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THIEAUDIO Monarch Mk II - Uber well-tuned tribrid IEM

gofishus

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@gofishus please have a look at some of the measurements that WolfX-700 has done of DAPs in the $1K-6K price range: https://www.l7audiolab.com/f/category/portable/

Ok I read (translated) a few articles on there, read the AK SP2000T, Caiyin N6ii, LP P6 Pro, Lotoo PAW Gold Sony DMP-Z1 against the LP W2, Fiio KA3, Caiyin RU6.
The general impression that I get is what I already know - USB Dongles have made strides and quickly caught up to even luxury DAPs in performance and technicality - however, I see no evidence of 'cheap sub $100 dongle destroys luxury DAP' that the posters on here say. The only dongles that actually reach the level of luxury DAP performance are the newer $200+ ChiFi dongles. The upcoming Shanling UA3 I would expect to be on that list too. And my point still stands that for a very long time DAPs significantly outperformed USB dongles and only in recent years (maybe due to the iPhone 7's groundbreaking tradition of omitting the headphone jack) have we seen USB dongles actually catch up.
Also, measurements and charts aren't everything. As anyone who has listened to R2R vs delta sigma DACs can tell you, technicality wise the DS DACs will always win, but a lot of people still prefer R2R DACs despite the weak technicalities. And many people still prefer Vinyl despite it being an inferior medium. Why is that? Because sound is more than just numbers and graphs, it's about feeling as well.
 

Merkurio

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It's ridiculous to claim that a $1000 or $2000 DAP doesn't offer better sound than a $100 USB dongle. If this were true, the DAP market would never sell. Going by chipsets until recently, dongles topped out at a ESS9038Q2M (AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt, Shanling UA2, FiiO KA3) which any DAP > $1000 could outperform technically with an ESS9038PRO or AK4499EQ, and R2R dongles like the Caiyin RU6 just released - years after the first R2R DAPs like the Hifiman R2R2000 came out

Very weak reasoning.

Let me remind you that people who buy $2000 cables expecting some kind of magical sound upgrades still exist.
 

gofishus

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Very weak reasoning.

Let me remind you that people who buy $2000 cables expecting some kind of magical sound upgrades still exist.

Not a good comparison. There's a lot of research already done that proves that upgrading cables has little effect on the audio quality.
The same amount of research has NOT been done comparing DAPs vs dongles that prove that dongles always sound better and yet everyone here seems to just accept that dongles sound better as a fact. Where's the proof and evidence?
What's more - like I said, DAPs offer far more than just sound quality. It also offers hardware controls, battery life separate from the phone, additional storage, more output power and possibly additional output options like line level out or extra balanced connectors as well that USB dongles lack. An expensive cable does not offer anything more over a regular cable.
 

Pe8er

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It's ridiculous to claim that a $1000 or $2000 DAP doesn't offer better sound than a $100 USB dongle. If this were true, the DAP market would never sell.

"It's ridiculous to claim that a $1000 or $2000 cable doesn't offer better sound than a $100 USB cable. If this were true, the cable market would never sell."

I'm not saying that DAP market is the same levels of snake oil as cable market, just pointing out that your statement is unnecessarily binary.

Going by chipsets until recently, dongles topped out at a ESS9038Q2M (AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt, Shanling UA2, FiiO KA3) which any DAP > $1000 could outperform technically with an ESS9038PRO or AK4499EQ

Whether audible differences between these chips exist is debatable because there are other aspects that impact how your player sounds: DAC implementation, analog stage, power supply…

At the end of the day it's more about convenience and money. If a $10 dongle can get me 95% performance of a $1,000 DAP and it takes up 1% of space/weight, I'm not going to go out of my way to make my life more expensive and difficult.

Another aspect that is often overlooked is that all phones these days are substantially superior to DAPs as far as UX (hardware and software combined) is concerned. This is an area where small DAP manufactures will never top the expertise and resources of design teams at Apple or Google.

If you like your DAPs, that's great, enjoy them. But don't try to convince people that they are objectively superior to solutions that are more convenient, cheaper and just as good.
 

gofishus

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"It's ridiculous to claim that a $1000 or $2000 cable doesn't offer better sound than a $100 USB cable. If this were true, the cable market would never sell."

I'm not saying that DAP market is the same levels of snake oil as cable market, just pointing out that your statement is unnecessarily binary.



Whether audible differences between these chips exist is debatable because there are other aspects that impact how your player sounds: DAC implementation, analog stage, power supply…

At the end of the day it's more about convenience and money. If a $10 dongle can get me 95% performance of a $1,000 DAP and it takes up 1% of space/weight, I'm not going to go out of my way to make my life more expensive and difficult.

Another aspect that is often overlooked is that all phones these days are substantially superior to DAPs as far as UX (hardware and software combined) is concerned. This is an area where small DAP manufactures will never top the expertise and resources of design teams at Apple or Google.

If you like your DAPs, that's great, enjoy them. But don't try to convince people that they are objectively superior to solutions that are more convenient, cheaper and just as good.

"If a $10 dongle can get me 95% performance of a $1,000 DAP and it takes up 1% of space/weight, I'm not going to go out of my way to make my life more expensive and difficult."

If a $10 dongle can do that, I'll be the first one lining to up to buy it. I'm not an idiot who's going to pay 10x the amount for a 5% increase in SQ.

"Another aspect that is often overlooked is that all phones these days are substantially superior to DAPs as far as UX (hardware and software combined) is concerned. This is an area where small DAP manufactures will never top the expertise and resources of design teams at Apple or Google."

People who buy DAPs are already aware of this. Yes there's some DAP makers like iBasso, FiiO, Shanling and HiBy that are basically using skinned Android but its a few generations behind - and then there's DAPs like Dethonray and Hifiman who's OS is not even touch capable and extremely basic. But DAP buyers don't care because to them the most important thing is SQ - not the UI.

"If you like your DAPs, that's great, enjoy them. But don't try to convince people that they are objectively superior to solutions that are more convenient, cheaper and just as good."

I wasn't trying to convince anyone DAPs were better. I was responding to people on here who on the contrary, were insinuating that DAPs were overpriced junk and dongles were better for everything. I was merely defending the DAP buyer's point of view. I believe I have said many times already dongles are better value for the money. but DAPs have their place too, and it's definitely not just the expensive cable snake oil that's all I'm saying.
 
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"If a $10 dongle can get me 95% performance of a $1,000 DAP and it takes up 1% of space/weight, I'm not going to go out of my way to make my life more expensive and difficult."

If a $10 dongle can do that, I'll be the first one lining to up to buy it. I'm not an idiot who's going to pay 10x the amount for a 5% increase in SQ.

"Another aspect that is often overlooked is that all phones these days are substantially superior to DAPs as far as UX (hardware and software combined) is concerned. This is an area where small DAP manufactures will never top the expertise and resources of design teams at Apple or Google."

People who buy DAPs are already aware of this. Yes there's some DAP makers like iBasso, FiiO, Shanling and HiBy that are basically using skinned Android but its a few generations behind - and then there's DAPs like Dethonray and Hifiman who's OS is not even touch capable and extremely basic. But DAP buyers don't care because to them the most important thing is SQ - not the UI.

"If you like your DAPs, that's great, enjoy them. But don't try to convince people that they are objectively superior to solutions that are more convenient, cheaper and just as good."

I wasn't trying to convince anyone DAPs were better. I was responding to people on here who on the contrary, were insinuating that DAPs were overpriced junk and dongles were better for everything. I was merely defending the DAP buyer's point of view. I believe I have said many times already dongles are better value for the money. but DAPs have their place too, and it's definitely not just the expensive cable snake oil that's all I'm saying.
I do think daps are cool and I love a good fancy piece of gear but if you do your research and you will see that most of the daps headphone amps (not the dac section) have a sinad of about 85db very poor performance And not much better than a Fiio btr5k. i can confirm after trying out an astral and kern and a m15 and also Sonys high end $2k dap that it sounds just about the same if not worse than a btr5k or a Qudelix 5k or even my iPhone 13 with a headphone adapter dongle. you Can speculate about this all you want. Go spend the money yourself and find out the truth. Or stay here and write about how you pretend you know. Luckily the return policy from Amazon is so good. saved me a couple thousand dollars on hyped up “hifi” daps. Maybe 5 years ago they sounded good but now there is a Balanced connection on almost every amp. balanced connection is where the sound quality jumps up And makes you feel the sound quality difference.


Wait why the heck are we having this discussion having to explain things to noobs in the monarch mk 2 page? ffs this isn’t even the topic of discussion.

my monarch Mk2 will be here in a couple weeks and I’m really excited to audition them with my headpone amp collection.
 

gofishus

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I do think daps are cool and I love a good fancy piece of gear but if you do your research and you will see that most of the daps headphone amps (not the dac section) have a sinad of about 85db very poor performance And not much better than a Fiio btr5k. i can confirm after trying out an astral and kern and a m15 and also Sonys high end $2k dap that it sounds just about the same if not worse than a btr5k or a Qudelix 5k or even my iPhone 13 with a headphone adapter dongle. you Can speculate about this all you want. Go spend the money yourself and find out the truth. Or stay here and write about how you pretend you know. Luckily the return policy from Amazon is so good. saved me a couple thousand dollars on hyped up “hifi” daps. Maybe 5 years ago they sounded good but now there is a Balanced connection on almost every amp. balanced connection is where the sound quality jumps up And makes you feel the sound quality difference.


Wait why the heck are we having this discussion having to explain things to noobs in the monarch mk 2 page? ffs this isn’t even the topic of discussion.

my monarch Mk2 will be here in a couple weeks and I’m really excited to audition them with my headpone amp collection.

Agree to disagree. I have a Shanling UA2 dongle and both me and my friend observed significant differences between using that with our phones than with my AK SE100 and Hiby RS6 (using balanced for each). I mean, how can it be the same? The DACs and architectures are totally different. And ok I'm guess I'm a 'noob' for not knowing that DAPs are overpriced junk? it's literally the first time I've heard this opinion since the Head-Fi, Headphone, Headfonics, Headfonia etc communities all seem to praise different DAPs quite highly. So what do I know...
 
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Agree to disagree. I have a Shanling UA2 dongle and both me and my friend observed significant differences between using that with our phones than with my AK SE100 and Hiby RS6 (using balanced for each). I mean, how can it be the same? The DACs and architectures are totally different. And ok I'm guess I'm a 'noob' for not knowing that DAPs are overpriced junk? it's literally the first time I've heard this opinion since the Head-Fi, Headphone, Headfonics, Headfonia etc all seem to praise different DAPs quite highly. So what do I know...
Shanling is crap lmao not relevant……get back on topic. thieaudio mk2 or gtfo
 
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brandall10

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How does it destroy most DAPs? Has anyone here done a comparison?

There's been quite a few measurements of cheap dongles here that have instrument grade DACs w/ a good amount of clean power. One of the better examples https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hidizs-s9-review-headphone-adapte

There haven't been too many DAPs measured here, esp more recent Head-fi faves, but generally they fare far worse:


But then there's obvious attention to engineering at the high end like https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/lotoo-paw-gold-touch-review-dap.18904/ As great as this performs, it's roughly equivalent to that $120 Hidiz dongle, just with about 50% more power at about 20x the price.

And nothing too objectionable for reasonable cost such as https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-ibasso-dx120-dap.6943/.

So it's hard to make any sweeping conclusions about the DAP market IMO. I believe the newer iBassos for instance are suppose to measure quite well. Some of the larger uber powerful DAPs offer an amount of power no portable amps I'm aware of produce... though the headphones that might utilize such power are rare.

As far as the earphones in this thread, most of this is wasted IMO. If you want to be certain you're getting great performance I really wouldn't bother w/ more than a $50 Sonata HD Pro https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/tempotec-sonata-hd-pro-review-headphone-adapter.22625/
 

gofishus

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There's been quite a few measurements of cheap dongles here that have instrument grade DACs w/ a good amount of clean power. One of the better examples https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hidizs-s9-review-headphone-adapte

There haven't been too many DAPs measured here, esp more recent Head-fi faves, but generally they fare far worse:


But then there's obvious attention to engineering at the high end like https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/lotoo-paw-gold-touch-review-dap.18904/ As great as this performs, it's roughly equivalent to that $120 Hidiz dongle, just with about 50% more power at about 20x the price.

And nothing too objectionable for reasonable cost such as https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-ibasso-dx120-dap.6943/.

So it's hard to make any sweeping conclusions about the DAP market IMO. I believe the newer iBassos for instance are suppose to measure quite well. Some of the larger uber powerful DAPs offer an amount of power no portable amps I'm aware of produce... though the headphones that might utilize such power are rare.

As far as the earphones in this thread, most of this is wasted IMO. If you want to be certain you're getting great performance I really wouldn't bother w/ more than a $50 Sonata HD Pro https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/tempotec-sonata-hd-pro-review-headphone-adapter.22625/

I see some issues with these tests though, the conclusions and metrics are largely based on power and distortion levels. Understand that people don't buy DAPs just for more power, and especially for IEMs the amp isn't largely important since most phones have enough power to drive them. What's more important is the DAC. And from the measurements there I don't see a lot of info actually related to the sound quality itself (i.e soundstage, clarity, timbre, detail retrieval, imaging etc) , but just the power level and distortion.

Like I said, it's actually not possible that a dongle can outperform a DAP based on sound quality because DAPs generally have higher end DACs. And even if we go with the prevailing theory on this board let's say every high end DAC is snake oil and its not better than the lower end DACs on most dongles. Ok, well even in that case it would merely sound the same as the dongle. It cannot possibly be worse because why would a higher end DAC be worse than the lower end one from the same manufacturer? Makes no sense. The worst a luxury DAP could possible perform is be on the same level as a cheap dongle. That's the worst case. And yes that looks bad for the DAP because it is many times more expensive.

But again, from what I'm seeing on here, we're just talking about power. Yes a cheap dongle may be as good as an expensive DAP when it comes to power. But sound quality isn't just about power and I've noticed none of these reviews have compared the the different DACs between the dongles and DAPs whereas on Head-Fi and other DAP threads you'll often hear comparisons between AKM vs ESS vs CS vs R2R DACs etc none of that is here in these measurements and its purely on output levels and distortion.

Or there might be a graph on the frequency response, but that would only tell us the sound signature and nothing about the actual sound quality.

"As great as this performs, it's roughly equivalent to that $120 Hidiz dongle, just with about 50% more power at about 20x the price."

And we also have to take into account that the DAP is not just the DAC and the Amp (which the dongle is literally just a DAC/Amp), but its got an entire computer system built around it including the hardware and UI. And the fact that DAPs are not made on a large scale or mass produced like phones are. So that accounts for part of the DAP's price premium.
 
Last edited:

wyvern2

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I do think daps are cool and I love a good fancy piece of gear but if you do your research and you will see that most of the daps headphone amps (not the dac section) have a sinad of about 85db very poor performance And not much better than a Fiio btr5k. i can confirm after trying out an astral and kern and a m15 and also Sonys high end $2k dap that it sounds just about the same if not worse than a btr5k or a Qudelix 5k or even my iPhone 13 with a headphone adapter dongle. you Can speculate about this all you want. Go spend the money yourself and find out the truth. Or stay here and write about how you pretend you know. Luckily the return policy from Amazon is so good. saved me a couple thousand dollars on hyped up “hifi” daps. Maybe 5 years ago they sounded good but now there is a Balanced connection on almost every amp. balanced connection is where the sound quality jumps up And makes you feel the sound quality difference.


Wait why the heck are we having this discussion having to explain things to noobs in the monarch mk 2 page? ffs this isn’t even the topic of discussion.

my monarch Mk2 will be here in a couple weeks and I’m really excited to audition them with my headpone amp collection.
Come yet? Need some bass impression ser ty
 
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