ACCUSTIC ARTS MONO II MK 2 POWER AMPLIFIERS £22,500 REVIEW
December 30, 2020 § Leave a comment
The weight and authority of a pair of big mono amps can be a double-edged sword. Faced with no crosstalk in a stereo amplifier and an amplifier with a lot of power in reserve, music can come across as a bit ‘soulless’… but not here. The Mono II Mk 2 manages to combine much of the lithe sound of smaller amplifiers with the bold and effortless sense of dynamic range and scale that only comes with big power amps. That combination comes across regardless of music played; whether it’s Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ [Deadpool 2 OST, Columbia] or Mahler’s Eighth [Solti, Decca] – and that’s a back-to-back musical combination that you don’t often hear – the Mono II Mk 2 delivers the ‘grace’ and the ‘space’, and quite a lot of the ‘pace’ too. In terms of soundstage, the amplifier goes more for depth than outright width; the stereo imagery is still wide of the loudspeakers, but not Cinemascope-like wide.
Downsides? Naturally, when an amplifier is this good, it is tempered by the quality of the rest of the devices in the signal path. Don’t even think of using these amplifiers in an ‘almost there’ system, as the Mono II Mk 2 will highlight limitations, especially those upstream, and especially in your power delivery. Also, these are not ethereal, floaty sounding amps and neither are they the almost supernaturally fast leading-edge led fast-paced designs. But, even here I’d argue that at the Mono II Mk 2’s price (and way beyond), what you lose by chasing such goals is usually more than you gain. Yes, when you get to the absolute pinnacle of performance, there is something of a convergence, but criticising a £20,000 hand-built pair of amps for not being a pair of £120,000 pair of amps tailor made to your system is more than a little unfair. Besides, what you get here is balance in all things, which is often lost irrespective of the amplifier design, and its price tag.