Monoprice Monolith Liquid Spark - By Alex Cavalli
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Hansotek

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@Hansotek any thoughts on the ALO Continental V5 vs the Liquid Spark? I've got a pair of Cascades that can get a bit too wooly when plugged directly into my phone (LG V35), and I thought a dedicated amp might do them some good. I'm a sucker for tubes, but the Liquid Spark almost sounds too good to pass up. The CV5 can be had new for $399 right now, so it's a bit more, but it seems like a good piece of gear, particularly for on-the-go. If the Spark sounds that much better, though, I may just go that way. I'd be going iDSD BL -> amp -> Cascade, and I'd also be using Lyra II's out of whichever I get sometimes, too.

Thanks!
I have not compared the Continental V5 to the Spark, no. I will say, I love the sound of the iDSD BL > Spark > Cascade chain. Great synergy. I remember the first time I heard the CV5 thinking that I would be interested to know how it compares to the Spark, since they were both slotted to be portables at the time. So maybe get both and tell me how that comparison sounds? Scope out the return policies on them. Seems like a low-risk experiment, as you should be able to recoup costs via return or second-hand sale.
 
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Burgerbassist

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I have not compared the Continental V5 to the Spark, no. I will say, I love the sound of the iDSD BL > Spark > Cascade chain. Great synergy. I remember the first time I heard the CV5 thinking that I would be interested to know how it compares to the Spark, since they were both slotted to be portables at the time. So maybe get both and tell me how that comparison sounds? Scope out the return policies on them. Seems like a low-risk experiment, as you should be able to recoup costs via return or second-hand sale.
Thanks. I think that's exactly what I'll do. The CV5 doesn't seem to be a super popular amp, so I'm not expecting people to be waiting with bated breath for the comparison, but once I receive both, I'll take some notes and spend some time with them both, and then update here.
 
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CAMSHAFT

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Currently I am running MacBook Pro> Audirvana+ > Tidal > Reveal Plugin > Supra Optical > Mojo > Cheapie 3.5 to RCA > Liquid Spark > PlusSound Cables > iSine 20
Previously I was running the same setup without the Spark. So far I like what I hear. Its only burned in 48 hours so far. I believe Alex recommends 100.

I noticed the bass impact and coherency of the bass improved. One thing though the stage and overall holography greatly increased however, I felt like it happened to everything and it feels a bit artificial. In some cases I feel like I am getting a sense of space effect where I was previously not getting it. Its hard to believe that increasing power would create this (but it has) with the same DAC just more power. Am I smoking crack?
 
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Hansotek

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Currently I am running MacBook Pro> Audirvana+ > Tidal > Reveal Plugin > Supra Optical > Mojo > Cheapie 3.5 to RCA > Liquid Spark > PlusSound Cables > iSine 20
Previously I was running the same setup without the Spark. So far I like what I hear. Its only burned in 48 hours so far. I believe Alex recommends 100.

I noticed the bass impact and coherency of the bass improved. One thing though the stage and overall holography greatly increased however, I felt like it happened to everything and it feels a bit artificial. In some cases I feel like I am getting a sense of space effect where I was previously not getting it. Its hard to believe that increasing power would create this (but it has) with the same DAC just more power. Am I smoking crack?
Did you try turning off the Audeze plugin?
 
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legion1capone

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Your spot on with what you hear. I can hear backup singers more clearly, which is awesome! I love these small nuances and details. I also find myself hearing vocal reflections, as in the singers voice in the room it was recorded in. Which is very cool especially in live recordings. I would not describe it as artificial though. I have noticed when switching dac's that the tonality and natural sound that I get from my current setup X1S+XP1 and liquid spark does change. Is the Mojo described as natural sounding? If memory serves me correctly it is more of an analytical sound..? I have not heard it.


Currently I am running MacBook Pro> Audirvana+ > Tidal > Reveal Plugin > Supra Optical > Mojo > Cheapie 3.5 to RCA > Liquid Spark > PlusSound Cables > iSine 20
Previously I was running the same setup without the Spark. So far I like what I hear. Its only burned in 48 hours so far. I believe Alex recommends 100.

I noticed the bass impact and coherency of the bass improved. One thing though the stage and overall holography greatly increased however, I felt like it happened to everything and it feels a bit artificial. In some cases I feel like I am getting a sense of space effect where I was previously not getting it. Its hard to believe that increasing power would create this (but it has) with the same DAC just more power. Am I smoking crack?
 
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Hansotek

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Your spot on with what you hear. I can hear backup singers more clearly, which is awesome! I love these small nuances and details. I also find myself hearing vocal reflections, as in the singers voice in the room it was recorded in. Which is very cool especially in live recordings. I would not describe it as artificial though. I have noticed when switching dac's that the tonality and natural sound that I get from my current setup X1S+XP1 and liquid spark does change. Is the Mojo described as natural sounding? If memory serves me correctly it is more of an analytical sound..? I have not heard it.
Mojo is just very slightly warm. Definitely not analytical sounding. Also picks up a lot of those ambient room cues very clearly.
 
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CAMSHAFT

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Did you try turning off the Audeze plugin?
I did, its not the cause. I notice the effect a lot more on Eric Clapton's Unplugged album. Most specifically with his guitar in "Tears in Heaven".
 
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Your spot on with what you hear. I can hear backup singers more clearly, which is awesome! I love these small nuances and details. I also find myself hearing vocal reflections, as in the singers voice in the room it was recorded in. Which is very cool especially in live recordings. I would not describe it as artificial though. I have noticed when switching dac's that the tonality and natural sound that I get from my current setup X1S+XP1 and liquid spark does change. Is the Mojo described as natural sounding? If memory serves me correctly it is more of an analytical sound..? I have not heard it.
Then I am not sure it was in the original recording. Its hard to believe the mojo would not have extracted and present all of the info from the original recording.
 
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So, I think the issue has been rectified. The "hollowness" seems to be gone. I am waiting for the kids to go to bed to fully analyze the results. I believe it was the connection/adaptor chain that I have going on. I am connecting 2.5mm balanced to a 3.5mm adapter to another 1/4" adapter into the amp. I tried another 1/4" adapter and I think I am good. I think the connection was not solid and therefore not sending all of the information to my ears.
 
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So, I think the issue has been rectified. The "hollowness" seems to be gone. I am waiting for the kids to go to bed to fully analyze the results. I believe it was the connection/adaptor chain that I have going on. I am connecting 2.5mm balanced to a 3.5mm adapter to another 1/4" adapter into the amp. I tried another 1/4" adapter and I think I am good. I think the connection was not solid and therefore not sending all of the information to my ears.
Be careful that your adapter chain is not shorting the outputs somehow. :)
 
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Anyone try this with the K7XX? Curious as to whether it pairs well like other "tube" amps.
 
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On my third Spark. This one finally works well with no electrical issues. Customer service experience could have been better. If you have to make a return, hurry, or you will have issues if the replacement is also bad. I had to buy the third one outright as an advanced return for the replacement to be returned against.

Overall, sound is very good compared to my LG V30, V40, and two older ALO amps, the National and International+. No negatives so far, but I've only used it for about an hour with my HD-6XX. Will try my HE-400, D2000 (wood cups) and Isine10s and check back in.
 
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So, I think the issue has been rectified. The "hollowness" seems to be gone. I am waiting for the kids to go to bed to fully analyze the results. I believe it was the connection/adaptor chain that I have going on. I am connecting 2.5mm balanced to a 3.5mm adapter to another 1/4" adapter into the amp. I tried another 1/4" adapter and I think I am good. I think the connection was not solid and therefore not sending all of the information to my ears.
Never try hooking up a balanced souce to a single ended input on the amp. As @runeight stated, you will likely short the grounds in your chain, and you will mess up yet another amp.
 
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I am connecting 2.5mm balanced to a 3.5mm adapter to another 1/4" adapter into the amp. I tried another 1/4" adapter and I think I am good. I think the connection was not solid and therefore not sending all of the information to my ears.
Never try hooking up a balanced souce to a single ended input on the amp. As @runeight stated, you will likely short the grounds in your chain, and you will mess up yet another amp.
When going from headphones or IEMs that have a balanced connector at the end, one can connect to an SE adapter that plugs into the SE output on the amp. You NEVER want to go from an SE connector at the end of the headphones or IEMs into a balanced adapter then into the balanced output on the amp. That will damage the amp.
 
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