Who can build a mono-block system?

 

New member
Username: Alphaceo

Bellingham, WA USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Feb-05
mono-blocks seem cool, I know you need 1 for each stereo speaker, can you have 2 if your speakers can bi-amp? whats a good priced system (mono block amp, pre-amp and a good tuner) you would reccomend?I live in the middle of nowhere, so I need to buy from an online dealer (not used-but good price)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 11
Registered: Feb-05
Sure.

Mono-blocks tend to be expensive as traditionally, they have been the domain of the high-end.

There are numerous superb mono-block amps... skies the limit if budget is. :-)

I would be most hesitant to buy most anything audio related sound unheard. Especially if you are going to dispose some of your income on a expensive system... is there no way you can take a trip to a dealer and listen to some?

Failing that, go to a bookstore (or order) a few of the annual buyers guides, get some ideas and thoroughly research your choices.

Good luck!
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 343
Registered: Sep-04
Bi-amping with integrated amplifiers as I see it is a kind of 'poor man's' mono-blocking if you will; whereas mono-blocking is the purest form of bi-amping, where each component used is dedicated and equiped to do one job only. The idea being that it provides some relief from the task that an integrated amplifier must do when delivering 2 channel sound.

If you follow the rule: upgrade in sequence, until the arrangment ceases to satisfy; then you will not go far wrong. Presuming your current equipment is of the integrated kind, I would say try taking a more linear upgrade path. #1 would be the mono-block arrangement. Until you have heard the improvements it will bring, you are in no position to judge whether adding more power amps to the array will benefit your sound such as to warrant the excessive extra spend. If that fails to satisfy, then you can move to upgrade #2 and see if that is better for you. I should point out, I'm seeing bi-amping with integrated amps as #.5, and this is well worth skipping if you have the money to spend on a decent mono-block arrangement.

Speakers that are bi-wirable (NOT 'bi-ampable)offer the option of bypassing a certain component part of their crossover to reduce 'noise' from the operation of the drivers, namely the common ground path. How you choose to amplify from this point forward is irrelevant to bi-wiring, but in actual practice, the use of an amp-per speaker is worth the investment, if only for the elimination of channel 'cross talk' and the added power you gain. Having an amp per driver using mono-blocks I would view as excessive - but if you hear a sonic benefit over a 'bi-wired amp per channel;then by all means - go for it.

Had the authors of the Bible really been able to predict our future, then there would undoubtedly have been 8 deadly sins, rather than 7; adding audiophillia to the list. It's something that makes people want so much more than they probably need just because they can afford it. For this reason - see how you get on with 2 channel mono-blocking, with one pre-amp to link the two and then bi-wire these to your speakers for maximum effect. I am sure you will enjoy a very powerful system, which will have you asking: - does a Ferrari really need two engines in order to offer a faster ride?

Hope this helps.

V
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 151
Registered: Nov-04
varney, i am wondering how one would be able to tell if a speaker is bi-wirable and not bi-ampable. the only thing i see is that many speakers now come out with two sets of binding posts but no real distinction about what method would be "optimal".
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 344
Registered: Sep-04
When I said in brackets (not) bi-ampable, I was merely correcting the term used. Bi-wirable speakers allow you to do just that. How and what you bi-wire them to and in what configuration your amps lie, is up to you.

V
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 152
Registered: Nov-04
also, i know there are some 2 channel amps that can be bridged. would this be better or worse than buying a monoblock amp? the reason i ask is because most used mono amps are either terribly expensive or are tube amps which i dont know enough about to make educated purchases. could i hook up random amps to a preamp or should they all be the same brand?
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 153
Registered: Nov-04
thanks varney, the whole bi-amp/bi-wire thing is still alittle fuzzy to me but i think im getting a better picture as i read this forum.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 13
Registered: Feb-05
Depends on budget and just how cool you want it to be? :-)

Here are two nice links on the whole bi-wire/bi-amp "issue":

Easy
http://www.soundstage.com/synergize/synergize031998.htm
Hard
http://sound.westhost.com/bi-amp.htm

Monoblocks are expensive because they are typically designed as cost is no (or is lower on the list of compromises) object components.

Tehcnically, there should be no problem with a mix and match approach but since different amps have different characteristics, I think it may be best to try and keep to the same model to keep better control over the sonic character of the system.

This said, my own budget precludes the indulgence in monoblocks, biamping and such... I guess I just "settle" for a nice solid state integrated and a digital source. :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 348
Registered: Sep-04
Christopher,

The links Tevo has posted are well worth the read. I was going to post the second one myself but you beat me to it. Thanks.

If you happen to have two similar amps lying around, then it's becoming a kind of common practice to experiment with bi-amping. You can have one for each frequency, so that one amp does the bass and another does the treble. Cool eh? In this arrangement, you can mix and match the amps so that you would put a good treble performer on his own patch and so on.... People do this with three sometimes, called tri-amping, but I am not so sure of the benefits.

But having an amp per channel, is like I said - a poor man's mono-blocking. Mono blocks come in pairs, so they really ought to be the same unit. Then sitting a control amp on top, gives you all the knobs and balance control you'd have in a normal amp. Now you can do this with a bunch of integrated amps - but it's one of those things you'd tend to try if you had the amps and they were otherwise doing nothing in your attic. To go out and buy integrated amps is like making a catamaran out of two ships.... There is a lot of stuff you don't need in an integrated amp, such as controls and inputs, speaker terminals and of course, in a case of amp-per-channel, would waste one whole channel of each amp used for each side.

This is where Mono-blocks come in as the pro-looking, ultra cool, job-per-box outfit. You are only paying for the bit of each unit you are actually gonna use. But generally, it's still more expensive than if you used a bunch of integrateds for some reason. I think they are probably something designed for a niche market, and so tend usually to be very solidly built, robust power-houses.

Then, don't forget that for reasonable (bucks) quids you can get a simple control/power set up which consists of two monos in a box and a the top preamp is used as a controller. These are stylish and I think I should have cited them as upgrade path #1 in retrospect.

V
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 349
Registered: Sep-04
Chris, I should have mentioned - and this is really only one person's method - but it worked for me and it's a cheap way to have some fun:

If you look around for two old NAD 3020 amps.... On ebay I've seen them starting at around £20. You'll need two (obviously). All NAD amps, from the top of the range right down to the bottom had input/output terminals most people wonder about but ignore - they are called 'pre-out' and 'main-in'. These terminal pairs are linked with solid metal jumpers, without which you'll get no sound.

Wiring these together (and they are lovely, rich sounding old amps)through the pre/main sockets will make an instant bridged pair. The other advantage with these models is they feature two other very useful switches: A mono toggle on the front (very rare for a modern integrated amp) and an impedance selector on the back.

With the mono switch employed, you won't need to spilt your source signal into two. Both channels of the amp are now fed into mono for the purposes of bi-amping. The impedance switch can be used to great effect if you happen to want to use speakers of differing impedance in this setup. They offer the choice between 8 and 4 ohms. They also have rather good quality binding posts for your speakers too. Useful for crimping all that copper strand that you'll want to stick in there when you bi-wire them. I use the optional bananas these days on my NAD to make it easier to plug in and out the treble wires.

I have used the pair (3020 and 3225PE) vertically (per channel) and horizontally (per frequency) to pretty good effect, even though I know I could do better. I should also add, I think the slight mis-match in power between 3020i and 3225PE made them sound a bit rough per freq., while the vertical arrangement is a real wife confuser, as it requires you to set both volume controls exactly the same for each side. So buying a third (now you're pushing £60 quid btw) will give you a controller to unite the two channels. This might be a deposit on a second hand mono-block set up, such as an old Quad, or a NAD pre-power set up. See where this is going? It's still the cheapest way to do it though.

Okay, so don't just trawl ebay for weeks just to buy these if you're used to some much meatier integrated amp. I am sure the Marantz, Dennon and modern NAD integrateds will have a lot more power than this vintage - but for convenience and a more than adequate quality of sound, it's a very cheap starter kit made from that which other people virtually throw out. I've yet to see a NAD 3020 that hasn't been loved and well looked after though!

V

 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

I doubt there is much I can add to this discussion if you have read the two links posted above. They give a very good idea of what to expect from and how to achieve a biwired or biamped system. To clear up a few questions that seem to still be in this thread let me add the following.

First, in case it is misread, the mono button on most stereo amplifers does not strap the two outputs together to make a mono amplifier. The mono button on the front of an amplifier or pre amplifier combines the two channels at the pre amp stage. Its purpose is primarily for someone using a mono phono cartridge into a stereo phono pre amp. (There are also mono buttons for your tuner which serve another function entirely.) By combining the two signals into a mono signal the noise of the 45/45 arrangement for stereo Lp playback is reduced when playing a mono recording. This will reduce rumble from a mono recording. The power amplifier is left as two separate channels which are being fed a common signal. There is no power increase by using the front panel mono button.

Monoblock amplifiers are typically at the top of a manufacturer's product line because of their expense. Most of this expense comes from duplicating the casework and power supply for two separate amplifiers. The cost of the power supply is, in most better quality equipment, the single most expensive part of any component. The actual cost of the small components which make up the circuitry are minimal compared to the cost of the large transformer and capacitors. Many monoblock amplifiers are a strapped version of a stereo amplifer within a manufacturer's line and have a larger power supply to make better use of the additional power output.

Many stereo amplifiers can be strapped into a mono configuration, some with a simple switch either on the back of the amplifier or accessed by removing the top cover. Typically this connects the two separate channels together in a parallel hook up. This will most often double the power available as a stereo unit; 50 watt stereo becoming 100 watt mono. The parallel hook up also lowers the output impedance of the curcuit making the amplifier capable of higher current delivery (the most important reason for this hook up), but ultimately making the amplifier less stable into low impedance loads. If the amplifier is strapped in a series connection, the amp will develop less than double its power, slightly less current and will be more stable than when hooked in parallel. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
This type of connection cannot be done with an amplifier that does not share a common ground.

The most common reason for biwiring, biamping or using monoblocks is to eliminate, as much as possible, the common ground path between channels. Crosstalk is eliminated by maintaining a separate ground path at all points. Since a phono cartridge and a CD player seldom have a dual mono configuration, the source is often compromised in this dual mono configuration. It is, however, much easier to deal with crosstalk at the small voltages of the source than it is at the large voltage and current draw points of the pre amp and power amplifier. Biwiring and (non vertical)biamplification both do a good job of eliminating the back electromotive force of the larger drivers on the small signals of the upper frequency drivers by minimizing, or eliminating, the common ground path. How this is achieved and the benefits if this separation of signals is explained well in the two linked articles. At the most neurotic stages of triamplification, the cables and the mutiple monoblock amplifiers are selected for their sound within a given frequency bandwidth. It is not uncommon in this sort of system to see tube amplfication used for the upper frequencies and solid state amplifiers used for the low frequncies. The s.s. amps will have large amounts of power and the tubes will, by necessity, be lower powered and often of the single ended triode group. Exotic triamped systems can also include different speaker types with folded, expotential horns on the bottom and electrostatic panels with ribbon tweeters for the top end.

While it is beneficial to eliminate the common ground paths in even a modestly priced system, anyone would be well advised to get the most from the equipment they own before jumping into the expense of biamping a system correctly with active crossovers.

Monoblocks will typically offer a more precise soundstage with large transients on one side of the stage not having the effect of smearing the sound across both channels.



 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 353
Registered: Sep-04
This may seem like a spartan route to suggest, but I'd rather like it if the manufacturer of a budget brand offered us the mono-block at a budget price. It would be a good start for those wanting to dabble with psuedo-high end and the principles carried down from the upper end could be employed to great effect. Let's face it, you talk about the build quality and duplication of casework, but of course the control facilities not being present can reduce this cost. Why not a mono-block configuration which has one shared power supply (seperate box for ideal heat dissipation) or two smaller ones. I think the whole thing could be achieved for around £300, including the pre/control end? Okay, maybe it wouldn't be very loud, but we're not in it for volume, we just like to hear as much as we can squeeze from the source. It would look rather cool, too :-)

V

 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

There was a trend back in the mid '70's thru the early '90's to have more or less what you suggest. It was accomplished with a dual or twin power system which split the power amplifier at the point where the AC cord entered the amplifier. Two separate power transformers and supply caps were outfitted to provide two independent "mono" block amplifiers within one chasis. The strongest proponent of this manner of making an amplifier was Harman Kardon. Naturally, I still have, and use, several of their dual power amplifiers. It is difficult to tell what the effect would be if the amplifier was not configured this way since the power supply cannot be reconfigured. I would say this was a large reason this design fell out of fashion except at the high end. With the complexity of AV receivers, it is dificult to imagine this design being employed in that market. For the stereo only crowd, the design of better power supplies has come a long way toward giving many of the benefits of dual power amplifiers at a somewhat reduced cost. If you read the specifications of some companies, you'll see a dual wound torroidal transformer that does much of the same thing as my old HK's. Some of these amplifiers separate the ground path and some do not. Still, having used the HK's with separate power supplies, I was convinced of the benefits and ended up with monoblocks when I bought my McIntosh amplifiers.




 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 354
Registered: Sep-04
That's interesting. Thanks J. I like vintage equipment. It has class.

V
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 154
Registered: Nov-04
i read the first link and it cleared things up a bit. the article mentions that i can use the "B" speaker terminals for bi-wiring. i was under the impression that this was a pointless thing, or does that apply for bi-amping and not bi-wiring? if i can use the "B" terminals would this lower the overall impedence? i am not too sure because they are joining at the same point per say but they are on separate terminals.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest


Every contemporary amplifier I know of has its speaker terminals wired in parallel. Using both is the same as using only one in the biwire configuration. Biamping is a different story. The amplifier will see the same overall impedance load in an A+B hook up using biwiring since it is looking at the overall impedance of the drivers and the X-over.



 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 155
Registered: Nov-04
Thanks for that info. That is what i was thinking but i wanted to make sure. I think i will be getting another set of speaker wires and try the bi-wiring out.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 156
Registered: Nov-04
thanks vigne. that is what i was thinking but i wanted to make sure before i tried anything. i think i will be getting another set of speaker cables to try out the bi wiring.
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 157
Registered: Nov-04
sorri for the double post
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 359
Registered: Sep-04
Good for you, Chris. You won't regret it.

V
 

New member
Username: Alphaceo

Bellingham, WA USA

Post Number: 2
Registered: Feb-05
Thanks all but, I don't really care about Bi-anything (unless...) what I want to know is can anyone get on the internet and find- and buy a mono block system (amp,preamp) and have it delivered instead of running around in the city that's 200 miles from your home (about 440 kms) and wasting precious gas (petrol). I know you guys already know what sounds good so please help me. I'm already looking at some wave av25's from Antique Sound Lab www.divergenttechnologies.com for $250 each and the matching preamp for $299. they are tube amps but if you add Auricaps capacitors at www.audience-av.com they will give you a hard-on (stiffy) and all I see is the price. who can buid a different system with or without mono blocks for around $1000 (£500) that you can order on the internet,
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 391
Registered: Sep-04
I don't know. Why don't you try a search engine or two?

V
 

Bronze Member
Username: Tevo

Chicago, IL USA

Post Number: 21
Registered: Feb-05
The correct link for ASL is:

http://www.divertech.com/antiquesl.html

What kind of speakers are you going to drive with that? And what music do you prefer?

I would think one would have to be very careful selecting appropriate efficient speakers for use with this 20w tube rig.

IMHO, for a budget ~ $1,000, I wouldn't bother with separates. In my opinion, a better value (and sound) can be had with a good British integrated amp and a quality digital source.

If a "tubey" sound is what you're after, and can fork over a few hundred dollars more. Audio Analogue's Primo int. amp and CD player can provide a very satisfying system. And a rig where precise speaker selection is not critical.

But that's just my 2/100ths of a USD.

As for online resources:

http://audioshopper.com/AudioWaves/default1.html
http://www.saturdayaudio.com
http://www.musicdirect.com
http://www.audioadvisor.com

Hope this helps.
 

Anonymous
 
f-ck you all! Adrien is a stupid c--t and she should figure out her own sh-t! ANYONE WHO SPENDS OVER $100.00 ON GODDAMN CORDS IS A F---ING IDIOT WITH A TINY PR--K OR A STIUPID W==RE AND YOU ALL SHOULD EAT SH-T AND DIE, YOU WASTEFUL LOSERS.
 

New member
Username: Alphaceo

Bellingham, WA USA

Post Number: 3
Registered: Feb-05
wow... I'm a dude by the way.
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 400
Registered: Sep-04
Anonymous....

Have you taken your pill this morning?

If not, then I suggest you do. There's a good boy....

V
 

New member
Username: Alphaceo

Bellingham, WA USA

Post Number: 4
Registered: Feb-05
y'know, I think anonymous is right, I'm gonna go eat some poo.....
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

No need, if you read Anon's post, it's already in your system. Once again someone wanting to insult others without the b@lls to use their name. Hiding behind a pseudonym shows as much intelligence as bravery. Bravo, Anon.





 

Bronze Member
Username: Gavincumm

Post Number: 82
Registered: Feb-05
take a look at the m-200 from outlaw audio. They have a GREAT sound for the price. you won't regret it!
 

Silver Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 407
Registered: Sep-04
Remeber, Anon, this is an audio forum. If you have Tourettes syndrome, there are probably some sources where you can find help for your disorder.

V
 

Unregistered guest
will read the 2 suggested articles
currently i bi anp
speakers at 93 db
bass drivers driven by modified old 60's 'leak ' amp
treble driven by hifi world kit single ended HFA 12
connected via amber 17 preamp
all amps pre loved.
have the possibility of picking up a pair of mono blocked amps from early 1960's supposedly never played el134's[harmonix] build for studio but storedever since because solid state arrived.
amps about 18 watts not single ended obviously.
should i do thisif i can pick them up cheaply enough?
explain how i'd wire them [this needs to be super simple as i'm blind.
david
Jump to: Home Audio Forum | Home Video Forum | Home Theater Forum | Car Audio Forum