Chastity's Review of the Monolith M1070 headphones

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by Chastity, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    I've had these for about a week now, and I finally settled on my setup for these. I bought these because they went on sale at a great price; got mine from walmart.com / Monoprice. I've been itching to try out some other headphone technologies, and I figure I'd try some planar magnetics. To quote Darth Vader, "Impressive. Most impressive." To denote my headphone history:

    1994: Sennheiser HD-580 Precisions + Cardas Cable (to fix the middle of head focus)
    2001: Sony MDR-SA5000 (<3 these still)
    2006: V-Moda Crossfade LP (for iPod)
    2019: Beyerdynamic DT-1990 Pro (also redid my who desktop setup)
    2021: Monolith M1070

    Been looking for something with the capabilities of the Sony's, but with a more balanced tonality, and bring up the bass. (The MDR-SA5000 are tuned for jazz club music, classical, and female vocalists, with a relaxed seating position a few tables back, according to an interview with a Sony engineer) The M1070 do a very nice job on that aspect, tho they aren't as wide in soundstage, but they have all the vocal intimacy and warmth that the Sennheisers are known for.

    I was very pleased to find that the it wasn't apparent up front that the M1070 would need any EQ worK. I didn't pick up on any major FR faults, except for those velour pads. I don't know who made these for Monoprice, but they are really a piece of fail. If you look at Dekoni's FR charts for the LCD replacements, their Velours have bass, despite being cloth. (I also looked into their LCD pads, and yes they have lips on the back. Just remove the plastic ring inside the lip and you are golden.) So going forward, my impressions are with the lambskin pads, which took about 2 days to break-in and give me a proper seal, despite the efforts of the near-lack of headband clamp to undermine this. upload_2021-4-14_17-56-47.gif

    I find that these headphones layer very well, with no mushing some of the audio together, which was a critique I have with the HD-580. Details are there, and imaging is accurate within the natural width soundstage. There's some depth in the sound field as well, so they're good for orchestrations and gaming alike. Bass and subbass are represented, and have some nice authority, which is something the DT-1990 Pro lacked in comparison, even with pad rolling to the Dekoni Hybrids. With the right tracks I even get some juicy subbass rumble. [​IMG] I find the mids to be prominently positioned, which I find is a good thing (I hate scooped mids) with some good tonality. Listening to my strings selections, "Danse Macbre" for example, the Stradivarius is delicious to listen to, only bested by the Sony's in some aspects. Trumpets are just awesome, they come forth and BLARE at you, which is how it should be.

    I find the presentation to be energetic, even more so than the DT-1990. Rock and Metal can get me dancing in my chair, and for EDM / Hiphop listeners, the bass is righteous, tight, and musical. I enjoyed listening to some modern Pop tracks, especially with a good female vocalist to add to the mix. I find these M1070 do all the genres I threw at them very well. The only caveats I've come across is with some of the treble presentation: I found some tracks with background triangles to be a tad on the soft side, which was something the Sony's excel at. Perhaps this can be something I can EQ. Vocals are warm, detailed, and can lick your ear in a good way.

    After a couple of days, I ripped out my box of tubes, and started rolling various selections. I finally settled on the Voskhod 6J1P-EV, with their classic tube warmth and smoothness. Interestingly, they were causing my mids to be shouty, and were rolling off my treble, until I swapped the tube positions in regards to Left and Right. Then things were properly balanced. It was also repeatable, so I have no idea why my preamp / tubes were doing this. Weird. I then played with the preamp to get the amp to have great dynamics even at low volume. Planars love voltage, don't starve them, else things get a little flat.

    My setup:

    SMSL M300 MKII DAC (AK4497), FX Audio TUBE-01 tube buffer preamp, with Voskhod 6J1P-EV tubes, Schiit Asgard 3 amplifier, Monoprice Premium AWG22 RCA interconnects, 1.5'. (Great quality cables, no flaws, $4 each)

    Build: I like this new headband, which seems to be a blatant ripoff of the Focal band, but who cares, as Monoprice is ripping off Audeze to begin with. [​IMG] Still not 100% happy with the clamping, and will be a work in progress to solve. 3.5mm plug headset connectors is a welcome sight, simple, strong, and standard, making 3rd party choices easy. (Unlike the M1570) I like the choice of having lambskins and velours, except these velours utterly kill the planars signature sound. (They do offer some nice features for gamers, however, as their analytical presentation allows for some hyper-focused gaming with the bass essentially removed. I prefer immersion, since these are detailed and layer well, and keep the sounds separated, you can still make out audio hints and still enjoy the theatrics of a game.) So if you want velours, and keep things full bodied, I suggest looking at 3rd party LCD replacements, like from Dekoni or ZMF. (Brainwavz is dead to me. I have a set of Hybrids that are PU pleather, bleh, and I have an outstanding order from their website from May 2020 still unfulfilled.)

    The included cable is actually quite nice, not overly heavy, and flexible. Cloth braided exterior. Very nice, doesn't tangle easily. 3.5mm with screw-on 6.2mm adapter, pretty standard fare. M1070 are fully capable of going balanced, if you care for such things. (My Asgard 3 SE drive them just fine) I did test the M1070 off a G6 just for fun, and despite being 60 ohm, the G6 gets maxed out, even on High Gain. The cans also pick up a touch of harshness in the treble, from the G6's somewhat grainy output. Otherwise they do get loud enough to enjoy, but you will lose a bit in dynamics and impact. Didn't bother testing direct onboard audio connection: the 60ohm impedance will keep auto-matching gain features to low gain, tho hopefully you can override this in drivers or on a phone. (This was an issue with my LG V40, and it refusing to go into High Gain, unless yo trick it using a 3.5mm extension cable)

    Isolation is a bit better than my DT-1990 Semi-Opens, and conversely they don't leak as much either. Nice bonus, even tho I live alone. I wonder if I can order some M1570 grilles and swap them, I do like the way they look.

    Gaming: Add your favorite Virtual Surround Sound solution, and have a ball. You won't have any issues finding your enemies, or enjoy the soundtracks of you games. I currently prefer Waves NX on my PC to output to my DAC. (For 5.1 Music I prefer Redscape) With proper head measurements, and I cannot stress this enough for this application, the effect is eerie accurate, ala CMSS-3D scary. On consoles, I have no idea, since I am PCMR 4 Lyfe. [​IMG]

    Overall, a very nice upgrade to the DT-1990 Pro, especially how they sound w/o EQ. And at $239, they pretty much trounce anything offered at the $200-250 price point.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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  3. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    Wow the fact that you're comparing these to Audeze at this price point is insane! I remember hearing the LCD-4 at a shop a couple of years ago and it was incredible so these must be incredibly good value!
     
  4. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    They really are. Monoprice did a great job of tuning these. It's a sound signature I really like, and can enjoy without EQ work, other than tube rolling. :wink: I don't know how long these will be on sale, but what a great value for the performance you get. Unless you want to shell out $400 for the bigger version, but alas that has some issues with the XLR pinout being mutant, and needing custom cables.
     

  5. tived

    tived Active Member

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    Nice write-up
     
  6. Valken

    Valken Ancient Guru

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    Great review! I ALMOST bought these months ago when I was comparing to the Audeze but I need/wanted wireless hence I went that route.

    If I go wired, I have gone for these in a heart beat without paying the Audeze tax.
     
  7. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    Man I'll have to seriously look at this pair...always wanted a planar headphones to go along with my MS-Pro.
     
  8. tived

    tived Active Member

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    Which Audeze did you buy?
     
  9. Valken

    Valken Ancient Guru

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    Audeze Penrose X Wireless. 100mm Planar speakers, with a USB 2.4 GHZ dongle, plus it works over Bluetooth and stereo wired. The only difference between the X and non-X is Xbox support. USB dongle will work over PS4/5 and even over Android with USB A to B or C adapter.

    I need wireless because I actually walk around the room during conference calls.

    Everything Chasity said about the tuning is nearly the same for Audeze. It feels and sounds WAY different from magnetic drivers. I have my EQ FLAT. No need to adjust it for FLAC playback.

    Any lossy audio will exhibit audio compression artifacts, like a bad autotune. You can hear it all, which makes me laugh and seek out better music quality. Same applies to movies with low bitrate audio.

    The only limitation is the USB is limited to 16bit/48000 HZ I think. Wired would be limited by your DAC.

    These are a good 100 USD LESS so use the savings and add whatever 3D sound system you want. The great thing is you can apply any software or hardware system to it.

    I would like to see a review of the Sennheiser GSX 1000 external DAC paired with these for competitive gaming.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
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  10. tived

    tived Active Member

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    Jesus, I get dizzy looking at the prices on some this gear.

    but wow
     

  11. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    Alas, the $239 sources are out of stock. :( Monoprice is selling the M1070 still for $330 on their site. Anyone who managed to snag one at $239, congrats and enjoy.

    Also, I wanted to add that with the M1070, Monoprice deviated from Audeze and no longer use glue to hold the cups in place. :applaud: They now slip into a hold ring much like Beyerdynamic models, with a little square notch to guide on the pads.

    And I find the velours to be a large fail. I don't know who sourced them, but ughh. The cans become bassless, very analytical. Maybe some gamers would like these, but I would not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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