Monolith Hi-Res DAC

DAC Chip: ESS ES9018K2M & ESS ES9601 Amp (Single)
PCM 32-384kHz DSD256, SNR: 122db , Power: 2 Vrms, USB Type-A Male, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: NO), Plastic Chassis



  • Natural timbre with balanced tonality, decidedly organic
  • Natural Mids with natural toned Male and Female vocals
  • Crisp Treble with commendable textures, snappy decays
  • Commanding and fast Mid-Bass with ample punch and textures
  • Sub-Bass is present and with good seismic feedback.
  • Good details retrieval with rounded nuances
  • Decent soundstage to not feel as boxed in
  • Commendable speed and transients handling, no congestion observed.
  • Moderate resistances to sibilance
  • Drives Tin HiFi Magnetic Planar at 65/100
  • Very usable independent volume adjuster


  • Dynamics a bit tame and mild, lean bodied timbre
  • Falls slightly short on that ESS sparkle found on top performing Sabre DAC/Amps.
  • Hazy separation lines, lacking sharpness.
  • Linear non holographic imaging and spatial staging. Two dimensional
  • Slightly dull edged percussions, guitars, piano, and cello
  • Not as forgiving on poor recordings and re-masters
  • Require Type-A to Type-C Adapter


Monolith Hi-Res DAC. For this sort of quality, you can already get it from JCally JA21, JA04 or JM01. This is an aged Hi-Fi enough DAC/Amp that is now bordering on obsolete compared to the fierce Hi-Fi standards we are being offered today, the sound signature is classically tame by current ESS Sabre standard. Considering that Monoprice still sells this unit at rather steep $80 I don’t see the logic to buy it anymore when you can get the same quality from a $10 JCally. The saving grace for this unit, great synergy with an already resolving and detailed IEMs like the Etymotic ER4SR and ER2XR.

⭐⭐⭐ ($80.00)

Best Pairing: An already bright and resolving IEMs/Headphones

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