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The Monarchy Audio SM-70 and the Longest post known to man...

mobile homeless

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Solid -state has come quite a long way...

I have cycled through a good many solid-state beasts, from NAD integrated amps to 250w Monoblocks. I lived with solid state from the US, Canada, Japan, Korea, China, Germany, and Britain. I lived with low power and high power. I had given up hope and sold my last solid-state amps a while back. The last holdouts were my trusty B&K M200 Sonata Monoblocks, a great pair of MOSFET, heavily Class A biased, 200wpc amplifiers that were one of my favorite solid state offerings. Yet in the end, I sold them because my $100 EL-84 Williamson EICO HF-81 integrated amp wiped them up in all areas of importance. The EICO simply made more music. The B&K were finally boxed up that last time and put on AudiogoN for a hefty amount with an over-the-top ad. In all actuality, I got $150 less than I paid for them 10 years before, so I was extremely pleased, yet I was still sad to see them go. But frankly, they had NEVER been back on after I realized what soul and natural magic tubes had to offer. Tubes were the only things I found to reproduce the actual harmonic richness and air, the personality and nature of the instruments, and musics ebb and flowThe emotion. Solid state always had the bearing of a machines interpretation of the music, while the essence remained stripped.

Well, I am sitting here as I type listening to a single stereo solid-state amplifier. It uses no global feedback. It is a Class A amplifier. It is a paltry (by solid state standards) 25 watts per channel. And it is small as hell, a rather Lilliputian hunk of metal, but built like a tank. And to tell you the truth, I have to admit, solid state HAS come a long way, indeed, especially when you can get an amplifier that is currently selling used for around 500 ducats that offers this quality sound. And to complicate matters, the SM-70 is only $719 new. Formally, Class A offerings would run you at least $1500.

Quite simply, the Monarchy Audio SM-70 is a great little amplifier; that much I have to admit. Yes, this little $719, all aluminum nugget runs hotter than any solid state amp I have had in my system, but this is because it is biased so heavily into Class A. My B&K Monoblocks were actually re-biased deep into Class A and were quite hot, but not to the level of the little SM-70. Still, I dont think this is necessarily a bad thing, even though some show concern. Heat DOES cause things to wear faster, but this mighty-mite seems just fine with the extra warmth and it seems almost fitting. If one feels ill at ease, you can simply remove the top cover of the unit. Then again, my EICO HF-81 power transformer is so hot, you cant even leave your hand on it for over a couple of seconds. The SM-70 is not in that category, but its close.

I have only had the unit for about 20 hours with five hours of listening so this is just a first impression (note: Obviously this sentence was written a while back). It took about an hour for the SM-70 to warm up and smooth out. Right off the bat, I could tell this was a VERY smooth amplifier that really bridges the gap between tubes and solid state. This is actually a warm sounding piece of gear with fluid highs, especially for solid state. It has detail without ever sounding etched or hyped in any way, unlike a good portion of its transistor brethren. The bottom end is reasonably extended and relatively taut; on something like the 98dB Cornwall, there is no telling this is a 25w amplifier. I actually see almost zero need for people to run high power amps into a speaker of this efficiency; this is part of the benefit one can run lower powered amplification, amplification that uses less tubes or transistors (the SM-70 has only two transistors per channel) which cuts down on the complexity of the circuit. And simple is usually, though not always better, my Klipsch fiends (note: I think to reach truly live levels via solid state, more watts, or at least better regulated watts, are needed).


Right away, Ill say this amplifier is a steal at the used price. There is no way one could buy this level of solid state sound for $500 and that is what I have seen the SM-70 go for used. If you could get it for less, it is practically a no brainer, that is, if you prefer solid state. This is a good portion of what the very best can do, solid state wise, and bridges the gap between tube and transistor in a fashion that even most tube-o-philes could live with.

Now for a few quick notes here. Ed shipped me this unit sans power cord, so I threw on one of my stocker IEC cables (one that came with the Moondogs). Everything seemed ok But I got curious and decided to throw an Asylum Cable power cord from DIYCable. At first, the bass dynamics actually seemed a bit reeled inbut then I realized that the bass actually had more definition and the silence between the notes, the blackness of the background, was actually better, making the SM-70 sound that much more refined. It was definitely a difference I would explore if an SM-70 owner (note: the difference became less clear later on not sure which cord I really prefer. At times I think the Asylum IS an improvement, however).

Many of the reviews I have read make some good points about the SM-70. It IS a very, very sensitive amplifier via the inputs, thus if you have a preamp with massive gain along with sensitive speakers, ala vintage Klipsch, you are going to be running into high volume at a very low setting on ye olde preamp, a setting that will probably not be too great for tracking and volume pot performance. That being said, I thought my Cary 6SL7 preamp did its usual excellent job of fleshing out the sound. But the gain was problematic. So in popped the Creek OBH-12 passive unit. This would also give me a better representation of the actual performance of the SM-70 since this little passive device is very neutral.

Well, this is just a fine combination for people with sensitive enough speakers and interconnects that dont need to extend over arms length. I did notice just a tad less bass slam compared to the active tube pre, but the unit was still so sweet that it was just damn hard to believe this was solid state. It does have a slightly more forward nature; in other words, I don't think anyone would ever refer to this amp as being laid back. Needless to say, I have more listening to do with more types of music. I also want to insert this beast into my ProAc Mini Tower setup. So, look for more details and impressions to come.

So hell, why even mess with tubes? This little unassuming solid-state marvel does it all for $700 and some change, right? And for $400-500 used, whats the wait?

My wife sat down and listened to a few cuts from a Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette release entitled Inside Out which has its moments. The first thing she said was, Hmmmthis sounds pretty goodbut it sounds reeled in a bit. I thought it a rather insightful comment; to my ears, the sound was slightly less open, even though very good by solid-state standards. Yet she was really trying to articulate one of the first real differences between the SM-70 and my 2A3 amps, or even the EICO push pull. The little SM-70 just did not have that bloom, that certain natural air around the instruments that make them seem like physical entities. Yes, it had a very dimensional soundstage. And there was definition. But I am talking about the certain harmonic richness that any good tube amp has in spades, especially the single-ended triode. It is the last vestiges of electronic sound that seems to inhabit the solid-state realm. And while the SM-70 was a fine performer regarding sweetness, certainly better than any solid-state amp I have had in my system in recent memory, there was still something riding along with the sound that was problematic and noticeable. What I will say is that this is about as close to that magical harmonic richness I have heard via solid-state at anywhere near the price point. This is a smooth amplifier that seems really bullet proof and nicely made. But I was still troubled by the slight hint of mechanical nature that just cant seem to be exorcised from the solid state realm. In a way, it is sort of the same demon that plagues digital. And true to both, you CAN get used to this sound and almost not mind the difference after prolonged exposure. Yet, there is a certain part of the picture that just doesnt draw you into the music like a good turntable or valve amp can do, despite other foibles. And it is this subtle distinction that makes the human voice come alive with articulation without any harshness that has the potential to grab you. It is the flow of the musical note and the magic decay without with all the roundness intact; the sound approaches an organic quality.

Can one really quantify this difference between something like the Monarchy Audio SM-70 and tube counterparts? I think it is hidden to many. But once it is revealed, these types of distinctions seem very important, even to non-audio types. Audrey is not particularly into audio although she does appreciate it. She actually liked the SM-70 but ultimately missed the warmth and open, grain-less quality of tube amplification. It is so hard to impart this difference to people that have not experienced it. And with lower power solid-state choices like the SM-70 providing a valid alternative to tubes, the gap is narrowing. Yet, it is still there. There is also still some of that sibilance at higher volume that seems a partner with solid state, especially lower cost units.

Yet, I am currently listening to the combination of the Linn LP-12, Cary phono/preamp, Creek passive, into the SM-70. This is actually a very good combination as the LP front end combine with the tube warmth and dimension of the Cary to give the SM-70 some magic that elevates the overall presentation. I actually like this combination the best in my system with the SM-70 and Cornwall I. Last night while recovering from the horror of handing over a $32,000 bank check to a real estate lawyer, I listened to Johnny Hodges and his orchestra via the great Verve LP entitled, Castle Rock. Man, this really sounded damn nice via the above combo into the SM-70. It is an old recording that just sounds fleshed out and alive via vinyl, horns, and tubes. Yet, the SM-70 had a nice quickness to it that got my feet tapping and sounded extra nice from the other room. It is a quick little amplifier that does not get on edge while retaining transient snap. The little amp boogies!


Right now, I am listening to one of Jimi Hendrixs best albums, Axis Bold as Love. Castles Made of Sand is an all time classic and filled with enough emotion and substance to make many modern guitar welding zealots seem like plastic-fantastic imitators, stuck without much inside. Well, the Linn/Cary/SM-70 combo was doing it right! No, it was not totally without a tinge of that sterile side of solid-state that runs along with the music, but it grooved and it could be overlooked; the heels are bobbing up and down as I type this sentence! Unfortunately, when I did tackle Hendrixs title track Bold as Love which is a virtual sonic delight with a conclusion that rivals any song before or since, the SM-70 ran out of steam as it were. No, it was not horrifying, but I did notice a certain flattening of Hendrixs first recorded use of the Hurricane, a flanger like device he put on the drums, guitar, and everything else in the last refrain after the drum break. It is a sonic test for everything. Though I have heard worse here (and if I am honest, I sometimes wonder if the Cornwall is optimum for this type of track). On a more positive note, Donovans Hurdy Gurdy Man, a great LP as well, really did come to roost via the SM-70 and Cornwalls.

OK, so what do we have here? Well, the little Monarchy Audio SM-70 is REALLY a great little solid-state amp. I believe the low power, Class A, zero global feedback really does this amp right and attempts to bridge the gap between solid state and digital. I also believe that its use of MOSfets transistors to be an important link. Almost all the solid-state amps I have admired have employed MOSfets as they just seem to be more dimensional and linear. There are a few additional negatives that seem to hang with the SM-70 that might be attributed to this, however. When all is said and done, this little amp does not have the low level resolution that single-ended triodes are known for. I remember reading this take in a review by Gary Kong and I happen to agree as well. There is just a bit less black in that silence between the notes that holds as much importance the sound it counters. Monarchy Audio does offer an upgrade where you can replace the solid-state bridge rectifier with an upgraded device. From what I have read (and have experienced), this is probably a wise choice and worth the ducats. As is, though the bass in this little solid state wonder is very nice, it is actually not as tight and defined as my Welborne Labs 2A3 mono amps, coming in at only 3.5w per channel. The bass via the SM-70 is just slightly less controlled, something I feel most would not believe given the nature of the preconceptions with tubes vs solid state. Perhaps this can be improved with more PS capacitance as in the SM-70 Pro. In addition, the rectifier mod would probably address a bit of this problem as well. But the bass via the SM-70 can sound loose and even a bit resonant or boomy depending on the material. It is very nice on some recordings, but certain pieces brought out this foible more than others. At other times, this was not a problem but some might long for more control here.

I can still recommend this little amp as an amazing deal for the money and a great performer; I even considered buying it for a time as a valid option to tubes. I sure do miss the ability to turn the beasts on and forget about it, something I did with my B&K monoblocks for close to nine years. The SM-70 has brought me closer to wanting to get a solid-state amp in quite a long while. The construction is good, the amp simple. It has a nice Toroidal transformer that looks like it means business. It offers balanced inputs when run as a bridged monoblock (something that many are doing). And it just smacks of value. One can actually turn the front ½ inch thick panel around and do without the rather bold Monarchy Audio logo and filigree. I would even consider ditching the pseudo rack handles

I cant leave you without my experience at 3:45am last night. It is something I have lived with more than a few times. I was enjoying the Rega CD player through the Creek and SM-70; it was Nick Drakes song entitled Black Eyed Dog off the Time of No Reply CD. I decided to move the CD to my office system consisting of a lowly Aiwa portable, my EICO HF-81, and some over achiever Polk RT5 monitors on 24 sand-filled stands. Just out of curiosity, I jumped to the same track and hit play and sat down to work.

Jesus Man.

Yep. There it was, back with all the glory: the magic that I had almost forgotten about. It was the same magic that caused me to ultimately box up my 200w solid state monoblocks. I smiled and relaxed a little more. Its nice to have such choices, isnt it?

kh f>s>

Phono Linn LP-12 Vahalla / Linn Basic Plus / Sumiko Blue Point

CD Player Rega Planet

Preamp Cary Audio SLP-70 w/Phono Modified

Amplifier Welborne Labs 2A3 Moondog Monoblocks

Cable DIYCable Superlative / Twisted Cross Connect

Speaker 1977 Klipsch Cornwall I w/Alnico & Type B Crossover

system one online / alternate components / Asylum Listing f>s>

This message has been edited by mobile homeless on 02-14-2002 at 04:58 AM

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Great review mobile!!

This amp, in addition to the Bottlehead Paramours, was an amp that I was also considering for my Heresy II's. Given that the Paramours are an entry level SET (and in the same price range as the Monarchy), would the Monarchy be a better choice than the Paramours or do even entry level tube amps prevail over the better SS amps, such as the Monarchy Audio?


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Fantastic post! One day I will have enough money to buy a REAL amplifier and a nice set of vintage Klipsch speakers. From the sound of it, this Monarchy sounds like a heck of a deal. And all this talk of tubes. I've never heard a tube amplifier in my life, yet I find myself wanting one. My system seems to be missing something that I believe a high quality amplifier and a better pair of speakers will rectify. It's hard to put a finger on it, but it lacks warmth and a life-like prescence. Your post was very informative.


Denon AVR-2800

KG-4 mains (too bad the rest of my speakers aren't this good)

Polk C-175 center (it's ok)

Infinity RS-10 Surrounds (suck)

Audiosource SW-15 subwoofer (excellent sub for it's price)

Pioneer DV333 DVD

Sony 5 disc CD player

All in a 12x12 apartment bedroom.

"What?! I can't hear you!"

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Obviously there is detection of audibility, between the 3rd harmonics of Solid State and the even order of Harmonics of tubes.

I'm sure designs vary, with the Harmonic orders of Tubes.

Transistors have that broken glass, Grainy sound from their odd harmonic orders.

Yeah, I read the Article 'Why Tubes sound better' on the Triode Electronics online site.

Good article, makes a helluva lotta sense.

$700 should get me a full blown Ella, I want to experience the smoothness of the 2nd Harmonic.


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Excellent review mobile!

I like that little amp alot, I do run it monoblocked more than I do in stereo mode, and the last time I had it in my system I used my AES (Cary) AE-3 SuperPreamp (tubed) instead of the Monarchy model 33. I do like the SS/tube combo a bit better (I think) than I did with the model 33 running them in balanced mode.

My biggest problem with getting the 2nd one for monoblocking was the power issue. I was looking for less watts rather than more, and monoblocked they put out 70wpc. I was concerned with the gain issue since the speakers and amps are so sensitive. It turned out not to be much of a problem.

I am also able to run my CD player into the SM-70 directly and not use a preamp at all, since my CD player (McIntosh MCD 7007) has a both fixed & variable outs and a volume control.

Mr. Poon (owner of Monarchy Audio) said he would do the solid-state bridge rectifier upgrade that you mention, on both of my amps, for $150 including shipping...not bad IMHO.

Thanks for taking to time to do such a thorough review.

PS: If anyone is serious about getting one of these amps, Monarchy has a satisfaction guarantee. If you don't like it you can send it back! I also have a little secret about pricing on these amps, send me an email if you are interested in a SM-70 (or two).s>


Ed W

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Yeah, that post was a bit over the top. I also apologize to those with 800x600 resolution as I think that graphic brings in the dreaded horizontal scroll bar, a definite no no. I am using 1280x1040 on a 21" Perhaps I'll shrink that header graphic down a bunch.

Thanks for the compliments. I didnt think anyone would actually read that whole thing besides SM-70 owners, Ed, and someone looking to buy the beast. I told Ed I would do some serious comments. I am looking for a whole slew of amps to be arriving here so there will be things to compare. The DIYHIFI ELLA EL34 PP and Basie preamp are making their way here next week. This will be followed by the 300B BILLIE SET.

As for this amp vs the Paramours, that is a really hard call to make. I can say that if it was this amp vs my EICO, I have to admit I would favor the EICO, even though the SM-70 does do so many things well (and some things better than the EICO). To be honest, I would not select any other solid state amp in the $500-$700 range. Still, I think good tubes do provide a better sense of natual tone, especially with acoustic instruments. Tubes also REALLY seem to be better with the vintage Klipsch such as the Heresy, Cornwall, Belle, and Khorn. I would probably add the Forte and Chorus to that mix if I knew more about them.

I think the SM-70 is so cheap, you can do BOTH tube and solid state for the price. But there are a few other foibles concerning this amp that I didnt mention. I was going to ask Ed about it. First of all, this amp is very sensitive to power line fluctuations. I hear more buzzing, pops, and reaction to things building wiring. A guy was running a power saw on the building circuit and I was hearing the buzz through the CW and SM-70. Also, it actually HUMS more than my tube units! This was a big surprise and I have not yet figured out that the deal is. Could be my system. I have never heard any of this via my other amps. In addition, if you happen to use the Audioquest POST wrench, then you will be out of luck as this SM-70 happened to have binding posts that dont fit the standard 7/16 and 1/2" sockets. I was able to tighten them but not get the loose.

Also, I cant stress how small this amp is! Really amazing. Take a look at the shot of it in my room ith the CD case on top. See the size? It is hard to gauge but man...it's a little beast. But it is VERY refined for the ducats. More refined and open than Adcoms, Rotel, Denon, or any of that ilk. It really should be on anyone's short list, especially if you want solid state.


This message has been edited by mobile homeless on 02-13-2002 at 06:22 PM

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Thank you Mobile Homeless! I live within 2 miles of where the Monarchy designs were created. The genius who created them is independently wealthy and has a passion for creating high quality for the masses. He has a lot of the same spirit of our dear departed Henry Kloss... and deserves the same name recognition. His name is C.C. Poon and he is based in South San Francisco, CA.

The SM-70 is his lowest priced offering... and probably the best offering you are likely to find in this price range. While I am not sure where the amplifier part of Klipsch is headed... if they can match the sheer bang for the buck of Monarchy... they will be in rare company.

Monarchy are the answers to making my Cornwalls sing. Since this is a Klipsch BBS... I usually just mention the Cornwalls... but my affection for Monarchy predates the Klipsch entry into the amp side.

Thanks again, Mobile Homeless, for being on target. That's why I enjoy your posts. cwm32.gif HornEd

PS: Now the two channel side of my existance has been revealed. Not an easy thing for a recluse to say.

This message has been edited by HornEd on 02-13-2002 at 06:18 PM

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posted by mobile:

There are few other foibles concerning this amp that I didnt mention. I was going to ask Ed about it. First of all, this amp is very sensitive to power line fluctuations. I hear more buzzing, pops, and reaction to things building wiring. A guy was running a power saw on the building circuit and I was hearing the buzz through the CW and SM-70. I have never heard any of this via my other amps. In addition, if you happen to use the Audioquest POST wrench, then you will be out of luck as this SM-70 happened to have binding posts that dont fit the standard 7/16 and 1/2" sockets. I was able to tighten them but not get the loose.

I haven't noticed the buzzing and pops you mention. I do have each amp on it's own dedicated circuit and my other components on a 3rd dedicated circuit.

Yes, those binding posts are a hassle. I either end up using an small adjustable wrench or a pair of pliers to tighten things up. There is probably a metric size that fits them well.

To add to what HornEd said about Mr. Poon, he is a VERY knowledgeble person and has the best customer support of any owner of a small(ish) company I have ever dealt with. His support absolutely blows away that of some other owners (who shall remain nameless).


Ed W

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Ed, I actually didnt know, or didnt remember, that you had all those dedicated circuits. That is the best thing you can do for your power. Great you had the wired.... One question... What are the pool table light on?

Seriously, CC Poon really does sound like a good guy and great to have in the lead of a company like that. From things I have read plus the comments of Horned and Ed, it sounds like a good company all they way around.

Too bad they dont have a tube product!

Thanks for the comments about the review. Hey Colin, is that Pass beast going to be upcoming in ETM? I was going to do some writing for ole Steve but have been so busy lately; ironically enough, I have spent more time in these forums then I would have reviewing FIVE components!!!


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A very thorough review Kevin. I would like to add some thoughts regarding my own experience this afternoon.

That 3B-ST showed up this afternoon and what I have found is a great synergism between it and the BP-20, much more so than what I had with the Anthem Amp1. I actually noticed more grain with the BP-20/Amp1 combo than with the 3B-ST/BP-20 setup. This solid state setup sounds better in several ways than the Anthem tube gear. There is certainly more warmth than I expected. I do miss the air and separation the Anthem put around and between the instruments -- but this Bryston sound is very, very, clean, and will be very easy for me to live with.

I believe the Anthem also sounded a little more 3 dimensional. I wonder if part of this is due to a somewhat recessed midband of the Bryston combo as compared to the Anthem. I can easily overcome this shortcoming by turning up the volume cwm35.gif

The Bryston set up has a degree of clarity that I have never heard before. This clarity presents itself as a very incisive, penetrating kind of image. It adds intensity the music.

I spend time listening to the likes of Metallica, Pantera, Fuel, and some other somewhat obnoxious music, and solid state lends itself rather well to this sort of noise. Tubes just can't do what I heard today. It just ain't gonna happen. Honest.

I don't think solid state sounds sterile or mechanical. I just think it sounds vastly different than tubes. I think both can be enjoyed equally depending on types of music and what SPL's are employed.

I also watched segments of 'Matrix' tonight - I'm quite convinced tubes couldn't have done most of what I heard during this demonstration either. It was brutal. You can't even imagine.

I think a 'metalhead' or rock music lover who enjoys his/her music fairly loud, and likes to watch movies at theater volume levels -- should probably stick with solid state.

I'm keeping the Bryston set up. It kicks ***. I had even thought about getting a tube preamp to run with the 3B-ST, but not now. I think the two pieces sound good together for a reason - so I'm leaving well enough alone.

OTOH - I'm looking forward to getting the AE-25 and I'm sure it will be my primary choice for music 90% of time. The incisiveness and intensity of solid state is no long term substitute for the 'rightness' tubes put to the instuments.

Of course - that other 10% will be fun too!



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Awesome post, and very timely for me.

I just purchased a pair of SM-70's from a gentleman via Audiogon, for the princely sum of $375 each. He is in San Francisco, very close to me, and assures me that they are in excellent condition.

The rest of his gear is very high end stuff, so I believe he has taken care of them, and only selling as he has moved beyond the need for them in his system.

I am very excited, as this is my first foray into Class A.

Now I have to follow up with the appropriate interconnects and find a suitable preamp.

(Damm upgrade bug!)

I am leaning towards a tube pre, as I am hoping that it will help soften that little bit of SS inherent in the amp. I will have to learn about what I need to do to correctly run these 2 as monoblocks.

I am sure my Khorns will love them. I can only hope to be able to start to hear the subtle nuances in my system that you hear and describe.

Thanks for the great review, and confidence boost for my purchase!


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Interesting commnets, deang (btw, it's Kelly..but I have been called many things, heh...).

I know exactly what you speak of when you talk of the incisive qualities of good solid state. I have been there and know the appreciation of it. I know Bryston and like their amps. There is a real addiction and draw to that clean sound. It can draw you in immediately.

What I found, however, is that after prolonged listening to this, you start to realize that it is almost overly analytical and precise, almost as if you have turned up the contrast and sharpness of a monitor, thereby putting everything in virtual technicolor.

Now you have to remember that even though I love 50s and 60s jazz and have for a long time, my heart lies with rock and NOISE! I worked in college radio for years and played in 70-90s rock bands from heavy guitar driven trios to lo-fi noise and punk. So your comments are not lost on me here.

And I am here to tell you that tubes can rock with just as much heft and power as solid state. Let me ask you something. What do most of the bands use these days and what did all the heavies use throughout the 60s -70s? TUBES! Tube amps just plain KILLED solid state in all things good....TONE...DISTORTION...SUSTAIN! Hell, in some ways, guitar amps kept tube manufacturers ALIVE through the thin stages.

Although I am not a big metal lover as bands like Pantera seem rather soulless, I do like VOLUME when needed. But that clean, precise, artificial sound does not please me anymore. I would rather have tube watts. That is not to say that solid state does not have its place. But to say that tubes wont do rock is simply not true.

That being said, I knew you would be happy with that Bryston which is why I told you to slow down and just take it in. The Bryston is a great SS amp. But I think you might find it getting less and less air time as you cycle through different tube amps. I do think that the Superamp might not be the Metallica machine, but it will get you closer to the music in many ways.


Monarchy Audio SM-70 UPDATE

Well, I just wanted to include the above shot (with sad picture of toe) to illustrate just how small this amp is. The pictures I shot above do not give you a good perception of the size here. So I tooke this shot of the top view of the SM-70 with an Art Pepper CD (great tunes and an excellent sounding recording by the way - must get the K2 20 Bit version). The size really does shock and was the biggest suprise when I opened the box.

Now for a sound update in between Olympic events, I have come to the conclusion that a better power cable really is of benefit to this amp. It brings a more articulate bass with a slightly quieter background. I have found this Asylum Cable to work well with the SM-70; in fact, I believe it does better on this amp then my Welborne Labs 2A3 amps, something that was confirmed to me when I later asked Kevin Haskins about his experience with the cable with his Bottlehead Paramours. Seems it does better with CD players and solid state over SET amps (he added that it worked wonders with phono preamps and line stages). I think an upgrade to the power cable is a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in this amp.

On another note, I really think this amp can improve on its low level resolution. I have been wondering what mods could help here. I know the rectifier mod will probably help here and I recommend it. Perhaps some more capacitance would be in order but some feel too much to slow the amp down. It makes me wonder how much better the SM-70 Pro would be. It just might be worth the extra ducats if someone is interested. Several people have written me wondering if I now subscribe to solid state..heh. If you look at the conclusion of that review and what I ended up with, I think you know the answer. Still, I think it is great that people like CC Poon are bringing this level of SS sound to this price point.

If only he could get the aethetics of the front worked out!


ps- Jobman, great purchase! I never got to hear the amps monoblocked but ole Ed seems to love it. Also, most of the other people end up doing it this way. I would consider the rectifier upgrades and maybe ole CC Poon will increase the capacitance. Not too much ROOM in that little amp though! You can see the quad of PS caps in the shot in the review. I second the notion of a good tube amp. Also, a PASSIVE DOES really work well with the SM-70 since it is so sensitive. A good passive is so cheap, you can add the tube line stage. I enjoyed both.

This message has been edited by mobile homeless on 02-14-2002 at 11:37 AM

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Thats the ticket Mobile!

Fantastic post.

A post like that really makes me feel "I made the right choice"

Soon, I will save my pennies and venture into "tube land"

I know my SM-70 is a keeper.



Monarchy Audio: SM-70 class A amplifier zero feedback Onkyo DV-S535 dvd player(transport) Klipsch Heresy II mahagony finish with riser stands Monarchy Audio Model 33 dac/pre AudioQuest Slate speaker cable / Diamondback interconnects - Bolder Cables digital coaxials>

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Mike, you are right here in that the way the amp is configured, and because it uses radial caps via the circuit board, that choices are limited. For some odd reason, I got in my head that Solens could be used here but I guess not.

I was wondering how the Black Gate electrolytics would be over the current offerings. To be honest, I have messed with tube amps for so long I keep thinking of applications from that standpoint. I removed all the electrolytics from my power supply in other amps and liked the result. Yet the application is different here.

Perhaps an increase in the capacitance as done in the PRo model, although some are now saying that it can slow the amp down. That is why that 47 Labs Gaincard amp has ONE tiny cap in the PS! Crazy. Still, the bass on the SM-70 is abit of a problem on some material ie it can sound boomy at times, depending. I wasnt sure this was a reaction to my room /Cornwalls but am now starting to suspect it is a quality of this amp. IT does have so much going for it, though.

I really need to listen to it even longer and edit some of those comments above. I have yet to try the amp with the ProAcs on hand which would be in a different room. I think I would recommend getting the Monoblocks for those that want to push its limits (and these with the rectifier mods). I kind of like the idea of less transistors though. I wonder how the regular 70 would sound with a big power transformer, a bit more filtering via caps, and the upgraded rectifier.

As is, it's a very musical little amp for SS. But it could be taken to another level.


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Kelly - I knew that, I have no idea why I said Kevin.

Everything you said is true. Keep in mind I never said tubes can't do Rock - I only said they couldn't do Rock the way I was doing it yesterday! Yeesh - I think I realigned all the floorboards in my house. As a matter of fact, I think tubes do Rock great, even metallica, because they add a richness and density to the presentation. Tubes just can't do it at the very high SPL's without pinching up.

Keep in mind I'm also using Reference and not vintage Klipsch - my speakers were probably 'voiced' with solid state and I have a feeling that due to that, combined with the lack of a mid horn - solid state probably doesn't sound as hashy (I don't know what other word to use) on my end. In other words - I think Reference is a little more forgiving in that area than Heritage - which I think is so brutally transparent and revealing - almost to a fault.

I think this contrast between tubes and SS is equally interesting when applied to DVD movies. The Bryston combo is simply incredible with DVD's. Where tubes doing just about everything right with music - they do almost everything wrong with movies. It just doesn't sound 'right'.

Rainfall hitting the cement sounds more like frying bacon. The sound of cartridge brass (empty bullet casings) falling to the ground has a 'chinky', high pitched quality to it that sounds unnatural. The sound of shattering glass has this same quality. The sound of car doors slamming has a somewhat thickened, damped quality to it that doesn't sound 'right' (no sub used for these comparisons on the low end). There are myriads of sounds in movies - and when I heard them with the Anthem - they brought undue attention to themselves because of their unnaturalness.

I realize you are probably thinking that using the Anthem gear as an example of what tubes can do may not be ideal. This is probably true. Still, it's fairly decent stuff and well reviewed - and it is tubed gear none-the-less. At any rate, none of the things described in the preceding paragraph are noticeable with the Bryston combo. All sounds seem completely realistic and natural on the RF7's. Dare I say solid state sounds more 'accurate' (with my speakers).

I think it is better to say that each has it's 'place' and what a person uses may be more dependant on what speakers they are using and what results they are trying to achieve.

I understand that Cornwalls and other Vintage Klipsch do all things well with tubes. But not everyone is using Vintage Klipschcwm20.gif



This message has been edited by deang on 02-14-2002 at 09:55 AM

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I don't usually use the term "referece recordings" because it sounds so tight-*** audiophile, but when I try to listen for something I ALWAYS use "Art Pepper Meets the Rythym Section." I have 6 different versions of this record (original Contemporary mono, origial "Stereo Records" stereo, 1960's Contemporary stereo, Analogue Production stereo, 1983 Japanese CD, JVC XRCD).

I've listened to this album at least 1000 times and know it like the back of my hand.

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