hello and monarchy audio M24 question

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pianoguys

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hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« on: 6 Mar 2023, 05:53 pm »
Hi from Central New Jersey. Audiophile for 40 years and happy owner of horn speakers and and SET amp. I am in need of a digital front end and am in the process of deciding between a computer playing ripped cds (via usb to s'pdif converter or otherwise) or a cd transport as a source. Also on the dac end a friend recommended I seek out a preowned Monarchy audio M24 and was wondering whether anyone had opinions on that unit. Looking forward to learning more here at audio circle and thanks for having me. 

FullRangeMan

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Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #1 on: 6 Mar 2023, 07:39 pm »
Welcome tô AC :thumb:

ArthurDent

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Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #2 on: 9 Mar 2023, 12:28 am »
Greetings & Welcome to AC   :thumb:

WGH

Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #3 on: 9 Mar 2023, 01:11 am »
Welcome to AC.

Digital has progressed a lot since the Monarchy M24 was introduced 14 years ago. It may have been great in it's time but for $500 used there is a lot better sound to be had. 14 years ago the DAC I used was pretty bad by today's standards.

M24 review: https://positive-feedback.com/Issue25/monarchy_m24.htm

Horn speakers and SET amp almost require a NOS DAC like the ANK Audio Kit (Audio Note) DAC 1.1
https://ankaudiokits.com/product/dac-1-1-x/

Rip your CDs and use a HAL music server to feed USB into the ANK. You will be in heaven. A couple of friends have the ANK DAC 5.1 Signature. Yup, that's state-of-the-art music.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=175173.0

ANK Kits are now separate from Audio Note, the only difference is one is a kit, the other is assembled. Audio Note has a website to buy assembled products
https://www.audionote.co.uk/

Phil A

Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #4 on: 9 Mar 2023, 01:18 pm »
Welcome!

pianoguys

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Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #5 on: 12 Mar 2023, 08:19 pm »
Welcome to AC.

Digital has progressed a lot since the Monarchy M24 was introduced 14 years ago. It may have been great in it's time but for $500 used there is a lot better sound to be had. 14 years ago the DAC I used was pretty bad by today's standards.

M24 review: https://positive-feedback.com/Issue25/monarchy_m24.htm

Horn speakers and SET amp almost require a NOS DAC like the ANK Audio Kit (Audio Note) DAC 1.1
https://ankaudiokits.com/product/dac-1-1-x/

Rip your CDs and use a HAL music server to feed USB into the ANK. You will be in heaven. A couple of friends have the ANK DAC 5.1 Signature. Yup, that's state-of-the-art music.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=175173.0

ANK Kits are now separate from Audio Note, the only difference is one is a kit, the other is assembled. Audio Note has a website to buy assembled products
https://www.audionote.co.uk/
Thank you.  I am using a windows PC top play ripped CDs via usb to a dac and was considering auditioning a usb to s/pdif converter.  What advantage would the HAL provide over that configuration? And if I did decide to go the HAL route (it looks great - super small and very affordable) would I be better off using a usb to s/pdif converter and feeding one of the AN kit dacs that has an spdif input? Again, thanks again I am so glad I joined AC and being introduced to ideas that are out of the mainstream.

WGH

Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #6 on: 12 Mar 2023, 11:01 pm »
I am using a windows PC top play ripped CDs via usb to a dac and was considering auditioning a usb to s/pdif converter. What advantage would the HAL provide over that configuration?

All depends on the Windows PC you are using. Basic computers and laptops are notoriously noisy which is why people like the AudioQuest Jitterbug and similar USB filters. If you have a clean linear regulated power supply the filters do more harm than good, nobody in our audio club uses them anymore after upgrading their power supplies.

A low powered HAL MS-6 music server will by nature have lower electrical noise. You should ask Rich in the HAL Circle and he can explain much better than I can the reason the MS-6 sounds so good.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?board=71

Pez likes the MS-6 and that is good enough for me. Pez is the owner/builder of Hapa Audio, I use his interconnects, they are the best I have heard. I am currently auditioning a full loom of his top of the line polished silver RCA interconnects, USB cable and speaker wire, it really doesn't get better than this.
Pez's review: https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=176302.0

I built a music server so I could play with upsampling and DSD, something you don't have to worry about with an Audio Note DAC.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=177495.msg1867916#msg1867916


What USB to SPDIF converter are you thinking of getting? Nothing generic I hope. Some converters get power from the USB 5v wire in the cable, some have the option to plug in a linear regulated PS, that is what I did which totally isolated the DAC from the computer power supply. My current DAC is the HoloAudio May which has an internal USB converter that is galvanically isolated.

Plugging the USB into a DAC gets rid of one cable (SPDIF), a couple of connections along with the resulting SPDIF reflections if your cable it too short. I used attenuators to clean up the signal.
More than you ever wanted to know about SPDIF but is important anyway:
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=90454.0

At one time my friend's ANK 5.1 Signature DAC used the WaveIO Asynchronous USB-to-I2S interface with a high end linear regulated power supply (he still might be), some ANK Kits come with USB.
http://luckit.biz/


There are plenty of ways to play ripped music without a computer. A guy in our group just got a Bluesound Node that he plugs into a PSAudio Directstream II. We have a meeting at his house in a month to check it all out.
https://www.bluesound.com/


pianoguys

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Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #7 on: 13 Mar 2023, 04:52 pm »
All depends on the Windows PC you are using. Basic computers and laptops are notoriously noisy which is why people like the AudioQuest Jitterbug and similar USB filters. If you have a clean linear regulated power supply the filters do more harm than good, nobody in our audio club uses them anymore after upgrading their power supplies.

A low powered HAL MS-6 music server will by nature have lower electrical noise. You should ask Rich in the HAL Circle and he can explain much better than I can the reason the MS-6 sounds so good.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?board=71

Pez likes the MS-6 and that is good enough for me. Pez is the owner/builder of Hapa Audio, I use his interconnects, they are the best I have heard. I am currently auditioning a full loom of his top of the line polished silver RCA interconnects, USB cable and speaker wire, it really doesn't get better than this.
Pez's review: https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=176302.0


 built a music server so I could play with upsampling and DSD, something you don't have to worry about with an Audio Note DAC.
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=177495.msg1867916#msg1867916


What USB to SPDIF converter are you thinking of getting? Nothing generic I hope. Some converters get power from the USB 5v wire in the cable, some have the option to plug in a linear regulated PS, that is what I did which totally isolated the DAC from the computer power supply. My current DAC is the HoloAudio May which has an internal USB converter that is galvanically isolated.

Plugging the USB into a DAC gets rid of one cable (SPDIF), a couple of connections along with the resulting SPDIF reflections if your cable it too short. I used attenuators to clean up the signal.
More than you ever wanted to know about SPDIF but is important anyway:
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=90454.0

At one time my friend's ANK 5.1 Signature DAC used the WaveIO Asynchronous USB-to-I2S interface with a high end linear regulated power supply (he still might be), some ANK Kits come with USB.
http://luckit.biz/


There are plenty of ways to play ripped music without a computer. A guy in our group just got a Bluesound Node that he plugs into a PSAudio Directstream II. We have a meeting at his house in a month to check it all out.
https://www.bluesound.com/
Thank you - I took your advice and Rich and I will be speaking in the near future. The usb to s/pdif converter would be custom built by Steven Sank - I use his interconnects and they are the best I have used.  Both he and another tech have recommended using a dac withpout opamps, and I believe the AN dacs are opamp free. The one issue I have is I use my system for both redbook CDs and blu ray movies, which are 24/48, so I believe the AN dacs would downsample.  If I go with Rich's MS-6 I would need to address the movie issue, and I can't use a blu ray player because I am almost certain that one needs to use hdmi for the full lossless streams, so I have been ripping and playing my movies from the computer.  Any thoughts would be appreciated and I look forward to speaking with Rich. 

WGH

Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #8 on: 13 Mar 2023, 11:31 pm »
The one issue I have is I use my system for both redbook CDs and blu ray movies, which are 24/48, so I believe the AN dacs would downsample.  If I go with Rich's MS-6 I would need to address the movie issue, and I can't use a blu ray player because I am almost certain that one needs to use hdmi for the full lossless streams, so I have been ripping and playing my movies from the computer.  Any thoughts would be appreciated and I look forward to speaking with Rich.

I believe blu-ray is 24bit/96kHz, a 1:1 rip of "Blade Runner 2049" at 2160p, 7.1 with Dolby Atmos can hit 83.5 GB although it can be compressed to 15GB. My old computer wouldn't play 2160p over HDMI but did 1080p just fine. My current computer has an Intel i7 11700 plugged into an ASUS motherboard and does 2160p with 7.1.4 sound over HDMI just fine.

What is your TV? Doing surround sound or 2 channel through the TV's speakers? How can you watch a Blu-ray movie without HDMI, using the TV's S-Video or component inputs? Taking a 2160p resolution pristine image and turning it into 480i (S-Video max resolution) then upsampling in the TV to 1080p? I suppose that will work.

All new TVs are 2160p, it would be a shame not to use the TV to it's full potential by streaming just 1080p on a slow computer. My brother watches blu-ray rips from a thumbdrive, that works but the navigation functions are minimal and for some reason his new 65" Sony doesn't have rewind so they can't watch a scene twice without starting over and fast forwarding. Big Blu-ray rips on a thumbdrive sometimes chokes the TV's puny internal processor, but only toward the end of the film when the video freezes. No DTS-HD Master Audio either.

I think the ANK DACs can do 24bit/96kHz so no need to downsample. Using a DAC for movie sound can be another a whole 'nother thread. There is the potential for a huge lip-sync problem. Players like VLC Media Player has adjustments but it is almost impossible to get perfect. Surround processors with HDMI input are always in sync.

Why 2160p? Because it looks better, even at 1080p on my 11 year old 60" Panasonic plasma.
Here is why 2160p looks better:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfnpzPVvQAE

pianoguys

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Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #9 on: 14 Mar 2023, 01:26 pm »
I believe blu-ray is 24bit/96kHz, a 1:1 rip of "Blade Runner 2049" at 2160p, 7.1 with Dolby Atmos can hit 83.5 GB although it can be compressed to 15GB. My old computer wouldn't play 2160p over HDMI but did 1080p just fine. My current computer has an Intel i7 11700 plugged into an ASUS motherboard and does 2160p with 7.1.4 sound over HDMI just fine.

What is your TV? Doing surround sound or 2 channel through the TV's speakers? How can you watch a Blu-ray movie without HDMI, using the TV's S-Video or component inputs? Taking a 2160p resolution pristine image and turning it into 480i (S-Video max resolution) then upsampling in the TV to 1080p? I suppose that will work.

All new TVs are 2160p, it would be a shame not to use the TV to it's full potential by streaming just 1080p on a slow computer. My brother watches blu-ray rips from a thumbdrive, that works but the navigation functions are minimal and for some reason his new 65" Sony doesn't have rewind so they can't watch a scene twice without starting over and fast forwarding. Big Blu-ray rips on a thumbdrive sometimes chokes the TV's puny internal processor, but only toward the end of the film when the video freezes. No DTS-HD Master Audio either.

I am using the computer's hdmi output for video and the usb to my dac for 2 channel audio playing 1080p blu rays to a 2160 tv - haven't done 4k uhds ye but I plan on trying those.  Works perfectly if I rip first but I would much rather pop a disc in a blu ray player and play but the problem is I want 2 channel decoded true hd and dts mater audio, and with a blu ray player the only way to get that is to use hdmi for audio due to copy protection, and I don't of any good dacs with an hdmi input.  Other option is to use a blu ray player's analog outputs but I don't know of any players with good sound quality.



WGH

Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #10 on: 14 Mar 2023, 05:58 pm »
I am using the computer's hdmi output for video and the usb to my dac for 2 channel audio playing 1080p blu rays to a 2160 tv - haven't done 4k uhds ye but I plan on trying those.  Works perfectly if I rip first but I would much rather pop a disc in a blu ray player and play but the problem is I want 2 channel decoded true hd and dts mater audio, and with a blu ray player the only way to get that is to use hdmi for audio due to copy protection, and I don't of any good dacs with an hdmi input.  Other option is to use a blu ray player's analog outputs but I don't know of any players with good sound quality.

I have the well regarded Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player and it's analog out kind of sucks compared to the Anthem AVM60 processor (and everything else I own). All my ripped Blu-ray get played through the Anthem, all my music is played through the HoloAudio May DAC. I don't think there is a way to break out the hi-res 2-channel audio (or DTS) from a Blu-ray to a DAC, probably because there are no hi-res 2-channel tracks. There are hi-res 3-channel tracks: left, center, and right. Break out just the L&R and all the center dialog is missing. A surround processor blends the mono center channel into the L&R tracks to make a phantom center if you don't have a center speaker.

I thought Anthem should have included a HDMI input and a basic processor in it's STR Preamp but that would have poached sales from it's AVM70 processor, which happens to be on sale with $600 off list price. Researching after my Outlaw processor died, the Anthem was the only processor with no negative reviews. The difference in sound quality between the Outlaw and Anthem was dramatic. I run HDMI into the Anthem then the L&R channels into my pre-amp, the center and surround channels go directly into 4 multi-channel amps making a 7.1.4 system. I then select either the DAC for stereo or the processor for home theater.

To make this all work I have a lot of boxes, luckily I live alone because it is a steep learning curve to get it all to play nicely together and pleasantly surprised when they do.

  • Video and FLAC files are stored in a tower computer in an adjoining room, I can keep adding HDDs as needed
  • Tower computer (Intel i7 11700) plays ripped Blu-ray using VLC Media Player, Netflix using its app, and YouTube using Firefox browser
  • 40' HDMI cable up the wall, through the attic and down to the surround processor. A lot farther than the passive HDMI length specifications.
    I got the Monoprice 4K High Speed HDMI Cable 40ft - 18Gbps Active with RedMere Technology and it works perfectly
  • Anthem AVM60 processor
  • Custom made music server in living room close to DAC and networked to the tower computer, both running Windows 11
  • HoloAudio May DAC
  • Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player, also networked to tower computer used for ripping SACD disks to DSD64 audio
  • AVA preamp and amps

pianoguys

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Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #11 on: 14 Mar 2023, 09:13 pm »
I believe I am getting hi-res 2 channel - by that I mean the dolby true hd and dts master audio 5.1 or 7.1 mix downmixed to 2 channel (or blended as  you say) and  decoded to PCM for output to my dac.  I am almost certain my computer is doing these things - JRiver and MPC HC.  For example when I rip a blu ray I choose the lossless tracks (true hd or DTS master audio) and when I play back, the lav filters show input 5.1 true hd and output 2 channel pcm.  So my computer is for me achieving the same result as using an AV receiver.  The reason I use the computer is because it bypasses the copy protection and enables me to send the lossless audio via usb - if I use a BR player and send the audio via s/pdif to my dac I am almost certain it is sending the decoded lossy tracks (dolby digital and dts), although I have read that some players may send the lossless tracks via s/pdif - your oppo may be one of them - there is no way to test this.
I know you use surround speakers for your movies but have you tried sending the BR rips to your holo may via usb? It will be 2 channel only but would give you the opportunity to hear movies on your great dac and be able to compare it to your Anthem.  You would have to use MPC HC however because VLC does not have the decoders for true hd and dts master audio.       

WGH

Re: hello and monarchy audio M24 question
« Reply #12 on: 15 Mar 2023, 12:40 am »
I believe I am getting hi-res 2 channel - by that I mean the dolby true hd and dts master audio 5.1 or 7.1 mix downmixed to 2 channel (or blended as  you say) and  decoded to PCM for output to my dac.  I am almost certain my computer is doing these things - JRiver and MPC HC.  For example when I rip a blu ray I choose the lossless tracks (true hd or DTS master audio) and when I play back, the lav filters show input 5.1 true hd and output 2 channel pcm.  So my computer is for me achieving the same result as using an AV receiver.
 
... although I have read that some players may send the lossless tracks via s/pdif - your oppo may be one of them - there is no way to test this.

I know you use surround speakers for your movies but have you tried sending the BR rips to your holo may via usb? It will be 2 channel only but would give you the opportunity to hear movies on your great dac and be able to compare it to your Anthem.  You would have to use MPC HC however because VLC does not have the decoders for true hd and dts master audio.       

I didn't know JRiver downmixed hi-res to 2-channel, that's a neat trick. I'll never get around configuring JRiver to play movies using the HoloAudio DAC. The Anthem is pretty sweet with obvious adjustments, pretty much plug-and-play. JRiver has always been obtuse, searching for info is like bobbing for apples blindfolded.

The Oppo manual says s/pdif is a lower resolution, never tried it to hear if there is any difference.

Sounds like you have it sort of figured out on your own. Using s/pdif for hi-res will have some people furrowing their brows. All AN DACs have a USB option. Is there an advantage to using s/pdif instead of USB? A Google search left me confused. One advantage I know of is that s/pdif can go really long distances without losing quality. The 100' long fiber optic line for internet gives me flawless 940Mbps.