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Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC by Alex Cavalli Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Monolith by Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC by Alex Cavalli. It was sent to me for review by the company and costs US $99.99.

The pictures make it look plasticky but it is actually a metal case:

Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii USB stereo review.jpg


I don't find it that attractive but at least it is unique. The only control switches between inputs and is simple enough.

The rear shows the usual connectors:
Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii USB back panel outputs 12 volt stereo review.jpg


Note the inclusion of the 12 volt power supply. All inputs require it including USB (i.e. is NOT self-powered).

Not sure what else to say about it other than it ran cool and reliably.

Liquid Spark DAC by Alex Cavalli Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard of 1 kHz using USB as input:

Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii Audio Measurements.png


Nice. Distortion at -120 dB is below threshold of audibility (self noise of your hearing is louder). Add some noise to that and the SINAD becomes what we expect in this price category:

best desktop dac review budget.png


best desktop dac review budget cheap zoom.png


Signal to noise ratio fits the same bracket:
Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


IMD distortion versus level shows excellent performance as well:

Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii IMD Audio Measurements.png


Linearity is perfect:
Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii Linearity Audio Measurements.png


32-tone test signal shows excellent, low distortion performance:

Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii Multitone Audio Measurements.png


THD+N versus frequency shows good response as well:
Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii THD+N vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png


There is no way to select a filter so you are stuck with the default one in the DAC chip:

Monoprice Liquid Spark USB Toslink DAC BY Alex Cavallii Filter Audio Measurements.png


Which is fine by me.

Finally jitter:
Monoprice Liquid Spark DAC BY Alex Cavallii Jitter Audio Measurements.png


As is typical, USB has lower jitter/noise.

Conclusions
The measurements of the Spark DAC by Alex Cavalli is uneventful which is what I like to see. It slots right in with its competitors providing an alternative with different form factor, look, brand and support. It is a shame it did not come out last year when it was announced as it would have been quite exciting then, besting many other DACs. Today it does the job and does it well.

I am going to put the Liquid Spark DAC by Alex Cavalli on my recommended list. May it have much shorter name in the future incarnations!

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AudioJester

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Nice! Heard mixed things about Cavalli products previously.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Nice! Heard mixed things about Cavalli products previously.
Yeh, the name is put on higher distortion products usually so it is a nice surprise to see it on this class product.
 

F1308

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As tests go on we can ensure " the cheaper, the better".
 

gvl

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"Liquid Spark", ugh, who comes up with all these names?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Matias

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Ugly chassis but nice performance and price.
 

AudioJester

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Kevin Gilmore used to give Alex Cavalli a hard time on head-fi. Gave his products a bad rep.
Like the logo as well
 

Jimbob54

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Why would it? It's just a DAC.

I said it when the Atom DAC came out. I just dont get the point of these devices. I agree with Willem FWIW. But then I have a use for DACs with adjustable volume and remote controls- so this clearly isnt for me anyway. But for tens of £ more you get a far more functional E30 etc etc. The day of the "dumb" standalone DAC must surely be numbered- this level of performance built into amps must surely be achievable for less than the cost of the combo and frees up a power socket.
 

Jimbob54

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With a volume control it would be a preamplifier as well. That is indeed how I use my RME ADI-2 DAC, straight into my power amplifier, and it works very well.

Lets test my theory- if this DAC was built into your power amp for , lets say , £50 more than the price of the amp without, would you have bought that instead?

Possibly a bad example as you would still need something to control the volume. So lets say £70 extra with a remote digital volume control. The key being you know the level of performance of the DAC portion.
 

Wombat

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$99 with a proprietary cast metal case.

I no longer wish to hear that such a case is justification for much higher prices of similar products.
 
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