Do Mono Block amps provide better sound ??


My question: do monoblock amps, that is, one amp per speaker, provide better sound than one box stereo amp?? I have read that a pair of mono amps provide the best stereo separation, imaging, soundstage depth.... Besides, taking up more floor space or rack space, and the necessity running a longer interconnect if each amp is behind the speaker, is it really worth it?? Thank you Jim
sunnyjim
The question is very vague,there's no definitive answer,it's entirely up to you if it's worth it.S
In a word, yes.

Like all things in this hobby, there are diminishing returns and its a personal decision where the spiraling expenses no longer justify more marginal improvements.

Many manufacturers choose to go with monoblocks when they design with no or fewer constraints. Separate power supplies, and other technical advantages make scientific sense. Shorter speaker cables vs. shorter interconnects is a whole debate in itself, but many will agree that a long run of balanced interconnects and short speaker cables makes a ton of sense.

IMHO, if you have high aspirations you will probably end up with monoblocks at some point. Most of the great systems I've heard had them, and I am not surprised. Cheers,

Spencer
It can go either way depending on many variables.
I suspect that part of the answer lies in the consideration of the amount of power available to provide transient dynamic range and also damping to control the speaker excursion to avoid spurious distortion. The separate power supply in each monoblock will have more current available on demand than a power amp sharing a common supply.
Also, assuming non-parallel cable runs near source components and /or good shielding properties in the cables used, crosstalk between adjacent channels is a non-issue when using the monoblocks.
I took the plunge several months ago and upgraded to the Parasound Halo JC-1 mono amps with the matching Parasound Halo JC-2 preamp. It took my system to a whole new level. If you go mono you will never go back- you will be spoiled forever. There is a reason that every amp manufacturer builds monos for their premier no holds barred designs. Before I took that huge jump in price I bought the very affordably priced Odessy Karatago mono amps at first and was so pleased with the result- that I pulled the trigger and went all in for the Parasond Halo's.
I have had both and it is really a case by case decision. To me the main advantage of monoblocks is that they can weigh considerably less than the two on the same chassis. But having them both on the same chassis simplifies grounding and connection problems; Martin Colloms gives this as the reason he usually prefers stereo over monoblocks. Really it depends more on the amp; right now I am using Meridian 605s, which are mono; CJ 350, which is stereo; and Musical Fidelity, which is stereo with a separate power supply. All are good but different.
My cdp is configured in two boxes, ie, separate power supply. My preamp as well, has an out-board power supply. I choose from 300b or 45 SET amplifiers. Both in a mono-block form. Mono block amplifiers are more expensive to build/buy. If you are adding nice PC's, now you need two. Oh, my speakers are also in a dual box set-up. I hope this helps :)
tho, I have a split personality.. YMMV :)
One of the the biggest advantages of mono amps is that you can run longer interconnects and the shortest possible speaker cables, where the signal loss is significantly higher. It is simple physics.
If I am not mistaken some stereo amps, like Gryphon, and preamps are true dual mono designs.
So generally the answer is definite yes, but you don't want to compare Rowland 8Ti stereo to Audiolab 8000M monos. Rowland will win though Audiolab is very good.
Too many variables to make categorical statements. Separate power supplies CAN make big difference, IF they are of sufficient build quality. Crosstalk is nonexistant, but that benefit can be negated by other sonic factors. It all depends on to what stereo amps the monoblocks are being compared, quality wise and how the monoblocks are configured, within a system. Personally; I like 'em.
In a word, yes

it is like Spencer wrote. Depends on quality of course, but when you try same as mono you will hear the difference. Even with high sensitive Horn Speakers it is a better result (from my experience).
I have always found that a better quality stereo amp is better than 2 average mono amps. When you have superb amp, then mono amps provide just a bit more...this should be the last thing to do...after getting a top of the line Aye, AudioResearch, etc.
I've demoed several same brand stereo /mono amps and have heard no sonic advantage either way . The stereo amps were considerably cheaper so the choice was easy .
I have owned many different high end stereo amps and monoblocks. They have all sounded good to me, but you have to remember each amp has it's own sound. If the monoblocks sound better in your system, and you prefer the set up (length of speaker cables and interconnects, set up off your main rack) and price increase then go for it. I don't think you can go wrong with a good monoblock or stereo amp.
All things being equal, though they rarely ever are...mono blocks offer one important element--better channel separation.
Crosstalk from channel to channel and suspect power supplies are the bane of some Stereo designs, hence 'we're dual mono designs' from people like Gryphon.
If nothing else the separation can give a more satisfying stereo rendition...a notable goal.

Larry
Yes, it is the nature of electrical design that they, assuming equal functioning units, be better.
And red cars go faster than blue ones. Always.
Mezmo

That is why they call it arrest me red :)
The issue of monoblocks vs stereo is more than just cosmetics.

Normally, stereo amplifiers share a common power supply. Some manufacturers will go through the extra effort (and cost) to build separate power supplies in the same box, but if single supplies are used, quite often this is audible as a compromise in the amplifier. Even if common grounds are used there can be problems; anyone who has heard the difference between 3-wire headphones and 4-wire headphones will know exactly what I am talking about! (In case that last comment sounds odd to you, there is such a thing as a 4-wire hookup for headphones, and you can hear the difference in a heartbeat.)

Another benefit of monoblocks is that they allow the amplifier to be placed as close to the speaker as possible. This minimizes the effect of the speaker cable. In all cases, the longer you make the speaker cable, the more artifact it imposes on the sound you get (usually less bass impact and less definition- for example vocals can be made out easier with shorter speaker cables).

Of course, this means you may need longer interconnects. If your equipment rack is between the speakers, this may not be an issue at all. I have my equipment rack by my listening chair, so I run long interconnects (30 feet) but the preamp I use has no trouble driving lengths like that.

While there is always the YMMV factor, and while not all things are equal, you *will* find that the stereo amplifiers that sound better then their monoblock brethren are a distinct minority.
A more useful question might be, if you spend the same money, is an integrated, Pre/Power, Pre Monoblocks, better. Depending on the price and other variables, I suspect it is the integrated. This has to be more cost effective, with one chassis and power chord, against 3. There are several integrated amps I could happily live with forever, including the Pathos Inpol2, I use now.
If cost is no object, then logically it has to be the Pre/monoblock. Is'nt cost an issue for all of us? Perhaps not
Ralph and others,

I am curious about whether the issues surrounding monoblocks also generally apply to low-powered amps. The lowest power Atmasphere amp, the S-30, is the only non-monoblock in the line. Is this just to hit a specific price point or is there less need for the separation that monos provide for low powered amps? I also don't see many SET amps that are monos.
No not really is my opinion but thats merely because my speakers dont need power so much .
The difference of monoblocks to a stereoversion is in the transformersection of the amp ,at least with krell and mark levinson , as far as i have read.
The transformers and caps are (overbuilt ) in the monos .
That usually improves dynamics and control .
So with a very current hungry ("big")speaker i would say go for mono if not a stereoversion woul be sufficient
To David12 ... You bring up an interesting point. I have always felt an integrated amp has sonic advantages over separates if it is done correctly. Unfortunately integrateds do not offer the really high power levels I crave in amplifiers.
Roscoeiii, the size of the amp is not important in this conversation- the benefits are the same. Price certainly has a lot to do with it too. You have an extra chassis, and certainly the need for more power transformers. These can be some of the most expensive parts in the amp.

In the S-30, the filament transformer is shared between the two channels. The B+ transformer has separate windings for each channel. In the driver supply, there are separate power supply legs for each channel. Since the driver is fully differential, it has fairly constant power draw on it, but even so we found it better sounding by having separate legs in the power supply.

Had we built the amp on separate chassis, it would have cost nearly as much as the M-60.
for example the krell evo 302 has a 3000 VA transformer
{http://www.krellonline.com/evolution302.html}

The krell i have at the moment has 4000 VA per channel 8000 VA in total while its only 100 watts more , that was the main reason i bought it over a ML 436 which has much less .
Thats why krell monos are animals .
Oh and 1 thing i forgot a big powersupply has a lot to do with good basperformance ,another reason to go mono.
There is a clear cut difference as to why in theory dual monoblocks have an advantage unless of course the stereo amp is a dual monophonic design. Depending on the circuit design, stereo amps which use the same power supply for both channels is at a disadvantage. Power supplies can be taxed by the circuit it's feeding and this is multiplied by having it power a second channel. Usually, the sonic attributes of a using two monoblocks include a greater sense of depth, better inter-transient silence ( blackness around instruments in space), greater detail within that space, better sense of stage, and increased transient performance. In addition, an improvement might also be heard by powering each monoblock amp from a separate electrical circuit. This offers better isolation from channels
All else being equal, yes.
Thanks to all who have responded!!! I have been schooled in the pro and cons of monoblocks and single stereo amps. Cheers!!!!!!! Jim
I use to believe mono blocks always sounded better .... until I got a McCormack DNA-500.
Serious plus side: You get shorter speaker wire runs (and long cool-man balanced wires are also 2 points extra for YOU), and monos just look cooler. It makes it seem like you MEAN BUSINESS in your cute little reproduced sound hobby, as long as a dog doesn't pee on them (don't ask).
You bet! Much better separation of the two channels. But without a good preamp you could lose some of that separation.
For me going from one spectron to monos is a huge plus
Timtim is right, the McCormacks are the exception. Excellent separation with soundstaging that is almost impossible to beat in a single chassis. Steve McCormack is right up there with the best in ss design in addition to Nelson Pass.
Let's not forget John Curl.
Yes, John Curl without constraints can and does deliver the goods. He is like a fine wine, as time goes on his designs have continued to improve.
If you're going to power just one subwoofer per amp i believe monoblock amplifiers are awesome
Once you go mono blocs you will never go back. Best there is across the board compared to stereo amps. Stereo owners won't want to believe it but there's no comparison. Go mono.

Hi  lissnr  I agree with you 100% I bought  a set of monoblocks from Merrill audio

I got the Veritas they outperform all the major brands that I use to have, from the earlier version of Nelson pass the Treshold  to the present Simaudio Moon.

Juan.

The big question boils down to power supplies. Unless they're using some crazy-expensive active parts in the amp, which may well be the case but in some tube amps, the power supply is the most expensive part of the amp aside from the case. A fully dual power supply in a stereo amp will get you most of the benefits of mono-blocks. On the other hand, you can over build and filter a power supply enough to minimize cross-channel interactions as well. That's the route I'm taking with the one I'm building. I think there's also something positive to be said for two channels in the same box experiencing the same environmental variables together. 
Personally I prefer Mono-block setups and feel they usually (Not ALWAYS) perform better.
atmasphere summed it up well - the problem is the cost

maybe quality Class-D will solve that problem

I am waiting on amp upgrades to see what Mytek does

the ultimate would be a separate amp for each driver, optimized to what that driver needs - again... cost
Short answer, no - it depends on the amp.
I have Clayton Class A monos and a McCormack DNA-2 LAE that was upgraded to the fullest extent possible by Steve McCormack in 2014.  Both do 300/600 wpc into 8/4 ohms, and both sound very good, but a little different, and the power supplies are not the main reason for the differences, IMO.  Both sound better to me than the Ncore NC1200 monos I owned and compared directly against.
Choose your amp based on what sounds good to you, with your speakers, and consider the ergonomics, but maybe not as importantly as how the amps sound.  Only you can make those choices but I would not rule out either mono, or stereo, amps.
If all else were equal, which it never is, I would opt for monos for the reasons stated previously in his thread, but they would have to be very good monos to beat my McCormack, or a CJ 350, or any number of really good stereo amps out there, and the sound would have to suit my tastes and my speakers.
tango

I actually preferred the Sanders Magtech stereo to the Merrill Veritas monos.
A better question to ask is for a given manufacturer, is a pair of their monoblocks better than their equivalent stereo amp. The answer would be yes but at usually much higher cost.
Good question. I have a pair of Martin Logan Summit X's. I tried a McIntosh MC2255 on them, followed by a Mark Levinson 532h, and then a pair of Sanders Monoblock Magtech amps. I liked the Magtech monoblocks the best. Reading the Sanders site and his white papers, the Magtech was designed for use for electrostatic speakers. 
Ok, scenario:

two systems, same speakers (energy rc-70's)
 
McCormack DNA-750's upstairs, Yamaha CD player, sanders preamp

basement: carver 600 sig, b&k pro 10 mc (newer looking one), some old Sherwood 6cd changer.


the monos sound better after being on for over 24 hrs,

carver is absolutely no lsouch by by any means. But when it comes to peaks, and drum solos, I feel the carver has a little more oomph to keep the depth and in your face sound right there, the mccormack's are better at detail and decay, hidden vocals, fadout sounds.  They each have their flaws, and extraordinary attributes. 

In the end, and yes I have mix and switched gear all the time. But the upstairs has a 18 foot vaulted ceiling,making it harder for the little rc-70's to fill the room, while basement has absorbing ceiling tiles, about 8.5 feet, so the sound is more vivid in basement than upstairs.  due to the area size. 

Too many variables to say to say what is best. Use your ears to be sure. 

Mono's have been the rich mans audio, for bragging rights. 
Nothing wrongwithanicekiller stereo amp, there are a shite load of them   

Happy hunting