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  • GPA Monaco 2.0


    The Monaco 2.0 was introduced at 2016 CES. There was a fair amount of buzz about this table but little info.
    Grand Prix Audio now has a product description and specs on their Web site - very interesting! Here

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  • #2
    Very interesting. How much cashish?
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mep View Post
      Very interesting. How much cashish?
      Last I heard, it's around $37500 - expensive. But isn't that in the neighborhood of, say, the Kronos Pro or some model from TW Acustic? The Monaco v1.5 is available at $23,800 and (though a bit of a wince to say) something of a bargain in direct-drive relative to the competition. From its description, the v.2.0 takes it all to another level of speed stability, accuracy and silence. The Kuzma 4Point (shown in the photo) and the Tri-Planar 'arms are synergistic matches with both 'tables. Build quality is impeccable and setup is simple. My comments on v1.5 setup here.

      Comment


      • #4
        I read the article you posted the link to above and I have to say I'm quite intrigued and would love to hear this table. I think I was turned off by the soup bowl looks initially, but maybe this is where form follows function. The specs are pretty amazing, but we have all been duped by specs before with regards to automatically translating into great sound. That is why we need to listen to products before we plunk down our hard-earned cash.
        Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mep View Post
          I read the article you posted the link to above and I have to say I'm quite intrigued and would love to hear this table. I think I was turned off by the soup bowl looks initially, but maybe this is where form follows function. The specs are pretty amazing, but we have all been duped by specs before with regards to automatically translating into great sound. That is why we need to listen to products before we plunk down our hard-earned cash.

          Which table was in the Alta Audio room at RMAF? The 1.5 or 2.0? That room was making very good sound in Denver last year.
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
          -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
          -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post


            Which table was in the Alta Audio room at RMAF? The 1.5 or 2.0? That room was making very good sound in Denver last year.

            I don't know Myles.
            Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

            Comment


            • #7
              I wish I remember which table Alvin had in the room.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
              -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post


                Which table was in the Alta Audio room at RMAF? The 1.5 or 2.0? That room was making very good sound in Denver last year.
                I'm certain it was the 1.5. The 2.0 made no public appearance until this past CES. I had to compliment him on his discipline in staying mum about the project until then. Coming from the hyper-competitive world of auto racing he knows how to keep a secret.

                Comment


                • #9
                  More than a year since its debut at CES 2016, here is more information, some comparison of the Monaco 1.5 with the 2.0, along with brief sonic impressions. Now at The Audio Beat: First Sounds: Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0.

                  My understanding has it (no promises) that Roy Gregory will do a full review to be published possibly later this year.



                  Let me know what you think.

                  Comment


                  • Rob
                    Rob commented
                    Editing a comment
                    it was a good read, I can tell you like it thanks for sharing this.

                  • Hawk
                    Hawk commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Nice write up. Congrats!

                • #10
                  Hello Tim, very interested in this turntable so your impressions were very helpful indeed. I have heard some people describe the previous versions as somewhat lean sounding although I haven't heard the previous versions myself. How does the v2.0 compare with v1.5 in this aspect? I believe that next issue of Tone Audio may have a full review of the v2 as well. Hope Roy gets to review it. I suspect that the SAT arm could be good match for v2. Many thanks

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by tima View Post
                    More than a year since its debut at CES 2016, here is more information, some comparison of the Monaco 1.5 with the 2.0, along with brief sonic impressions. Now at The Audio Beat: First Sounds: Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0.

                    My understanding has it (no promises) that Roy Gregory will do a full review to be published possibly later this year.



                    Let me know what you think.
                    I like the looks, and some of the features of the newest model, like repeatable torque settings for the record clamp, are clever, and if not vital, certainly add to the appeal. At this price point, it has to break some ground, sonically. I've had his racks for years, and religiously replace my sorbothane pucks every 6-9 months (except for experiments where I like to see what less cushioning does to the sound- I have the carbon fibre shelves but a single acrylic one in play for various power supplies).
                    I know speed accuracy and motor noise are two important things in a turntable that should be a "given" but are not, necessarily. Assuming that the thing turns accurately and isn't noisy, the next question, to me, is what the thing sounds like based on materials in play, how the record couples with the platter, what the platter is made of, arm, etc. In other words, speed accuracy and consistency and (lack of) motor noise should be the starting point.
                    I have always liked doing business with his company-- not meant to be a diss, but I think the real question is what it sounds like. And, I know the cynics among you will say-- "but, a turntable shouldn't sound like anything!"

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by ashandger View Post
                      Hello Tim, very interested in this turntable so your impressions were very helpful indeed. I have heard some people describe the previous versions as somewhat lean sounding although I haven't heard the previous versions myself. How does the v2.0 compare with v1.5 in this aspect? I believe that next issue of Tone Audio may have a full review of the v2 as well. Hope Roy gets to review it. I suspect that the SAT arm could be good match for v2. Many thanks
                      The only reviewer I know who thought a Monaco sounded 'lean' was Michael Fremer in his review of version 1.0 from ten years ago, although he didn't use quite that terminology. I have not heard the 1.0 so I can't comment directly on its sound but I was somewhat surprised at the tenor of that review and its need to bolster itself with some anonymous opining on, was it an MP3 recording? Iirc, RG addressed the topic in his 2008 HiFi+ review of version 1.

                      The coverage here being a First Sounds article, I did not devote the same space to sonics as you'd find in a full review. But I do have a full set of listening notes, so I'm happy to share further.

                      To speak directly to your quesiton, I found neither the 1.5 nor the 2.0 to sound lean, thin, or otherwise lacking in fundamental or harmonics - if that is how the word is used. You can cause the v1.5 to sound a wee teeny bit lean if you over tighten the record clamp. Sometimes in order to figure out how or which adjectives to apply or what someone else might intend, I ask what are the antonyms. In the case of "lean" we have plump, thick, fat, etc. My reference to "tonal depth" speaks to this.

                      Here are a few quotes from my notes:

                      "Hugely dynamic, snap-fast electronic transients that bounce and crackle in, out and across the soundstage at diferent widths and heights - they push forward and surprisingly recede or pull back. Vocals are humane, in sharp contrast with the electronic sounds. Sounds no longer ride the surface - they appear as objects with dimension and depth." - Kraftwerk, Electric Cafe, "Telephone Call"

                      "Opening drums reveal different timbre from where on the drum head and how hard is the strike. I sense the resonance of air inside the snare." Elvis Costello & The Attractions, This Years Model, "This Years Girl"

                      "Delightful rich harmonics coming off the Leslie's horns rotating in their cabinets" [the Leslie is a rotating horn speaker associated with Hammond B3 organs] NRBQ, All Hopped Up, "Call him off Rodgers" (A really funny song about a guy encountering Roy Rodgers dog.)

                      "At the end of Summer, I'm unconsciously pumping my fist in the air - this is like a prog-rock power ballade. You don't think of the 4 Seasons as a bass power presentation, but the v2 keeps opening doors. I sense no baroque thinness of tone or tenor. Being the backbone of the analog front-end we're less likely to be consciously aware of the structure and solidity behind the motive force as the table lays down the track and turns the engine that propels the music forward, but its there. The differences between the oval and square label Argos are so obvious, the oval is sweeter, clearer with a more verberant acoustic envelope." Marriner & the ACSMF, The Four Seasons, two versions of ZRG-654.

                      "The sense of tempo and timing is amazing. Dynamics = phenomenal. I am out of superlatives w/out sounding trite or hyperbolic." Paray & Detroit Sym, Ravel's "La Valse" Mercury/Classic SR 90313




                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

                        I like the looks, and some of the features of the newest model, like repeatable torque settings for the record clamp, are clever, and if not vital, certainly add to the appeal. At this price point, it has to break some ground, sonically. I've had his racks for years, and religiously replace my sorbothane pucks every 6-9 months (except for experiments where I like to see what less cushioning does to the sound- I have the carbon fibre shelves but a single acrylic one in play for various power supplies).
                        I know speed accuracy and motor noise are two important things in a turntable that should be a "given" but are not, necessarily. Assuming that the thing turns accurately and isn't noisy, the next question, to me, is what the thing sounds like based on materials in play, how the record couples with the platter, what the platter is made of, arm, etc. In other words, speed accuracy and consistency and (lack of) motor noise should be the starting point.
                        I have always liked doing business with his company-- not meant to be a diss, but I think the real question is what it sounds like. And, I know the cynics among you will say-- "but, a turntable shouldn't sound like anything!"
                        Thanks Bill. I agree- of course the real question is what it sounds like. I haven't heard a component yet, Monaco included, that does not have its own sonic character.

                        I pretty much also agree about speed accuracy and noise as a given. But then I heard the 2.0. I perceived such a wide difference between the really really accurate 1.5 and the hyper accurate 2.0 that I kept asking myself "how can this be, what's going on?" Sure lowered noise floor, but I'm pretty familiar with what reduced noise does for sound in a variety of components, and while that was there, my experience said no way did it wholly account for what I heard. The measurement numbers are interesting and we see small differences to the right of the decimal point - there's only so much to grasp before glazing over and no way (for me anyway) to correlate any of it to what I might hear. The only way is to listen. I came to the conclusion - I know this doesn't make sense - that what I heard validates the numbers. Now, okay, maybe its me - there's always that - but for now I have enough confidence in my ears to think that what the table is showing me is real. The question is how to express it. There is accurate and there is near perfect - and this was such a leap that, without the appeal to magic, I have no other explanation that increased accuracy - at least well beyond what the 1.5 is doing - makes a much bigger difference than we/I thought it could. So in that sense its not a "given" and plays a much larger role than I imagined.

                        Comment


                        • Rob
                          Rob commented
                          Editing a comment
                          the obsession with speed accuracy reminds me of the time when a dealer was showing off a new phonstage. there were about a half dozen of us present, oohing and ahhing over the sound when a musician joined us and within 5 seconds says the pitch was off and the table was running fast. we put the strobe on it and sure enough he was right, it was WAY off! my takeaway was that no matter how tuned in we are to certain aspects of the sound, we can, at the same time be so oblivious to gross errors in pitch even when it stares you in the face

                        • MylesBAstor
                          MylesBAstor commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Is that a blessing or a curse? In the end, it's all about ear training.

                      • #14
                        Originally posted by tima View Post

                        Thanks Bill. I agree- of course the real question is what it sounds like. I haven't heard a component yet, Monaco included, that does not have its own sonic character.

                        I pretty much also agree about speed accuracy and noise as a given. But then I heard the 2.0. I perceived such a wide difference between the really really accurate 1.5 and the hyper accurate 2.0 that I kept asking myself "how can this be, what's going on?" Sure lowered noise floor, but I'm pretty familiar with what reduced noise does for sound in a variety of components, and while that was there, my experience said no way did it wholly account for what I heard. The measurement numbers are interesting and we see small differences to the right of the decimal point - there's only so much to grasp before glazing over and no way (for me anyway) to correlate any of it to what I might hear. The only way is to listen. I came to the conclusion - I know this doesn't make sense - that what I heard validates the numbers. Now, okay, maybe its me - there's always that - but for now I have enough confidence in my ears to think that what the table is showing me is real. The question is how to express it. There is accurate and there is near perfect - and this was such a leap that, without the appeal to magic, I have no other explanation that increased accuracy - at least well beyond what the 1.5 is doing - makes a much bigger difference than we/I thought it could. So in that sense its not a "given" and plays a much larger role than I imagined.
                        I'm not sure speed accuracy is a "given" either in the real world, though it should be. If you like the sound of the table, taking into account tonearm and a wide variety of material and enough time to assimilate it (as well as having some other reference, using the same arm and cartridge--that's usually the killer), I'd say "no more questions." I've checked speed accuracy on my big Kuzma and there are modest variances using a test tone record and that phone app-- Feikert?-- but not to the point where I notice it sonically. Piano is usually a dead give away. I haven't done a speed test here, but probably should. Then, I wonder if the isolation transformer (still waiting for it) will make a difference if it effectively regulates the power in addition to providing isolation. (Not sure an isolation transformer even does that, but thought I'd throw that in there). I do have the table on a separate line from the other front end components, figuring that a speed control box for AC motors must throw off some nasties, but I'm speculating here. (I plugged the entire front end into the same line back in NY and I couldn't really here a difference).

                        PS: what's up with the tonearm(s)? Did he originally offer a tonearm? On the Grand Prix/Monaco site, it looked like a Kuzma and a heavy metal arm, which looked a little like a Triplanar, but those used to have black arm tubes, and this one was all silver-- nice looking piece.

                        Comment


                        • Guest's Avatar
                          Guest commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I don't know if the v1.0 included a tonearm. While GPA doesn't sell direct, if you ask about a tonearm, you're likely to get a suggestion for a Tri-Planar, I'm thinking the 12" model which is what is standard review fare and (I believe) what is sold to dealers for their in-store model. And you can order a 'table with one. The U2 Tri-Planars can be had with carbon-fiber wands but I think Tri still offers the regular black wand made of ????

                          On the GPA site today, there are pictures of the 1.5 with a silver Dynavector (it might be a 507) and a newer Graham. (Not quite sure what you saw in silver - I'm pretty sure you didn't take the Dynavector for a Tri-Planar :-) Pictures of the 2.0 model show with the 12" Tri-Planar and the Kuzma 4Point. I've had the regular size Tri-Planar Mk VII for a few years now and bought the 11" 4Point last September(?). Both work v. well with both versions of the 'table. I find the 4Point on the 'table more frequently but I'm pleased enough with the Tri-Planar that I'm keeping it. Last time I asked, Alvin likes the Tri-Planar.

                          The Parabolica brochure shows something different - I think there's a pic on that thread here - but I don't know what it is.

                          I'm told GPA can make a custom armboard for just about anything. I'm vaguely recalling he has but one customer with a linear tracker.

                          I keep my 'table on a separate line as well for the same reasoning - not so much for the 'table but for the rest of the gear. But I did not heard a difference when its plugged into a Hydra Triton.

                        • jfrech
                          jfrech commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I've had 3 arms on my Monanco 1.0. Triplanar, Schroeder LT, and currently a Spiral Groove Centroid. The Centroid is my fav of the 3...really special arm ... I've saved the arm boards for the Tri and Schroeder if anyone wants to experiment. Happy to loan but I'd want em back...

                      • #15
                        Originally posted by tima View Post

                        The only reviewer I know who thought a Monaco sounded 'lean' was Michael Fremer in his review of version 1.0 from ten years ago, although he didn't use quite that terminology. I have not heard the 1.0 so I can't comment directly on its sound but I was somewhat surprised at the tenor of that review and its need to bolster itself with some anonymous opining on, was it an MP3 recording? Iirc, RG addressed the topic in his 2008 HiFi+ review of version 1.

                        The coverage here being a First Sounds article, I did not devote the same space to sonics as you'd find in a full review. But I do have a full set of listening notes, so I'm happy to share further.

                        To speak directly to your quesiton, I found neither the 1.5 nor the 2.0 to sound lean, thin, or otherwise lacking in fundamental or harmonics - if that is how the word is used. You can cause the v1.5 to sound a wee teeny bit lean if you over tighten the record clamp. Sometimes in order to figure out how or which adjectives to apply or what someone else might intend, I ask what are the antonyms. In the case of "lean" we have plump, thick, fat, etc. My reference to "tonal depth" speaks to this.

                        Here are a few quotes from my notes:

                        "Hugely dynamic, snap-fast electronic transients that bounce and crackle in, out and across the soundstage at diferent widths and heights - they push forward and surprisingly recede or pull back. Vocals are humane, in sharp contrast with the electronic sounds. Sounds no longer ride the surface - they appear as objects with dimension and depth." - Kraftwerk, Electric Cafe, "Telephone Call"

                        "Opening drums reveal different timbre from where on the drum head and how hard is the strike. I sense the resonance of air inside the snare." Elvis Costello & The Attractions, This Years Model, "This Years Girl"

                        "Delightful rich harmonics coming off the Leslie's horns rotating in their cabinets" [the Leslie is a rotating horn speaker associated with Hammond B3 organs] NRBQ, All Hopped Up, "Call him off Rodgers" (A really funny song about a guy encountering Roy Rodgers dog.)

                        "At the end of Summer, I'm unconsciously pumping my fist in the air - this is like a prog-rock power ballade. You don't think of the 4 Seasons as a bass power presentation, but the v2 keeps opening doors. I sense no baroque thinness of tone or tenor. Being the backbone of the analog front-end we're less likely to be consciously aware of the structure and solidity behind the motive force as the table lays down the track and turns the engine that propels the music forward, but its there. The differences between the oval and square label Argos are so obvious, the oval is sweeter, clearer with a more verberant acoustic envelope." Marriner & the ACSMF, The Four Seasons, two versions of ZRG-654.

                        "The sense of tempo and timing is amazing. Dynamics = phenomenal. I am out of superlatives w/out sounding trite or hyperbolic." Paray & Detroit Sym, Ravel's "La Valse" Mercury/Classic SR 90313



                        Hello Tim, many thanks for taking the time to provide such detailed and highly informative feedback...much appreciated. I think with all your great feedback we nearly have a full review now. One last question - what stand/support did your place your Monaco v2 on? Thanks again for your wonderful feedback. Happy listening.

                        Comment


                        • Guest's Avatar
                          Guest commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Thank you!. As shown in the above picture, both the 1.5 and 2.0 sat on the top shelf of my SRA Scuttle v3 rack. At some point I plan to look at additional isolation, perhaps an SRA Virginia Class platform.

                          I'll be v. interested to learn what others have to say about the 2.0. In 13 yrs of reviewing I don't recall going this far out on a limb but I'm confident of what my ears are telling me because they keep telling me the same thing everytime I listen to the 'table. Be that as it may, let your your own be your guide. :-)

                        • ashandger
                          ashandger commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Great. Many thanks for the feedback. SRA Craz rack is also on my shortlist so that is helpful info to have. Cheers.
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