From: Jamie Johnson
The NM24 DAC / SM 70 MK2 amps / DR-1 interconnects / POCCO speaker cables
have been such a delicious piece of audio eaven for me. Now I have music that
is 3 dimensional, dynamic with luscious highs and tight bass. Singers lyrics are
delivered poetically with realism and air. Superb inner detail and warmth from
my B and W 804 Diamonds which have been known to be very revealing to good
and bad signals alike. With this combo the sound is magical.
As you know I listened to the NM24 with Mxxxo(maker name hidden) interconnects to the SM 70 MK2’s
for too long before getting the DR-1 IC's from you. I should have listen to you
and bought the DR-1's instead. The difference is profound. The Mxxxo's make
for an undefined sound with BOOMING bass and biting high end with no inner detail
in comparison with the DR-1 IC's. I would not have believed there could be so
much lost in a cable. This cables really showed the potential of the NM24 /
SM 70 MK2 combination. Now the sound is poetic to say the least.
The true defining moment of weather it sounded way better came from my wife
who said " now that sounds beautiful" then asked what I did. I said I got some new
cables from Mr Poon. She said I thought you said there was no difference is
cables. I know I said that but clearly I was wrong and Mr Poon was right again.
Thank you Mr Poon, for everything thing you have said about audio has been
proven true to me first hand. Now I have sound as good and usually better
than any audio store that I have been in, that would be a lot of them, for a very reason
able amount of money.
Thank You Jamie Johnson
Jaime Johnson's System: Monarchy NM24 DAC/Pre-Amp, SM 70 MK II's, DR-1 interconnects, and POCCO speaker cables. Click on image for larger view.
I was able to get both of my SM-70 Mark 2 hooked up last night, but since my wife was asleep I couldn't crank it. She is a school teacher and leaves the house at 6:00 am.
I woke up earlier this morning than I normally do.......with good intentions!!
I fired up the SM-70 Mark 2's hooked up to my NAD C165BEE preamp........it totally blew me away.
I have had a lot of different brands of amps through the years and this is by far the best amps I have ever heard for the money. They not only sound spectacular but look spectacular!! These will be a keeper for a long time.
Just thought I would let you know what my opinion was of these beauties.
Subject: Re: SM70 Mark 2
I love your amps. End of story.
Thanks for the great deal; they're keepers. I appreciate your time and willingness to work with me.
I don't know if you're familiar with Green Mountain Audio, but your amps on these Rio II speakers are awesome.
- Ryan Hansen
(sent from my iPhone)
Subject: SM70 MKII
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2012 22:18:18 +0100
Dear Mr Poon,
I am writing to thank you for the delivery of my SM70 amplifiers. To say I am delighted with sound would simply be an understatement. I am using them in fully balanced mode with the XLR connection. The weight, scale and dynamics of the music is astounding. I will not be changing them. In fact I am already considering purchasing a second pair to bi amp the speakers. (Eminent LFT 16). That said I do have a concern. As I write I am listening to them and all is well. However tonight one amplifier has blown the 3 amp fuse (accessible on the rear panel) on three occassions. Fortunately I happened to have suitable replacements. The first time it went was when I switched on the amplifier. I should say now that this was done mistakenly with the XLR lead disconnected at the pre amp end. The other amp did not blow the fuse. Upon realising my mistake I turned both amps off and reconnected the XLR leads. Hopefully turning them on again I found the fuse had gone on one amp. I replaced the fuse and tried the amp again having first checked all leads, mains and interconnects for shorts and found no problem. There were no shorts on the outputs and no problems with speakers that I could tell. I turned on the pre amp first (as you say is best) The fuse went again without the light comming on. Replacing the fuse again I switched the amp on without the pre amp on. The fuse went again. I put the last 3 amp fuse I had and turned the amp on with no other equipment on. The amp has stayed on and is working as I write. I am hoping you may have an explanation and a way I can prevent it happening again. All the components are run from a mains conditioner. This is an Isol- 8 Cleanline 2 unit with 6 dedicated outlets.
A second question I have is about hum. Both amps hum, one is obviously louder than the other (the quiet one is the one that has blown the fuses) The amps can be heard clearly from the listening position about 5 yards away. I use dedicated mains cables from Chord and Russ Andrews. Swapping these around and then using another cable that is sheilded ( the braiding is connected at the plug earth end only), I hear no difference in the hum on either amp. Should I hear any hum from the amps? There is no hum through the speakers, just a low level phasey swishing sound that does not vary much with volume and can only be heard when right up to the cone. I have read in one of the amp reviews that disconnecting the earth at the plug can reduce earth related hum issues. I have not tried this and am a little reluctant to do so as I believe the amps are designed to have an earth connected. I had not had hum on the previous amp. The toggle switch is in the down postion and the speakers are wired between the two red terminals as instructed for balanced operation. As I have said I could not be more pleased with sound, I just fear that when I come to switch on the amp again the fuse will go. It would be good to get rid of the hum, it is noticable over quiet passages of music.
Very Best Regards
Subject: Re: hum
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2012 18:56:47 +0100
Hello Mr Poon,
I am still very much enjoying the amps, they really are very special. I have had no problems with the fuse blowing and will stick with the 4 amp T rated fuses I have put in both. As for the hum you are right it does subside a little as they warm. I am hearing past that now, as I am tending to listen a little louder as the amps encourage that, being so clean. I shall as I said, save up and purchase another pair for bi amp use. For over 30 years now I have enjoyed music and Hi Fi. Not always in that order! I really don't remember all the equipment I have had, but undoubtedly these are the best and the last amps I will purchase.
Note from Web Master: Owning a pair of SM-70 Mark 2's I also have noticed the potential for hum with these amps. The "problem" seems to be related to the sensitvity of the speakers. I have a pair of Klipsh Chorus speaker (sensitivity 101 dB) and a pair of Tonian MK II's (sensitivity 98 dB). There is a noticable hum when nothing is playing with both pairs of speakers. If I attach my B&W CM 1's (sensitivity 84 dB), then there is absolutely NO hum. Bottom line: the greater the sensitivity of the speakers then the more hum the SM-70's will produce. The sound of the SM-70's attached to a pair of Klipsch Chorus' could fill a very large auditorium and in this case the hum would not be noticeable from more than 10-15 feet from the speakers. A low watt tube amp will also drive the Chorus'. The Tonian's were made specifically for low wattage (2-12 watt) tube amps. The B&W's are a perfect match for the SM-70's, but some B&W 800's or the Diamond series driven by a pair of SM-70's would be a match made in heaven.
Subject: Re: SM70 Mark 2
I love your amps. End of story.
Thanks for the great deal; they're keepers. I appreciate your time and willingness to work with me. I don't know if you're familiar with Green Mountain Audio, but your amps on these Rio II speakers are awesome.
I recently acquired a single Monarchy Audio SM70 with large logo and "Pure Class A" on the front. I believe this identifies the unit as first generation SM70 (vs. Mk2).
My congratulations on the design and build of the amplifier- you really hit the mark! Compared to current and past amps and receivers from Fisher (500c), Dyna ST-70, Luxman, Sansui, Concept, Parasound, Marantz, McIntosh, Harman Kardon, Emotiva, Peachtree, Decware, as well as home brew Class D incarnations, the Monarchy is the best combination of clarity, detail, grain free with a slight warmth that provides a non-fatiguing listening experience.
I would like to get my hands on a second SM70 to run them in Mono, but it appears that SM70's are very rare: a recent search showed none on Ebay, and only one (SM70 pro) nationwide on craigslist. Could it be that everyone is holding on the their Monarchy amps? My early listening would support such conjecture.
The SM70 I purchased was reportedly used by a church for vocal amplification (the audio equivalent of the used car owned by the proverbial little old lady, driven only to church on sundays, I suppose). My guess would be about 10 years old- but that's purely a guess.
I use with a Peachtree iDecco as DAC, preamp (switchable tube buffering) and Bohlender Greabener Radia X3 speakers- hybrid with cone woofer and ribbon tweeter. The speakers are nominal 4ohm with moderate efficiency- 93db. Initial impression is very nice system synergy.
My questions are as follows:
1) In my search for a second unit for running two (2) in mono, would ONLY a first generation SM70 make sense, or would any SM70 Mk2 or SM70 Pro be a proper match?
2) I have heard only three general concerns with the SM70's- hum (don't have with mine), on/off thump (I turn on last and off first-therefore no issue) and heat. Of course I have heat, but use a small, quiet usb computer fan (28 c.f.m.) to extract heat from top of the amp. Any issues doing that?
3) Where would one find the amp serial number?
4) Any other information a new owner should be aware of?
Again, thank you for developing such a wonderful audio product, as well as taking the time to answer my possibly silly questions.
Subject: "Problem" solved...
Hello Mr. Poon,
A few days back I sent you an e-mail praising a SM70 PRO I purchased from eBay. I also added the unit buzzed a bit.
Yesterday I fed it from a Balanced Mains Unit. This stopped the buzz completely.
The UK mains voltage in my house is a high 246/247 volts. The Manufacturer of the BMU wound the transformer in such a way that the voltage on its output was a more benign 230 volts. Whether the drop in voltage helped, or the blocking of DC helped, or just the operation of balanced mode helped, I know not. The end result is silence. And what a great bit of kit your amp is.
Now, pre-amps: do passives work, or do you not like them? (I'm thinking minimalism!)
Very best wishes.
I have been extremely happy with the massive difference the DAC has made to my digital sources. I could not envisage buying any other maker's amps, after hearing my friends system. He bought 5 of your SM70 from Kevin at Living Voice for his 5.1 set up, but they sound absolutely glorious in stereo, driving his Living Voice OBXRWs. We have tested potential replacements from Parasound, Shindo, Gotham, Canary and others, costing many thousands of pounds, but the little SM70s are still there and nothing comprehensively beat them.
Thanks again for your help,
I am now using the SM70 for the purpose that I bought it for, to drive a pair of
Fountek ribbon tweeters in a tri-amp system.? These tweeters are quite efficient
(98 dB/1 watt - 20 watt RMS max power handling) and the SM70 is perfect for them.?
They are very revealing of any flaw in the amp.? I've tried many GOOD solid state amps
and they all sound really harsh which increases exponentially as SPL rises, Idon;t
what it is that I'm hearing but it sounds awful on these Adcoms, Parasounds, NADs and
so on.? I tried a Dynaco Stereo-70 on the tweeters and it was quite good but lacked
top end "air" and tranient "bite" - I then tried an old Yamaha integrated amp with a
Class A switch (a Class A switch not the later quasi-class a "auuto class A" which was
a high bias A/B option) - just using the power amp section of the Yamaha - which I bought
for $27 - the sound under Class A was quite good.? I then tried an AMC CVT-2030 which is
a hybrid MOSFET driver / EL34 tube in?class A output.? This has a wonderful silky quality,
and NEVER sounded harsh but, again, lacked the transient detail.
So I bought this Monarchy SM70 after it was suggested to me on the? AudioAsylum board-
and WOW! THIS is the sound I was looking for.? No harshness, very silky sounding but
with delicate detail and the transient sparkle that was missing from the tubes.?
There is a real delicacy available through the SM70, and the power level suits the
ribbon tweeters perfectly.
The only problem is, the SM70 is such a jewel, it's so beautifully made,
that I am having a hard time putting it in my amp rack?
I'd rather put it on my dining room table, under a spot light....?
I particularly like that thick front panel.?
I also tried it on my Quad ESL-57's.? The highs and mids were wonderfully pure....
again, the highs had that "satin nickel" quality- glare free yet detailed. But of course
the Quads want more power, and they seem very happy with the Sugden A25 or
the Dynaco Stereo 70 which I alternate for driving the Quads.?
The SM70? is going to stay in my other system, driving the ribbons.
Dear Mr. Poon,
You certainly may use my comments on your web site, with my best wishes for
your continued success. I am looking forward to many, many years of satisfying
listening with my SM-70s. I also read the article on the SM-70 supply
mods. I don't doubt Mr. Galo's impressions of the improvements. I am an EE, so
this modification is quite within my capabilities. The price is certainly
reasonable. Even so, I must say that I don't feel terribly motivated to do the
modification. I'm enjoying the music quite enough, as is.
I want to tell you another experience I had with these amps. I had been using
them for a couple of months, then one night, late, I listened to
recording of Bach's cello suites. This is one of my favorite CDs. At the
the first movement of the 3rd suite, I realized I had been holding my breath
for some time. Now, you can't take credit for Bach's genius or Rostropovich's
skill, but your amps did something (or didn't do something) amazing, to let
music through to me like that.
Eaton OH USA
Hey Mr. Poon, Just got the amp on Wednesday and I must say the first thing I noticed was the clarity and detail. The amp just resolves the detail so well.
Also the amp creates a feeling of greater depth and spaciousness of sound...its so great...I just ended up on the couch listening to
a piece I normally tire of but listened to it all the way through. (I am comparing it with my ADCOM GFA-535II). I removed the ground pin
from the power cable because of the hum.
Does this affect the warranty in any way?
I assume it does not because it was in the manual.
Thanks again for your help and great product. Regards, Ryan
Dear June, The Sm-70 has arrived in good health and is currently burning in on my system. I am very impressed with it. I will be demonstrating it to a customer this weekend and if he likes it as much as I do, it should result in a few sales.
Thanks for your fast service
Jack DuMoulin JMD Consulting
Hi Mr. Poon,
I have now had both my SM-70PROs up and running in my system now
for the last few months. I just wanted to tell you that this is
the best sound I have heard from my speakers ever. They sound
fantastic. Everything is so realistic and natural sounding.
I am headed toward the utalization of balanced inputs soon.
Well thank you very much for such a wonderful product.
Keep up the good work.
Dear Mr. Poon:
Just wanted to write to tell you how pleased I am with SM70 pro's, 24/96 Dip and Model 33 combination DAC/preamp.
The first SM70 Pro was doing quite well all by itself in combination with the 24/96 dip and the model 33 Dac/Preamp. I was impressed with how easy it was to listen to CD's which now sounded smooth, and more natural instead of the compressed highs and tinny sound that has bothered me about this format from the beginning. Then when I received the second SM 70 Pro and the balanced connectors the improvement was incremental again.
The transparency of the inner voices, airiness of the upper strings became even more pronounced. Most importantly for me as a professional musician I did not get "ear fatigue." I auditioned many components during my search for equipment but nothing was as pleasing to my ear, (and I might add the ear of friends) including equipment that cost 3 and 4 times as much and which was supposed to be more "powerful."
My thanks for your patient answers to my many questions and for the prompt and well packed way the equipment was shipped to me.
Bassoonist, Contrabassoonist the St. Louis Symphony Orch
Wow, I just checked with UPS and the amps are already at the suburban Chicago UPS hub, that's pretty fast. This is one of the reasons I like UPS- here in Chicago they do a really good job. I've heard that in other areas of the US, Fed Ex is great and UPS is bad. Here it is just the opposite- Fed Ex often can't seem to find me and UPS usually arrives earlier than expected....
FYI I have been telling everyone I talk to about how fabulous the SM-70 is that I already own. I've also posted my entusiasm to a number of audio discussion boards. The sound is wonderful, I originally used it to drive Fountek ribbon tweeters in a triamped system, and now I am using it to drive the ribbon tweeters of Magneplanar 3.6 which I have set up in tri-amp mode. The single SM-70 doesn;t have quite enough power to handle every piece of music I play on the Magneplanars, but the ribbon tweeters in the magneplanars are pretty efficient and the ~30 watts or so does a better job than I would have initially thought. (The pair of SM-70 PROs will do better, no doubt) It really is a fantastic amp, and beautifully made. I know the use of thick billet aluminum probably doesn't make it sound any better but it sure makes it a nice object to own. (Thick aluminum is good for dissipating the heat, though, I'm sure.)
Anyway, thanks for making such a high-end product available at this price. I learned about it when it was recommended to me on Audio Asylum's Amplifier board, and I'm very glad I took that guy's advice.
Bound for Sound Report
Martin G. DeWulf Editor & Publisher
Never heard the M901.
I liked the Kingrex a lot but it just did NOT play loud enough for me, nor have enough bass.
The Nuforce are favorites of mine. If you need a very simple amp (one input, one output) the Nuforce Icon Amp (not the vanillia 'Icon') can't be beat. I had one, wish I'd kept it. I'm still using an Icon as a pre-amp.
The Virtue are more 'audiophilish' than similar amps. Better midrange, soundstage. But they are still a tripath amp. Like a really, really, really, good thirty dollar amp. I think the parts quality on my 451 is excellent. I'm using it in my office/computer system with a pair of Energy RC-mini's and a Martin Logan Dynamo.
I think Nuforce is a good place to stop. I think the Virtue are better, but not hugely so, unless you're using a subwoofer. The Virtue have an outstanding sub-out and the feature of '80hz filter to the main speakers' is KILLER if you're doing a sub.
PS: If you're interested in separate amps check out the Monarchy SM70 Pro for $588. Jesus, it's amazing. Just knocks all this Tripath stuff into the dirt, but you do need a pre-amp. Best sounding low-powered amp I've ever heard by a mile.