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.

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Thanks for posting this!

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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.

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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

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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.

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Great warning for potential buyers, nicely done!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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So I popped onto this thread as I am thinking about just doing away with my solid-state thx amp on my desk, I have the LYR 3 and so far it is my favorite thing I have heard but it’s in my relax and listen station, I need something more enjoyable for my desktop situation when working and editing. 2 things concern me about this guy though are that it doesn’t have quality for single-ended and all my listening is done single-ended right now and the fact it doesn’t have a gain switch. If this isn’t a good match what are other hybrid tube amps you guys may have tried that you can vouch for besides the LYR3 @Wes_S you have any thoughts buddy? I want to be able to use my planars still.

I think the Hagermann plays nice with planars.

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Hey man!

Those concerns you have about the LP are totally valid, and it might not be the best option because of them. The only other hybrid, I have tried is the Lyr 3.

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From: Tuba Reviews

“I utilized 14 pairs of headphones with the Tuba, and not one misbehaved … My Audeze LCD-X and LCD24 headphones, which were way too revealing for an amp like this — so I thought — were absolutely lovely … The Tuba is way better than its price tag would indicate, built by a master designer, and tweaked to over-perform … The overall performance was consistently excellent with strong colorful imaging and distortion-free power.” - Bob Levi

When I had the Tuba here, I did not have any planars to try with it…the toughest load was Beyerdynamics T1R2 600 ohms, and it drove them very well.

I thought the Lyr3 has a gain switch on the front: Gain: 7.5 (17.5db) or 1.5 (3.5db)

Alex

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Man, that looks like a cool tube amp! Thanks for sharing that info.

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I am torn between saving for HD800s or spending the pile of cash I have saved for a TUBA!!

$649…its a steal, really a steal…compared to other tube amps…the other amp is the T4 but thats $2000!
But both are reallly nice as is the LYR 3…so many choices!!

Thats why I have 12 amps now!! Even aftere selling a bunch…

:>)

Alex

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$649 is definitely seems like a steal, and this amp just went to the top of my wish list. I have never used EL84 tubes, but have been researching them for the past year. I have been lusting after the T4 and ZMF Pendant, but they are really just out of my comfortable price range.

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If you take a look at this amp, remember is not what I call a “good looker” its a throwback to the good old days!! IMO…I do like the looks, but its not a Phonitor lookng type of amp…kind of like the DIY stuff but its reall built like a tank…ceramic tube sockets etc…I took it apart and its very well built.

The ONLY thing that might bug you is the volume pot is high quality but it has some slight loosness in its adjustment, this has been mentioned in my and others reviews…it doenst have the BIG heavy wieghted vol knob…its a retro plastic knob…you could reaplace it, but again this is really being anal IMO.

The pot is also the push button on/off switch…and the pcb is layed out for this specific pot…

I would NOT let this small “nit” sway my decision to purchase…matter of fact this is one amp that has a
10 year warranty…period…

No balanced outs, and SE only, but I had no quality issue in the sound presentation!

Still close here to purchasing!! If you buy one tell “Jim” I sent you!! Ha! I get no kickback…Jim is a real neat analog engineer…rare these days…

Alex

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