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REVIEW: Monarchy Audio SM-70 Amplifier (SS) Review by panhead at Audio Asylum

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I am running a single SM-70 in a biamped configuration from 90 Hz and up driving a pair of Magnepan MMGs. Most of my observations are in this mode. However, I did run the MMGs full range with this amp to try to get a taste of the bottom end capabilities as well as driving my two 12-inch subs with this amp.

My initial impressions were incredible. For those of you that think all amps sound the same, this amp will change your mind fast. Right out of the box this amp was amazingly transparent, almost shockingly transparent. It sounds a lot like the Pass amps that I have borrowed in my system. It was like removing a large curtain that was previously between me and my beloved (modified) MMGs. These amps resolve everything you throw at them. I have heard them described as very tube-like and I really don't hear this. I have had VTL amps in this exact system. Tubes sound sluggish and mushy compared to this amp. However, it has NONE of the transistor nasties that most of us are used to hearing. It has a bell-like clarity that is addictive when you hear it. How does this amp do all this? I would guess that it is the combination of good design with pure class A and the use of MOSFET outputs coupled with the BB OPA2604 which is a great opamp IMO. I put these opamps in my CD player and it sounds much smoother.

The first few weeks, I sat down many times to listen for analytical audio adjectives (imaging, depth, detail, height, width, etc.) and always found myself getting "sidetracked" just getting caught up in the music. I have never had this experience with a new audio component before. For this reason, it is hard to describe the sound of this amp because you are too busy re-discovering your favorite music.

Random notes: I experienced none of the hum problems that some users have mentioned, dead silent with my ADCOM preamp driving it. Monarchy's CC Poon answered all my e-mail questions honestly and promptly. This amp (30W at 4 ohms) drove my MMGs without breaking a sweat. I have yet to hear this amp clip. I may save my pennies for another amp to run in mono mode but right now, I don't have the need. This amp really makes me wonder how good Monarchy's higher priced amps are. The only thing I can criticize is the fact that it runs pretty warm.
This amp is built like a tank. I have borrowed Krells and this is built like a mini-Krell although I honestly think it sounds sweeter and more musical.

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Topic - REVIEW: Monarchy Audio SM-70 Amplifier (SS) Review by panhead at Audio Asylum - panhead 18:19:27 02/1/01 ( 7)