Sure. Not your typical ss amp. It is a hybrid, after all, but these things image and layer like a really good tube amp. I would not be able to tell the difference between them and an excellent tube amp from the soundstaging. The Monarchys make dense, rounded, well defined images that have tremendous depth and width. They have a smooth, rich midrange that has that luminosity that I have only heard with tubes up until now. Of course, the bass is better than tubes....well defined, tighter, more extended. The only area that I think the Monarchys give ground to the best tube amps is in smoothness and liquidity. Seems like a mixed bag with ss amps in this area. If you try to get the smoothness and liquidity of tubes in a ss amps (like the Parasound JC-1 or Plinius SA102 do), some think that the amp sounds "too polite".
The Monarchys are more dynamic than that, and allow you to hear the subtle volumes changes in a recording. They are very accurate in their portrayal of these changes. For example, I have a CD by Keola Beamer, a singer from Hawaii. There is a passage in the beginning of track 3(Shells)where a solo guitar is playing, and the volume gets louder as it plays. With most amps I've owned, all of them much more expensive than the Monarchys, this volume change is portrayed with the guitar image moving forward and to the left. I never could figure out why a musician would move that way while playing. With the Monarchys, the musician stays in the same place, but the volume gets louder. Now it makes sense. Someone in the recording studio turned up the mic volume while the musician was playing for whatever reason. It is reflected properly with the Monarchys, and just sounds right.
Comparing it to the best ss amps I've heard, I would say that the Monarchys may give up a little in transparency, but not much. They are highly detailed, with realistic attack and decay. As far as tonality, they are probably more towards rich, lush mids than lean and mean. This could be changed by substituting the single 6922 input tube for an NOS tube, depending on your preferences. I would recommend a Siemans CCA for transparency, detail, dynamics and bass control. Mullards would be good for a more euphonic midrange. I would also use Top Hat tube dampers to eliminate some of the microphonics of the input tube and make these amps even more silent and transparent. Virtual Dynamics Nite power cords really make these amps sing.
I plan to sell these after I buy another amp, but not because I am dissatisfied with them. Far from it. Call it arrogance, stupidity, just plain bad economics, whatever...but I can't see keeping a really expensive digital front end in front of these sub $2000. amps.I only paid $1800. for them. The retail is $4000., but Monarchy has some CES 2003 show demos they are selling factory direct for $1800. As great as they sound, I want something more expensive to match my front-end gear. I know it sounds stupid, but it just seems like such a mismatch to have the latest DCS front end ($24,000 retail)attached to $1800. Monarchy amps (high-end at low cost is their slogan). But it doesn't SOUND like a mismatch.
I bought these things after reading a Bound For Sound review on them. After owning them, I would say that the review is very accurate. I am very impressed with them, and would encourage anyone in this price range to give these things a try. They were called "a steal" at $4000. by Martin De Wulf in Bound For Sound. What would he call them if knew he could get them for $1800? In the meantime, I keep increasing my amplifier budget because I know it's going to take a lot more money to make a significant improvement over these guys.