I ran a pair of Rotel 980s (very similar to the 981) bridged in mono for a while, and then switched back to a single 980. My speakers are B&W CDM7NT, and I was using Belden 89259 cross connected speaker cables. Whereas the bridged double amp setup had much more power and tighter bass, it sounded flat and sterile to me. I felt that the single stereo version of the 980 sounded more musical. By this I mean it had more depth and warmth, and a more distinct soundstage. I'm currently auditioning other amps to give me what I want--tight "umph" plus a detailed soundstage. I picked up a Rotel 990, but that isn't cutting it either--it's got more headroom power and bass, but sounds loose and flabby--it is lacking in the refined detail that the 980 can convey. I think I'm just going to have to spend a bunch of cash and go up a big notch. I'm considering a McCormack DNA 1 modded to the A level, but that'll be about $2000--quite a step up from a $300 980, or $600 990! Any suggestions?
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