searching for opinions on an amp for monolith III

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JonFo

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So you have the Sanders setup that's shown on the web page I posted? That looks great.
I only have one of their amps, a Sanders ESL (600wpc @4Ohms) powers my Monolith panels, and the woofers are powered by a Sunfire Stereo amp (200wpc @8). The crossover is a DriveRack 4800 speaker processor.

I had been tempted to go dual-monoblocks for the panels, but my current rig has enough headroom it's not worth it. That Sanders has some serious grunt.

Although I must note, I have 18 channels of amplification for a 5.4.4 setup that runs 98% of the time in some surround or immersive mode with all channels active, so front L/R are not quite as burdened as in a 2ch setup.
But even listening to 2ch, it can go way louder than is comfortable.
 
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BigGuy

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As I and others have recommended in various M-L threads, pretty much anything in the Pass lineup. Someone actually noted using a XA30.8 which like most of his amps punch figuratively ;-) way above their weight. I have worked my way thru both the M-L and Pass products over the past 30 years as disposable $ were available without being disappointed but always thrilled by the progressive improvement. Talk to Mark @ Reno HiFi.
 

TomMLFan

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I use Threshold SA-2's for my Monolith IIs. They are 100 watt, class A monoblocks. I have heard only good comments from knowledgeable friends who listened. One said it was the best he had ever heard.

Threshold has discontinued the SA-2s but they still repair/refurbish them. If you can pick up a pair on the used market and send them to Threshold for refurbishment you won't go wrong. They may not need to be refurbished, they are built to last. I sent mine after using them for 20+ years and the tech told me they were only very slightly out of spec.

No, i will not sell you mine. Well... maybe if you offered an outrageous amount of money I would.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do.
 

jacksky

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I am using Bryston 7b monoblocks with Monolith I’s.
It may be overkill but it’s what I had in place when I picked up the ML’s.
Never had volume over 25% in a 14x23 room with 2 open wall/sides.
Combination never disappoints.
 

BigGuy

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I use Threshold SA-2's for my Monolith IIs. They are 100 watt, class A monoblocks. I have heard only good comments from knowledgeable friends who listened. One said it was the best he had ever heard.

Threshold has discontinued the SA-2s but they still repair/refurbish them. If you can pick up a pair on the used market and send them to Threshold for refurbishment you won't go wrong. They may not need to be refurbished, they are built to last. I sent mine after using them for 20+ years and the tech told me they were only very slightly out of spec.

No, i will not sell you mine. Well... maybe if you offered an outrageous amount of money I would.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do.
SA-2s are great amps. I was using a stereo SA-3 with M-L I's when I had a chance to talk to the factory rep at a show,. He suggested I might consider moving up to the SA-2. A few days later, early evening I received a phone call from someone identifying himself as Nelson...yep, Pass. He offered to take my silver SA-3, convert it to an SA-2, sell me a "spare" SA-2, and convert both amps to black faceplates...for a price I could not refuse. Since then I have owned Threshold SA-1. Aleph 0's, Aleph 1.2's, Pass SA-150's and now SA-60.8's.

I also started with M-L Monolith 1's which were upgraded to II's, and finally to III's over the course of the amp upgrades. Using CLX Art currently with the 60.8's and never been happier with the sound.
 

TomMLFan

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Wow BG, you've had one helluva ride. I wish I could have afforded to have done what you did. As an aside, back before I purchased the SA-2s I was debating between them and a comparable Krell. I called ML, told them what I was contemplating, asked for advice, and got a response "those are two of our favorite amps."

WARNING: Heresy Alert.

When my Monoliths died I seriously considered buying new panerls and staying with them. The WAF argued strongly for not doing that even though it would have been the most cost effective option. I looked longingly at the ESL 11As and 13As. Taking the WAF into account and my reluctance to get another electrostatic (we use the fireplace two or three times a week these days) and age (mine) argued against another electrostatic, My hearing has deteriorated and I'm not sure I can fully appreciate 11s, let alone 13s. I decided to go with the 60XTis. I was disappointed and sent them back. Honestly, I think something was wrong with the units I received but there was no way to know for sure. The only way to be sure was to get another pair of 60s, and I didn't want to do that with the possibility of returning them again. At that time I was without a car, so driving to various audio stores to listen wasn't possible. That has recently been resolved.

So what to get?

I dove back into the rabbit hole. I read a hundred reviews of speakers at many price points. I don't know where I ran across them in that venture, but I read one professional review and was sold. FYI, there IS only one professional review of these speakers. I'm getting the BMR Towers from Philharmonic Audio. I know, heresy. I warned you. I'm on the waiting list for a pair in April so there is still time to reverse the decision. Which leads me to the question and the point of telling you all this. Has anyone heard the BMR Towers? Not that you own them, but you might have heard them at a friend's house or in an audio show......somewhere. They're at roughly the same price point as the 60's and comparable in size, so the WAF is satisfied.

I bought the 60s through Crutcfield and they honored their return policy. I'll be buying the BMRs directly from the manufacturer. I don't think they have a return policy, but I haven't asked either, so I intend this as a one-way purchase. If you have heard them and tell me that it's a huge mistake I can still get 11s or 13s. Otherwise I can update this in April if anyone is interested.

Thanks for your help.
 

BDH55

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SA-2s are great amps. I was using a stereo SA-3 with M-L I's when I had a chance to talk to the factory rep at a show,. He suggested I might consider moving up to the SA-2. A few days later, early evening I received a phone call from someone identifying himself as Nelson...yep, Pass. He offered to take my silver SA-3, convert it to an SA-2, sell me a "spare" SA-2, and convert both amps to black faceplates...for a price I could not refuse. Since then I have owned Threshold SA-1. Aleph 0's, Aleph 1.2's, Pass SA-150's and now SA-60.8's.

I also started with M-L Monolith 1's which were upgraded to II's, and finally to III's over the course of the amp upgrades. Using CLX Art currently with the 60.8's and never been happier with the sound.
BigGuy, any comments on the heat output from your XA60.8's? I've been trying to make a decision on new mono blocks for probably more than year, and while I keep coming back to Pass Labs, I always get scared off by comments about how hot they run....
 

BDH55

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I only have one of their amps, a Sanders ESL (600wpc @4Ohms) powers my Monolith panels, and the woofers are powered by a Sunfire Stereo amp (200wpc @8). The crossover is a DriveRack 4800 speaker processor.

I had been tempted to go dual-monoblocks for the panels, but my current rig has enough headroom it's not worth it. That Sanders has some serious grunt.

Although I must note, I have 18 channels of amplification for a 5.4.4 setup that runs 98% of the time in some surround or immersive mode with all channels active, so front L/R are not quite as burdened as in a 2ch setup.
But even listening to 2ch, it can go way louder than is comfortable.
I guess I hadn't really considered the Sanders amps, but I am definitely warming up to the idea!
 

BigGuy

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BigGuy, any comments on the heat output from your XA60.8's? I've been trying to make a decision on new mono blocks for probably more than year, and while I keep coming back to Pass Labs, I always get scared off by comments about how hot they run....
The 60.8s DO get warm but not to the point where you would burn your hand. Here in CT, nice warmth in the Winter, less so in the Summer. Recognize that with exception of my earliest receivers/amps all subsequent have been Class A monoblocks. Before I bought them, I got a loaner pair from Mark @ Reno HiFi to compare to my XA150s. No brainer..kept the 60.8s and packed the 150s for shipment back as part of a very acceptable deal. I would highly recommend an in-YOUR-house trial to truly get a sense of what they can do. S/H to return not trivial but I think worth it considering the investment being considered.
 

BDH55

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The 60.8s DO get warm but not to the point where you would burn your hand. Here in CT, nice warmth in the Winter, less so in the Summer. Recognize that with exception of my earliest receivers/amps all subsequent have been Class A monoblocks. Before I bought them, I got a loaner pair from Mark @ Reno HiFi to compare to my XA150s. No brainer..kept the 60.8s and packed the 150s for shipment back as part of a very acceptable deal. I would highly recommend an in-YOUR-house trial to truly get a sense of what they can do. S/H to return not trivial but I think worth it considering the investment being considered.
Okay, thx for the feedback and tip on [email protected]! I'm in OH, and we are still trying to dig out from under the 2" of sleet we got end of last week (that soon turned into 2" of ice). Right now, I'm not sure even a pair of the Xs300's would keep my room warm! :rolleyes: :ROFLMAO: It seems like maybe I had heard someone mention [email protected] before but I guess I never paid attention. This time I did go hit his website and we are starting to get a dialog going.

So you appear to be solidly in the Class A camp. While I'm familiar with your current amps, I'm not familiar with the XA150's. Looking at the naming I am guessing that those were also Class A amps, but I'm just guessing. When you said that the difference between the XA150's and the XA60.8's was a 'no brainer' can you try to articulate exactly what it was? JLasher22443 and I have been discussing our amp searches offline (we both have ESL-15's), and while I don't want to put words into his mouth, he seems absolutely sold on the Boulder 2160... which interestingly is also a Class A amp. Assuming I do end up in the Pass camp, I had only really been considering their Class AB amps, because I was so concerned about the heat off their Class A amps. Maybe I do need to reconsider and just turn down the AC a little lower once Summer hits Ohio again...

Again, very much appreciate the tip... (y)
 

BigGuy

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Okay, thx for the feedback and tip on [email protected]! I'm in OH, and we are still trying to dig out from under the 2" of sleet we got end of last week (that soon turned into 2" of ice). Right now, I'm not sure even a pair of the Xs300's would keep my room warm! :rolleyes: :ROFLMAO: It seems like maybe I had heard someone mention [email protected] before but I guess I never paid attention. This time I did go hit his website and we are starting to get a dialog going.

So you appear to be solidly in the Class A camp. While I'm familiar with your current amps, I'm not familiar with the XA150's. Looking at the naming I am guessing that those were also Class A amps, but I'm just guessing. When you said that the difference between the XA150's and the XA60.8's was a 'no brainer' can you try to articulate exactly what it was? JLasher22443 and I have been discussing our amp searches offline (we both have ESL-15's), and while I don't want to put words into his mouth, he seems absolutely sold on the Boulder 2160... which interestingly is also a Class A amp. Assuming I do end up in the Pass camp, I had only really been considering their Class AB amps, because I was so concerned about the heat off their Class A amps. Maybe I do need to reconsider and just turn down the AC a little lower once Summer hits Ohio again...

Again, very much appreciate the tip... (y)
UR quite welcome! Yes, the XA150s are Class A...the X-series is AB. I am willing to "suffer" with the extra warmth generated to run Class A but I WILL say that I do not leave them ON when I will not be listening for extended period of time.

IMHO, what the 60.8s brought to the sound was a level of detail and extension that I had not previously heard despite their lower power relative to the 150s. They are also a more musically engaging than any prior Pass amp owned. A fellow audiophile who owns the M-L 13As compared the 60.8s to his 60.5s and both he and his wife both were amazed by the improvement in sound. He bought the 68.8s!

Looking at the ~$60k price tag of the Boulder 2160, the expectation would be that at 4x the price of the 60.8s, it SHOULD sound better BUT being an audiophile going on 40 years I recognize that price does not necessarily equate to quality. IF I had the $60k to spend on amp(s), being a Pass poster child, I would probably opt for the XS150 monoblocks. That being said, I would have difficulty justifying that kind of addition to my system tho' I believe the rest of my system could support them.

Isn't "audiophilia nervosa" great?!
 

BDH55

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Looking at the ~$60k price tag of the Boulder 2160, the expectation would be that at 4x the price of the 60.8s, it SHOULD sound better BUT being an audiophile going on 40 years I recognize that price does not necessarily equate to quality. IF I had the $60k to spend on amp(s), being a Pass poster child, I would probably opt for the XS150 monoblocks. That being said, I would have difficulty justifying that kind of addition to my system tho' I believe the rest of my system could support them.
Yes, I agree that just looking at the price tag the Boulder should be the winner. What I was trying to say is that you are loving your Class A Pass amps, while Jason seemed to think the Boulder took 'our' ESL 15's to a new level... and since they are both Class A amps, I was wondering if it could be that Class A amps bring something to Martin Logans that is just a special match? It just turned out that Jason and I seem to be on parallel paths. First, and without any dialog between us, we both choose the ESL-15... next we both chose the ARC REF 6 SE preamp... and now we are both on a search for new main amps. I don't know that he actually brought a 2160 home... I just know that he was very impressed by what he heard over the ESL-15's. Just wondering if this is the Class A magic I've heard about for decades...

I did have a conversation with [email protected] this afternoon. That conversation is most likely pointing me toward a pair of the X260.8. We talked about the Pass Class A options, but I continue to worry about a) their heat output, and b) ending up under powered if I would ever stray from the ML fold. :unsure:

I think I am just killing myself with paralysis by analysis. I've been trying to decide on new main amps for more than a year now (of course no huge rush because my Parasound JC-1's are working just fine) and just continue to waver back and forth...
 

TomMLFan

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Wow BG, you've had one helluva ride. I wish I could have afforded to have done what you did. As an aside, back before I purchased the SA-2s I was debating between them and a comparable Krell. I called ML, told them what I was contemplating, asked for advice, and got a response "those are two of our favorite amps."

WARNING: Heresy Alert.

When my Monoliths died I seriously considered buying new panerls and staying with them. The WAF argued strongly for not doing that even though it would have been the most cost effective option. I looked longingly at the ESL 11As and 13As. Taking the WAF into account and my reluctance to get another electrostatic (we use the fireplace two or three times a week these days) and age (mine) argued against another electrostatic, My hearing has deteriorated and I'm not sure I can fully appreciate 11s, let alone 13s. I decided to go with the 60XTis. I was disappointed and sent them back. Honestly, I think something was wrong with the units I received but there was no way to know for sure. The only way to be sure was to get another pair of 60s, and I didn't want to do that with the possibility of returning them again. At that time I was without a car, so driving to various audio stores to listen wasn't possible. That has recently been resolved.

So what to get?

I dove back into the rabbit hole. I read a hundred reviews of speakers at many price points. I don't know where I ran across them in that venture, but I read one professional review and was sold. FYI, there IS only one professional review of these speakers. I'm getting the BMR Towers from Philharmonic Audio. I know, heresy. I warned you. I'm on the waiting list for a pair in April so there is still time to reverse the decision. Which leads me to the question and the point of telling you all this. Has anyone heard the BMR Towers? Not that you own them, but you might have heard them at a friend's house or in an audio show......somewhere. They're at roughly the same price point as the 60's and comparable in size, so the WAF is satisfied.

I bought the 60s through Crutcfield and they honored their return policy. I'll be buying the BMRs directly from the manufacturer. I don't think they have a return policy, but I haven't asked either, so I intend this as a one-way purchase. If you have heard them and tell me that it's a huge mistake I can still get 11s or 13s. Otherwise I can update this in April if anyone is interested.

Thanks for your help.
WARNING***WARNING***Major hearsay alert

It took longer than expected to receive the BMR Towers, but they finally arrived. I gave them about 25 hours of break-in then invited friends over. I said I would update the thread after they arrived, so here goes.

The 60's desperately needed a sub-woofer. The Monoliths would have benefited from a sub-woofer. The BMR Towers do NOT need help with bass. The Towers present differently than did the Monoliths and the consensus of friends who have heard both is the Towers present a more honest balance, more subtle detail and, as I've said, more bass. I was very used to the Monoliths, to the point that I knew what the next note was going to sound like. The Towers are like listening to new music. Better new music.

Because at that time I had to wait for delivery, to prevent myself from making a mistake, I asked if anyone had heard the Towers. There was no response. I concluded that no one had ever heard them. Now I have. As far as I'm concerned these are the best speakers I've ever owned. They blow away the 60's and the Monoliths. I've not heard the ML ESL 11A's or 13A's, so I can't state that the Towers are better or even comparable. But at pennies under $4,000 (including shipping) for a pair, as far as I'm concerned, they blow them away too. If anyone is thinking about replacing their speakers and is even remotely concerned about price, I can only suggest that you find a way to include the BMR Towers in your audition list.

Oh. Almost forgot. They're gorgeous. The finish is impeccable.,

Best speakers I've ever owned.
 
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