Monolith THX 788 desktop competitors

I plan on buying the THX 788 from Monoprice soon because it seems like the endgame amp for under $1000. I want to know if there are any other balanced amps in its price range ($480-500) that would directly compete with this in terms of quality and features. Obviously there is the 789 from massdrop, but I would prefer an all in one dac/amp and I’m currently boycotting massdrop kinda because the way they run things.

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As far as I know, between that and the ES100 there are no better all in ones until the 1100$ rme adi2…

I have the same question. The others dac/amp solution I found are:

  • Massdrop x cth
  • topping dx7
  • Aune s6 pro
  • Smsl Dx7s
  • Klipsch heritage amp
  • Monopice thx 788
  • smsl su-8 with thx 789 ( if they ever manage to keep them in stock)
  • smsl su-8 with sh8

The best bet seems the monoprice thx 788. They are out of stock on monoprice (available 8/01). They have them on amazon for 500$. A month ago Z post a deal on monopice where if it spent 500$ you can use a code to get 125$ off (making the amp with another item for just 375$, amazing deal I really regret not making the purchase). I think I will wait for monoprice to make a deal. Also I am looking to buy an jds lab atom with a dac while i wait for my balanced end game.


I’d be surprised if the 789 is ever readily available. THX’s core business is IP licensing, not manufacturing. I think the 789’s scarcity works in their favor by increasing awareness and hype.

the Emotiva A100 is extremly popular as an Amp.

Was decided between the 788 and the SMSL SU-8/SH-8 stack. Went with the SU/SH stack because I liked the flexibility that having the separate dac/amp gave me. I now have a Darkvoice coming in so I am at a personal end-game now. I can switch between the darkvoice or the SH-8 at the click of a button. That is something you’ll be giving up if you go with the 788.

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very nice Atomic. report when you get the gear!

I already have an EL stack, and I use the EL dac with my darkvoice. I just want something desktop, thx, and balanced. I don’t know of anything else that comes close to that combination anywhere near that price range.

I have a Massdrop LCX + SDAC and honestly for Balanced it is the cleanest sounding unit I’ve ever used, I couldn’t imagine the 789 or the 788 (for that matter) sounding too much better, at least not enough to make me want to ditch this unit and spend a bunch of money on it. Single ended though… that’s another story entirely, the LCX is notoriously bad at single ended output, but that’s why I just use my O2 amp for SE. A JDS LABS ATOM might be in my future though…

I’m actually thinking on buying a monolith 788 portable here soon though, so I will finally be able to see what all the THX hype is about.

No its not something someone is giving up, there are RCA outputs on the 788 that I will be using for a Darkvoice as well. I think I decided on it so hopefully the Darkvoice treats me well :smile:

Good callout on the Portable unit. Along with the ES100 I don’t think you will find better. It does not have bluetooth so that may be the choice between the 2 units frankly on what someone will want.

I was under the impression that the RCA output was sending out the signal before it went through the internal DAC, but I could be wrong on that. Wouldn’t be a problem if you already have a dedicated DAC, but then what would the point be of getting the 788.

Rca generally means analog so at that point it was already converted to from a digital signal. I think the rca inputs are what upsets some purists due to it being redigitized before being output.

I went with the 788 Desktop for my own setup and I have not looked back.

But prior to deciding, I was very interested in the Aune X1S and X7S stack combination as a possible contender. SMSL has the DX7S which was also interesting.

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I actually have Aune X7S and X1S stack, but I got it before 789 and 788 appeared.
So now I am really curious just how much different would a 789 + SU8 or 788 be to that. Would it be worth the price to replace in the future or not.
I know from audio science forum, x1s dac is closer to the top of the dac list in terms of SINAD, and I got x7s for balanced (even if its not fully so).

As much as I love numbers and do like ASR doing the measurements, after a certain point in the SINAD score chart (say 99), I know I wouldn’t be able to make out a difference.

So taking the DACs out of the equation, the evidence points to the fact that not all 788 amp tech is equal and that the Massdrop’s 789 amp is both cleaner and more powerful than the Monolith 788 Desktop.

By how much is the signal cleaner? I don’t think orders of magnitude or noticeable at normal volumes. But I think you could crank both up, hear a difference, and then bring both back down in volume and you might be able to convince yourself that there is a difference. Double blind and try to find the sonic difference at a normalized volume, and I doubt it would be found.

What I can say is that the Massdrop 789 has more available power. At 300 ohms balanced output, the MD 789 is 800mW while the Mo 788 Desktop is 580mW. For perspective that is 27 ish dB added to the sensitivity rating for the Mo 788 Desktop which is usually enough to simulate how loud a jack hammer at 1 meter without ear pro is per sound pressure levels, where as the MD 789 gains another 3 ish dB.

Um, yeah, the Mo 788 Desktop is enough for most people. The MD 789 is also very much enough for most people. From the Z Review, they both sound transparent. I would like to have a MD 789, just because my brain likes numbers and to see if there is a difference in sound, but I think the Mo 788 Desktop will probably stay put unless there is an audible difference at normal volumes.

788 is a great amp/dac, better than reviews convey imo. I did have the 788 for an extended period of time and now have a Jot and like that too.

Topping D10 is enough for most people. This beast is endgame stuff. :stuck_out_tongue:

they 788? naw…the 789, yah!

Anyone tried both and compared?