Stereophile review of M700 mono amps


#1

For those who haven’t yet seen it, here’s the just released link to Stereophile’s review of the Stellar M700 mono amps.


#2

I was reading on the M700s for a while, and emailing back and forth with my dealer and Duncan at PS Audio for a while. Then I read this review. That’s it! I ordered myself a pair


#3

Smart man. You’re going to love these beauties.


#4

“smooth”

“tubelike”

“PS Audio has been on a roll. That roll continues with the Stellar M700 power amplifier.”

Very good review. Thanks @audio.bill for sharing

Cheers,

Alan


#5

I got the hard copy with the review about a month ago. ALL audiophiles have seen the phrase “competes with units 2 or 3 times the price”. Of course, no actual unit is ever described that IS 2 or 3 times the price.

In the review, Mr. Deutsch notes this : the Stellar M700s came ever so close to matching the sound of my high-end reference monoblocks, Theta Digital’s Prometheuses—which are ranked Class A in “Recommended Components” and, at $12,000/pair, cost four times as much as the PS Audios.

He actually states how close the M700’s are to his reference amps, and states the name of the amps.


#6

And I suspect he’s trying to be reserved…devil_gif


#7

There is indeed a bit of caution in his sentence. :slight_smile:

“Ever so close” makes me think of two parallel lines meeting at infinity.


#8

Bought a pair right after I read the review. Only have them 10 days so far and I am loving how they sound.


#9

I moved a very large cabinet to unstack them and while I was at it I made up some isolation feet. They just keep sounding better. I isolated my center speaker from the cabinet while I was at it and it also sounds better. I have large Magnepan speakers and they need power. The M700’s provide the power they need. I’ve done some recording and I know from experience that recording strings is very difficult. I’ve noticed that even strings in classical recordings have texture and resonance that is often missing. I am a very happy listener.


#10

I haven’t read the review, but I have been reading Robert Deutsch for many years, and he is one of those reviewers that don’t change gear very often. He has the same preamp, but the newest version for all the years I have read him. Although he has recently upgraded many of his components, DAC and transport, both PSA. He went from the PWT to the DMP, agreeing with all of you who made the same move.

I have found his reviews to be without a lot of the over the top superlatives used by some. Bottom line I trust his ears. And I l like his writing skills and style.


#11

Wonderful report, reproducing the texture of massed strings is exceptionally difficult. Piano is also tough. Magnepans however are made for piano. They capture the percussive nature of piano brilliantly.

As you note, it is challenging to get their sound correct. I also initially found it difficult to capture the sound of classical trumpet, as well as other classical brass instruments. When mic’d wrong they sound like pop instruments; bright, hard. Perfect for a pop recording, but not the warm, burnished sound of orchestral brass.


#12

The Stereophile review has been creating quite a bit of humor and doubt that moving the amps side-by-side could make such a difference. I know there are many in forums who love to criticize but there should be a difference according to the review. It is too cumbersome for me to compare both positions but has anyone else observed a difference? If there is no difference, then the review itself is brought into question. Also, the isolation feet were placed in a tripod position in another review. To do this they would have to be resting on the metal case.


#13

I don’t have these amps, but I’ve stacked components and then set them up side by side, most recently the DirectStream DAC and Memory Player. They have always sounded better TO ME side by side rather than stacked. I can only guess at the science behind that, but I do know that weight atop a component influences its sound (a little dab can do you), and that vibrations from moving parts can travel between components, in and out. I have also used all kinds of isolation “feet” and find that with some types three work better than four with lighter components; with a heavy amplifier such as these though I have found four to work better. Coupling and de-coupling for isolating purposes has led to better sound in my systems. There’s lots of reasons for this posited and posted on this board. Rather than “putting the review in question” these comments made me think “here’s a reviewer who has experimented and learned some stuff.”


#14

FYI, these amps only weigh 13 pounds each. I have mine (in my second system) stacked but have not experimented with isolation devices yet. I’m trying to fugure out if there is a way to rearrange them to be side by side.


#15

I found a place behind my OLED. Since the reviewer said there was a major improvement side-by-side one of us should be able to do an A/B comparison. I would have to take the back off a very large cabinet and also move it so it’s not possible for me. I would appreciate another forum member doing this comparison and reporting their findings. The isolation feet on/off comparison would also be good.


#16

I do not think you want to know. If someone verifies there is a major improvement side-by-side, what are you going to do then? :slight_smile:


#17
stevem2 said

FYI, these amps only weigh 13 pounds each. I have mine (in my second system) stacked but have not experimented with isolation devices yet. I’m trying to fugure out if there is a way to rearrange them to be side by side.


Cool. If I had them I would try it both ways and it wouldn’t surprise me if three worked as well or a bit better.

#18

If you put them on the top rack or on the floor on their own rack, you could stand them on their sides, and separate them however much you want. Turn one 180 degrees from the other.

You may think I’m kidding/mocking, but…if separation matters vs. stacking, it would follow that any sort of separation should help.


#19
oneartist said

The Stereophile review has been creating quite a bit of humor and doubt that moving the amps side-by-side could make such a difference. I know there are many in forums who love to criticize but there should be a difference according to the review. It is too cumbersome for me to compare both positions but has anyone else observed a difference? If there is no difference, then the review itself is brought into question. Also, the isolation feet were placed in a tripod position in another review. To do this they would have to be resting on the metal case.


I would be more suspect of the forum, than the reviewer. I have never met an audiophile who doesn’t have a basic understanding of isolation. They may not agree on what to use, or if it just changes the sound, or makes it better. Some stack out of necessity, but know it is a compromise.

As to placing cones, iso-blocks, or more elaborate devices on the metal case, if that concerns you, Herbie’s sells some kind of thin discs. The feet you are replacing or using something that is taller than the stock feet, usually are screwed into the metal case. Most enclosed cabinets I have seen have adjustable wood shelves that aren’t the best solution. Go take a look at HRS shelves and racks. Those are an example of quality isolation. I have a cheap rack compared to those, and each of my shelves have four adjustable points that the shelf sits on. My amp sits on a 2" piece of pressed board with four brass cones under it, then a cutting board on four iso-pads, the amp sits on four large rubber stoppers. I have tried various cones, myrtle blocks, and I prefer the rubber stoppers. The amp weighs about 50lbs, so the Stellar may benefit from something else. Even when stacking, you should have something other than the stock feet. Some companies do use special footers, but most just use basic rubber feet, as they expect that they will be replaced by something better. Cones, pads, like cables allow you to fine tune the sound. It can help balance a system that may have a component that is a little bright, is too far to the warm side.

As I posted earlier, Robert Deutsch is a long time reviewer, who I have been reading for many years. I think he has good ears.

Instead of asking someone else to move their amps around, you should do it. If you don’t trust Deutsch, why would you trust some guy on an audio forum? If you are serious about getting the best out of your system, it may be time to get rid of the cabinet and get some decent dedicated racks. Audio Advisor sells a rack for $100, that would be a good starting point.


#20

I read with considerable interest the comments in this forum about my review of the Stellar M700. I really appreciate these comments–especially the positive ones! I’d like deal with some of the issues that space did not allow me to discuss at length in the review.

The first point is about the recommendation to avoid stacking the amps. Here, as with all tweaks, the rule of Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) applies. In my system, the effect was quite marked, but there’s no guarantee that it would be the same in your system. However, if you have space on a rack, separating the amps costs nothing, and you can check this out yourself. The IsoAcoustics Orea Isolators involve additional cost, but with the M700 you’re already getting a great bargain, so I think the extra expenditure can be justified if there is an audible improvement–and I think there is. There are, of course, other audio equipment isolation devices available, and if you’re a seasoned audiophile you may have some of these around. I tried some Vistek Aurios Pro Isolation Bearings–no longer being made, originally priced at at $599 per set–and found that these were also effective, but just not as effective as the IsoAcoustics Oreas. But whatever you have already, it’s worth trying.

Although my preference is to place the amps side-by-side, for those who find this inconvenient, there is another option that’s quite effective: stacking the amps but with the isolation devices between them. With the Oreas, this was nearly as effective–and, of course, it saves you the cost of a second set of Oreas.

There is an additional tweak, one that I did not try until after the review was submitted: placing a VPI DB-5 “Magic Brick” on the top of each amplifier. The VPI web site does not list this product, but it’s available from http://www.elusivedisc.com/VPI-Magic-Brick/productinfo/VPI-BRICK/. It’s supposed to redirect stray magnetic fields from the power supply and, weighing 5 lbs. 6 oz., it provides for some chassis damping. I found these (one per amplifier, placed approximately above the transformer) to provide another increment of transparency. But again, YMMV.

As I think I made it clear in the review, I was very impressed with the Stellar M700. So much so that I decided to buy the review pair.

Robert Deutsch

Contributing Editor

Stereophile