cable. Then a better headphone. See where this is going? :) have fun.
     
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  19. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    Better yet, if you don't like it, let me know and I'll trade you for my Lyr 3 with extra tubes.

    Whatever the case, getting the Lyr 1 out of your audio chain will be a win for you no matter which way you spin it.
     
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  20. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    It is important to consider that parts costs (BOM) is only one aspect of any electronic device's cost.
    BOM cost varies depending on size of build runs. It is much higher cost per unit to produce only 50 devices than 50000.
    Design time and experience level of designers.
    Build time and experience level of assemblers.
    Test time and experience level of testers.
    Distribution costs.
    Cost to keep business open (facility, lights, heat, utilities, etc.)

    When employing a fabrication vendor various trade offs in cost vs services performed are available. Every fab vendor can offer lower assembly costs if cheap components and no testing is employed. Same fab vendors will charge more for higher cost parts (usually more reliable) and fabricated assembly testing.

    Just a few things to consider beyond total parts cost of an electronic device.
     
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