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Monoprice Monolith THX 887 Balance Headphone Amp: New Champ?

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Would upgrading to 887 from Liquid Spark yield a big sound performance for LCD-X? Thanks in advance!
 
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parrot5

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Anyone tell me how the SE output on the 887 stacks up against the RME ADI-2 DAC?
I was just comparing this exact setup last night with the HD800. I know this is ASR, but they do sound a bit different when the music gets complex.
The RME headphone out has all the details “in your face”, hard, like banging your forehead against the instruments. Also reminds me of the old Fiio sound signature.
The 887 keeps the vocal/mids focussed and intimate like the RME, but everything else has a bit more breathing room.

Nothing wrong with either, considering the RME is made for music-making, and the 887 made for music-listening.
 

parrot5

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Does the 887 come with a manual? Would like to see the specs and wonder if it states the optimal input voltage etc. I didn’t find a manual in the box.
 

dpippel

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Does the 887 come with a manual? Would like to see the specs and wonder if it states the optimal input voltage etc. I didn’t find a manual in the box.
Nope. No manual in the box, or online for that matter. Guess they forgot to write one. ;)
 
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Is Monolith truly balanced, from input to output? I'm between the SMSL SP200 and Monolith THX AAA-887.
SP200 is not truly balanced? XLR-inputs are converted internally to SE anyway?
 

Veri

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Is Monolith truly balanced, from input to output? I'm between the SMSL SP200 and Monolith THX AAA-887.
SP200 is not truly balanced? XLR-inputs are converted internally to SE anyway?
SP200 is internally SE. 789/887 amps are real balanced at the output.
 

Labjr

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I don't believe it's balanced input to output, as in pure balanced from input to output. Balanced input and balanced headphone output have two different purposes.
 
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This amp is right now on sale at monoprice for only $330 + tax. I think this is an amazing deal. I want to wait for the SMSL SP400 to come down in price. I think in terms of objective performance, they are very similar. But I like the looks of SP400. :)

Right now my headphones are Senn HD58X, AKG K712 and Hifiman Sundara, and I think none of them really need anything beyond the SE output from my SMSL M500. This is why I am waiting. But if I have real use of the extra clean power from THX, I will absolutely grab this amp.

I am unfortunately trying to spend $1k on a fancy tube amp this Thanksgiving. I know this is ASR, please be gentle to me. :)
 
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Just an FYI, for the 887 we upgraded over 50 internal components to increase performance:
5 Opamps – same opamps as 888 to reduce noise
32 Resistors – Upgraded to reduce noise
12 Capacitors – Upgraded to reduce distortion
Is AAA-887 a real THX specification? The THX AAA Features webpage only references THX AAA-788 ("stereo amplifier with power supply") and THX AAA-888 ("dual mono amplifier"). Based on various comments from MonolithGuy (quote above), JohnYang1997 ("Hpa4 has flying supply for the opa564 which lowers the distortion even further. 887 does not live to the performance of thx888"), and a few others in this thread ("uses THX technology, not THX certified"), I have the impression that this amp does not follow any THX reference design. So would it be correct to say "THX 887" is a Monoprice marketing term?

In which case, which of the following is a more correct statement about the Monolith THX 887:
  • THX 788 (stereo amp), but enhanced with characteristics to bring it close to AAA-888 sound quality?
  • THX 888 (dual mono), but missing some characteristics that would achieve full AAA-888 reference?
Thanks. My apology if this has been clarified elsewhere, but I've scoured a lot of sites and could not find a clear answer.
 
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Bought an 887 and the new Geshelli Labs JNOG DAC on black friday.

How many watts per channel does the 887 provide @ 50 Ohms and 150 Ohms?

Also what do people mean by 'This amp isn't truly balanced?' I don't understand.. Balanced input from the DAC, balanced output to the headphones, what makes it not 'truly' balanced?
 

Veri

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How many watts per channel does the 887 provide @ 50 Ohms and 150 Ohms?

Also what do people mean by 'This amp isn't truly balanced?' I don't understand.. Balanced input from the DAC, balanced output to the headphones, what makes it not 'truly' balanced?
-I estimate around 0.8-1W 150 ohm balanced output, 3.7W 300 ohm balanced output (measured on page one).
-It uses a single ended volume pot and is converted back to balanced before the XLR 4-pin jack. Performance is still superb... wouldn't worry.
 
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-I estimate around 0.8-1W 150 ohm balanced output, 3.7W 300 ohm balanced output (measured on page one).
-It uses a single ended volume pot and is converted back to balanced before the XLR 4-pin jack. Performance is still superb... wouldn't worry.
Thanks for the response, I think you might have mixed up your numbers, you said ~1W @ 150 Ohms and 3.7W @ 300 Ohms (balanced). Maybe you meant the other way around?

I read somehwere that these THX amps aren't 'truly balanced' but it makes no difference because the distortion levels are so low that you can't possibly hear it.. So I assume the only reason you'd use balanced vs SE other than out of necessity/convenience is for more power output.

I have a pair of Argon T50rp Mk3's that require (according to modhouse) at least 1W @ 50 Ohms. I've read people say the 887/789 is not enough since they're so inefficient, and others say it's more than capable. I'm hoping its the latter. Buying $400 amp and $250 DAC to drive a pair for $275 headphones is kinda silly, but it would be even sillier if the amp couldn't do the headphones justice.

My Argons are modded for balanced, but I don't have a balanced cable/adapter for them yet.. So I'm hoping it provides enough juice @ 50 Ohms SE that I won't have to rush and buy the balanced cable right away, I guess time will tell.

For anyone who may be wondering why I'd spend $400 (it was $325 on their website but they don't accept payment from my country's credit card) on the Monoprice vs the black friday 789 for $250, well I figured the extra 2 years of warranty is worth it. I find the 887 looks better, and I've read quite a few reviews about Drop having bad QC. Oh and the 888 looks very ugly to me, I read a lot of people complain about QC, channel imbalance, I didn't like the fact that the power supply is internal (as I live in the tropics and don't want anything hot on my desk). Not to mention the lack of a low gain stage for my IEMs.

I hope this amp (and the JNOG) really impresses me, so I can feel assured that I can buy some better cans in the future and not have to worry about upgrading any other hardware. When I have everything set up within the next few weeks (Covid really messed up customs here, takes ages to clear shipments) I'll definitely post a little write up with some pictures about my thoughts/experience with the 887.
 
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Veri

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Thanks for the response, I think you might have mixed up your numbers, you said ~1W @ 150 Ohms and 3.7W @ 300 Ohms (balanced). Maybe you meant the other way around?

I read somehwere that these THX amps are 'truly balanced' but it makes no difference because the distortion levels are so low that you can't possibly hear it.. So I assume the only reason you'd use balanced vs SE other than out of necessity/convenience is for more power output.
My bad :p early morning. When using balanced it'll have tons of power.. including for Argons. And yes, what you read elsewhere is correct :)
NOTE that if you use balanced inputs, gain III will clip at high volumes. Try to use only gain 1/2. It's in the manual ;)
 
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My bad :p early morning. When using balanced it'll have tons of power.. including for Argons. And yes, what you read elsewhere is correct :)
NOTE that if you use balanced inputs, gain III will clip at high volumes. Try to use only gain 1/2. It's in the manual ;)
Haha no worries! Yea I saw people talking about clipping earlier in the thread. Will definitely be wary of it if I need to use the 3rd gain stage with the Argons in balanced. Thanks for the reminder.

Pretty awesome to see I can get a response on a topic over a year old on this forum. I might end up enjoying my time on these boards!
 

Veri

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Pretty awesome to see I can get a response on a topic over a year old on this forum. I might end up enjoying my time on these boards!
It's a fun place.. unless you fear buying more and more things, which happens to the best of us, I recommend to stay and hang a bit :D
 
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It's a fun place.. unless you fear buying more and more things, which happens to the best of us, I recommend to stay and hang a bit :D
It's a fun place... but the fear is real! Also, don't forget the hidden opportunity cost from reading through hundreds of pages on DACs and amplifiers.

I came over the past week looking for a good cheap DAC to connect a Bluesound Node 2i to; and I am walking away with an RME ADI-2 PRO FSR and a Monolith THX 887... and a Topping D90 that I no longer need after adding the ADI-2 PRO (but likely will keep anyway, you never know when you might need a DAC on a moment's notice).

I suggest you run as fast as you can from this so-called "fun place"... or, stick around and have fun while slowly becoming destitute :)
 
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Yeah I recognized people were going to interpret what I said the way you did, and respond in that way due to an ambiguity in what I wrote (my bad :). It is true that if you look at a particular measurement, you can demarcate within that measurement what can actually be heard by the human ear, and what can only be heard through a super sensitive machine. For example: looking at the master SINAD chart for DACs, the human ear might be able to hear the difference in SINAD (whatever that might actually mean to irl listening) between the Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro and the NAD T758 AVR. But the human ear almost certainly cannot discern the difference between the SINAD of the Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro and the Okto Research DAC8. However, the machine clearly can tell the difference between the Okto and the Matrix. This illustrates the point that you made, and I don't disagree with that.

In a different vein, my point was that most of the differences in sound that actually make a difference to people in irl listening do not have a specific measurement attached to them, and most likely will never be measurable. For instance, the dynamics, sound stage, and imaging of a particular headphone cannot have a measurement ascribed to them. In order to ever obtain what might look like a "measurement" of those things, you are getting into like hard AI territory, and at that point by nature any "measurements" that might be possible, will be colored by subjectivity. The biggest factor in a headphone based sound system that makes an actual audible difference during listening is the headphones themselves. You can't take a measurement or any group of measurements that will tell you whether the Focal Utopia is "better" than the Meze Empyrean, and make a chart out of it. Thus most of the differences between equipment that are actually discernible are immeasurable. Now that is not to say measurements are useless. Measurements are what keeps people from going out and spending 20K on a DAC, and thinking it sounds better than something like the RME-ADI2. The endeavor to measure the measurable stats of the most popular consumer amps and DACS is venerable and protective of the consumer. However, thinking that every fact about an audio system can be reduced to measurable facts is just flat out wrong, and I don't think there are too many people who believe in a pure reductionist model when talking about headphone systems (or any audio system).
How I like blind tests...
 

MediumRare

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It's a fun place... but the fear is real! Also, don't forget the hidden opportunity cost from reading through hundreds of pages on DACs and amplifiers.

I came over the past week looking for a good cheap DAC to connect a Bluesound Node 2i to; and I am walking away with an RME ADI-2 PRO FSR and a Monolith THX 887... and a Topping D90 that I no longer need after adding the ADI-2 PRO (but likely will keep anyway, you never know when you might need a DAC on a moment's notice).

I suggest you run as fast as you can from this so-called "fun place"... or, stick around and have fun while slowly becoming destitute :)
How did you decide between the Bluesound Node and a Chromecast Audio?
 
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