Monoprice Monolith 7-Channel Amplifier Review

AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I just bought this amp and should have it hooked up for the weekend. Going from a 150x2 Classe + 60x5 Adcom. Classe was repurposed to seperate 2ch room, so gave me an excuse to upgrade. Hoping to hear more dynamics.
A lot of people hope they’ll hear something better with a bigger amp.

But most of the time they don’t hear anything different if the Gain is the same as before or if they recalibrate the system. If the new amp has a higher voltage gain and they don’t recalibrate the system, then it will sound louder.
 
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Daniel Steixner

Enthusiast
The system sounds louder and punchier if that means anything. Although I do miss the Classe CA-150 I had driving the main L&R channels for 2CH music. The Classe sounded softer or more musical. Maybe it rolled off the highs more or ran more into Class A? The Monolith is awesome for movies. My main fronts are JM Lab Cobalt 815s so maybe they sound better with a "warmer" amp, or maybe I just got use to how they sounded with the Classe.

One thing I have taken note of is my AVR preouts are rated at 1.2 V and the Monolith needs 1.5v for rated output, so I don't think I'm taking full advantage if I actually wanted to play louder. I will upgrade at some point to a pre/pro for Atmos/DTS X and looking at Anthem AVM 60, which is rated at 2V and has better measurements than the Marantz SR7005 I am currently using in terms of THD and SNR.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
1. The system sounds louder and punchier if that means anything.

2. The Classe sounded softer or more musical. Maybe it rolled off the highs more? My main fronts sound better with a "warmer" amp, or maybe I just got use to how they sounded with the Classe.

3. my Marantz SR7005 preouts are rated at 1.2 V and the Monolith needs 1.5v for rated output, so I don't think I'm taking full advantage if I actually wanted to play louder.

4. I will upgrade at some point to a pre/pro for Atmos/DTS X and looking at Anthem AVM 60, which is rated at 2V and has better measurements than the Marantz SR7005 I am currently using in terms of THD and SNR.
1. If the new amp has higher voltage gain, then it will sound louder.

2. If it rolled off the treble, then it’s not an accurate amp, which is kind of hard to believe of Classe.

3. @PENG can verify, but surely the Marantz 7005 pre-out voltage is higher than 1.2V.

4. What is the difference in THD and SNR between the Marantz and Anthem?
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
The system sounds louder and punchier if that means anything. Although I do miss the Classe CA-150 I had driving the main L&R channels for 2CH music. The Classe sounded softer or more musical. Maybe it rolled off the highs more or ran more into Class A? The Monolith is awesome for movies. My main fronts are JM Lab Cobalt 815s so maybe they sound better with a "warmer" amp, or maybe I just got use to how they sounded with the Classe.

One thing I have taken note of is my AVR preouts are rated at 1.2 V and the Monolith needs 1.5v for rated output, so I don't think I'm taking full advantage if I actually wanted to play louder. I will upgrade at some point to a pre/pro for Atmos/DTS X and looking at Anthem AVM 60, which is rated at 2V and has better measurements than the Marantz SR7005 I am currently using in terms of THD and SNR.
Be careful comparing manufacturer spec sheets. The output voltage you're quoting from Marantz is NOT a max rating. Their receivers can do 4Vrms unclipped so you can bet their preamps can as well. The AVM60 is NOT an upgrade in terms of analog preamp compared to the Marantz.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
When I hooked my monolith up to my SR6012 I can't say I noticed any difference in sound quality (aside from maybe a little more stability at high volumes) from the amp in the avr. As expected, they sounded the same. If I hooked an amp up and noticed a difference it might make me wonder if something was wrong with the amp.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
True the Anthem AVM60 has better specs than the Marantz AVR. :D

But the difference is mainly academic since in real life, we won’t hear the difference, especially when the volume is 75dB+ and we are sitting 8FT+ away from the speakers.

With that said, no one can blame you for wanting a pre-pro that has better specs. :D

According to S&V, the Marantz SR7005 has a SNR of 98dBA, the Anthem AVM60 has a SNR of 127.91dBA, the Marantz AV8802 has a SNR of 130.38dBA, and the Yamaha CX-A5100 has a SNR of 130.92dBA. So these pre-pros academically have much better SNR than the Marantz SR7005. :D
 
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Daniel Steixner

Enthusiast
Main reason for going to upgraded pre/pro over my SR7005 is really to get Atmos and DTS X. The Marantz has served me very well over the last 9 years with no complaints. The outboard amps didn't come into the picture until I moved it into a 3,000+ ft3 space and open to the rest of the floor.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Main reason for going to upgraded pre/pro over my SR7005 is really to get Atmos and DTS X. The Marantz has served me very well over the last 9 years with no complaints. The outboard amps didn't come into the picture until I moved it into a 3,000+ ft3 space and open to the rest of the floor.
Well, the Anthem AVM60 has great specs and should sound great.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Main reason for going to upgraded pre/pro over my SR7005 is really to get Atmos and DTS X. The Marantz has served me very well over the last 9 years with no complaints. The outboard amps didn't come into the picture until I moved it into a 3,000+ ft3 space and open to the rest of the floor.
As Gene said, "Be careful comparing manufacturer spec sheets" on pre out specs
A couple of points to consider:
  1. XLR output is often higher, e.g. 2X, but may not make any difference in terms of the overall gain. For example, Bryston, Marantz and many other power amps would want you to flip a selector switch such that if you select balanced, the sensitivity would be halved. You can download a Bryston manual (such as one for the 3B/4B SST) and you will know what I am talking about.
  2. The specified output is often not the maximum, and based on past bench measurements they could hit over 4 V unbalanced without clipping, that would be over 8 V balanced, comparable to what Anthem specified for the AVM60
The AVM has much better noise specs than your AVR though the effects will likely be not audible. The newer Marantz AVR such as the SR7012/13 or even the SR6013/14 do have the same DAC chip as the AVM, and probably better preamp/vol control chip, now that they have been upgraded to individual chips instead of Anthem's LSI (large scale integrated). Those things are again, while differing in specs, but for practical music/movies it will be difficult to tell if one is better than the other unless you can't see which one is playing. Between the AVM60 and a comparable Marantz AV7705, I would just choose based on the feature set and price.
If you stick with what you have now and wait for the launch of the 2020 8K ready models, the price of the 2018/19 should drop significantly by then.
 
D

Daniel Steixner

Enthusiast
As Gene said, "Be careful comparing manufacturer spec sheets" on pre out specs
A couple of points to consider:
  1. XLR output is often higher, e.g. 2X, but may not make any difference in terms of the overall gain. For example, Bryston, Marantz and many other power amps would want you to flip a selector switch such that if you select balanced, the sensitivity would be halved. You can download a Bryston manual (such as one for the 3B/4B SST) and you will know what I am talking about.
  2. The specified output is often not the maximum, and based on past bench measurements they could hit over 4 V unbalanced without clipping, that would be over 8 V balanced, comparable to what Anthem specified for the AVM60
The AVM has much better noise specs than your AVR though the effects will likely be not audible. The newer Marantz AVR such as the SR7012/13 or even the SR6013/14 do have the same DAC chip as the AVM, and probably better preamp/vol control chip, now that they have been upgraded to individual chips instead of Anthem's LSI (large scale integrated). Those things are again, while differing in specs, but for practical music/movies it will be difficult to tell if one is better than the other unless you can't see which one is playing. Between the AVM60 and a comparable Marantz AV7705, I would just choose based on the feature set and price.
If you stick with what you have now and wait for the launch of the 2020 8K ready models, the price of the 2018/19 should drop significantly by then.
Great point on waiting for 2020 models. I still have to get the 4 ceiling speakers purchased and installed anyway. The other aspect I find desirable with the AVM60 is ARC.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Great point on waiting for 2020 models. I still have to get the 4 ceiling speakers purchased and installed anyway. The other aspect I find desirable with the AVM60 is ARC.
I used to think that too before XT32/Editor App, but now imo, I think AARC might have been overrated, from hearsay started by a few.. According to Anthem:

https://www.audioholics.com/room-acoustics/anthem-arc-room-eq-interview
ARC uses IIR filters that can in principle approach arbitrary resolution, however, since the measurements that ARC uses are smoother in practice, the filters tend to be about 1/12 octave resolution at maximum depending on how smooth the in-room response is.

So it sounds like an automated PEQ to me. Doesn't seem to have the resolution of XT32 either, but I am sure it beats XT by a mile. It's main advantage over Audyssey has been the PC based approach, comparable to Audyssey Pro. Audyssey Editor App closes that gap quite a bit. I could be all wrong...:D, but for now I am just going by FIR better than IIR in general.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Be careful comparing manufacturer spec sheets. The output voltage you're quoting from Marantz is NOT a max rating. Their receivers can do 4Vrms unclipped so you can bet their preamps can as well. The AVM60 is NOT an upgrade in terms of analog preamp compared to the Marantz.
Gene, he's currently using an AVR, the SR7005 that was launched almost 10 years ago, not the 2018 prepro AV7705. I would think that the AVM60 is an upgrade compared to the SR7005 even just in terms of analog preamp, at least on paper, if no audible difference. I am just wondering if you thought he's comparing it to the AV7705.
 
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Daniel Steixner

Enthusiast
Gene, he's currently using an AVR, the SR7005 that was launched almost 10 years ago, not the 2018 prepro AV7705. I would think that the AVM60 is an upgrade compared to the SR7005 even just in terms of analog preamp, at least on paper, if no audible difference. I am just wondering if you thought he's comparing it to the AV7005.
Yes, it's the 9+ year old SR7005. So, this conversation has opened me up to considering the AV7705, which retails for $800 less than the AVM60. I was dead set on the AVM60 mostly because of ARC, but if folks are suggesting MultEqX32 is just as good, well then... Not to mention 2 independent sub outs.

Anthem makes mention of being truly balanced implying perhaps a lower noise floor? Not sure if that really means differentially balanced throughout all 11.1 channels with separate circuits for pos and neg parts of the signal? Can't imagine they could do that at the given price point. May just be marketing lingo? I would believe the AVM60 and AV7705 have very similar SQ. The lower price and dual subwoofers are real things - budget and functionality.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
You might look at the upcoming $4K Monolith HTP-1 16CH Pre-pro with Dirac Live (probably not fully balanced).

The HTP-1 is based on the $10K ATI ATP-16 and DataSat LS10, which are probably fully balanced.


 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Yes, it's the 9+ year old SR7005. So, this conversation has opened me up to considering the AV7705, which retails for $800 less than the AVM60. I was dead set on the AVM60 mostly because of ARC, but if folks are suggesting MultEqX32 is just as good, well then... Not to mention 2 independent sub outs.

Anthem makes mention of being truly balanced implying perhaps a lower noise floor? Not sure if that really means differentially balanced throughout all 11.1 channels with separate circuits for pos and neg parts of the signal? Can't imagine they could do that at the given price point. May just be marketing lingo? I would believe the AVM60 and AV7705 have very similar SQ. The lower price and dual subwoofers are real things - budget and functionality.
Whether XT32 is as good or not is mostly a matter of personal preference, and is subjective. There notable differences in their approach, for example, AARC apparently eq bass such that it would ramp up towards the low end whereas Audyssey would aim to flatten it the best it could but you can do a custom curve yourself using the Audyssey Editor App. Both can EQ without down sampling to 48 kHz, but when it is done on board the device, there may not be enough processing power to do it at higher sampling frequencies, so all D&M AVRs/AVPs, even the flag ship models do down sample to 48 kHz when running Audyssey. AARC, the AVM would down sample to 96 kHz for the digital inputs and 48 kHz if analog inputs are used. To a lot of people, 48 or 96 kHz is academic, makes no difference in sound quality.

There are probably more positive reviews on AARC than XT32, but I think that had a lot to do with hearsay started after Harman did a shoot out between 5 or 6 REQ systems including an earlier version of Audyssey, and in that shoot out, the main thing that caused MultEQ to score low was the fact that it tended to level/flatten the bass, forced a mid range compensation (aka BBC dip), and EQ all the way to 20 kHz. It turned out a lot of people just didn't like the resulting sound signature. Note that Harman ranked them according to their scores, but never identify them, though most guessed Audyssey was among the one(s) with the lowest score. All 3 factors have been dealt with to some extents with the introduction of XT32 and the Editor App, but I am not aware of any such re-match/review conducted by any credible/reputable group.

I don't know how Anthem defines "truly balance", so no comment. We do know the Denon AVP-A1HDCI is truly balance but it was listed for $7,500. ADTG had one, that failed after 8 years. I wouldn't expect a $3,000 unit, AVP or power amp, to be fully/truly end to end balance, without sacrificing something else along the line, but that's just my opinion.
 

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