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Monarchy DIP Combo (was "Classic" - impressions pg. 2) - Page 2

post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 

SIX HOURS BURN-IN

It has two modes, selectable via the internal jumpers - either 44.1 or 96khz....I had a typo above, where I said 48 or 96, which I edited (but then again, the literature is kinda misleading). I'll try it in both modes, and post more on the differences later.

As for impressions at six hours of burn in - this thing seems to be the real deal. The differences are subtle (less than say, a different DAC would be), yet when you listen "into" the music, it's really easy to pick out what it's done to the sound. First off, there's much more low level detail and dynamics. Things have sharpened up considerably all around - it's almost like looking out of the same window every day, and one day you looked out and realized the window has been cleaned. There's a sharpening of transients and imaging...instrumentation seems more focused, soundstage is wider and deeper. Aside from the focus of instruments, spaces between them seems more defined, giving an airier feel to music, especially live recordings.

Most strikingly, vocals seem to have taken on a much more realistic or natural presence. There's a real "heft" to them now, male and female. It's not a coloration of the sound, just a more accurate and vivid presentation to them. The "presence" factor goes beyond just the vox though...everything feels more immediate and realistic. It's not quite like the difference between say, a Grado vs. Senn presentation (up front vs. laid back)...the phones still feel the same, and the volume level is the same, but there's just more "there" there. Bass isn't hitting harder, it's just more solid. Highs are clean and shimmering.

I finally feel like my DAC is living up to it's potential...it's the GIGO rule in effect - "Garbage In, Garbage Out", not that it was garbage before. I just mean that the OMZ is being fed a REALLY accurate and strong signal (the output is about 5V, fed into the DAC), and it's able to really shine now. It doesn't fundamentally sound "different"...it's still extremely natural and spacious, detailed and clean without digital harshness, just like it always was, it's just kicked up a notch, to borrow a phrase.

EDIT: Note that at this point, these differences are subtle...I'm not trying to say that every change is DRAMATIC(!), but they are readily apparent if you are listening for them. That's not to say it's "expectation in action", and I'm hearing what I want to hear. I really AM looking for a reason to think that the benefits and performance are outstripped by the cost, but if there's this much of an improvement so far, I can't wait to hear it when I get home today (that'll be about 24 hours constant burn-in).

I'll let it burn in fully, and post more later, with impressions of both settings, and also take it out of the chain and compare as well. Right now though, it's a worthy $279 expense. I think I'm almost there...just a headphone cable away from nirvana. That is, until I build a balanced system...

EDIT: Note...the cans I used are the HD650's this time around. I'm not a believer in the notion of the "Senn veil", I think they just have a "house sound"...but...I don't know how...it seems to have lifted somewhat. The highs seem less rolled off and muted. It's probably due to the signal boosting again. They sound so rich and awesome right now...*sigh*
post #17 of 33
Huh... I'm wondering what setting should be used if the DAC it's feeding is of the upsampling variety. I currently have a Cullen modded PS Audio Digital Link III which upsamples at a selectable 96kHz or 192kHz--no ability to not upsample. Would it even make a difference? I'm still looking at the DIP to run between my Apple TV & DAC.
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by feverfive View Post
Huh... I'm wondering what setting should be used if the DAC it's feeding is of the upsampling variety. I currently have a Cullen modded PS Audio Digital Link III which upsamples at a selectable 96kHz or 192kHz--no ability to not upsample. Would it even make a difference? I'm still looking at the DIP to run between my Apple TV & DAC.
My experience with the same unit in the past was that it sounded clearly better at 96 KHz, which makes you wonder.
I'd leave it on 96 and use the DIP to output 44.1 and then 96 and see which is better. I don't think you can predict the result...
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by feverfive View Post
Huh... I'm wondering what setting should be used if the DAC it's feeding is of the upsampling variety. I currently have a Cullen modded PS Audio Digital Link III which upsamples at a selectable 96kHz or 192kHz--no ability to not upsample. Would it even make a difference? I'm still looking at the DIP to run between my Apple TV & DAC.
If you own the PS DLIII, spend the money for DIP instead on DLIII mods by Rick Cullen. He's the designer of DLIII for PS Audio, and his mods include major jitter reductions and upsampler improvements.

My past experiences with "jitter reduction" boxes have always led to me preferring the simpler set up. The added complexities, extra digital cabling, extra connectors (actually makes a difference in digital), extra power supply, extra power cord, more stuff to control vibrations on, not to mention the cost involved, tend to open you up for way more opportunities to mess something up more than the supposed "benefit."

In the case of Monarchy, I suspect the digital transformer-coupling and jacking up the digital output voltage are what's really responsible for the perceived difference, not the front man, jitter reduction.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
If you own the PS DLIII, spend the money for DIP instead on DLIII mods by Rick Cullen. He's the designer of DLIII for PS Audio, and his mods include major jitter reductions and upsampler improvements.

My past experiences with "jitter reduction" boxes have always led to me preferring the simpler set up. The added complexities, extra digital cabling, extra connectors (actually makes a difference in digital), extra power supply, extra power cord, more stuff to control vibrations on, not to mention the cost involved, tend to open you up for way more opportunities to mess something up more than the supposed "benefit."

In the case of Monarchy, I suspect the digital transformer-coupling and jacking up the digital output voltage are what's really responsible for the perceived difference, not the front man, jitter reduction.
That makes sense to me.... I have the Stage 3 Cullen mod on my DL III, and it already sounds terrific to these ears. Guess I'm just as "sick" as many here and am continually looking for ways to improve what I've got.
post #21 of 33
Thread Starter 
What does the DL III with the Cullen mods usually go for? What exactly do the Cullen mods consist of? Thx.
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Monkey View Post
What does the DL III with the Cullen mods usually go for? What exactly do the Cullen mods consist of? Thx.
Take a look---> DLIII Stage III(adds WBT NextGen and clock mod) (DL3-STAGE III) - PS Audio DAC, GCHA, GCPH modifications - Cullen Circuits

I bought my unit brand new directly from Cullen Circuits after speaking w/ & emailing Rick Cullen. He's a great guy... The mod does include a clock replacement, fwiw. Like I said above, sound quality is awesome--dead quiet, dynamics, terrific bass, no harshness whatsoever IME. It's been well worth the purchase price to me.
post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Monkey View Post
What does the DL III with the Cullen mods usually go for? What exactly do the Cullen mods consist of? Thx.
There are various levels of mods, and you can see them here:
PS Audio DAC, GCHA, GCPH modifications - Cullen Circuits
PS Audio website also has a forum dedicated to Cullen mods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feverfive View Post
That makes sense to me.... I have the Stage 3 Cullen mod on my DL III, and it already sounds terrific to these ears. Guess I'm just as "sick" as many here and am continually looking for ways to improve what I've got.
Man, you have the Stage 3 DLIII and still not satisfied? Actually, when I had the stock DLIII, the reason I didn't get Cullen mods was due to DLIII's upsampler, which was not defeatable. I hate upsampling.

Anyway, I did discuss with Rick Cullen, and at the time anyway, he was willing to work out a custom mod, removing the upsampler and doing a different clock mod...
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
Wow, those are pretty friggin' pricey...nice mods on an already nice unit though.

Listening update: I just made it through the entire Jesus and Mary Chain album "Psychocandy"...if you're familiar with this album, it's very hard on the ears...lots of feedback and very little bass - almost the entire thing is a screechy, trebley nightmare, lol. Well, it was one of the few times it didn't give me a headache. I've heard this album a million times, but it never sounded this good - very airy and bright, but none of the shrillness. The feedback on the guitars was very "musical", and the persistant reverb on the vocals came across as very spacious...in fact, it was a big improvement overall to the soundstage. Everything sounded like it was meant to sound (as far as I'm concerned) - it wasn't like all the frequencies were fighting with each other, and losing...

Listening to Fluke's "Risotto" now, and this album is techno keyboardy dancey stuff. Lots of samples and analog sounds. There's better definition than I've heard before. Vocals are less lost in the mix and very clear despite lots of mid-bass and midrange noise. All of the different layers of samples and keys seem to be more distinct than in the past. I'm hearing very faint details that I never knew were there before...little shimmery notes in the background, and bass that before just sounded like rumbling has a cleanness to it. Being that this is all electronic music, it doesn't have that "natural" feel to it, but it does sound better than before...
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Monkey View Post
Well, I took the plunge and ordered the DIP Combo (with built-in switchable upsampling) from Audio Advisor
Thanks again this is a great find. Great price for a box that does both. Just ordered mine. It solves three problems for me (have to get 2 more after I test it):

1. 24/88.2 ==> 24/96 conversion.

2. Active (and therefore I assume lossless) S/PDIF RCA ==> AES/EBU XLR conversion.

3. Making an old high-jittter CD transport useful again with a DAC (whether I up-sample or not).

Neat.
post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 
Update on this...I spent a few hours last night listening to music, and I'm really impressed with the DIP. After listening to music in the car on the way home, I sat down and rolled through a bunch of CDs. Talk about "night and day"...

Some highlights (HD650's w/ DIP in 96k output) -

Patti Smith - Horses: This is the remastered version, and it sounded amazing. On the track "Land", there's several vocal tracks at once, and they fade in and out. Some are extremely faint and distant, but I was able to understand some of what she was saying (they are more "talky" than "singy", doing that "poet" thing she does so well, lol). I'd heard them before of course, but the low level detail was so distinct and clean. My CDP has a "pure direct" mode, which basically just turns off the display, and for the first time I actually noticed a difference with the display off. It doesn't make any difference in more conventional recordings because they are much "louder", but using this mode lowers the noise floor, allowing the micro-details to come out much clearer. Prior to using the DIP, I was never able to notice ANY difference using the pure direct setting.

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (25th Aniv. Remastered Ed.). Wow. "Five Years", the first track, starts with a fade-in of bass lines and Bowie on the piano. It emerged from a dead silent black background, and sounded extremely natural, lush, and immediate. There's some natural and artificial reverb on his vocals, and it was esay to tell the difference. I'd never even noticed the studio reverb before.

Scorpions - Love at First Sting: Again, reverb I'd never heard before...Klaus Meine's vox really stood out, and had a "huge" sound to them. Instrument separation and distinct placement like never before. The cymbals and different guitars all had perfect placement and coherency, even during the really rockin' moments. I'd never heard the tape hiss present in "Still Loving You" as much as I had this time. Yes, resolution is very high, and flaws in recordings are sometimes ruthlessly exposed.

Dire Straits - S/T: An already great recording made better through remastering. The whole album has a very intimate feel, very up close and personal. On "Water of Love" at the beginning there is a little percussion-y bit (don't know what you call them, but it's two hardwood sticks hit together) and delicate guitar. The mic picks up Knopfler (I'm guessing) softly tapping his foot. I'd heard it before, but it was amazingly detailed - it wasn't just a "tap tap tap", you could count the time by it, more like "TAP tap tap...TAP tap tap...". Again, instrument placement and soundstage imaging was so vivid I felt like I could mesure the distance between the musicians.

Kasabian - S/T: Very different recording from the Dire Straits one...very "processed" and done with little live instumentation. Still, well put together. I heard details in the music's more layered parts that I never was able to pick out before. This one put me in a coma actually...I was listening and got into that weird half-awake-half-asleep trance state, which made it hard to listen critically, lol.

Flobots - Fight With Tools: Really hooked on this album lately. Aside from the radio-friendly "Handlebars", there's a lot of really good stuff. They are sort of alterna-rap, but not in that lame boring "whitey" style. For one, they actually PLAY instruments, and even have a classical violinist and trumpet player. Listening to this album gave the impression of a live performance...the violin has such a warm sound to it, and even over the tight drumming and effects, it was still possible to "feel" the bow across the strings.

Pretty much the strengths of the DIP are instrument separation, micro-detail, vivid and detailed nuance, and amazing soundstage. It's burned in a bit more now (hasn't been off since I plugged it in), and when it's in the system, there's no denying it's impact on the sound. I switched back and forth between CDP > DIP > DAC > amp and running line out from the CDP (bypassing the DIP and DAC) to my preamp to headphone amp, and there's so much MORE going on through the digital chain. Details, transients, impact, presence...all in spades. The OMZ itself is a great peice of gear, but with the Monarchy feeding it, everything has come to life.

Wavoman, do you have any impressions of yours yet?
post #27 of 33
Old thread bump!
Any more opinions or experience with this little box?
I'm thinking of the DIP combo to use between my TEAC media player (which has a poor optical output) and the Audio-GD Ref.5
Any alternative to the DIP? What about the Audio-GD Ref.3?
Thanks
post #28 of 33
I recently purchased the DIP/Upsampler Combo which is a one box which contains both the DIP Classic and the DIP Upsampler. I should receive it in the next week or so and it will be fed by my computer using an optical cable from a Chaintech AV710 and from a Meridian 506.20 using a coaxial cable. The output from the DIP/Upsampler Combo will feed a Monarchy NM24 DAC via a coaxial cable. More to come after it has been in my system for a few weeks.
post #29 of 33
Look forward to hear your impressions Miguel!
I'll soon get the new Audio-GD Ref.5, but I'm under the impression my transport is not at the same level and could be a bottleneck.
One nice alternative to the DIP combo could be the Empirical Audio Pace Car, but it's very expensive.
post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 

Massi, did you ever get one of these?  Just curious if you did, and what your impressions were...

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