Advantages of monoblocks

Hey all,

The merry-go-round, which had stopped for a while, is now showing signs of a slow circular movement. In nautical and financial terms this is usually never a good sign.

Anyhow, I'm running a quite good LSA Statement integrated now, powering de Capo BE monitors. I was wondering if monoblocks and a good pre-amp would be a better way to go?

I last had monoblocks when I ran Rogue M120's about a decade ago befor moving on to an ARC VS-110.

Would monoblocks present a significant advantage over a single amplifier or over the tremendous LSA?

They would have to be used and my budget is $4K max.


1. Separate power supply for each amp
2. Lighter weight
3. You can place each amp near speaker
4. No chance of cross talk
Other than that I can't think of any thing else. You can check out Quicksilver (which I own) mono's are all he makes.
1. They look COOL
2. You contribute a larger outlay of taxes into the economy
3. Gives you an excuse to buy matching amp stands
4. They look really COOL
Yes. The better the recording, the more impact monos can have on "imaging".
It depends on your cable philosophy. If you believe in short interconnects and longer speaker cables, use one box. If you believe in long interconnects and short speaker cables, two boxes. Theoretically monos give you two power supplies so the two channels are not sharing one power supply transformer (except for dual mono stereo amplifiers), and less channel crosstalk.
Channel separation with dual mono is a real treat. Goes to comment by Noromance.
Why not go all the way, mono blocks x two. Yes that would be a bi-amp approach. I have used Marantz MA 22's to create such a system. The highs are clearer, the lows tighter on my ProAc's. The MA 22's are bridgeable, and I have tried this dual monoblock approach to a single channel, but the bi-amp approach worked best. Since the design of all amps, including mono blocks, needs to be 'mated' to actual speakers to tell if mono is better, trying is the only way to determine. Yes, audio is complicated.
I'd focus and put more emphasis on quality instead rather than get caught in the stereo/mono thing.
Well said, Bvdiman. That should be a truism of hi-end audio, along with being happy with what you have as long as it's making you happy.
No one has said anything about the disavantages of monoblocks. Here's a couple of main ones.

1: You have a greater chance of (hum) earth loop problems with monoblocks, and the powercords will both have mains earth conections, and most like be pluged into different mains wall outlets.
2: You need long interconnects if they are positioned next to the speakers, so you preamp needs to have good low output impedance and drive so some tube pre's and passive pre's will have ? put on them.

Cheers George

Biamping mono's worked the best for me, too--dual monos x 2. Also mono'd pre's with this system. I think if you mono the pre's you don't have the output impedence issue. I just used two identical stereo pre's but used one pre for each channel.

Of course, monoing everything can't mitigate poor SQ as Bvdiman points out.
I run my McIntosh 275 as "mono" (I have two of them!!). Would that be considered "mono block"? I would think yes?

Yes in the sense that your crosstalk is zero.
If the amplifiers in a stereo chassis share a common ground at the speaker terminals, you will most definitely hear an improvement in dimension by running monoblocks.

This is due to the fact that certain information will be canceled at the speaker due to the common ground seen in a lot of monoblock amps.

The other advantages have already been discussed. If you run long speaker cables there will be a loss in resolution compared to running long interconnects. A lot depends on how you set up your system in this regard! In general though if your speaker cable is much over a meter or so in length you will be leaving some system resolution on the table.

George's comment about ground loop issues is incorrect. Ground loops exist out of how the amp is wired. It is true that some amps are wired in such a way that ground loops are more likely but this has nothing to do with whether the amp is a monoblock or integrated- it has everything to do with whether or not the designer understands how to ground the equipment.
With a 4K budget, I seriously doubt you will find something better than you already have.
I agree, Chayro. I'm tire-kicking a bit here, but monoblocks have always intrigued me in how dedicated they can make each speaker be.
04-28-14: Atmasphere
George's comment about ground loop issues is incorrect.

Saying "incorrect" itself, is a typical incorrect "blanket statement"
As I said "You have a greater chance of (hum) earth loop problems with monoblocks" Emphsis on "greater chance"

Plenty written about it here.

Simao, you've already own one formidable amp which to really better it at least needing
a two to three times jump from your current allocated budget.

I would think using the fund (going separate needing 2xICs) to upgrade your current
IC/SC or investing in good PCs instead (if you haven't done so), these would usually yield
a worthwhile improvements, ime. ~ ie.maximizing on what you have first.
A point that has been alluded to above, but IMO warrants further emphasis, is that separating a design onto two chassis increases cost. And even more so if the design is separated onto two amplifier chassis plus a preamplifier. Therefore at a given price point the benefits that a monoblock approach can potentially provide trade off against the potential for a reduction in quality. How that tradeoff will net out can of course be expected to vary widely among different designs.

Personally, although I have no particular familiarity with any of the specific components that are involved, my instinct is to agree with Chayro and Bvdiman (although I express no opinion about the latter's cable upgrade suggestion). Replacing an $11.5K integrated amplifier with $4K worth of used monoblocks and a used preamp doesn't seem to me to be likely to result in an upgrade, unless something is particularly disappointing about the integrated in question, and/or its compatibility with the speakers.

-- Al
Al, maybe my previous message came across as sounding not quite right.. :)
What I'm trying to convey was that the money saved from not needing to buy another
pair of IC (if Simao is to go separate) would be better spent to upgrade existing
cabling/maximizing current system instead.
If you don't blast music, I might suggest you look for a lower-powered tube amp. I've heard the DaCapos with Shindo and it was a beautiful combination. However, I don't think you're getting anything like that with your budget. Maybe a Unison Simply Italy or a Mastersound Due Venti would work. The DaCapos are pretty efficient and will work well with 15-20 watts. But if you like to play electronic music at loud volumes, you're better off with what you have. IMO.

I agree with Al and the others who are skeptical of replacing your integrated with $4k worth of used mono blocks and preamp. I recently went from a Rogue 99 Magnum preamp/M180 mono block system to an Ayon Triton 1 integrated amp and I couldn't be happier. In my opinion the Ayon integrated was an upgrade. And while I wasn't using the most expensive interconnects in the world in the Rogue system, the $1100 Kimber Select interconnect between the preamp and amps weren't exactly cheap. That is to say that if you are going to include good interconnects in your $4k budget it is hard to imagine that compared to what you already have that you are going to improve your system. Most likely you would be taking a significant step backwards.


These are the responses I was looking for. With my budget, there's no way I'm going to improve on the LSA in terms of monoblocks AND the requisite pre. If anything, I'll take Bvdiman's advice about improving what I have.

I'm running Clear Day cables throughout and a SignalCable PC from the LSA (stock cord with the Rotel 1072 cd). If anything, I could improve the PC's.

You fellow audiogoners rock!
I like monos because they are more expensive
Looked up a review of the LSA Statement which said "it's about as close to mono blocks as you can get in one chassis". So what are you missing? Virtually nothing.
The ability to separate the amps and keep the speaker cables short is a simple means to increase resolution in the system. Stereo amps require longer speaker cables unless you have a small listening area.
The whole monoblock pitch is just more audio snake oil. It
just doesn't make any sense to me. I'd never spend my money
on monoblocks.


I am sure quality matters and you are more likely, for the same outlay, to get better quality components in a single chassis than two. Having said that, if money is no object and I am afraid it always is an object, if you are'nt a Hedge Fund Manager, then a manufacturers "Statement" Mono blocks should sound better than his stereo amp or intagrated. The best sound I have ever heard, was with Wilson Alexias and I am not a Wilson fan, with D'Agostino pre and Monoblocks, Transparent cables. Dan came over to England for the weekend to demo and talk about them, no less. I expect the speaker cable cost more than my system.

As an aside, people have mentioned short interconnects, long speaker cables, V the opposite, assuming you are using XLR's for long interconnect runs, are there theoretical reasons that mean short or long runs of either, should be better?
I just recently moved from using a Jeff Rowland Capri preamp and Ncore 400 monos to a Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 integrated. The improvement has been enormous and the decision, about which I was very concerned, has proven to be a very good one. Just goes to show that we should not depend on assumptions.

That being said, I have two thoughts to share concerning the precedeing commentary. Firstly, the arguments about longer interconnects vs. longer speaker cables are influenced in their validity by the relevant and relative lengths of each. My speakers have outboard passive crossovers which did not require any increase in the length of my speaker cables, and, of course, I now have no interconnects to consider between pre and power amps.
Secondly, Simao said nothing about sources but that may well be the best place to scratch the rotating itch that he senses commencing. Perhaps a DAC that can perform at the level of his LSA Statement would put the brakes on the merry go round for another year. Maybe an NAD M51 would do the trick.
I've had multiple sets of monoblocks, run with both short IC/long SC and long IC/short SC, and the long IC/short SC has sounded better in all cases. In fact, my SCs now are only 18" long, which allows me to use two DIY runs of Cardas 11.5 ga copper litz in twisted pairs as my SCs, and they sound better than the expensive 3 meter SCs I had been using previously.
PS, I sold the expensive SCs and used the proceeds to buy a pair of 8 ga Northcreek inductors for my speakers, which resulted in a very nice improvement in bass clarity and detail. Trading the expensive SCs for the inductors was one of the best moves I've made to improve sound quality to date.
05-03-14: David12
As an aside, people have mentioned short interconnects, long speaker cables, V the opposite, assuming you are using XLR's for long interconnect runs, are there theoretical reasons that mean short or long runs of either, should be better?
Nearly all effects of speaker cables and line-level analog interconnects can be expected to be proportional to length, everything else being equal. One conceivable exception being antenna effects, where certain unpredictable lengths of speaker cable may be more susceptible than others to picking up RFI that may be present and injecting it into the feedback loop of the amplifier, if there is a feedback loop in the particular amplifier.

In general, the lower the impedance of the speaker the more critical speaker cable effects will become, because the inductive reactance (the inductive form of impedance), resistance, and perhaps other less explainable cable factors will become more significant in relation to that lower speaker impedance. Therefore, as speaker impedance decreases keeping the length of speaker cables short becomes increasingly preferable.

And the higher the output impedance of a component which drives a line-level analog interconnect, the more critical that interconnect cable will become, because capacitive reactance (the capacitive form of impedance), and perhaps other less explainable cable factors will become more significant in relation to that higher output impedance. Therefore, as the output impedance of a component driving a line-level analog interconnect increases, keeping the length of that interconnect short becomes increasingly preferable.

Everything else being equal, balanced line-level interfaces will tend to be less susceptible to cable effects than unbalanced interfaces, in part because of reduced susceptibility to ground loop effects.

All of the foregoing applies to situations where none of the parameters of the cables that are involved are extreme. A few speaker cables, on the other hand, have extremely high capacitance per unit length, and different considerations may come into play in those kinds of situations. For example, the performance of some amplifiers may degrade, in some cases even to the point of oscillation, in the presence of extremely high speaker cable capacitance.

Also, all of the foregoing assumes that the goal is minimization of cable effects and colorations. From a subjective standpoint, that assumption will of course not always be applicable.

Best regards, to a fellow Daedalus owner!
-- Al

I hadn't come across any of your posts since those I read on the capacitor thread. I valued your comments and it was good to find your post here.


Simao, I am presently using the LSA Statement amp in its present condition. Earlier it was called the Statement Plus. I also own a pair of BMC M2 monoblocks. Here to fore, I have preferred the M2s over the LSA Statement, but one of my M2s stopped working and I put the stereo Statement in. Putting the Statement on a Star Sound Tech. Apprentice platform added greatly to its performance.

I will soon get the broken M2 back and will of course try them. But there is no question in my mind that the LSA Statement is exception especially for the present price of $4500 new. I would call Exemplar Audio at 425 334-4733 and ask whether you have the current LSA Statement. You will probably need to have the top off to answer their question. If you don't ask about updating it and do it. Also buy the Star Apprentice platform. Forget the mono blocks.
Actually, I was wondering about an external DAC. My digital source is a Rotel 1072 - an acknowledged giant killer, but still the weakest part of my system. I looked into DACs about a year ago and nothing came up that people said the Rotel couldn't best.

Any ideas?

As you might surmise from my system I like Ayon gear. They make some DACs that you might consider.
I could consider them, but my budget won't allow them. In fact, that's what I ran up against last time: for what I can spend on a DAC, I may as well keep the 1072.

Also, @Tbg - I had the LSA Signature which I sent off over the winter to John Tucker to upgrade to the Statement.