Are Monoblock s worth it?

Would like your collective Wisdom on the subject of Monoblocks. I have a single Odyssey Stratos and the cost to convert to Mono's are not that much additional. However, I do not play my existing system at very high levels and almost never turn the volume beyond half-way (normally around 11:00). Is this an advisable upgrade? I know that I theoretically should have more dynamic headroom, but I do not know how this translates into real world listening.


Maggie SMGa (soon to be Newform R645's in next week or so)
Morrison Elad pre-amp
Cambridge Audio CD500-SE

Musical taste - 50% Classical Symphonic, 30% Classical instrumental and 20% rock/pop
Dynamic headroom! Interesting words. The stratos is a good amp according to what I read, but I have not heard it.

Do you currently find that when listening to large scale orchestral passages that the instruments all get jumbled together instead of remaining in their places in your soundstage? The monos may help alleviate that congestion.

This is a hard thing to describe, but I call it "the space between instruments", where all are distinct and easily identified in the mix.

I hope this poor scribe may have helped shed a little light for you!

I went from the stereo stratos to the monos and the difference it made with my Sound Lab Auras was incredible. The sound stage opened up and suddenly there was a lot more detail. This all happened before they were even broke in.

My Auras on the monos also put out so much more bass that I sold my sub that I had been using before, and they do all of this at low or high listening levels. It is well worth the extra money.
I have everything monoblocs after my preamp (and if I could afford a JP200, that would be monos too!), both amps and external crossovers. In addition to the benefits of the dedicated power supplies giving an ease to dynamics, the lack of crosstalk between the channels at the amplifier end leads to better stereo separation and imaging, and probably is part of the lack of congestion and more open soundstage that Paul and Tthomas refer to. In addition, although you may not listen loud, I think you may be able to notice the improvement in dynamics on the micro level even at low volumes. If you can afford it and have the space, my view is that it would be a worthwhile improvement.
Can you say / hear 3D? It will offer more of a defined soundstage. I have mono VAC 160's and the difference over my ss Classe amp was well worth the investment.
hi sibelius,

as an aside, the position of yer preamps' wolume pot may not be indicitave of anyting, other than the gain of the preamp. i've *never* had my preamp past 11:00 for winyl, never past 10:30 for digital or tuna - i'd be blown outta the room! and, my room is ~25x38. my preamp has lotsa gain - supposedly enuff to drive many speakers w/*no* amps at all... ;~)

re: your situation, john meyer of newform, sez the r645's are better w/an outboard active x-over, bypassing the passive x-over. if it were me, i'd get a pair of the stratos stereo amps w/the upgraded caps, & run 'em in a wertically-biamped mode.

i actually *almost* bought this exact set-up from klaus cuz i was looking w/o success for an electrocompaniet aw75 to match the one i owned, so i could run these in this exact fashion, (*or* run 'em mono, as they can run either way.) yust before i took the plunge, however, i found a great deal on a pair of aw60's, so i got them instead, as i already knew & liked the electro amps. different amps, but exact same idea. i have great results running my bi-ampable speakers w/the electrocompaniet amps, wertically bi-amped.

while ewe won't get *all* of the power benefit of the mono's - the total power w/mono's is awailable to *any* driver - yule still have more power than running yust the one stereo amp, & yule still have a complete separate amp for each channel. plus, ewe get the added benefit of being able to have a true bi-amped set-up, w/one channel for the low-pass, the other channel for the hi-pass. i'd do this w/any bi-ampable speaker, but w/the r645's being able to use active x-overs, there's even *more* added benefit, imho. of course, if ewe can afford *four* stratos monoblocs... ;~)

good luck, doug s.

ps - i'd like to hear your reaction to the newforms - i'm strongly considering taking the plunge...

One advantage as yet unmentioned is shorter speaker cable lengths which can have a dramatic effect!
Now that I've experienced monoblocks, I'll never use anything else. I changed from 7' cables to 18" cables, same brand, and credit that with much of the improvement. Without trying to "talk the talk" about dynamic headroom and so on, I simply felt that the music was a lot closer to me. I could sort out instruments and focus on the ones on one side if I wanted to, even when they were playing quietly. Maybe that's a "no congestion" improvement. If there's any way for you to try it out, I bet you won't want to go back.
yes, shortened speaker cables is important - i *gnu* i forgot someting.... ;~)

doug s.

From your "handle" listen to the finale of the Sibelius symphonies 2 and 5 with monoblocks and you will not go back.
How about adding Sibelius' 3rd? Try Barbirolli.
Excellent choice, Gregm. On the shortened lengths of speaker cable, check out the current thread on lengths of speaker cables with monoblocs, there are some practical reasons to consider not going too short on the cables.
I experienced a "backwards step" when moving from a single less expensive stereo amp to far more expensive monoblocks. To top this off, i even tried going to more expensive yet 1/4 the length speaker cables ( same manufacturer and design ). When that didn't seem to help, i then tried using two of the same stereo amps that i was initially using set up as remotely situated monoblocks. No better. I'm about to try some new interconnects from preamp to amps, so i'm hoping this will help.

There are MANY technical reasons why shorter interconnects and longer speaker cables are the "technically most correct" method. I stated this a LONG time ago on AA and Jon Risch and others disagreed with me. Jon has since changed his stance on the subject. He now agrees that it is best to preserve the low level signal as best possible. As such, long interconnects can degrade the sonics and detail of a signal consisting of millivolt levels moreso than what a slightly longer run of speaker cable can do to a signal of infinitely higher power. This is primarily due to the low level signal suffering decay due to line loss, dielectric absorption, greater susceptability to RFI / EMI, etc... On top of this, most speakers are already quite reactive and already loaded with wires, inductors, caps, etc... What difference is adding a comparably short amount of wire going to make between the amp and speaker interface when there is already dozens and dozens of wire INSIDE the speaker to begin with ???

So far, my personal results have verified my previous statements about this subject. It has only cost me THOUSANDS of dollars to verify what i already new according to "theory".

I have yet to try sticking the mono-blocks back into the rack and going back to short interconnects / long speaker wire. If putting in the new long interconnects to feed the remotely situated power amps doesn't give me what i'm looking for, that's the next step.

I really DO think that monoblocks have advantages in terms of channel seperation and TYPICALLY increased power supplies, etc... but the way that they are implemented into our systems can negate most of the benefits.

Like the rest of you, i'm trying to work the bugs out of this system as i go along. Sean
Sean, interesting and logical: allow for length where the signal is strongest. The trick then is to keep the same IC & speaker cable and try placing the monos around the stereo's old whereabouts. Not easy, but feasible.
However, isn't there something about low voltage signals meeting w/ less resistance along the conductor? (Pls excuse the imprecise vocab).
Thank you, rcprince!
I've used a SL RG1 which is similiar to the Strato and currently using SL RG4 monobloc. With monobloc, I do get more power, better imaging, can use shorter speaker cable, etc. But, the biggest improvement though, is that each note just seems to flow more free and easier. It's more apparent when listening to dynamic instruments.

If you can afford it, go for the mono bloc. Otherwise, I would probably replace it with a better stereo amp such as RG1, as it might cost less.
The only time "reduced" signal levels are "better" than high signal levels in terms of conductivity is when the wire has reached a point of saturation. At this point, the wire can't pass enough current and a voltage drop occurs. Otherwise, higher signal levels would always be more desirable. This is the "simple & understandable" version.

Think about our signal using this approach. The more signal that you have, the more that you can afford to "lose along the way". Since the vast majority of the "big" signal still makes it through unhampered, the results will be less noticeable.

On the other hand, if we have only a small amount of signal and some of that is "lost" for one reason or another, the results would be far more noticeable. This would be due to the fact that we had little ( if any ) to spare to begin with.

The same analogy can be followed all the way through the audio chain. If the source component does not reveal ALL of the recording to begin with, the other components CAN'T make up for it. They can only contribute their own losses or colourations to the signal. BUT, if the source does reveal everything, the BEST that the other components could do would be to preserve that same signal and amplify it. Since we WILL have signal degradation due to line loss and impedance mismatches coming out of any source component, it is best to preserve the "precious" low level signal as best possible and then take the losses once it is at a level of abundance coming out of the amplifier. Make sense ??? Sean
Thanks for all the great feedback!

As ususal with this forum, an initial question brings out an furthur inquiry.

It seems, from all the above, that 2 AMP's will definately have a beneficial impact. My new question is are there any advantages in going to a vertically BI-AMPed model (using 2 stereo AMP's) instead of just with a dedicated Mono block configuration?

It will cost me the same $'s to do both. The only difference is I would need to send my existing Amp in to be reconfigured for Mono's while I could just order a new Stereo Odyssey to Vertical Biamp.
I've used a SL RG1 which is similiar to the Strato and currently using SL RG4 monobloc. With monobloc, I do get more power, better imaging, can use shorter speaker cable, etc. But, the biggest improvement though, is that each note just seems to flow more free and easier. It's more apparent when listening to dynamic instruments.

If you can afford it, go for the mono bloc. Otherwise, I would probably replace it with a better stereo amp such as RG1, as it might cost less.
I heard the best way is to use two stereo amps (with same power rating) and connecting them in vertical bi-amp. This method was suggested to me by using two Sonic Frontier power 2 instead of a pair of power 3. May be someone can give more informations on this subject.
sibelius, re-read the last paragraph of my prewious post for the benefits of wertically bi-amping, vs running monoblocs... ;~) basically, if ya got enuff power for yer low-pass driver/s from one channel of a stereo amp, i tink wertically bi-amping will give better results than monoblocs. ask klaus about the trade-offs, he'll be happy to discuss w/ewe...

doug s.

A while back I was at a friends and we had the opportunity to use a second Aragon 8008BB. One was left channel and the other right using only one channel in each amp. The resulting stagewas bigger and more focused. The music flowed with ease. Based on this I would assume it could get better by using two amps an bi-amping. With one channel delivering the lower frequency current and the high frequency current in the 'other' channel there would be less opportunity of intermodulation distortion being produced. I have heard improvements in bi-wiring and a wire is probably more linear than an amplifier at this level of current and voltage.
sqjudge, i assume that your friend's speakers didn't allow for biamping, but only had a single pair of binding posts?

doug s.

Any experiences regarding monoblocks on sub woofers (Kinergetics SW800 towers)? My main amp is dual mono (tubes), the only shared component is the negative feedback control. The manufacturer has actually sawed these puppies in half to prove that they perform the same whether in one chasis or two. I agree with all of the superlatives thrown at mono amps -- just wonderin whether they make as much of a difference on subs. Thanks.
Sedond - thanks for the clarification. I will probably give Klaus a call on Monday. It looks like the "hi-fi bug" has claimed another fool hardy victim in search for the holy grail of audible nirvana.
Sedond you are correct the speaker can not be bi-amped