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Monoprice Monolith Liquid Spark - By Alex Cavalli

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by ufospls2, Apr 4, 2018.
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  1. antdroid
    As a follow-up... Nope. No self control. None at all.

    Will be listening to a new amp early next week.
    Hansotek, smallcaps and sahmen like this.
  2. 69mustang
    Could you take a picture of it next to or on top of the Liquid Carbon? Fully cased of course, I’m trying to gauge the overall size of it.
  3. Hansotek
    Sorry, I had to send it off to the next reviewer.
  4. leeperry
    Awesome, thanks! Any chance for macros please? Just to know what we're buying, especially those opamps :)
  5. 69mustang
    Oh, well I’m sure someone will post a pic sooner or later. Or I’ll probably pick one up before then.
  6. Hansotek
    Sorry, I don’t have this board anymore. These pics are from a few months ago.
    leeperry likes this.
  7. smallcaps
    antdroid likes this.
  8. Odin412
    Well look what the friendly UPS driver dropped off earlier today:

  9. smallcaps
    @Odin412 you tease! Come on, let's go! Impressions?
    Odin412 likes this.
  10. GenEricOne
    I've been using my Spark and comparing it to my Magni 3 since I got it earlier today and my observations are almost completely in line with this. Only difference is, I'm not sure I heard the same strain from the Magni 3, if anything there was more from the Spark (but only a weird incident with the M1060C, see below).

    I tested it on my modded TH-X00 PH, Dekoni Blues, Monoprice M1060C, and HD6XX. I'm not sure there was much difference between the Spark and the Magni 3 on the TH-X00, but the other three headphones more clearly differentiated the amps. The HD6XX especially so.

    Both are good pairings with all the headphones, just different tastes.

    There was a brief issue I had with the M1060C, where it sounded really strained and anemic for a 15min period on the Spark and then went away after a session back on the Magni 3. Maybe I didn't plug it in all the way? Hopefully it was user error.

    Super minor usability nitpick about the Spark, but the gain switch basically useless, just +3dB. I don't have any IEMs or particularly sensitive headphones, nor did I use any headphones that required turning the knob past 12 o'clock on low gain, so I don't ever have a need to switch to or from either mode and can't really tell any differences.

    Listening chain setup: Apple Music > Eitr > Mimby > Loki (bypass mode) > Y adapter > Magni 3 and Spark.

    Really liking the Spark and excited to use it more going forward. Will be bringing to work where it will replace my Fulla 2 (will probably pair it with my now-unused D50).
    trellus and smallcaps like this.
  11. smallcaps
    I didn't notice where the gain switch was located. Is it built into the volume pot? Thanks for sharing your impressions.

    Edit: or is it that button on the front? I might have mistaken it for the pre-amp function...
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  12. GenEricOne
    Yep, the button on the front that isn't the power button.
    smallcaps likes this.
  13. Jthompson300
    I went ahead and bought this, fingers crossed that it is super low noise because the 20 ohm impedance is really unforgiving when trying to go for high current with the Audeze LCD-Xc (My noisy Burson Soloist MK2 is on high gain and at 10 o’clock right now, goes to 12 when listening to stuff like old school jazz music on DSD 256 and that is comfortable. I am not hard of hearing, I don’t know, sometimes math just doesn’t work out and Audeze has their recomended min watt for a reason.)

    If anything I have cables that I have used maybe twice and they cost more than this amp so nothing lost I guess.

    Shame that there are no places where I live to audition amps, hopefully I can stop my search here for now until I decide to go for a one amp for all set up and spend real money.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
  14. Odin412
    No problem – here are my first impressions. Please note that Cavalli recommends 100 hours of burn-in and my amp has only 4 so far, so things may change.

    First, the amp feels solid and well made. The volume knob has a nice buttery feel to it. The switches and headphone jack are good but don’t have the same satisfying ‘click’ to them as on the original Liquid Carbon, but that amp costs 7x more so it’s not a fair comparison. The Liquid Spark runs warm to the touch, but it’s not hot.

    So how does it sound? In short, like Cavalli amp – wonderful! I’m using the Schiit Bifrost Multibit DAC and the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed headphone, which incidentally was the headphone I used when I first heard the Liquid Spark prototype. Let’s skip the usual audiophile test tracks today. Let’s not take five with the girls of Ipanema and don't worry whether Keith stays or goes.

    First up, On Air (Lemon 8 Remix) by Son Kite. An MP3 file – heresy! The trademark Cavalli midrange is here and the bass is surprisingly deep and juicy for such a small amp. The treble is smooth but maybe a little grainy – remember, only 4 out of 100 recommended hours so far (and MP3 doesn't help). Next, Video Games by Lana Del Rey. I love her sultry voice and I always wonder what this song is really about, although I suspect it’s not really about video games. Ah, the Cavalli midrange. So lifelike and, well, liquid. Next, some blues: Tramp by Buddy Guy. The distorted guitars can sound screechy on some systems, but not here. Moving on to Stockings by Suzanne Vega. This track has a really deep bass line, which the Liquid Spark renders really well. This is a very good-sounding and enjoyable amplifier.

    I have attached a picture to compare the size next to the original Liquid Carbon. The Liquid Spark is a bit narrower and not as deep. Is the Liquid Spark as good as the Liquid Carbon? No, of course not. The Liquid Carbon has even deeper, juicier bass, more full-bodied midrange and a smoother treble, but it’s 7x the price so that’s to be expected.

    In summary, if you’ve heard about the legendary Cavalli sound and want to find out for yourself what that sounds like, you owe yourself to try the Liquid Spark. At $99 it’s a steal, but be warned: If you like the Cavalli sound (like me), you’ll want more, so your wallet may not be as happy. BTW, now I realize the logic behind Monoprice offering the Liquid Spark and the Liquid Platinum: The Liquid Spark is the gateway drug to the Cavalli universe, and an inviting gateway it is.

  15. smallcaps
    Very much appreciate your impressions. Thank you for sharing. For a first listen cold and before burn-in, this sounds quite promising. Can't wait to get my copy and curious how the sound will evolve after a few more hours of heating. I'll be using it with a delta sigma and hope it performs as smoothly.
    Odin412 likes this.
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