Any help around here from the experts :)
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I am extremely pleased with the results achieved when I upgraded my nice multichannel amp theater to a mono block layout up front (and a matching stereo amp in the rear). It will help to have a dedicated power circuit for every amp in the room. I also chose to run the HT processor into a pre-amp, so that those mono beauties can double as a pure two channel system. A full range (LARGE) center channel is required to really pull all this off. A sub like the models from REL can help with the center channel size issue.
There are many high quality mono blocks available today. I assume that you are looking for solid state if the application is HT. Tube life expectancy doesn't seem to lend itself to HT setups, not that there aren't guys doing just that.
I was impressed with the Classe CAM350 when I auditioned it a few years back. Classe has since introduced the smaller CAM250. Classe may be in the middle of a model line revamp. Theta Digital also has several mono's (the Citadel and Intrepid i think???). McIntosh has recently come out with a MC501 to favorable review. Earlier McIntosh models are probably also available. Mark Levinson also has a few models (although used is probably the only way to get them for the moment...). Further down the line are amps from Bryston, Parasound (Halo), Marantz, and Integra.
I recommend listening to the Dynaudio Evidence Temptation. This is primarily because they do have a large center channel for them. I belive that a large full range center channel is critical for an over the top experience. I use a Dunlavy HRCC (bascially a squished SC-IVa), but alas Dunlavy was aquired by a third party, which subsequently closed the doors. I did find the Dynaudio's a touch bright when pushed, but I didn't have full control of the demo.
After AC power, the other two practical matters to consider in a mono block theater are HVAC (well ok, just cooling) and structural engineering. All these speakers and amps and video in close proximity will exceed 125lbs/ft2, and thus may require a little extra thought (unless you are on a slab on the ground floor).
I also in the past have had good results with Classe, & really like the sound of Canadian manufacturers. I am happily running Bryston now, I however hope to audition a pair of Sim Audio W-10's within a week, the Pass X600 will be auditioned later in the year. I can get back with you, & share my thoughts on all after my evaluation concludes.
I am using 0.5 meter speaker cables from each mono block to each speaker up front. This does restrict where the amp can be placed in releation to the speaker. It also means that moving speakers around for placement is limited to small incremental moves, which is really the idea anyway.
With such short speaker cables, long interconnects are implied. I recommend using balanced XLR interconnects and a fully balanced pre or prePro, and fully balanced amps too.
Another mono block suggestion is the Boulder 1050. But htey aren't inexpensive.
I went through a similar search, and ended up buying a pair of Theta Digital Enterprises. I couldn't be happier. They are vey musical, and have incredible soundstage depth and width. The instrument separation is the best I have heard, and all instruments/voices are presented in a very natural, convincing manner. For the rest of your system, you could configure a Dreadnaught II as necessary, and have closely matching amplification at a fairly reasonable price.
probably more suggestions than your interested in! :)
i used surface wiring for all the amps and speakers. where "surface wiring" means no in wall interconnects and no in wall speaker cables. just cables on the floor. it keeps the runs a lot shorter, and allows audiophile quality cables for every single connection.
i used a stereo amp for the rear channels, no benefit to mono's back there.
after the amps, I used a separate power circuit for the front end gear, feeding a PS Audio P600, and then all the front end is powered off that. the video has a separate circuit as well.
don't under estimate the cooling, especially if you select pure Class A amps. a cooling budget of 2-5 tons, depending on gear, is not unreasonable.
what is reasable for amps depends on room volume. if you don't have the cubic feet, save money, and don't buy the watts. if you do have the cubic feet, don't hold back.
that depends on your budget. large high quality mono's can be pricy (ok, are pricey). my dedicated 2 channel rig, doubles as a theater, or vice versa.
The Boulder 2050's are one of the best SS mono's available (IMO, the best). I prefer their sound to the large Halcro's (i didn't think it was close). The Boulder 1050's shouldn't be far behind (i have only ever listened to the 1060 stereo version). Classe CAM350's, MAC501's, 401's, 301's (not sure which of MAC products are still current). I have never listened to the Pass amps, but they seem to be well thought of in the various press/forums. Even the high end Parasound Halo JC-1's have been well received (but i haven't heard them). I have never demo'ed the Krell equipment. I really liked the ML 33's, but that was too long ago to be a good data point. I like what I have heard of the Theta Digital mono's (and Dreadnaught) as well. That's an "all over the map" list.
It is important to have "balance" in the system. If the amps are significantly superior to all else, you may not hear all of the dollars you spent on them. Of course, you could slowly upgrade everything else in the system over time as well. I'm kind of proponent of really blowing the budget once, getting what you want/need/can afford, and being done with it for a while.
Amps that run is pure class A mode, will in general, sound better than A-AB amps, but will throw off lots more heat. Pure Class A amps only make sense IMO if the system will also be a 2 channel setup for critical listening. If not, then I would lean more towards a less expensive A-AB amp, and save on the cooling budget. Depends on where you live and whether AC is a way of life, or an added expense. In the northeast USA, pure Class A amps are not a problem, as the heating season and hvac neutral season is far longer than the usually short (2 month) cooling season (when we are outside playing anyway).