Monoprice Liquid Platinum Balanced Headphone Amplifier by Alex Cavalli

Hey all,

As a very happy owner of the Liquid Platinum, I feel there needs to a be thread for it, so here we go. The LP is quite a unique amp, and pairs really well with hard to drive headphones. I use mine with a Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC, with balanced inputs and outputs, and this pairing is quite a fun, yet still resolving listen. The headphones I use with this DAC/Amp pairing are, ZMF Aeolus and Ori, MrSpeakers Alpha Prime, and Sennheiser HD650. All headphones listed sound incredible with this combo, and I am left wanting nothing more. One very important fact about the LP, is that it is quite transparent and revealing of the source/DAC being used with it. There are test measurements available on the other forum, that were done by a very competent tester known as, AtomicBob. The LP test really well, and for the money is hard to beat. Listening with the LP, the first thing that jumps out at you, is the forward mids, and especially the vocals. The singer literally feels like they are standing right in front of you, singing their hearts out. The overall sound is a warm/euphonic midrange, with tight hard hitting bass, and smooth highs. The mids are big and natural sounding, with really good depth and height from front to back. The LP paired with the Gungnir Multibit, has a very immersive and holographic sound, with instruments dancing around your head, while the musician is front and center. The sound field is not necessarily the widest, but because of the depth and height, still feels spacious. Another important topic is the tubes used. The stock tubes are new production Electro Harmonics E88CC, and are a good starting point, but once you roll in some NOS tubes, things get much better. I want to point out, that it is not “necessary” to roll tubes with this amp, as that was not what it was designed for, and this is coming from the man who designed the amp, Dr. Cavalli. There has been a somewhat heated discussion of this on the other forum, so I wanted to get that out of the way. Basically, people are saying that hybrid tube amps don’t respond well to tube rolling. However, as an avid tube roller, that owned the Schiit Lyr 3 before getting the LP, I can confidently say tube rolling with a hybrid is still beneficial. Obviously, some hybrids will respond better than others, and some tubes will make a bigger difference as well. I have rolled quite a few different tubes in the LP, and my favorite are the Amperex Bugle Boys ECC88/6DJ8 D Getters, made in Holland from 58’. Overall, the mids are the star of the show, with vocals and instruments sounding very lifelike and natural, with hard hitting bass, and highs with just enough sparkle. I love this amp, and really only have one complaint. I would have loved, to have a gain switch. The gain of the amp is quite high, and with sensitive headphones the volume gets too loud real quick. As a result of this, many use a passive preamp between the DAC and LP. The headphones I use, don’t require a preamp, as I have plenty of range on the pot, but if I ever decided to get a more sensitive pair of cans, I would most likely add a preamp to the chain. With all this said, I would highly recommend this amp.

Anyone else using the Liquid Platinum? I would love to hear about what DAC, tubes, and headphones you like paired with it.

Liquid Platinum with Bugle Boy 6dj8/ecc88.

12 Likes

Thanks for posting this!

3 Likes

Funnily enough. I have exactly the same DAC/AMP combo.
I’m predominantly using it to drive Focal Flex currently, though I have ZMF Aeolus and Eikon on order.
I would second your impression, though I haven’t bothered rolling tubes in it.
I’ve also tried it on a couple of cheap DAC’s I have lying around, a D10 and an SU8, it still sounds good on those, just flatter than with the Gungnir.
I actually bought the amp for my secondary listening area where I use closed backs (Ether CX), but once I tried it with the Gungnir, it’s stayed on my desk.

6 Likes

That’s awesome. Sounds like the CLP (?) is a great match for Schiit Multibit!

Welcome to the forum @Polygonhell. You should head on over here and introduce yourself. :+1:t4:
New Here? This Is The Spot To Introduce Yourself

4 Likes

I think as the OP mentioned it tends to expose the characteristics of the DAC, I’m a big fan of the Gungnir, I really like the way it presents space, the LP seems to accentuate that.

I’m still relatively new to headphones, so I’m still hearing things that wow me because they do things I wasn’t aware were possible with headphones. Both the Gungnir and LP were in that category for me.

The one thing I would warn about the LP is the SE output is significantly inferior to the balanced out. To the point I’d only recommend it if you intended to run it into balanced out.

5 Likes

Great warning for potential buyers, nicely done!

4 Likes

I too can back up @Wes_S recommendation/review of the Liquid Platinum, as I too have one, it is a great little tube hybrid amp.

3 Likes

After I fried my old headphone amp, and was looking for a replacement it was very close between the LP and Lyr3. I ended up getting the Lyr3.

3 Likes

Those are both great amps. I had the Lyr 3, before I got the Liquid Platinum, and had them both side by side for a while. They have different presentations of the sound, and I like them both. However, the LP paired better for me, with my ZMF Ori, so I ended up selling the Lyr 3. I actually would like to get another Lyr 3 someday, as I miss the big soundstage.

5 Likes

After a ton of research and suggestions I eventually found my way to the LP. I’ve only had it a couple of days paired with a Topping D70 and it sounds great. I’m only running it in balanced connections back and front with my phone connected via USB using the UAPP app on Qobuz and Tidal. The only really good headphones I have currently are the Focal Elegia. The HEDDphone will be here at some point to really test it. With the Elegia the listenable volume is achieved very quickly on the LP volume knob. I hope to have a more involved review once the HEDDs get here. Until then…Listen On!

4 Likes

Sweet. Looking forward to your impressions of the LP with the HEDDphone. :+1:t4:

1 Like

That is about the only real “downside” of the LP is the lack of a gain switch, which makes the ‘useable’ volume range on the volume pot, ‘limited’ to say the least. Most times I don’t have the volume pot up past (9 o’clock) actually most of the time it’s below the (9 o’clock) position. Other than that it’s a great little hybrid amp.

2 Likes