Monolithic PA-1 Preamplifiers

4.71/5 (7 Reviews)


Product Description

Description: This is the preamp that has been advertised in Music Direct's flyers. Monolithic Sound is the company created by Dusty Vawter, formerly of Audio Alchemy. In keeping with the AA tradition, the chasis is smaller than your average preamp, yet it manages to have four inputs and two outputs (all single ended). The front of the chasis sports a rotary/detented switch for the four inputs on the left, a muting toggle switch near the center, and a volume/gain control knob on the right( as you rotate the knob clockwise, the gain is passive until the mark on the knob aligns with a detented 0dB mark which is at 12 o'clock, then the active gain stage takes over). A cool blue LED in the center glows to let you know the power is on (no power switch). Speaking of power, the power supply is in a separate chasis. A power supply upgrade is available, but this review was made with the standard power supply.


Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating

Reviews 1 - 5 (7 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:3
Submitted by nathanm a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 28, 2004

Bottom Line:   
This is a good looking and well built little unit. I am not sure what makes it cost 500 bucks but what else is new? The sound? Doesn't really have one that I can tell. The volume knob is creamy smooth and has a good weight\feel to it. You get four inputs, two outputs plus tape loop. What's missing is a balance control, the only thing I really wish this thing had. The source selector on mine is a bit scratchy - you gotta wiggle it a bit, but it works. Like I said before, I can't really say if this thing has a distinct sonic character of its own or not. I am running it with a pair of Cary Rocket 88s, you know the ones before the guys at Cary said "Oh shoot, this thing sounds better with a gain stage!" but in all honesty with my speakers there's enough headroom. In fact. on some albums I can turn the knob all the way up and get a darn loud SPL without sounding like something's gonna break.

The compact size is wonderful although the RCA jacks are rather close together so cable swapping isn't exactly a walk in the park. If it were up to me I would like to have a third pair of outputs for my sub but I s'pose that isn't a common request.

They conned me into getting the swank PS-1 power supply for this sucker too, but I don't know if there's a difference or not. I bet you could get by with the wall wart and still live to tell the tale. The PA-1 is a nice looking and well-designed, no BS piece of gear.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   Needledoctor



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Doug a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 19, 2003

Bottom Line:   
This "passive" preamp is an unusual device. In a time of ever increasing complexity and reliance on digital processing here is a preamp that is the closest thing to a "straight wire with gain' that has come my way. The operation of the preamp is simple with four stereo inputs, two outputs, source switching and a volume control. A subtle detent at 12 O'clock on the volume knob marks the change from passive (no gain) mode to active (up to 6 db of gain). With high level source such as CD/DVD players there is seldom a need for gain, but it is there if required. As for the sound of the PA1, well it really doesn't have any. It is extremely neutral and low in noise. This should suit the majority of users seeking the best possible sound at a genuinely affordable price. It would be best to use the shortyest cable runs possible to and from the unit even though in normal operation the signal is buffered through the vey high quality Burr Brown OPA2134 operational amplifier which demands that the power supply be used when the unit is functioning. Highly recommended

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $300.00

Purchased At:   used



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Paul a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: January 30, 2003

Bottom Line:   
It's a nice little unit. I upgraded the power supply, as well. The build quality is impeccable for a small, inexpensive preamp. It is neutral, junk in, junk out. Lousy sounding CDs will sound thin and sterile (occasionally I wish there was a little fleshing out, like on my tube units past). BUT, as CDs get better, SACD catalogue grows, that's not so much an issue. The PA-1 is just neutral, natural, and if you have good ancillary components, you can't go wrong for the price. I bought mine at Signature Sound in NYS, thanks Rich. Let it break in before you make any real evaluations about the sound; it needs a good month or so of continuous play. I would not match the Monolithic with an extremely bright amp, and remember it only has 6db of gain (nonpassive mode), so choosing correct components is critical to get the most out of it. If you do, you can't go wrong at this level, you need to triple the price to really get this degree of performance.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Dan a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 17, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This is a great little preamp. Soundstaging and detail improved relative to my former Rotel. One thing I have noticed is that the music sounds better at lower volume levels. My room is relatively large, but I have yet to require levels above 0db. I am very satisfied. I have used up all the inputs, and it would be nice to have one more set, but I am eventually migrating to a music only system from a combined music/home theater system and the problem will resolve itself then.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Michael Hazy a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: February 18, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This preamp and upgraded power supply should be on everyone's short list. I though it sounded great from the start. After about twenty minutes, I was pulling cds from my collection that I hadn't listened to in years. That's probably the best indicator that this is one musical preamp.

I agree with the other reviews I've read on the PA-1 which state it is very, very neutral. I've heard cd players from NAD to Naim through the PA-1, and, within reason, the source is going to be the limiting factor with this preamp. Expect a deep black background with great low level resolution. I heard a big improvement in bass versus my Counterpoint SA-7, which the PA-1 owes a debt to cosmetically. (Since Counterpoint borrowed Mark Levinson's cosmetics, I'm not sure who's copying whom.) Notwithstanding cosmetics, one might still call the PA-1 a baby Mark Levinson, but I think the PA-1 is better than that.

The PA-1 got me excited about music again. Can you can remember how amazing it was when, metaphorically, you got rid of your H/K receiver and (swallow) Bose speakers for your first "real" stereo? Listening to the PA-1 has the same effect. If you like music more than audiophilia, you owe it to yourself to listen to this preamp. If your budget is under $1000, the PA-1 is the answer. I would A-B it at any price level because the PA-1's performance might make you question whether that extra $1000 wouldn't be better spent on cds or silex, for example.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Purchased At:   pro musica (chicago--no manhattan dealer!)




Reviews 1 - 5 (7 Reviews Total) | Next 15

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating



High End:



BLG CP024: