Monoprice Monolith Desktop DAC/Amplifier With THX AAA Technology Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-01-2019, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Monoprice Monolith Desktop Headphone DAC/Amplifier With THX AAA Technology Review

The Monolith line from Monoprice continues to impress with this release, offering a vast and unique feature set, gobs of power, and all the while falling in a competitive price range. Featuring dual DACs as well as dual amplifiers, DIRAC Sensaround II, shelf as well as PEQ equalization options, balanced, single ended, USB, SPDIF, AES3, and optical inputs, at a cost that lands below $500 is quite an impressive accomplishment. Surely there is some sort of trade off, so let’s dig in, shall we?

Click this link to read more: https://www.avsforum.com/monoprice-m...nology-review/

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post #2 of 22 Old 05-01-2019, 10:01 AM
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I would have greatly preferred remote control functionality over features like DIRAC. Anyone ever done balanced-connection sound comparisons between this and the SMSL SU-8 v.2/SH-8 combo?
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post #3 of 22 Old 05-01-2019, 10:18 AM
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Took me a while to figure out this was a headphone amplifier.

Also got a warning when trying to open the measurements link that those files might damage my computer so deleted them.

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post #4 of 22 Old 05-01-2019, 11:57 AM
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Took me a while to figure out this was a headphone amplifier.

Also got a warning when trying to open the measurements link that those files might damage my computer so deleted them.
Good point there, while ostensibly it is also a DAC/preamp that could be used in conjunction with active speakers, its primary purpose in life is to power headphones. So, I have added headphones to the headline for the homepage version of the review.

I downloaded that zip file, no viruses or anything, just a bunch of JPEG's in there, presumably that's a default warning your PC is giving you.

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post #5 of 22 Old 05-01-2019, 05:03 PM
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I have one of these Monoprice headphone amps and have done some limited listening of DIRAC mode: it sounds good to me, perhaps described as less fatiguing (Focal Stellia headphones)

I have read reports that other users complain much of the bass is missing when DIRAC is engaged

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post #6 of 22 Old 05-01-2019, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
I have one of these Monoprice headphone amps and have done some limited listening of DIRAC mode: it sounds good to me, perhaps described as less fatiguing (Focal Stellia headphones)

I have read reports that other users complain much of the bass is missing when DIRAC is engaged
The only such tech that I have yet to find convincing enough for "total immersion" is Atmos for Headphones, and that's only when the content is designed for it.
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post #7 of 22 Old 05-02-2019, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
I have one of these Monoprice headphone amps and have done some limited listening of DIRAC mode: it sounds good to me, perhaps described as less fatiguing (Focal Stellia headphones)

I have read reports that other users complain much of the bass is missing when DIRAC is engaged
The only such tech that I have yet to find convincing enough for "total immersion" is Atmos for Headphones, and that's only when the content is designed for it.
Total Immersion:

HTPC
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Equalizer APO
Custom headphone system
Custom tactile transducer system
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Best I've been able to pull off anyway.
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post #8 of 22 Old 05-02-2019, 07:17 AM
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I've never seen a preamp described as "inactive". Wouldn't "passive" be the correct term here? Or is there a difference I'm not aware of? Sorry for being nitpicky... enjoy reading your reviews!

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post #9 of 22 Old 05-03-2019, 09:24 AM
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I was hoping this review would address something lacking in every other review I've read so far, but it does not (perhaps it simply isn't occurring to the reviewers to try this out).

While I have a full home cinema rig, that I quite enjoy, I have found myself over the past couple of years (owing to schedule constraints) having to do a lot of late watching/listening while everyone else is in bed asleep. In that same time, I've acquired some headphones of good quality (in large part to compensate for the need for general quiet in the house at those hours) and have enjoyed my music listening immensely. However, I have been searching for something that could partially offset the lack of MCH immersion caused by my use of headphones vs my home cinema rig. When I first read about this amp and its Dirac feature, I was hoping this would be a satisfying solution (and it could be), but no one has described the experience of the Dirac feature on this amp with movies/TV.

I know it won't fully replace a home cinema setup, but is there anyone who has tried Dirac on this unit with movies? Thoughts? Impressions?
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Originally Posted by Ovation View Post
However, I have been searching for something that could partially offset the lack of MCH immersion caused by my use of headphones vs my home cinema rig.
What's MCH?
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post #11 of 22 Old 05-03-2019, 10:18 AM
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MCH = multichannel
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post #12 of 22 Old 05-03-2019, 11:56 AM
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MCH = multichannel
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/378-h...topics/3034902
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post #13 of 22 Old 05-04-2019, 09:41 AM
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Man do I miss doing these. Good review.

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post #14 of 22 Old 05-04-2019, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ovation View Post
I was hoping this review would address something lacking in every other review I've read so far, but it does not (perhaps it simply isn't occurring to the reviewers to try this out).

While I have a full home cinema rig, that I quite enjoy, I have found myself over the past couple of years (owing to schedule constraints) having to do a lot of late watching/listening while everyone else is in bed asleep. In that same time, I've acquired some headphones of good quality (in large part to compensate for the need for general quiet in the house at those hours) and have enjoyed my music listening immensely. However, I have been searching for something that could partially offset the lack of MCH immersion caused by my use of headphones vs my home cinema rig. When I first read about this amp and its Dirac feature, I was hoping this would be a satisfying solution (and it could be), but no one has described the experience of the Dirac feature on this amp with movies/TV.

I know it won't fully replace a home cinema setup, but is there anyone who has tried Dirac on this unit with movies? Thoughts? Impressions?
I can't answer your question about Dirac

The problem of real surround effect in headphones has actually been solved pretty well, but it's a $4K solution. Read about it

https://www.innerfidelity.com/conten...urround-system

It's pretty cool and I keep reading how well it works. Hopefully in a few years, some of this will trickle down to something affordable.

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post #15 of 22 Old 05-04-2019, 05:33 PM
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It's pretty cool and I keep reading how well it works. Hopefully in a few years, some of this will trickle down to something affordable.
It did a few years ago. https://fongaudio.com
The link in my post above has some tips on how to get the best experience out of the program as well.
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post #16 of 22 Old 05-04-2019, 06:01 PM
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I can't answer your question about Dirac

The problem of real surround effect in headphones has actually been solved pretty well, but it's a $4K solution. Read about it

https://www.innerfidelity.com/conten...urround-system

It's pretty cool and I keep reading how well it works. Hopefully in a few years, some of this will trickle down to something affordable.
I remember the previous version and was aware of this one. The price tag is, of course, a significant obstacle. If I were planning a move to an apartment or condo where space for a proper home cinema, let alone the ability to crack out the movies, would be unavailable, something like the Realiser would then become a viable alternative.

My goal is not quite so lofty at the moment (I still get to use my home cinema reasonably often and plan to be in my current house for quite some time longer). I'm just looking for something that actually does what the PR for Dirac claims. And even then, it's more an indulgence than a serious "must have"--my headphones sound very good with movies/TV shows just as they are. I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
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post #17 of 22 Old 05-04-2019, 06:34 PM
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It did a few years ago. https://fongaudio.com
The link in my post above has some tips on how to get the best experience out of the program as well.
Just tried it out--very interesting (and I would go with the generic one, at least for now). The iOS version would be ideal (as I use my iPad for the late night stuff that would most benefit from this tech).
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post #18 of 22 Old 05-05-2019, 12:47 PM
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How might this stand up to the Modi Multibit + Magni from Schiit?

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post #19 of 22 Old 05-06-2019, 06:18 PM
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It did a few years ago. https://fongaudio.com
The link in my post above has some tips on how to get the best experience out of the program as well.
It seems like a simplified version of what the realiser is trying to achieve in hardware but good to know it exists. I guess the other part of realism of the Realiser is the headtracking and ability to measure your own ears. The new Realiser is supposed to be a lot better too which I would really like to try for myself.

I actually don't mind the lack of surround effect in headphones most of the time...the lack of visceral impact is what I miss the most....bass shakers anyone?

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post #20 of 22 Old 05-06-2019, 08:56 PM
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It seems like a simplified version of what the realiser is trying to achieve in hardware but good to know it exists. I guess the other part of realism of the Realiser is the headtracking and ability to measure your own ears. The new Realiser is supposed to be a lot better too which I would really like to try for myself.
It is a simplified version of the Realiser, all the presets were taken with a Realiser A8. And correct, OOYHs measurements arent personalized and theres no head tracking, but its the only other option besides the Realiser for binaural rendering using actual measurements of loudspeakers, and at a 1/27th of the cost.

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I actually don't mind the lack of surround effect in headphones most of the time...the lack of visceral impact is what I miss the most....bass shakers anyone?
I use voicemeter to split the signal to a separate bass shaker system when using Out of Your Head, it has a great effect on externalizing the virtualization. If you need zero latency though best to split the signal out of a dac.
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post #21 of 22 Old 05-07-2019, 02:36 PM
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"OOYH" really? Hard to keep up with these acronyms nowadays

How to phase match subwoofers to the mains speakers: https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0#post19542630
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post #22 of 22 Old 05-07-2019, 03:09 PM
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Question for the OP or anyone else who has this. How hot does the unit get? I’m definitely Jonesing for one of these things but will need to stack in my rig.
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