Mono Blocks on a Budget, is it possible?


I’m really struggling with the direction to take my system. I have the following:

Legacy Classics speakers
Aurender N100H media player
Schiit Freya tube pre-amp
Schiit Yggdrasil DAC
Schiit Vidar x2 (in mono block mode)

I will be replacing speakers at some point but the rest of the system I love... except the Vidars. Before them, I had NAD 356BEE that was used for the amp. Very clean and I loved it, except it was only 80 Watts. I decided to upgrade to the Vidars. They cost twice as much From a good manufacturer like Schiit so they must be better right? Not really. They are more noisy than the NAD amp and I’m finding myself less in love with them that I though I would be. I was planning the Vidar purchase for about a year and now that I got them I don’t know which direction to take in replacing them. I want to get cleaner mono amps but don’t want to spend more than $3k MAX for both. The Vidars are 400 Watts into 8ohm, are there any options out there for me that are close to the Vidar specs? I’m open to used but mostly I want the amps to sound almost completely clean with practically no distortion. 
xerotrace
There are some nice options out there.

You could get the Nord Acoustics Hypex nCore monoblocks for just a little over $2,000, they’ll do 400 watts into 8 ohms.

There’s also the Audio Alchemy DPA-1M, it uses the older Hypex UcD amps, $4,000/pair MSRP retail, but you can find them for $3,000 or less pre-owned.
Thanks those are both great options I’ll do a little digging on them. Much appreciated!
Not many lovers of Emotiva here but their monos are A/B, powerful and quiet. Great return policy, under your budget. 
I don’t know why but I forgot about Emotiva, great option thanks!
If you feel like getting your feet wet in Class D, and a little DIY at the same time, how about a pair of nCore amplifiers?

https://www.hypexshop.com/

I was going to recommend the ICEpower 250 ASPs but they seem to have left ebay.

Best,

E
Yeah the stellar 700 is a good option. I think I wanted class AB at the time I was looking into amps so I skipped over these guys. I wonder how big of a difference a class AB vs a class D from a good audio company will make. I also wonder how important it is for the power to double moving from 8ohm to 4ohm. Looks like I have some research to do.
Thanks Erik, the Hypex is a great option as well. I remember new record day making a video on it. Great way to save some money!
With the exchange rate the Nord completed monoblocks aren't much more than the Hypex DIY models, and you get the NC500 vs the NC400, though if you like the DIY aspect the Hypex monoblocks still have a lot to offer. 

A couple of other great Class D options:

D-Sonic M3a-600Ms - 600wpc into 8ohms, 1,000wpc into 4ohms, use Pascal modules which are very highly regarded, and only $1,175 each.

The Digital Amplifier Company (Cherry Amps) Inline Maraschinos with the King 60v power supply just hit your top of range budget at $3,100/pair, and don't put out quite as much power (rated at 200wpc into 8 ohms) but they double into 4ohm and again into 2ohms and are stable with sub-ohm loads if you ever buy speakers that demand that.  
NAD makes some super gear; I got my girlfriend an 80 Watts/ch NAD C368 receiver (also class D), and it sounds great - very musical! Schiit on the other hand, I think tends to be overhyped. For you budget I think you’d be way better off finding the right stereo amp pairing. NAD makes the higher-end M22 (now in a 2nd revision, which should be right around your budget) which I’d love to hear, and of course there are plenty of awesome Hypex nCore options out there.

Monoblocks are great for the super high-end, when you need to break up that 200+ lbs stereo amp into two more manageable/moveable chunks, and your silver speaker cables run $1k+ a foot, etc. Until then, you're largely paying for an extra chassis.
@mulveling

A pair of Benchmark AHB2 amps (380 watts mono) are 8" x 11" x 3" each and weigh about 10 lbs. They are also the quietest amps you are likely to find (check the specs). They are NOT class D, Unfortunately, these are $3K new and about $2K used (if you can find them),

I have a single unit in my office system (100 watts in stereo).
Get a Crown XLS 1502. 500 + watts @ 4 ohms! $348!!! Even better would be a second one so you could biamp your Legacy's using the XLS's onboard crossover! The FUTURE of power amps has arrived!!! $348!!!
Bel Canto monoblocks are regular available at your budget and well under used right here and ebay.
Very quiet black background, plenty of punch and made here in the usa

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis8i8df-bel-canto-design-ref-1000-silver-solid-state

Just as one example

Or they also have plenty of stereo offerings if want to stay just in one chassis
Also a lot of their older units like the 500m can be had much much less cash and still very respectable amps with great customer service which counts for a lot too
Check out Odyssey Audio. These have enough power to drive just about any speaker you choose!
http://www.odysseyaudio.com/products-stratos-mono.html
For sound quality versus pure wattage these are nice class A monos for cheap:

http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649362122-monarchy-audio-sm70/
Wow some very good options. Thanks for all the input, I just wish I could hear all these to know which sounds best to my ears. That’s always the problem with this hobby it is often hard to test drive.
O.P. GREAT post lots of good leads and suggestions. Similarly, anyone using low priced Monos for 1.7 Maggie’s. I’m using a fresh re-capped and updated Krell KAV-250a, it sounds very good about 500W @ 4ohms.
Krell KAV250 is good, I used one for 2 years but remember it is really an av amp, hence the designation.
Not as good as ksa series
But still it is cheap power for sure!
Like $1200 used or so.
Crown XLS REALLY kicks S!
Since you already like the NAD house sound,  the M22v2 seems right up your Alley. 

Good luck! 🤞
Odessey Audio. Call Klaus, he’ll ask about music and speakers and then make suggestions. 

Upgradeable and a 20 year warranty. 

Odysseyaudio.com

this is the correct path.



Look into Red Dragon Audio M1000 mkii. They are 550w into 8ohms and 1100 into 4ohm and go for just over $2000 apair new. I heard them being play with some Spatial Audio M4's and the sound was fabulous. I was looking to buy Spatial M4's to replace my Magnepan MMG's. The M1000's are very dynamic and had great resolution.
@mastercylinder Klaus at Odyssey runs 1.7’s I believe. Call him about spec’ing out an amp.
If getting the best possible sound within a strict budget is the priority, I don't think monoblocks are the best way to go.  Dollar for dollar, better quality will be obtained by eliminating the extra expense of monoblocks.
I second the Emotiva suggestion. It is well priced gear that performs above its class. Also very quiet. 
I also owned emotiva mono, stereo and 5 channel amps.
All I will say on that is you really do get what you pay for.
I swapped out the emotiva for the krell kav250 for stereo and the multichannel plus 2 mono s for a tiny nuforce 8 channel class d amp.
In both instances the emotiva were well outclassed.
Cheap bang for the buck but not quality bang for the buck imho
If you want great sound with monos, a used pair of Nuforce Ref 9 V3 SE monos will set you back about $1400 ($5200 new). I bought a pair and after talking to many owners of Nuforce and Nuprime amps, got to talking with TDSS’s Bob Smith. After our talks, Bob convinced me that the Level 3 mods would be all I could ever want in amps. The Ref 9’s are 175 watts/ch into 8 ohms. The level 3 mods make they play like they are 250 watts/ch. All the sound parameters are improved after the upgrades and I loved the sound of the Ref 9’s prior to that. You could get the Ref 9’s now and save up for the TDSS upgrades for later. I’ve taken these amps to 5 different systems with totally different speakers. In all 5, the sound became present, more dynamic, with deep, articulate bass, and mids and highs to die for. The volume just scales to any volume level with NO overload at all. The sound is never harsh, but has great definition. The level 3 upgrades cost $2400 for the 2 amps total. So for $3800, you have an absolute SOTA mono amps that will drive most any speaker to great joy and live sound. If the extra $2400 is too much, TDSS has 2 lower cost upgrades that still are noticeably better than the already very good Ref 9’s in stock form.  If you did go for the level 3 upgrades, you will NEVER want for a better amp again.

IMO at your price level you’re probably better off getting a good stereo amp rather than paying more for two boxes. And why are you trying to match the specs of the Vidars? They don’t sound good to you, and you don’t need anywhere near 400W to drive your speakers anyway.  BTW, I wouldn't recommend Emotiva amps for your speakers.  Impedance for the Classics is stated to be 4 Ohms, which means they likely dip below that at some point in the frequency spectrum, and Emotiva recommends a 4 Ohm minimum for their amps.  There's a reason amps with robust power supplies cost more. 

From what you say you’re looking for, the best amp by far I’ve heard in my system is the Liberty Audio B2B-100 from the maker of the highly-regarded PBN amps. Crystal clear, clean, and dynamic with a dead silent backdrop in which performers emerge in a 3D sonic panorama, especially in high-bias mode. Sold direct for $2500, and if I’m you I’d see about a brief trial period if possible. Sounds like it might be just what you’re looking for.

Short of that, there’s a McCormack DNA 250 available here now for $2k that’s also very transparent and can be upgraded in the future as funds allow. If for some reason you’re hell bent on monoblocks there’s a pair of Bryston 7B STs also available here for $2k. BTW, all these amps are capable of driving lower-impedance loads and should have plenty of power to drive your speakers. Hope this helps and best of luck.

Odyssey is a great option.  I believe them to be a great product for reasonable pricing.
Two good things about buying the Stellar monoblocks from PS Audio

1. They will knock up to 900 dollars off the ($3K) price if you trade in a used component.  They will credit you with the original MSRP, even if that's not what you paid for the item and is substantially more than what you could sell it for.  This can make for a substantial discount (plus no selling hassle).

2.  You have 30 days to listen to the amps and decide if you want to keep them or send them back.

I haven't had mine long enough to make a firm judgment (just a few days), but so far they are sounding pretty damn great. 
Getting two Nuprime STA 9's for 649 new each might fit the bill and they have audition period. I have Nuforce/Nuprime Ref 20 and had the Ref 9V3se mention in previous post, both are terrific, as well as Bob Smith's mods
One aspect of monoblocks not mentioned: Channel separation. 

In truth, not sure how much this matters. Some great sounding stereo amplifiers score rather poorly (-67 dB or more). 

But this is an advantage. The theoretically near perfect isolation of signals from one channel to any other. 

Best,

E
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There are a couple pairs of Herron monos for sale right now on Agon. Worth a look. 
Thanks everyone for some really great points and suggestions!!! I have so much more to go on than I had and I’m really grateful for that! 

@Chazzz007 good point I do like the sound of the NAD but I was hoping for an upgrade to the sound and possibly a little more power in the bottom end. The M22v2 might fit that description, worth a look

@soix you might be right about going for one box in place of two. I was looking for specs similar to Vidar to make my purchase future proof. The last component i plan to update will be the speakers which is next after the amps (probably should have been first but that’s another story lol). I want to make sure I have enough power and head room to push anything I need to

@tcatch I thought about that angle with PS as well. I watch Paul on YouTube and generally like the company. That would also solve the problem of what to do with my current amps. I just need to take a listen to those guys and the trial might be a good way.

my biggest struggle right now is to decide if class D is the way that I want to go (generally I was looking for AB rather than D). At my budget I might not have a choice.
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Well I vote for Klaus 's Odyssey and a bit out of your range would be the tube amp by QuickSilver Audio the Mono 120 they go for about $ 3995
I own  a Custom built Odyssey Kismet  stereo with Hyper caps that I used with Magnipan 1.7i I recently acquired a Pair of New Daedalus Poseidon high efficiency speakers  and purchased  QuickSilver Mid Mono 60 watt amps, for  $ 2K that just sound wonder full with the Poseidon
Tomorrow I'm going to go pick up a pair of the Crown XLS 1502's and try them vertical bi-amped with my Nautilus 801's that I picked up last weekend.  My Schiit Saga is supposed to be delivered tomorrow.  My Schiit Vidar is supposed to arrive on Saturday. 

I'm currently running my Meridian Explorer directly into my Velodyne ULD-15 then to my Yamaha M-85 (not optimal.)  Something in the ULD-15 processing or just adding the sub makes the system sound OKish right now.  I'm looking forward to the pre-amp getting here and I expect to remove the sub from the system.  It's a band aide at the moment.  

So I'll have four amplifiers to experiment with this weekend.  I can also try the Crown XLS 1502's in bridged mode with jumpers and compare that to bi-amped.  I like that the 1502's have a Y-mode so I only have to run one pair of RCA's from the pre amp to the amps.  That's incredibly helpful.

I have a Audioquest headphone->RCA cable, Transparent Audio Labs Musiclink Plus RCAs and an Anticable 2.2 RCA on order.  Assuming that I wind up with a pair of amps, I intend to order 3' Anticables speaker cables (probably 3.1s) for bi-amping.  It's a pretty efficient use of cables, I think.  Less than $500 total cable cost if they sound good is excellent.

I suspect I'll wind up trying a Schiit DAC in the future. 

This thread seems like a better place to post all of this information rather than my own thread since it will be comparing several of the things mentioned in this thread.  And this thread got me looking at the Crown amps.  They're available for pickup at Guitar Center according to their website and they should be able to price match to $349.  They even have a 14 day return policy if I decide that some combination of the Schiit amp or my Yamaha is better.

Should be a fun weekend!
Get two stereo amps and bridge them to mono 
I really like my Outlaw Audio M2200 monoblocks, only $379 each.
@ron1319 wow 801s are good speakers. When you get your Vidar please post your thoughts. Even with all my other equipment off I get a mechanical hum from both of them. The left one is a little worse than the right one but still. I’m using the same outlet etc as I did with the NAD but the noise floor seems higher unfortunately. 

I have a Yggy, it is probably my favorite past of my system next to my aurender which I absolutely love!

great idea with the crowns- I have a guitar center locally as well so I might be able to try them out before I commit to them. I think they are made by Harmon which invests a lot of $ into R&D.
If your new speakers can sing with 40-50 WPC the Quicksilver Audio Mid-Monos can be purchased for a low price, new or used....
+1 Quicksilver. I can also recommend the Mini-mite monoblocks for $1200 @ ~25 wpc. They sound very good if speakers are > 92dB/1m/1w and don't drop much below 6 ohms across the Hz range.
The QS Mini-mite is not produced anymore. You can’t beat the Mid-monos if you are looking for tube amps!
PCconnexion has the Burson Timekeeper on sale for $845 each (original MSRP $2600 each). A/AB operation, 240 watts @ 8ohm, unbelievably clean & pure. I am using them with Dynaudio Special 40s and it's like having a personal concert in my listening room every night.

You could get the Nord Acoustics Hypex nCore monoblocks for just a little over $2,000, they’ll do 400 watts into 8 ohms.


I see no reason to get "mono-blocks" if you're doing class D as literally the only difference is two power cords vs. one. I suppose that's another opportunity to waste $300-$1000 x 2 on expensive "directional" power cables, but it'd be a total waste. 

So-called dual-mono is the way to go with Class D - probably Class A and Class AB as well providing your power cable is sufficient to convey enough electrons and your power supplies are each capable of running and fitting in the same box with the two discrete L-R amplifiers. 


I see no reason to get "mono-blocks" if you're doing class D as literally the only difference is two power cords vs. one. I suppose that's another opportunity to waste $300-$1000 x 2 on expensive "directional" power cables, but it'd be a total waste.

Depends on the amplifier. To be a true dual mono, requires splitting of the power supplies at the incoming AC power. If you share a power supply there is increased capacity for crosstalk, which is readily visible in crosstalk measurements (which I guess Stereophile no longer will do). Lots of the ICEpower modules for instance com in powered (AS) and non powered (A) so you can create whatever kind of amplifier you wish. 

Not all Class-D have dual power supplies, so therefore, yes, there is some difference possible. 

Can you hear it? I don't know. :) 

But it's more than just about power cords. 

Best,


E