Monoblocks vs Vertical bi-amping vs Horizontal bia

In attemps to raise the sonic bar of my system, I'm considering my options which includes using a single stereo amp, mono blocks, or 2 stereo amps in either a vertical or horizontal biamped configuration.

Q1: Who out there has experience in how each of the above scenarios differs from one another. If you read Dennis Had's article on vertical biamping at his Cary web site, you'd think that that is the way to go but how does this differ from monoblocks which accomplish the same thing (i.e. one amp used per channel for all frequencies)?

Q2: In which situations do the various amp scenarios best lend themselves (room size, listening levels, speaker sensitivity and ohm rating etc. etc.)?

Thanks for your input.

I am not sure which is which, vertical and horizontal. But, I believe it is best to use two stereo amps one on the HF and the other on the LF.

I think it is much more "sexy" to have monoblocks right next to each speaker. But, I believe it is more efficient for the amp to amplify a narrower range of frequency.

So, one stereo amp will be amping everything above 3k hz (or whatever your speaker is crossed at), and the other amp amping frequencies below that.
I will be trying Verticle amping and from what I have read it is better to have an outboad active crossover and drive each speaker with it's own amplification in order to make the driver's run more efficiently.Dedicated amps is what I would call it.There are those who say that having the same amplification by manfactures is better though so the best thing to do is experiment if you can.

There are alot of post regarding it.but my speaker's designer has talked to me about having an active outboard crossover being the main thing.It makes sense to me also.

Abex, Two questions: (1)Does having an outboard active crossover mean circumventing the one internal to your speaker and if so how is that accomplished? and (2)Isn't vertical biamping just the same as monoblocks - one amp per channel?!? Please clarify the differences as I seem to think that we're being pulled into thinking that monoblocks are the only way to go and I'm suspicious of manufacturer's hidden agendas . . .

OK... Here's how I see it:

Vertical bi-amping would involve 2 stereo amps, not necessarily "stacked", but the left channel of amp 1 would drive the tweeters of speaker 1, and the right channel of amp 1 would drive the tweeters of speaker 2. Horizontal bi-amping would have the left channel of amp 1 driving the tweeter of speaker 1, and the right channel driving the woofer of the same.

I've always biamped horizontal, just in case of anomolies or minor differences in the amplifiers or power supplies/ transformers themselves. This would seem to have less impact on the width and focus of the soundstage if one of the amplifiers wasn't quite "on step" with the other. Of course this means that the amplifier driving your woofers is getting a world-class workout, while the high frequency amp is barely warming up.

While we're on the topic...
I'm currently using a pair of Anthem MCA2's to biamplify my NHT 3.3's (horizontal). I'm considering purchasing an Anthem AMP2se to amplify my mid/tweeters, and would appreciate advice and/or suggestions before I embark on this experiment. If things don't balance out well, I'll most likely purchase a SECOND AMP2se to drive the woofers as well.

Monoblocks x 4 would be the way to go, if cash were no object.

My 2 cents.
Hifiho, there is a little confusion here. Vertical Bi-amping is:
The left amp drives the left speaker, period. Its output stages are split between the speakers high freq. input and the low freq. input.

Horizontal biamping is:
one amps output stages are driving the low freq. on both speakers, the other amp is driving the high freq. on both speakers.

And the active and passive stuff gets way detailed.

Thank You Chucker for clearing that up. Go vertical and use identical amps
I have Snell Type Aii's and I have used both vertical and horizontal bi-amp through the years. I prefer and have used for many years a horizontal set-up with stereo SS on the low freq and a stereo tube on the high freq. I enjoy the snap and drive of the SS on the bass and the tube sound for the highs. I use an external cross-over for the low end. I have been thinking about a mono SS or monoblocks SS on the low freq.
Thanks for the correction, and making the explaination easier. I AM amplified horizontal. My explainations were backwards.

I had my 6 year-old son bouncing on my lap while responding to the post, while at the same time questioning me about how to get his GameCube to switch between 1 and 2 player mode..

I had a bit of a digital dillema, with all of those 1's and 2's bouncing around in my head. Can you say "binary code"? Add to that, caffeine "Jitter". Maybe I should convert to analog....

Happy listening all!
Check the Cary website. Dennis Had's expert analysis on vertical biamping compared to monoblocks is simplified
I dissagree with the "blanket stements" saying that verticle or horizontal, or whatever is the way to go. It depends on the situation largely. I can easily see where, at times, it would be better to possibly do one or the other.
One possiblity for people to STRONLY consider with full range speakers(especially 3 way speakers), is to biamp using an inexpensive(relatively) ss bass amp on the bottom(if covering mostly only bass down bellow 200hz), and whatever amp matches the sonics of your speakers up top!
For instance, Parasound makes SUPERB amps for bass!!! They've always had very very dyamic and authoritative/well controlled bass from these amps, and they come with a volume control to adjust gain as well!...this makes it perfect for biamping in my oppinion.! You can not only level match the two amps this way much easier, but you can take advantage of the excellent bass response from the amp, and let your midrange and top end be handled by a more "finess" amp up, SS or otherwise.
I've done Biamping in the past, and I like this option, functionally and cost wise, very much!
Like Rick Martin, I've also used a tube on top and solid state on bottom. It sounded really great, but I didn't want to keep so much money tied up in amps. So, I've moved along....
Hey guys, thanks for all your feedback. Now that we have our vertical and horizontal biamping definions sorted out, I'd still like to know why one would go with monoblocks vs vertical biamping as each amp is still only pushing one speaker load? I don't believe this question has been fully addressed yet.

Also, If I were to use two identical stereo amps and compare the sound from a vertical biamp config to a horizontal biamp cofig, would there be any differences in sound between the two approaches? Is one likely to sound "better" than the other? Have any of you tried it and if so what'd 'ya discover?

Are there general guidlines or rules of thumb that can be used to indicate situations where one amping scenario is better than another? For example, I have KEF Ref Series 104/2 speakers at 91dB and 4ohm which are a bit soft in the bass so a SS amp would be great while using a SET tube amp for the mids/hi's. In this situation I could see that you might be gettin the best of both worlds rather than using just a SS or tube amp in either a vertical or horizontal config. Thanks for your input.

It would be hard to combine SET with SS I think since SS usully has more wattage than SET.

I was using ARC CA50 (45watts)on HF and Aleph 3 (30 watts) on LF. Theoretically, the HF should be 1.5 db louder, and I definitely can tell the difference. Good thing I am not a bass freak.

Anyways, in most cases, I would think horizontal bi-amping sounds better since each amp has a narrower frequency range to work with. This allows the PSU and whatever filters in the amp to perform more efficienty. In actual practice, you'd have a smoother sound and more realistic transients between HF and LF.
It would be ideal to have Mono amps to drive each driver to each speaker.That being said it is also very expensive using world class amps plus the active crossover.If you have the $$ go for it.
You would be taking the drag out of an amp being used to compensate for 2-3 driver's.

Using an outboard active XO you are bypassing the internal XO within the speaker unless you use that same XO and reconfigure it to add Pots and circuits for adjusting for output.There is no use for it.Wth an Active XO you would using control pots to compensate for how much power is being used for each driver.

Believe me I am new to the equation also,but it is what pro's are going into now.One I read recently does not see buying any speaker over $500 without it having an outboard active XO.

SET's are not ideal amps to use in this configuration as someone had mentioned.I think a Dual Mono amp might suffice instead of Monoblocks to save space and get the same results.

You have to look at the driver efficientcy also.Tweeter's might not need 300watt amps unless you are driving the Mids\Tweeters with the same amp or going the vertical route.

I am in the process of getting my speaker's and will know more then.It shall be intresting.

The thing to remember about which ever way you decide to amp is that you are freeing up watts so that the driver's can be driven more efficiently.Weather going Vert or Horz brings about better sound has alot to do with a number of factor's.

In the final analysis you will be getting better results because you are freeing up the power to be dedicated to individual driver's.

What drives me nuts is what amps I should use to get the best performance.I have 2 B&K's and it might be wise to use the same Manf..I would only use B&K's that have been modified though ,so that brings up cost.I might use a Adcom,McCormick for Bass and B&ks for the Mids and Tweeter's.Class A or A\AB amps that are biasd to run closer to ClassA are the best amps to use in any situation.Monarchy and Black Knight amps are good choices.Then you get into Krell territory which gets to be ultra expensive.Some even use Bryston amps.SO you have to do some research.

KEF I believe is well aware of these things and and give you the option tp add an outboard XO at a later time .So I would consult with them to see what they have had good experience with or other KEF owner's also.I think that's what your speaker's are.

I found this all confusing at first myself and it will be experimentation till I get it all set up,but there are advantages to doing it.I am a purist and this seems a step in that direction from everything I have been told.It was the original designer of my speaker's that got me intrested in this trend and he is very knowledgeable.

Hope that helps!
Hello, I believe Chucker terminalogy of vertical vs. horizontal is reverse. Veritical: tweeters over woofers, one stereo amp to tweeters (L&R) the other stereo amp to woofers(L&R); Horizontal: one stereo amp to left (tweeter & woofer) the other stereo amp to right (tweeter & woofer). IMO
How is all this wired up please? Someone on another thread suggested that I think about bi-amping, as my speakers sound much better when I biwire them from the two sets of terminals on my amp. It is unclear to me though for either vertical or horizontal bi-amping how the wiring is done from the preamp. Can someone please explain?
Forever Hifi--I tend to agree when havinf to save $$.I still need to see what my designer is up to so it's a wait and see game for myself,but I know I will be satisfied with whatever the outcome.

I tend to agree with your assertion that Parasound might be a good amp to use on the bottom end.Also Adcom,McCormickand Aragon are to be looked at closer as the Bass units will be hungry for power and current the Mids & Tweeter's I might beable to get by with far lees power and have them being driven by moderate powerd amps.

Monoblocks. I've heard that bi-amping doesn't really give you any real benefit but it is expensive.
I would think that Biamping would be a bene as you would be dedicating an amp to different driver's freeing up power and giving them resreves to use.
ALL: Thanks for your input thus far. I've re-read Dennis Had's white paper on Vertical bi-amping (which he says has a stereo amp dedicated to one channel) and his argument is: (1) one stereo amp per channel equals 4 channels of amplification, and (2)a 40 watt/ch amp stereo amp in a bi-amp config. will outperform a 80 watt mono amp driving all drivers together. I'll have to trust his judgement as he makes both monoblocks and stereo amps. . .

CONCLUSION: vertical biamping is better than monoblocks. Which still leaves open for discussion vertical vs horizontal biamping. . . It would appear from all your posts that horizontal biamping is more "tricky" in that the amp for the bass across both speaker channels will have to have much more power than what is required for the mids/tweeters so using 2 diff. amps will necessitate a gain attentuator. So all things equal, I'd say that it'd be easier and perhaps less costly to go the vertical biamp route. Your thoughts?
All depends on a few factors as to what might be cheaper.

How much power
Quality of amps
Class Amp A-A\AB-D
XO unit

Horizontal would be the more economical choice.For the Bass you need like 2-3X more power then the Mid & Tweeter's or individually.The Tweeters are the least power consuming driver's.

probably there are more variables that determine cost.I want to go vertical,but I have to wait,see and decide then buy.
I've found that with highly transparent & revealing speakers like my Apogees, vertical bi-amping is the way to go. Mixing'n matching amps between the bass panels and the midrange/tweeter ribbon has always lead to a dynamic discontinuity between the drivers. While it may sound great with sedate music, when things got rough and tumble, one driver would always "stick out" of the presentation relative to the other. This has been true with the various cone'n dome speakers I've had as well (Vandersteen in particular).

The only exception to this in my experience has been with subwoofers. Don't forget adding a powered sub (with the amp and active x-over being either internal or external to the sub)IS active bi-amping. I would also encourage anyone who has a powered sub and using a good active x-over (again internal or external to the sub), to take the low level high pass signal, split it and passively bi-amp with it. By cutting the lows from the midrange/tweeter signal, you're putting considerably less stress on that amplifier channel and the passive x-over that feed the midrange and tweeter. The passive x-over in particular will be much better behaved as the coils and caps will be much less prone to saturation since they are'nt seeing the full range signal anymore. The sonic differences are immediate and obvious, even with less than the best speakers (actually, the difference tends to be more readily noticable with the lower-FI speakers as the x-overs that feed the midranges and tweeters are not that well built and readily appreciate the leaner signal diet).

The above high pass signal stuff is all relative to passivley bi-amping the speakers full range. You still have the signal filtering advantages even if you don't passively bi-amp with the highpass signal from an active sub x-over....It's just that when you do, things go up a couple of more notches over a single amp than you might have expected.