Anyone tried the new Monoprice tube amp?

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  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,165
    Haven't heard it, but would note it is not a tube amplifier. It is a 25 watt per channel solid state amp with a tube preamp section. Not sure what the market is for this product given the low power output spec or what kind of speakers it would be safe to use with. I have had a hybrid amp before with a tube buffer stage built into it. That was otherwise a 200 watt per channel solid state amp.
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  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,900
    Based on the looks, it's definitely a Chinese piece. Might make a nice desk top system. I'm guessing it's similar to the little Dared's and Fatman amps going around years ago.

    I still have a Dared clone and it sounds way, way better than it should. Still amazed by that piece. Something like this, there's no guarantee you'll get a tube sound, but the price is right for experimenting. Sometimes the tubes are merely for show and aren't implemented to influence the sound all that much.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Plus DAC | MIT Shotgun S3 | MIT Z P/C's | updated SDA 1C| SQ Box Touch/Welbourne Labs P/S- Tubes add soul!
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 23,900
    edited December 2015
    It really isn't 25WPC that's peak power at 1kHz. It uses 6n1's which you can sub numerous ECC85's for. It's what my Dared clone uses and there's a great variety and supply. I have several that sound superb (Mullard, Telefunken, Valvo Hamburg)

    I believe there is an American equivalent to the 6P15 also.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Plus DAC | MIT Shotgun S3 | MIT Z P/C's | updated SDA 1C| SQ Box Touch/Welbourne Labs P/S- Tubes add soul!
  • WillowWillow Posts: 9,147
    15wpc rms. 25 peak.
    Looks interesting physically.
    2Ch- B&W 703, SVS PB10 NSD, Marantz NR1607, Parasound 1500a, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (Yellow) with Acrylic platter, Pro-Ject phono pre, MIT AVT 2 speaker cables, MIT AVT 1 and AVT 2 ICs, XLO Jumpers, Tributaries Optical, Signal Cable Magic Power Cables x3, Samsung 55JS7000, Harmony 1100, Sony BDP-S6200, Rotel RDV 1045 (as Transport), Cambridge Audio DAC Magic100, Monster 3600MKII, Android Mi Box3 and Apple TV. - Pool /Gazebo Yamaha RX-A1010, Polk Patio 25x4, Marantz DV 4200 (as CDP) MIT AVT3 ICs - Work - Spotify Premium or Neutron App to my FiiO Kunlun into my Grado SR125e

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,591
    Well, for a guy who listens to a power amp using single-ended 2A3 outputs for about 3.5 watts per channel output (downhill, with a tailwind); I am always amused by comments about 25, or even 15, wpc being "low powered" :-/

    That said, yes this amplifier is a hybrid, and a pretty uninspiring one, at that. Cheap, though, right?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,591
    I'm sure it doesn't sound bad... one should just manage one's expectations.

  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 15,134
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    I'm sure it doesn't sound bad... one should just manage one's expectations.

    Well said. When I saw this on my phone, I was expecting something in the $350-400 range, not $150. Actually, that price tag makes me less interested, especially with all the 'throw-ins' that thing offers.... bluetooth, meters, tubes, etc. Its a throwaway piece, and I've never equated throwaway to a tube piece before.
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
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  • cnhcnh Posts: 13,310
    edited December 2015
    I have seen this but was put off by the pricing. Wondering about the implementation of the pre-amp (tube section).

    That said. I've known many here and elsewhere who swear by tube pre-amps and a good solid state power amp as an option that gives you the best of both worlds. Of course, most of those combos are WELL above this price range. But I also have to say that I've used a CHEAP tube headphone amp and actually heard a pretty significant difference in hard to drive cans like my HD 600s, and Beyer DT-990s? There was no doubt that there was a significant warmth and musicality delivered there. So, you never know.
    Currently orbiting Bowie's Blackstar.!

    Polk Lsi-7s, Def Tech 8" sub, HK 3490, HK HD 990 (CDP/DAC), AKG Q701s
    [sig. changed on a monthly basis as I rotate in and out of my stash]
  • SamiSami Posts: 4,662
    I placed an order for one. For the price it's worth to give it a try. If it didn't have BT I probably would have passed but since it does it doesn't matter if it sounds great or not as I am sure it will sound decent enough to be placed somewhere in the house or be used as headphone amp.

    I will post my impressions once I get it and have had time to experiment with it.
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,640
    I've seen reports that while the tubes glow they are not in the audio circuit, but hey what did you expect, it is Monoprice.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,591
    F1nut wrote: »
    I've seen reports that while the tubes glow they are not in the audio circuit, but hey what did you expect, it is Monoprice.

    oy vey.
  • SamiSami Posts: 4,662
    F1nut wrote: »
    I've seen reports

    Where can find those reports?

  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,640
    Look at the reviews on Amazon for Nobsound amp. It's the exact same amp as the Monoprice.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • tonybtonyb Posts: 30,171
    Took this from the description on the Amazon page....

    Please Note:AS the USB and Bluetooth are connected through the same signal Channel,so if you want to connect with the bluetooth,firstly please pull out the usb,restart the bluetooth function and the machine,then connect.The USB supports only 5 formats:MP3/FLAC/WAV/APE/WMA,and the Bit Rate should not be higher than 16BIT/48KHz.Otherwise,there maybe noise.

    So basically you can't play any files higher than cd quality. Seems to me, if one wants a bit of that tube sound in your system, adding a good tube buffer would have more of an effect and at roughly the same if not cheaper cost.

    One reviewer noted that Amazon China sells these for 60 bucks. Which means there is probably 30 bucks in parts to this thing and a lot of child labor putting it together.
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  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,591
    Sami wrote: »
    F1nut wrote: »
    I've seen reports

    Where can find those reports?

    "Wars and rumours of war..." as the old saying goes.

    FWIW, according to this guy, the signal does at least flow through at least some of the tubes.
    http://members.iinet.net.au/~cool386/jaycar/jaycar.html

    The actual role(s) of the tubes in the circuit is (or the lack of same), as we say in my line of work, a testable hypothesis.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,591
    edited December 2015
    more @ http://www.head-fi.org/t/741905/nobsound-tube-amp-impression

    EDIT: It is really, really odd (and smacks of deliberate bait-and-switch-ing) to have a pair of EL84-equivalents employed in a vacuum tube preamplifier stage in any way, shape, or form (low plate voltage notwithstanding).

    As an aside, it is actually possible to drive an EL84 directly with an AC signal (in the absence of a voltage amplifier stage) to create a true "spud amp" (a one-tuber). Far from optimal, but do-able to create a conversation piece. There used to be a schematic for such a design somewhere in cyberspace, but I've lost all trace (no pun intended) of it over the decades. I think it was from an Italian site.

    As an even less relevant aside, there were also several cheap power pentodes that were purposely designed to be driven directly by a high output signal from a ceramic or crystal phono cartridge. These tubes enabled the construction of TRULY CHEAP stereo amplifiers for low-cost, low quality portable stereo record players "back in the olden days". One such tube was the 60FX5.

    If one ever gets tempted to build a stereo 60FX5 amp (which should be OK driven by any line-level signal if one doesn't have a crystal phono cartridge handy!)...please be safe and sane and add an isolation transformer between the amp and the AC power main :-P

    23606344756_4853016085_b.jpg60FX5stereoampresized by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
    Post edited by mhardy6647 on
  • SamiSami Posts: 4,662
    If I decide to keep it I will probably open it up and see what's inside. Like said I have no high hopes for this but for that price it's worth a try. I have a few places it can go if it sounds decent, none of course critical listening areas.
  • scubalabscubalab Posts: 2,457
    edited January 2016
    Sami,

    Did you ever get the MP hybrid? I'm curious to your impressions. I've got NO experience with tubes but also pulled the trigger before Christmas to give it a try. Figure, at the price it was a nominal gamble to 'try' tubes... I bit on a package deal with some 5" bookie speakers and speaker wire (think I paid $219.99 for it) and free shipping (http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=15016). Mine arrived on 12/23.

    My impressions, although very short lived (will explain shortly) were as follows:

    First, it is DEFINITELY a cheap Chinese piece. The volume knob is plastic and not machined very well. Mine actually scraped the face plate as you turned it and felt very poorly made. But that was (mostly) fixed by slightly pulling it out a bit. The tubes and 'guards' seemed a bit crooked. The first thing the manual says is to press the tubes in all the was (since they may become loose in shipping). I was able to re-seat the tubes and get them looking fairly plumb in the guards. On the other hand, it has a bit of mass and some neat features (with the Bluetooth and the VU meter!). I was willing to look past the issues with the quality control on the volume knob and tube alignment in the guards as the rest of the piece actually looks very nice.

    Second - performance... Well, I was instantly disappointed when I got it all hooked up, powered it on, let it warm up for a minute or so, and immediately noticed one of the small tubes dimmer than the other and one of the taller tubes completely dead. I tried some tunes quickly over the BT, and it was confirmed that some tubes were bad since I only got sound from the side with the good tubes. I DID swap the tubes and the other side played, so the tubes are definitely more than just for show. Now, the side that played sounded remarkably impressive. The volume seemed low... I had to max it out to listen at the level I wanted to (and was by no means too loud). Now that could have been to the bad tubes or the fact that it was only playing on one channel. The included speakers were surprisingly nice and sounded better than I expected. The 14 AWG terminated speaker cables were a nice bonus too!

    So, after a call to MP support, they processed an RMA. I was hoping they'd just send a new amp, but no, they wanted EVERYTHING back. So, I packaged it all up and returned it. Due to the sluggish shipping, and the fact that they won't send me a replacement until they get the return 'processed', I'm not expecting to have the replacement for a couple weeks. I'm debating cancelling the order altogether since my return is still "in transit". But, I'll probably just keep the order and see if the second one arrives in working condition!

    If I do keep, I'll post my experiences here.
  • scubalabscubalab Posts: 2,457
    Another thought... when I purchased this last month, only the package deal was on sale and had the free shipping. Since shipping on JUST the amp would have been around $30, and the price was $150, I figured the extra $40 to get a cheap pair of speakers and cables was worth it. However, now the amp alone is shipping free. So, I'm debating just getting the amp for $149 (saving the $70 now) and getting a better pair of speakers. Any recommendations for good (small) bookies in the $100 range? I'm completely open to new or used. There's a pair of Onix in the FM for that price, but I know nothing about them. I also saw Jeremy M's pair of Fluance that recently sold for $100, but again knew nothing about those... Open to suggestions and/or recommendations. In order to not further my thread-jacking here, feel free to PM me on speaker thoughts if anyone can help.

    Thanks - Al
  • polkfarmboypolkfarmboy Posts: 5,724
    I was very interested until reading Jesse's comment. I wana get something like this for my brothers airport so he could have my RTI 8 and just listen to garbage from his phone while he drinks beer and works on his truck. I am reaally looking forward to opinions from owners here so speedy updates are in order!
  • RamZetRamZet Posts: 776
    It's cute. But it's most likely jumping on the hipster retro trend. Looks nice, probably sounds ok when you stream Spotify to it ( b/c lets face it, its for the spotify/pandora scene).
    B&W
    B&K
  • rooftop59rooftop59 Posts: 4,765
    scubalab wrote: »
    Another thought... when I purchased this last month, only the package deal was on sale and had the free shipping. Since shipping on JUST the amp would have been around $30, and the price was $150, I figured the extra $40 to get a cheap pair of speakers and cables was worth it. However, now the amp alone is shipping free. So, I'm debating just getting the amp for $149 (saving the $70 now) and getting a better pair of speakers. Any recommendations for good (small) bookies in the $100 range? I'm completely open to new or used. There's a pair of Onix in the FM for that price, but I know nothing about them. I also saw Jeremy M's pair of Fluance that recently sold for $100, but again knew nothing about those... Open to suggestions and/or recommendations. In order to not further my thread-jacking here, feel free to PM me on speaker thoughts if anyone can help.

    Thanks - Al

    Hey Al, check out the pioneer bookies that @audiocr381ve has for sale. If I had anywhere to use them they would already be mine!
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  • DSkipDSkip Posts: 15,134
    If a product was built that poorly and had issues, no way would I ask for another one shipped to me. It apparently fits my original summation of being a throw away product. I just don't see the value in that when it comes to tubes. If you want a cheap solution, get one of those t-amps that apparently don't fare too poorly and are much cheaper. JMHO
    audiothesis.com/

    Speakers: Harbeth: 30.2, SHL5+; Usher: Be-10, T-515; Rosso Fiorentino: Elba, Pienza, Certaldo, Fiesole, Volterra; Polk: T50, Signature S15, RTA 15tl, RTi12; Sonner Audio Allegro Unum, Legato Unum, Legato Semis, Legato Duo; Emerald Physics CS-2.8; Klipsch KLF-20
    Preamps: Shuguang S200MK, Dayens Ampino, Parasound P5
    Amps: Shuguang S845MK, Dayens Ampino Monoblocks, Parasound A23
    Integrateds: Triode Corporation TRV-88SER, MastersounD: BoX, Dueventi, Compact 845, Evolution 845; North Star Design Blue Diamond
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  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 7,545
    I'd rather have $150 of LP's, CD's, SACD's, and/or digital downloads.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,640
    If a piece of gear can be called cute I want no parts of it....just yuck!
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • ken brydsonken brydson Posts: 7,239
    F1nut wrote: »
    If a piece of gear can be called cute I want no parts of it....just yuck!

    C'mon, you know you want the Hello Kitty SACD player...
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  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,640
    Ya found me out.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,752
    F1nut wrote: »
    If a piece of gear can be called cute I want no parts of it....just yuck!

    C'mon, you know you want the Hello Kitty SACD player...

    They come in more than just black
    2 channel:
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  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,640
    Oh, even better.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 19,591

    F1nut wrote: »
    If a piece of gear can be called cute I want no parts of it....just yuck!

    hmm... if the converse is true, you might even like my hifi junk.

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