I took the plunge and tried the new m700 mono-blocks just in time for Christmas. For years had this setup:
Sony HAP Z1-ES -> BAT VK5i -> Ayre V3 -> Aerial Acoustics 7B's
The Sony is a great player. The 10-tube BAT pre-amp is a beast of a tube pre. The Ayre was a great 200@4 ohm amp. The Aerial 7B’s have always been known to be very neutral with a good amount of bass. But what I was lacking was POWER. The Sony converts everything to DSD, so I have been keen on the PS Audio’s DirectStream as a future upgrade, so I decided to check out the amazingly priced m700’s.
WOW! I had no idea what my front end and speakers were capable of! I always knew my 4-ohm nominal 7B’s needed gobs of power to sound their best - and been told at least 300 watts is needed, which the m700’s have. I decided to tried the m700’s (350@8, 700@4, stable into 2) over, say the the BAT VK-255SE (150@8, 300@4), Rotel RB-1590 (350@2, 400-ish@4), Audio Alchemy DPA-1 (125@8 ohms, 200@4) Once I got past the 2 weeks break in period, I suddenly have a completely new system with the m700’s!
Sound integration: The most amazing thing about the m700’s is they are so neutral, they really add far less to every recording. Many of my live recordings had the same feel with my old amp - with the m700’s they all sound very different. I think they have the power to drive the bass in my speakers, so instead of getting generic bass I am now getting what the readings have in them. And I can now place instruments much more independently in the soundstage – everything is clearer and cleaner.
Soundstage: As wide as my fully balanced Ayre amp, but the M700’s is a bit deeper. I had to move the speakers away from the wall to get more out of the soundstage
Bass: m700s - AMAZING! I have a ton more control. My Ayre amp didn’t have the power to control my 7B’s, and I realize I was getting more generic bass from my old amp. With the powerful m700’s, I now have solid, strong bass even at low levels. I am finding I don’t need to turn up the volume to really loud levels to hear everything. But when I do, the bass grows evenly with everything else.
Micro-dynamics: another REVELATION! I am learning that my Sony HAP Z1-ES has far more resolution than I thought, and I am hearing detail and micro-dynamics in everything I listen to. I’m curious what the DS/DSjr could do!
Speaker Binding Posts - my only issue with the amps are the binding posts. I could not easily get my Transparent Audio MM speaker cables to easily around the fat binding posts. My first attempt to set them up I had them set up poorly, AND THEY DISCONNECTED. I contorted the speaker able to go around the fat binding posts, and I fear I have to use pliers to really clamp down on these cables. I can send pictures if you would like to see it.
Stereophile review: I agree with Robert Deutch’s review of the m700: smooth (almost tube-like), well-balanced, outstanding value! And same as Robert, I set them up stacked first, only later to try them side by side. I needed them side-by-side to help solve my binding post/speaker wire problem – and I do they they sound better side by side. Weird.
Great job Paul McGowan and the team!