Monaco Modular

Features

InstallationGrand Prix Audio Component Isolation Systems have the lowest natural frequency and therefore the best resonance control available. The Monaco Modular Isolation System is Grand Prix Audio’s debut modular, 3-leg isolation product featuring our signature shelf supports–a customer favorite!

  • The Monaco Modular is a versatile option with superior Multi-Stage Isolation™ in each module!Build a SMALL (17.75”) or LARGE (23.3”) unit as tall as you would like with modules in three stock heights to mix, match, and even build one piece at a time:
    1. Base Module 10.25” opening and two shelves
    2. Extra Tall Module 9.75" opening single shelf
    3. Tall Module 7.25” opening single shelf
    4. Short Module 5.5” opening single shelf
  • TrueVector™ Coupling for perfect vertical alignment when connecting modules no matter your configuration.
  • Features 2” diameter 304 Stainless Steel Columns manufactured with precision CNC machining standard in black texture or smooth metal finish, with Twin O-Ring Decouplers between modules and column caps in the same finish to mix or match—and custom colors are an upgrade option.
  • Carbon Fiber shelf supports have Sorbothane interface for vibration control, and standard clear Acrylic Shelves come with custom Sorbothane tuning dampers.
  • All Grand Prix Audio isolation products come complete with chassis and shelves, appropriate weight-defined dampers based on individual customer load requirements, and Spiked Base Coupler.
  • UPGRADES: Custom heights in both SMALL and LARGE modules; APEX Footer, Special Edition (SE) Shelf Supports with added Kevlar, Special Edition (SE) Columns with center aluminum tubing and SE Polymer fill in the outer ring for damping; Acrylic Shelves also available in smoked or black, or upgrade with Formula Shelves.

Installation

  • Height: several to chose from, custom orders are welcome see CAD drawing
  • Shelf size: 21" W x 23.3 D" (or 17.75" D for the "short wheel base" frame)
  • Weight without ballast: 58 - 76 lbs. depending on shelf thickness
  • Weight with lead shot: 122 - 140 lbs
  • Weight-bearing capacity: > 600 lbs
  • Ballast capacity: 64 lbs
  • Materials: Carbon Fiber epoxy chassis platforms, 304 Stainless steel support columns, 6061 T6 Aluminum support column closures, Stainless steel "True Vector" couplings, 304 Stainless steel spikes, Sorbothane, Acrylic

Custom dimensioning available upon request.

Contact your local dealer, distributor, or Grand Prix Audio for pricing.

Monaco Modular Isolation System Options

  • Apex w/Levelers rather than spike floor interface
  • Monaco SE frame with twin-wall construction polymer fill (the air space between inner 1" diameter aluminum tube and outer 2" diameter column is filled with the proprietary damping polymer first premiered for the Apex interface - the inner tube itself can be filled with ballast or lead) Also, an inlay of Kevlar in the triangulated supports.
  • Formula Shelves Carbon-Fiber upgrade shelf
  • Short Wheelbase frame is as wide and tall as the standard Monaco Modular Isolation System but only sports 17.75" shelf depth for standard-size component
  • Custom Dimensioning (for all models)

Monaco Amplifier

Installation

Specifications

  • Height: 7" or as ordered
  • Shelf size: 21" W x 23.3" D Weight without ballast: 14 - 18.5 lbs. depending on shelf thickness
  • Weight with lead shot: 20 - 24.5 lbs
  • Weight-bearing capacity: > 150 lbs
  • Ballast capacity: 6 lbs
  • Materials: Carbon Fiber epoxy chassis platforms, 304 Stainless steel support columns, 6061 T6 ;Aluminum support column closures, Stainless steel "True Vector" couplings, 304 Stainless steel spikes, Sorbothane, Acrylic

Contact your local dealer, distributor, or Grand Prix Audio for pricing.

Monaco Amplifier Isolation System Options

  • Apex w/Levelers rather than spike floor interface
  • Monaco SE frame with twin-wall construction polymer fill (the air space between inner 1" diameter aluminum tube and outer 2" diameter column is filled with the proprietary damping polymer first premiered for the Apex interface - the inner tube itself can be filled with ballast or lead) Also, an inlay of Kevlar in the triangulated supports.
  • Formula Shelves Carbon-Fiber upgrade shelf
  • Short Wheelbase frame is as wide and tall as the standard Monaco Amplifier Isolation System but only sports 17.75" shelf depth for standard-size component

Testimonials

Alvin,

You've seen and responded to my review so there are no surprises. You already know how I feel about the Monaco Modular Isolation System I wrote about and now proudly own. Having been in audio manufacturing myself for years, on the sales & marketing end, I appreciate how an up-and-coming smaller company relies on word-of-mouth from satisfied customers to spread the word.

From my perspective, of having been a classically trained musician, High-End audio salesman, High-End audio National Sales Manager for three different firms -- throw in touring the country and visiting some of its top dealers as well as numerous trade and consumer shows -- I have a reasonably close fix on the status quo. As a reviewer for the last four years, even more equipment now passes through on a regular basis than before.

The word? The word is that the eventual marginal improvements we reap if we've been at this endless upgrade game for a few years are relegated by the Monaco Modular Isolation System to where they belong: marginal advances that, at this stage of the game, costs a heckuva lot more. In my reference system (somewhere upwards of $50,000 these days) the $3,500 expenditure of your stand has made a more pronounced across-the-board improvement than any other equivalent dream purchase I could think up. I'm not saying this lightly. I could have thrown the same money at a new CD player. 'cept I know without a doubt that in order to improve over what I have, I'd have to go a lot higher. And knowing the shrinking gap that nowadays separates really good "reasonable" digital from the so-called SOTA efforts, I'm confident that even going after a $10,000 digital setup wouldn't return the kind of overall transformation the Monaco Modular Isolation System did.

In short, for someone like me whose system has arrived at a high level of sophistication (involving years of trial'n'error and don't-ask how many paychecks) the Monaco Modular Isolation System counts as a true highlight purchase and the best investment I've made of late. I'm happy to hear you've decided to offer a home-trial program. Any mature audiophile in a similar boat to mine would be crazy not to take you up on it!

Equipment list:

  • Cairn Fog 24/192 up sampling CD player
  • Zanden Model 5000 MkIII tube DAC
  • Bel Canto Design PRE6
  • AUDIOPAX Model 88 monoblocks
  • Avantgarde DUO 2.0
  • Unison Research Unico hybrid integrated
  • AKG K-1000 with Stefan AudioArt custom cable
  • Walker Audio Velocitor
  • Acoustic Zen, Analysis Plus, Audio Magic, Harmonic Technology, HMS and i2digital/Sterevox cables
  • Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System with acrylic shelves

Best wishes. You and your products highly deserve 'em! Srajan Ebaen, publisher, 6moons.com

The very first thing that attracted me to the Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System equipment rack was its sheer beauty. I had been looking for quite some time for a rack that would look good in my living room. While I wanted something that looked good, I also wanted an improvement sonically. Little did I know just how much it would improve the sound of my system! The makeup of the system is as follows;

  • Krell KPS-28c CD player
  • Krell KCT Pre-amp
  • Naim FM Tuner
  • Krell FPB-200c Amplifier

On the power end of things I am using a JPS Labs In-wall Power Cable to go from my electric panel to a Wattgate wall outlet. From the wall outlet I am using a PS Audio Ultimate Lab Cable to a PS Audio Power Plant (P-600). From the P-600 I am using also Ultimate Labs to my pre-amp and CD player and finally an Ultimate lab from the wall to the Krell Amp. My loudspeakers are Totem Acoustic Mani-2's. While I realize this is not an ultra hi-end system; in the grand scheme of things, the Monaco Modular Isolation System took my system up many, many notches.

As suggested, the first thing I did after setting up the rack was to listen to some music with only my CD player place onto the acrylic shelf. Due to insufficient cable lengths, I was unable to use interconnects that I would normally use between my CD player and the pre-amp. I did notice a difference in the music immediately.

It was a bit livelier and very enjoyable to listen to. After listening to the usual array of cuts that I would any time I implement a change to my system, I proceeded to swap out the acrylic shelf for the Formula Shelf. At this point in time I placed my pre-amp in the rack on the acrylic shelf. All I could say was "WOW"... I felt like I had gone out and purchased a new system. The space between the instruments had improved tremendously; the music became more open sounding, more dynamic, more like music.

The thing I liked most about my Totems was the fact that they were on the analytical side of things. I was content with giving up a bit of musicality in exchange for their ability to be relentlessly revealing.

Upon placing a Formula Shelf under my pre-amp, that whole scenario changed. I was totally blown away by the presentation. At this point in time I felt that I was not only listening to the music but that I was now listening to the music in the same exact environment that it originated in.

I felt that it had taken on the character of its place of origin rather than just being there in theory. Everything about the music improved - dynamics, soundstage width and imaging, the depth; at times I felt like the stage had moved out in front of the speakers as well. Most importantly, it was more musical, the one thing I was willing to sacrifice. It was amazing.

Over the course of a couple of weeks I tried some various tweaks from Black Diamond Racing. The first thing I did was to place 3 cones under my CD player; they have two types - Mk3 which are warm sounding, and Mk 4 which are more linear. I tried the Mk3s.

I felt the sound became a bit edgy - as a result less musical. Based on the fact that the Mk4s were more linear I did not try them. I was convinced that the result would be even worse. The next thing I tried was to place the BDR "The Source" under the CD player..

The "Source" is a heavy carbon fiber shelf. I used the racing cones both under the CD player as well as under the "Source"; plus the Pits, which are basically cone footers to de-couple the player from the Formula Shelf and to protect the Formula Shelf from the points of the cones. This smoothed things out again. But now I felt there was a lack of focus. Next I removed the cones and the pits entirely and placed a sheet of paper between the BDR "The Source" and the Formula Shelf. There was more detail but no musicality.

The last thing I tried as far as BDR was concerned was to place the felt pads between the "Source" and the Formula Shelf. This took me closer but nowhere near the performance of the Formula Shelf on its own. Less is more?

The only other things I have done was to place a Bright Star Audio "Little Rock" (12 lbs.) on top of the CD player to mass-load it, I filled the rack with lead shot and I placed a Formula Shelf between my Sound Anchors Amp Stand and my amp. I felt that the "Little Rock" did clean things up. Unfortunately at the time that I got around to adding lead shot, I had to return my PS Audio Power Plant to them for repair. It was creating a mechanical hum in the components that were plugged into it.

Once again I Thank you.  Mike A.

"My Goodness Gracious!!! This stand (Monaco Modular Isolation System) is outstanding! I finished the long and arduous task at around 8:30 Saturday evening and started listening even before the components had warmed up sufficiently. I nearly dislocated my jaw on the floor! I have not made use of sand or lead yet, but had to go forward anyway. Across-the-board improvement in all the right ways. At first I thought I might have to re-tune the system, but as it warmed up thoroughly, I realized I wouldn't need to. I listened until 3:30 in the morning! I just couldn't stop. The increased level of focus and transparency was breathtaking.

I'll be writing you with my stepped listening observations, but I can tell you now that every step [replacing the acrylic with the Formula Shelves made a very audible improvement in the sound and that each step was not exactly the same in the improvement it made."
Doug R.

Monaco Modular Isolation system

"After 25 years of experimenting with different components and cables, I realized that I needed the perfect isolation system. Now I have it..."
Myles G., Somerset, MA

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"...I recently purchased a Monaco Modular Isolation System and a Monaco Amplifier Isolation System, both with Formula Shelves. Great products! It is hard to believe that so much detail could be gained simply by changing racks. Wow! ...

Congrats on the Stereophile review! I wish they had put the review closer to the front of the magazine. The improvement with the Monaco Modular Isolation System is significant. It should be duly recognized!...

The Monaco Modular Isolation Systems make quite a statement! Not only is their appearance impressive, the sound from the system is amazing! I hear a lot of detail that I missed when using my old rack... The Monaco is a stunning product!

Thanks again! Mark R., University of Illinois, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Mark,

Thank you for your kind words. It's always gratifying to have peers in the engineering community respond to our efforts. I have to confess great pleasure, at seeing you confirm our claims that the applied research, science and execution behind Grand Prix Audio is indeed founded in the textbooks and not just empty marketing propaganda. Consumers are rightfully suspicious about claims, especially in the arena of audio resonance control products. Paul Bolin's review in Stereophile, and Srajan Ebaen's on 6moons.com just weeks prior to it, both indicate a promising trend. Properly engineered equipment isolation solutions such as ours are finally recognized for being major components with component-caliber performance contributions. Our products are finally outgrowing the limited-effects tweaky accessories curse that rides on dubious scientific documentation and incorrect explanations of basic physics principles involved.

Thank you!
Alvin Lloyd, Gran Prix Audio

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The following letter to the Editor of Stereophile was kindly forwarded to us with express permission for inclusion on this page:

Dear Stereophile,

I have always found your magazine's equipment and record reviews immensely informative and entertaining, and they have helped guide me through numerous equipment upgrades over the 15 years I have been a subscriber. Although I certainly have not always agreed with all your writers' ideas and recommendations, I have always believed your editorial objectives were well intentioned, contrary to the constant stream of angry letters that question the integrity of your editorial content, along with everything else connected to the publication and the writers (although the periodic "flame" attacks on your higher profile writers over the years such as J10 and Mikey F have had a tabloid-like entertainment value).

After your magazine's recent favorable review of the Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation Systems, and being in the market for improved storage for my recently purchased hi-fi system, I was prompted to go visit my local hi-fi dealer again (Definitive Audio in Bellevue, WA) and discuss the merits of the GP racks with them. After very favorable input on the racks from their representative Chris Dove I made the purchase, along with their optional carbon fiber shelves for my CD transport, D/A, and preamp (after some arm twisting on his part that the optional carbon shelves were indeed worth the extra money). I was somewhat skeptical, however that a mere "tweak" such as vibration isolation and RF isolation from the composite shelves would benefit the system very dramatically.

I am now, however still scraping my jaw off the floor from the benefits this purchase has made to both the sound and aesthetics of my system. The improvement in sound was extremely substantial across the board (transparency/clarity, soundstage depth, low frequency extension and detail) in a system that was already by most measures of reasonably high quality (Mark Levinson components, B&W 802 speakers, Transparent Audio cables and interconnects, PS Audio power conditioning). Even my wife, a non-audiophile, noticed the improvement right away (and liked the aesthetics of the product).

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both your writers for their equipment reviewing skills, and Alvin Lloyd at Grand Prix Audio for making such a wonderful product that is both incredibly functional, and attractive to boot. Mr. Lloyd was even nice enough to personally respond immediately to a cc of an email I had sent to Definitive Audio detailing my initial observations on the racks, and thanked me for the purchase. Although I've frequently suffered from indifferent or downright lousy service in the hi-fi business over the years, especially when I was just a curious 20-something music lover on a very limited budget, its experiences like this product that renew my faith in the hobby.
Sincerely, Jeff H.

Well, I set up the new Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System today, fired the equipment back up, and at first noticed only a mild improvement. The one thing that struck me right off the bat though was that every little change I made (changing the frequency setting on the PS Audio power plant, toggling the polarity switch on the ML 380S preamp) was more noticeable than before. But, I also realized that everything had that grainy sound that un-warmed-up solid state components tend to have, so I let the whole thing sit for a while. When I returned in the evening, it was now like someone had rolled a (very good) subwoofer into the room while I was gone, cleaned the wax out of my ears, and remastered all my CDs. I would dare say that if you're gonna spend the Long Green for Hi-Fi, these racks are a must in order to get what you paid for out of the rest of the system...
No Bull.
My highest recommendation,
Jeff H.

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"Sweet Jesus!!! Holy Grail of Shelving!!!!"T.W.

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"Holy Mother of Pearl." G.J.

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In this hobby, much is written by industry "experts" touting the next big thing. Sometimes it is a product that does have a plus, but it turns out not to produce the bang for the buck that we'd hoped. Then of course, our expectations are dashed a bit until we try the next big thing that comes along, all in the name of audio nirvana. And so the quest for the Grail goes on.

Now I won't be able to help adjust that psychology based on individual experiences, however I can say that on par with some of the great improvements that I have encountered that could justify their investment, i.e. the PS Audio Power Plant, there is another area that has been neglected, albeit from a scientific perspective. I am talking about isolation.

Now I've tried some of the solutions in this and was for a while an avid participant in the great floating experiment with the Aurios MIBs. I must have dropped over $2,000 to float my entire system and this included B&W 803 Nautilus speakers. After a year of what I thought was a most positive experience, someone noticed a post and emailed me a detailed view of what they called the "great bass suckout" due to the Aurios. I thought about what this guy stated in his emails and did give it a whirl first taking the devices from my speakers. After having them sit on stands, I realized that more gains were probable (overdue) with an attempt at spiking. Turned out to be the right move after two plus years of improper application.

What this told me along with experiences using different cones, Aurios etc., was two primary things:

One, changing the sound with the use of a device such as rubber, steel, etc. would produce a change and this change would not necessarily be one desired. To a degree it all came down to taste. Thus, for the amount of objects on the market to tweak your equipment, none could claim to be a model for everyone's system.

Two, the changes were not measured in any scientific fashion so the "desired" changes could not be appreciably replicated.

So not too long ago, I thought that maybe it was time to take another look at the isolation world. Having recouped some money back from my original investment, I decided that the time was right to see what was going on. I came across many racks on Audio Asylum, but one product in particular stood out: Grand Prix Audio. So I looked into the website and contacted the creator, Alvin Lloyd who, as it turns out, spends way too many hours a day researching and developing solutions in this area.

He however has one differential from the army of people selling products in this arena. He takes time to do objective measurement testing to see where the improvements are, how much and what is left for improvement. He allowed me to use some component feet as an initial test for my equipment. I tried it and was pleasantly surprised. He said that there were other approaches we could take in lieu of a stand but that his Monaco Modular Isolation System would produce by far the greatest return on investment.

Skeptical but armed with a trial period, I took him up on his offer.

Boy was I surprised. Music by any measure in reproduction has numerous obstacles to overcome. Having returned from the 2002 HES show, I can say without qualification that there are many great systems out there but many are lacking in the emotion they produce, no matter their overall cost. Many high priced systems did not move me much from an emotional standpoint. The Wilson Watt Puppy 7s were one exception but then again, this is a $22,000 investment.

What the Monaco Modular Isolation System does is take a large degree of vibration throughout the environment and reduce it greatly allowing a component's "original" intent shine through to a great degree. The clarity and blackness added into my system was not in any way an incremental improvement. People have commented about the rack as a system and/or component. The real determining factor is your head and what hits your ears

The results are stupendous. And Alvin Lloyd is about as dedicated to his craft as one could hope for in the modern era. At the HES Show, Sony apparently felt strongly enough about the Monaco that they used it for their presentation of SACD multichannel with the upcoming Rolling Stones' releases.

Test drive one and you'll see for yourself. You've got nothing to lose but the grunge.

Product Weakness: Design is too beautiful for rest of decor Product Strengths: Improved clarity, background and soundstage. Construction is superbly designed and crafted.
Roman

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Hi Alvin,
I finally set-up all 100+ lbs. of my TT rig on the top shelf of the Monaco Modular Isolation System, after replacing the dampers as you provided. I had to re-adjust balance as the TT platter is sitting towards the front of the Rack, and that's where most of the weight is. Well, other than that, I haven't had to give another thought to the TT isolation. The rack performs superbly. I have heard several non-suspended TTs, even ones sitting on custom racks with high-end isolation products (never tried a vibraplane though), and nearly all of them had problems. Either footfalls would cause some skipping, or tapping the TT would cause resonance through the cartridge etc. My wife can dance next to the TT, I can even bang on the arm-board, and there is no problem - I am not exaggerating here. More importantly, the dynamics are as life-like as my current amp/speaker combination will allow. I don't have to give suspension a second thought, and that justifies the price I paid for the Monaco...unfortunately, I now feel a craving for horn speakers.
Rony W.

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Dear Alvin,

…I want to thank you for expediting the custom Monaco Modular Isolation System you built and hand-delivered to Ambrosia Audio for me. Your products are unbelievably beautiful and functionally perfect. We are installing this weekend and I can't wait. Hope all is well.

Regards,
Steve R.

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"...The Monaco Modular Isolation System has moved my system up yet another notch, by giving me a deeper and more detailed soundstage, as well as somehow physically reducing transformer hum coming from my tube amp that used to be audible from around 8 ft. away in a quiet room. These benefits alone were worth the purchase, not to mention the stunning good looks and extra bit of class that it added to the music room. I do also appreciate the quality packaging for shipping safety purposes... well done! Thanks again for a great product! I will be sure to let others know what I think of it as well. Keep in touch! ..."
Eric W., Bartow, FL

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"... Just wanted to let you know that I received everything Monaco Modular Isolation System today. I have done the set up but have not had much time to tweak and or listen. First Impression...WOW!!!Thanks again and I will talk to you soon ..."
Mike A., Huntington, NY

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My overwhelming first impression is of substantially increased detail across the spectrum. This improvement is most noticeable on higher-quality LP's such as Classic Records' reissue of "Balalaika Favorites" on the Mercury Label. The 45-RPM reissue of this album is one of my all-time favorites. I've been relentlessly spinning it since setting up the stand. Suddenly, I clearly hear the difference between the attack and decay of individual balalaika notes -- notes begin as almost an explosion of sound and emotion, then gracefully decay into the background.

Also revealed are the sounds of a plectrum striking balalaika strings, especially on my favorite track "In the Moonlight". Even on this very familiar album, your stand reveals gigantic amounts of music that previously went un-retrieved and un-enjoyed. On a recent Sony Classical (CD) recording of previously unknown Vivaldi works, the "woody" tone of a solo cello dramatically increased. The sound seemed to float in front of me for much longer than usual. This is an interesting (and unexpected) aspect of your Monaco Modular Isolation System: The Monaco clearly increases the amount of detail audible to me, but it somehow manages to amplify the sense of emotion in a recording as well. I understand that this probably strikes you as illogical and counterintuitive, so I'll try to further explain my conviction in the following paragraph:

Typically, any gains in detail I've accrued in my system have come at the result of "listenability" and emotion. For example, swapping out the Mullards in my amp for Telefunkens returns huge amounts of detail, but I can only listen to my system for about 15 minutes before painful listening fatigue sets in. In stark contrast, your Monaco Modular Isolation System seems to provide a near-equivalent increase in detail, but without the fatigue and "dryness" I've come to expect from tube and interconnect swaps. I can cheerfully agree with you that employing the Monaco Modular Isolation System is at least the equal of a major component upgrade - and probably even better.
Paul H., Cambridge, MA

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My Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System is a source of enjoyment each time I walk into my theatre. The striking design and precision craftsmanship is the first thing that people notice when entering the room. In fact, it is so eye-catching that I have to point out my 12-foot screen on the other side of the room to get people to notice it. The quality and attention to even minute detail was apparent from the moment I opened the box. I really got a sense that the Grand Prix System is an engineered component, not just a rack that other components sit on. I felt like I was dealing with aircraft components, not furniture.

The sonic improvements are noticeable immediately. Expect richer and more effortless sound from your high-end equipment. I am completely thrilled with my purchase. Even among my fairly formidable components, my Grand Prix Isolation System is the centerpiece of my Theatre.
David D., Orlando, FL

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I first came across Grand Prix Audio when I was looking for a solution for how to support, and display, two turntables and a 4 chassis pre amp. A/V racks might have done the trick, but I was looking for something that performed, too. I read about Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System in Stereophile and decided to contact Alvin Lloyd. He spent a long time on the phone with me describing how his equipment racks differed from the rest, and, after also enlisting the opinions of industry professional, I decided to take the plunge.

When the rack arrived, my first reaction was how incredibly well packed it was - virtually everyone in the audio industry could learn a lesson here. After completing assembly -- which was simple -- and mounting my equipment, my next reaction, and that of my wife, was how attractive the rack was, and how the listening room never looked better.

My third and most important reaction was that everything sounded a lot better too - greater clarity, focus and ease, and above all, more musical. I'm not necessarily an analytic audiophile - my main consideration is whether a given product sounds more or less like real music so I can lose myself in the experience.

The Grand Prix rack fit the bill on all counts. The time later came when I wanted to get a stand for my amps, no easy task because I have 4 monoblocks and didn't really want them spread all over the floor. Grand Prix had the solution in the form of a double tier amp stand. Still, I was skeptical that the sound quality of my solid-state monster amps would be affected greatly. Appearance was less of an issue because the amps are in a separate room. Nonetheless, again after talking to Alvin, I went ahead and ordered. Again the same reaction - greater clarity and ease, more music.

I'm convinced now. The Grand Prix products have made a far greater difference than swapping cables. If I had to rate it, I would put it on a par with going to a substantially better pre-amp.

My system:

  • Basis Debut Vacuum Mark V turntable, with Air tangent 10B arm and Dynavector and Koetsu cartridges
  • Chord DAC 64 and Proceed transport
  • Jadis JP 200 pre amp
  • Bear Labs phono stage, or Audionote transformer with Jadis JP 200
  • Bear Labs Symphony 1 solid state amps or JC Morrison tube amps for high pass
  • Crown Macro Reference for woofers
  • Wisdom Audio Dipoles with active crossover
  • Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation System

Eric S., New York, N.Y.

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"... F.Y.I.- I'm so pleased with your work Monaco Modular Isolation System. I'm spending more time enjoying music than ever before. Recently, I've been playing music that I know well (Allison Krauss to Van Halen) and am hearing distinctly more than ever before..."
Glenn T., Las Vegas, NV

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"... I have to say that the unit (Monaco Modular Isolation System) is gorgeous and I am already very proud of ownership. I have not had much time to listen, but cursory CD playing showed substantial improvements in bass detail and control, more natural vocals, better dynamics. Image focus for some reason is not as precise as before but I suspect that I will need to readjust speaker alignment and it will be better than before ..."
Rony W., Paris, France

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"... Monaco Modular Isolation System is beautiful! Sound is great - had to remove the Art Audio Jota tube amp from the Isobearings I had it mounted on - bass was mushy until I removed the Isobearings..."
Jack

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Being a Software Engineer I am always looking to quantify values and performance in order to fully understand the inner workings of any particular project that I'm involved with. As such, in audio I need to hear, see, touch and get back something that is different or an improvement on what was there before. When I first got into Hi-End audio I honestly couldn't tell the difference between a pair of $1.99 cables and $399 cables. I've since improved upon that to the stage where I can switch a power cable from a both CD-player and pre-amp and hear and 'see' a difference in performance.

I've known Alvin for about two years as we are both into audio, we frequent the same store.

I was also present at the early concept stage when the initial design wasn't even a CAD drawing. Yet, there was this awe in the room as we discussed various options that could be accomplished. I also know that because of Alvin's racing background, he does not do things half-measure. Everything he does is 110%. There is a racing term he often uses "always make sure ALL the bolts are tightened down". I use the same methodology myself when engineering software, the difference with motor racing is that if you aren't on the ball 100% of the time, people die. Yet, the exact same concepts are being utilized on Grand Prix Audio racks. I'm at least fortunate enough to have some knowledge of the 'behind the scenes' environment, I can honestly say, "it's inspiring", from the attitude to the physical attention to detail.

Knowing all of this and with only limited 'real' A-B-A listening tests, I was confident in acquiring a Monaco Modular Isolation System simply because of what people have been saying in the industry and because Alvin gave his word that there would be a difference. Being a person who needs the ultimate proof (I'm was still a doubter at that point), I decided as soon as I got a single shelf built, that's what my CD player will sit on and do a single test with that only. I was also impaired by the fact that my primary interconnects couldn't reach from the current rack onto the single shelf and therefore needed to use cables of less performance, I simply wanted to throw a 'worst case scenario' at the rack.

I spent the next two hours (until I HAD to sleep) throwing in various CD's, Lisa Loeb, Lenny Kravitz, Santana (SBM). Every one sounded clearer than before. Less 'fuzziness' in the sound stage and better bass dynamics. Since correctly setting up all my equipment again on the Monaco, I've managed to get a few more runs up the ladder to Audio utopia. I'm no longer a doubter! Plus guests give a pleasant 'wow!'

The Grand Prix Audio products are one of those rare commodities that not only looks good, but performs like it too.
Equipment list:

  • Arcam Alpha-9 CD
  • BAT vk3i Pre-amp
  • Pair of Arcam Alpha 8-P's as mono-blocks
  • Hales Design Group Revelation 3's
  • Hales Design Group Revelation center
  • Hales Design Group Transcendence 1's
  • Cardas interconnects and power cables
  • MIT 750-HE speaker cables
  • Furman powerline conditioner
  • Monaco Modular Isolation System

Happy listening to everyone in audio.
Paul Fisher, Software Engineer

Reviews

French Publication Banc D’Essai declares the Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation system as readily identifiable as superior to all other stands they have ever used including direct comparison to other high performance isolation stands.
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Danny Kaey of Inner Ear does direct head to head comparisons with Finite Elemente, Townsend Seismic Sink, EquaRack, and clearly details the significant superiority of the Monaco Modular Isolation System to each one of these competitors. Danny states “…handily outpaces them by a wide margin” Nothing compares to Grand Prix Audio!
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PFO Writer's Choice Award, 2004
PFO Writer's Choice Award, 2004

Greg Weaver of Positive Feedback was so impressed with our product not only did he buy it but we were awarded the coveted PFO Writers Choice Award for 2004!
 

 
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"...While I expected the Monaco to have a positive impact, to say that I was unprepared for the resultant sweeping enhancements resulting from its installation would be the most severe of understatements. The Monaco's influence on overall system performance is, in a word, breathtaking. We are talking about a scale of enhancement that I would have believed unattainable by merely changing one component prior to its arrival, let alone one so patently passive. Its rewards come in three primary categories; resolve, timbre and space."

Positive Feedback's Monaco Review

"I've consistently placed Grand Prix Audio composite shelves into my "On location" recording work for four years and more. If I'd been able to, I'd have put these invincible partners of stunning sound within the reach of my recording signal path far longer -- if I had been able to. " Truth is stranger than fiction. Grand Prix composite shelves were not available until quite recently. Anyone who (i) loves music reproduction; (ii) records music at its highest sonic reach; (iii) demands the ultimate degree of musical authenticity and sonic clarity from sound reproduction, MUST audition Grand Prix's sonic isolation systems. They make love to gorgeous sound. "Here is the bottom line for me. Grand Prix sonic control devices will leave my grasp when Frank and Ella sing happy birthday to Billie Holiday in my backyard."

Jim Merod / On Sound and Music.com   

"...Backgrounds became quieter, low-level detail improved markedly, and dynamic contrasts took on greater subtlety and sharper contrasts. Adding the Formula Shelves under the Ayre D-1x and Classe Omega digital players brought further levels of stability, image definition and overall refinement to their presentations, even greater than the effect of loading the stands... Perched atop the Monaco Modular Isolation System, the Champion's [Clearaudio Level 2] depth of field and downstage resolution improved to a truly surprising degree, and the Zen-like calm I'd already come to expect from the GPA stands was immediately apparent. It was as if another $1000 or so worth of performance had been grafted into the already good-sounding Champion ..." >>

Note: a post-review conversation with the reviewer revealed that the Champion turntable had previously rested upon an Ultra Resolution Technology stand, a state-of-the-art example of the hyper-rigid design school with its massive shelves and welded all-metal support structure, proving our contention that multiple degrees of freedom and visco-elastic damping outperform the old "high-mass, ultra-rigid" paradigm by a significant margin.

Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation system, by Paul Bolin, Stereophile

"...Every track and tune and musical challenge I have thrown at the Monaco Modular Isolation System has revealed its extraordinary capacity to improve the way music sounds. EXTRA-ORDINARY SONIC IMPROVEMENT. Not by a dot or a dollop or an inch. Not "sort of" or "kinda maybe: why not, uh huh"? but Holy Shit, can you believe this!..." >>

Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation system, by Jim Merod, Stereo Times

"... Perhaps by now you can appreciate why Monsieur Monaco won't be leaving. None of the effects described above are unique per se. Upgrading speakers nails some of them. A better DAC will enhance resolution just the same. Likewise, a superior SET will inject more presence and immediacy. Did I just list three fully fledged components to duplicate the "Monaco Effect" though? I sure did. Granted, this is not some hardline mathematical formula to gauge its magnitude of impact. Rather, it's a deliberate suggestion. On how, once your components have reached a certain level of performance maturity, precious little remains to be done that will effect wholesale quantum leaps without spending obscene amounts of money. Even then, sometimes it doesn't pan out. Money isn't everything. Mostly it's the old White House shuffle - two steps forward, one back. Progress at snail's pace. High-End audio. The big syphon on finances, patience and ultimately, good faith..." >>

Grand Prix Audio Monaco by Srajan Ebaen, 6moons.com

"... At the end of a positive review, one often sees the phrase "you owe it to yourself to hear this product". Here, it might be wiser to counsel that yes, listen to your music with this stand, but only if you are ready to spend the money. Be forewarned: every encounter with music will be fresh, new, and full of pleasant surprises, even after many months living with the Monaco Modular Isolation System. It sheds an entirely new light on how important isolation is, so stark is the improvement in the sound. You may come to the same conclusion as I did: once you've heard how good it can be, there is no going back..."

Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular Isolation system, by Rick Jensen, EnjoyTheMusic.com

Industry and User Reviews

"With the Monaco 2.0, what I heard crossed a threshold to a new level of sonic realism that, frankly, I had no idea was possible from my system." - Tim Aucremann The Audio Beat Read More Reviews

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