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Old 02-02-2014   #276
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

There are plenty of ways to combat the issue including import taxes and tarrifs. If it's legitimately hurting the US economy to that extreme, then is it the consumer that's the bad guy? In a free market, supply and demand should regulate themselves. The issue arises when a country like China- who has a larger population and lower cost of living (and as such lower wages and cost of production) is able to produce the good much cheaper than a country like the US.
That can (and does) force US companies out of the market unless they are protected by regulation. The U.S. has shifted towards being less of a producer and more of a services provider.

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Old 02-02-2014   #277
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by captainobvious View Post
I'll make it very simple...

We're not in 'booming' economic times. The foreign made product is not only as good or better performance, it's also cheaper. Why should an American settle for same or less quality/performance simply to buy the product produced in his/her country?
My offerings will all be rock solid and made in America. Just have to get a little creative and do contract labor and closely monitor quality control.

I don't have employees I have private contractors who do good work for me and are well trained.

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Old 02-02-2014   #278
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Zed and MMATS are solid offerings.

Zed makes a better class D than MMATS IMHO
I prefer the Zed Levi to pretty much any MMATS a-b amp.
But both are American made.

Zed has had some QC problems lately but Mantz makes it right. It costs the customer about 27$ in return shipping.

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Old 02-02-2014   #279
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonatbaylor View Post
I call bs on the OP. There is a huge difference among the SQ of amps. Everyone can have a personal opinion on what sounds good

1. Check your hearing
2. Try different speakers
4. What kind of speakers were being used?
5. How was the system put together?
6. Who tuned the setup?
7. What was used to tune the setup?
Pfff... "Huge" - I call BS on that. Most who believe there is an audible difference would rather describe it as "subtle". An amp shouldn't do anything else than amplifying whatever signal it's fed with, if it changes the sound audibly with an "huge" amount I'd be damn worried.

1. This is the largest problem here, ears or I'd prefer to say the brain is easily fooled by impressions. Whether you believe it or not we are biased by our preconceived thoughts of what is true or not. If you are a "believer" that the amps will sound different, will will hear differences. The "skeptics" are pretty much the opposite and do not expect to hear much difference. To remove the bias from the calculation, we blind test stuff. There have been several cases where audiophiles and experts have not been able to discern much differences between high end and entry level amps and equipment. If the difference was that huge, these endless discussions wouldn't occur in the first place.

2. Different speakers, especially "home audio" speakers with passive crossovers can introduce difficult reactive loads that causes the amp to show any weaknesses quicker. So yes, an amplifier performs differently with different loads.

4. Speakers are the weakest link in any system, being high distortion devices - high end or not. This is a fact. Disregarding the the point above, having great performing speakers would likely reveal differences in the rest of the system easier. The differences between speakers however, can be "huge". I can back that up with measurements, as well.

5. Install, very very important. A bad install can totally destroy the possibility of a good sounding system. This is always the top priority to get right before even looking at equipment.

6. Knowledge to tune a system is just as important as knowing to install the equipment correct.

7. Hopefully a proper DSP... but seriously - you cannot re-tune a system after changing amps and then look for differences between the former and current setup.

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Old 02-02-2014   #280
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanatsu View Post
Pfff... "Huge" - I call BS on that. Most who believe there is an audible difference would rather describe it as "subtle". An amp shouldn't do anything else than amplifying whatever signal it's fed with, if it changes the sound audibly with an "huge" amount I'd be damn worried.

1. This is the largest problem here, ears or I'd prefer to say the brain is easily fooled by impressions. Whether you believe it or not we are biased by our preconceived thoughts of what is true or not. If you are a "believer" that the amps will sound different, will will hear differences. The "skeptics" are pretty much the opposite and do not expect to hear much difference. To remove the bias from the calculation, we blind test stuff. There have been several cases where audiophiles and experts have not been able to discern much differences between high end and entry level amps and equipment. If the difference was that huge, these endless discussions wouldn't occur in the first place.

2. Different speakers, especially "home audio" speakers with passive crossovers can introduce difficult reactive loads that causes the amp to show any weaknesses quicker. So yes, an amplifier performs differently with different loads.

4. speakers are the weakest link in any system, being high distortion devices - high end or not. This is a fact. Disregarding the the point above, having great performing speakers would likely reveal differences in the rest of the system easier. The differences between speakers however, can be "huge". I can back that up with measurements, as well.

5. Install, very very important. A bad install can totally destroy the possibility of a good sounding system. This is always the top priority to get right before even looking at equipment.

6. Knowledge to tune a system is just as important as knowing to install the equipment correct.

7. Hopefully a proper DSP... but seriously - you cannot re-tune a system after changing amps and then look for differences between the former and current setup.
the thing that people like to point at, is the competition arena.

why is it the high-priced equipment, usually ends up in the winner's circle?

let's imagine that it's not because the equipment is better, but like you say, it's the bias.

so to demonstrate, we need to have a Car made up with all extremely expensive equipment, but with a little modification involved.

the guts of all the components are swapped for cheaper, mid-fi alternatives.

this vehicle is then placed into competition for a year, without anyone giving away the secret.

if it wins at all, that's proof of bias.

if it wins a few competitions, against the high cost equipment-equipped competitors, then it's not just proof, but something more, it's vindication.

if it never wins, and everyone cannot understand how such a well-equipped, expertly installed system seems to never engage the judges, then you'll have a different perspective with which to combat those who say amps don't matter, or have "subtle" differences in their sonics.

that would bring about a sea-change, like the Klippel has wrought from Speaker manufacturers who must now care about things like distortion and finite element analysis, when they used to be able to hide behind descriptors.

"warm, thick, solid" "clean, crisp, sterile"

haha..
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Old 02-02-2014   #281
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

There is no point arguing sometimes. Let them think their ppi amp is sonically identical to a Mosconi.

Either way, I am going with the class A biased over the class D. Sorry it sounds better to me. Feels like I have said it a thousand times, but this "it's all the same" mentality is complete B.S.

As the last poster mentioned, THD is a B.S. value. You can't distinguish THD below 0.5% there is no way, unless you are super human. Frequency response is also not as important as people make it out to be. No one talks about resolution, which to me is pretty messed up because I would rank it higher than THD and FS.

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Old 02-02-2014   #282
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Anyone that can make a cdt tweeter sound like a focal utopia or a scan speak illuminator; gets a free beer on me and a pat on the back. Install isn't going to fix that.

Some of those budget friendly amps can be modified to sound REALLY good. The lanzar opt is a great amp and doesn't cost a ton of money it can easily compare with amps costing 3 or even 4 times the cost with 75$ in mods...

It's just like the RCA debate. If everything is the system isn't up to par, odds are buying an expensive amp or source isn't going to have a huge benefit. That is where these arguments fall apart.

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Old 02-02-2014   #283
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by cajunner View Post
the thing that people like to point at, is the competition arena.

why is it the high-priced equipment, usually ends up in the winner's circle?

let's imagine that it's not because the equipment is better, but like you say, it's the bias.

so to demonstrate, we need to have a Car made up with all extremely expensive equipment, but with a little modification involved.

the guts of all the components are swapped for cheaper, mid-fi alternatives.

this vehicle is then placed into competition for a year, without anyone giving away the secret.

if it wins at all, that's proof of bias.

if it wins a few competitions, against the high cost equipment-equipped competitors, then it's not just proof, but something more, it's vindication.

if it never wins, and everyone cannot understand how such a well-equipped, expertly installed system seems to never engage the judges, then you'll have a different perspective with which to combat those who say amps don't matter, or have "subtle" differences in their sonics.

that would bring about a sea-change, like the Klippel has wrought from Speaker manufacturers who must now care about things like distortion and finite element analysis, when they used to be able to hide behind descriptors.

"warm, thick, solid" "clean, crisp, sterile"

haha..
They know to get the most out of their stuff :P

I agree with what you're saying, would be interesting indeed to do such a test. Those who are the "winning circle" obviously have superior install and tuning skills. Sometimes I do wonder if the judges are biased somehow, they listen to systems, judge them - while they are perfectly aware of what gear they are listening at. They are obviously expecting a good geared system to sound better than a "mediocre geared" system. How is that any different from people making sighted reviews on different equipment? Several of these judges compete themselves and have have thoughts about what gear is best etc etc etc. I never once gotten the same points of a competition sheet from two different judges even though the system remained unchanged.

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Old 02-02-2014   #284
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by WestCo View Post
Anyone that can make a cdt tweeter sound like a focal utopia or a scan speak illuminator; gets a free beer on me and a pat on the back. Install isn't going to fix that.

Some of those budget friendly amps can be modified to sound REALLY good. The lanzar opt is a great amp and doesn't cost a ton of money it can easily compare with amps costing 3 or even 4 times the cost with 75$ in mods...

It's just like the RCA debate. If everything is the system isn't up to par, odds are buying an expensive amp or source isn't going to have a huge benefit. That is where these arguments fall apart.
I don't think anyone are debating the differences of speakers. The Speaker is the only component that's operating the "acoustic" area. All other components are purely electrical. The acoustic distortion is different, we can't fix non-linear distortion, time domain ringing, a bad Power response etc etc with a DSP (electronically).

This is one of the reasons I'm very considerate when choosing speakers and measuring them.

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Old 02-02-2014   #285
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by WestCo View Post
There is no point arguing sometimes. Let them think their ppi amp is sonically identical to a Mosconi.

Either way, I am going with the class A biased over the class D. Sorry it sounds better to me. Feels like I have said it a thousand times, but this "it's all the same" mentality is complete B.S.

As the last poster mentioned, THD is a B.S. value. You can't distinguish THD below 0.5% there is no way, unless you are super human. Frequency response is also not as important as people make it out to be. No one talks about resolution, which to me is pretty messed up because I would rank it higher than THD and FS.
THD is a BS spec, especially when it's not presented as a graph over frequency. I don't get one thing, it's like amplifiers (or any equipment) have to sound 110% identical OR so widely different so the are nothing alike. There's nothing in-between. I DO believe there is differences in ALL equipment, but the discussion is ridiculous. There's very very few people who have done fair comparisons of equipment, taking the necessary steps to get everything right.

I'm not gonna comment on the class A vs D debate, it's completely meaningless really on several points. I know it's more complicated measuring an amp but still... I cannot comprehend WHY noone has been able to show definitive proof what it is the makes them sound different. It's done with speakers all the time, there's no argument there. Why not with amps as well then? Studies have shown that the audibility of non-linear distortion is non-linear at best, just posting THD numbers isn't enough to evaluate anything really. It's not that the measurements can't tell what's good or not, it's more that they are not comprehensive enough.

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Old 02-02-2014   #286
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanatsu View Post
I don't think anyone are debating the differences of speakers. The Speaker is the only component that's operating the "acoustic" area. All other components are purely electrical. The acoustic distortion is different, we can't fix non-linear distortion, time domain ringing, a bad Power response etc etc with a DSP (electronically).

This is one of the reasons I'm very considerate when choosing speakers and measuring them.
a good point.

when Bob Carver designed his amplifiers to have sonic signatures that correspond with commercially successful designs, then marketed them that way, it wasn't acknowledged by the golden eared crowd. They didn't want to believe that a guy could turn a box of solid state, into a tube amp sound.

but listening tests proved Bob to have the ability, and the amps to do just that.


so, if we unleash the Bob factor on this debate, and Bob takes a relatively inexpensive amplifier circuit and does his guru thing, and it suddenly sounds exactly like the class A Mosconi's sonic signature, or it sounds exactly like the HS Fidelity tube amp, or the Milbert, etc., then what?

is it proof that it's the circuit, and not the parts, is it proof that it's not the price, but the installation details?

I think it's easier to get yourself to believe a high priced amp is actually sonically better through your personal eval techniques, like swapping amps or listening to other's builds, than it is to prove that a high priced amp is actually sonically better by testing through blind comparison.

and that goes back to sighted concerns. I think that the basic Car amplifier circuit used today is such, that outside of defective parts or an inherently flawed design, the sonic characteristics are held in lycan's vernacular, "within an envelope of gain, distortion, noise" to be indistinguishable for about 90% of the product floating around in today's market.
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Old 02-02-2014   #287
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
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...and that goes back to sighted concerns. I think that the basic Car amplifier circuit used today is such, that outside of defective parts or an inherently flawed design, the sonic characteristics are held in lycan's vernacular, "within an envelope of gain, distortion, noise" to be indistinguishable for about 90% of the product floating around in today's market.
Yes. Distortion is a wider concept that many believe. The "character" of the equipment (and speakers) would fall under this category. A non-flat frequency response or a non-flat phase vs frequency response is also distortion (for example). Every distortion discussion seem to be about that useless THD number and how inaudible it is.

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Old 02-02-2014   #288
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Yes. Distortion is a wider concept that many believe. The "character" of the equipment (and speakers) would fall under this category. A non-flat frequency response or a non-flat phase vs frequency response is also distortion (for example). Every distortion discussion seem to be about that useless THD number and how inaudible it is.
Thank you for posting this.

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Old 02-02-2014   #289
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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No one talks about resolution, which to me is pretty messed up because I would rank it higher than THD and FS.
Missed that one. What resolution are you talking about? and what is FS?

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Old 02-02-2014   #290
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

I still want to know how all these subtle nuances are picked out between amplifiers while actually driving the car. Even the most quiet of luxury automobiles puts out between 68 and 72 decibels measured road noise, give or take a few dB. I'm sure it's easy to pick out those 6 watts of class A biased audio while cruising down the interstate with 68 dBA of road noise entering the cabin...

Then there is the non-equidistant placement of the speakers from the listening position. Sure, digital processing can help, but what happens when you look left or right while driving the car? What about if you lean over to grab something, recline back in your seat, slump down a little in the seat at the end of the day, etc. Heaven forbid you have a passenger whose leg blocks part of your midbass driver's path to your ears.

Yeah, I'm sure there is a huge difference in all these amplifiers that measure within 1dB of each other over the normal hearing frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Furthermore, I am really sure that one can actually pick out the differences while actually driving.

I once met someone who told me that he could hear the grass grow... That's what some of these "mah amplifier is better because," with no measured data to support the claim, debates are starting to remind me of.

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Old 02-02-2014   #291
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by Hanatsu View Post
THD is a BS spec, especially when it's not presented as a graph over frequency. I don't get one thing, it's like amplifiers (or any equipment) have to sound 110% identical OR so widely different so the are nothing alike. There's nothing in-between. I DO believe there is differences in ALL equipment, but the discussion is ridiculous. There's very very few people who have done fair comparisons of equipment, taking the necessary steps to get everything right.

I'm not gonna comment on the class A vs D debate, it's completely meaningless really on several points. I know it's more complicated measuring an amp but still... I cannot comprehend WHY noone has been able to show definitive proof what it is the makes them sound different. It's done with speakers all the time, there's no argument there. Why not with amps as well then? Studies have shown that the audibility of non-linear distortion is non-linear at best, just posting THD numbers isn't enough to evaluate anything really. It's not that the measurements can't tell what's good or not, it's more that they are not comprehensive enough.
I think a REAL problem with testing is generally actual music is not used. It's either noise or test tones.

On the amplifier debate, it's 100% engineering. At the core the "best" class A's will beat the best class A/B's. Understanding that amplifier class is only one of the parameters that matter. Heck there are class D's out there which definitely beat some class A/b amps. But it's the closed-mindedness mentality that is aggravating to me and people unwilling to even try something because they think it doesn't matter.

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Old 02-02-2014   #292
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
I still want to know how all these subtle nuances are picked out between amplifiers while actually driving the car. Even the most quiet of luxury automobiles puts out between 68 and 72 decibels measured road noise, give or take a few dB. I'm sure it's easy to pick out those 6 watts of class A biased audio while cruising down the interstate with 68 dBA of road noise entering the cabin...

Then there is the non-equidistant placement of the speakers from the listening position. Sure, digital processing can help, but what happens when you look left or right while driving the car? What about if you lean over to grab something, recline back in your seat, slump down a little in the seat at the end of the day, etc. Heaven forbid you have a passenger whose leg blocks part of your midbass driver's path to your ears.

Yeah, I'm sure there is a huge difference in all these amplifiers that measure within 1dB of each other over the normal hearing frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Furthermore, I am really sure that one can actually pick out the differences while actually driving.

I once met someone who told me that he could hear the grass grow... That's what some of these "mah amplifier is better because," with no measured data to support the claim, debates are starting to remind me of.
I park my Car when I do critical listening, engine off.

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Old 02-02-2014   #293
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by Hanatsu View Post
Missed that one. What resolution are you talking about? and what is FS?
The ability to distinguish between between one individual frequency and another. Example 3000hz vs 3001hz or even a smaller difference say between 3000hz to 3000.1hz etc.

FS = frequency response. It's important but not the whole picture.

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Old 02-02-2014   #294
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
I still want to know how all these subtle nuances are picked out between amplifiers while actually driving the car. Even the most quiet of luxury automobiles puts out between 68 and 72 decibels measured road noise, give or take a few dB. I'm sure it's easy to pick out those 6 watts of class A biased audio while cruising down the interstate with 68 dBA of road noise entering the cabin...

Then there is the non-equidistant placement of the speakers from the listening position. Sure, digital processing can help, but what happens when you look left or right while driving the car? What about if you lean over to grab something, recline back in your seat, slump down a little in the seat at the end of the day, etc. Heaven forbid you have a passenger whose leg blocks part of your midbass driver's path to your ears.

Yeah, I'm sure there is a huge difference in all these amplifiers that measure within 1dB of each other over the normal hearing frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Furthermore, I am really sure that one can actually pick out the differences while actually driving.

I once met someone who told me that he could hear the grass grow... That's what some of these "mah amplifier is better because," with no measured data to support the claim, debates are starting to remind me of.
Yep, this is my main argument as well. If you use the Car AS a car, ANY subtle differences will be pointless. speakers however will be put more to the test at higher volume required to overcome the "high noise floor of the road". High volume requires high Power output (or efficient drivers). So for those guys that think that this discussion is all but BS, I suggest getting the most efficient, powerful, small amp they can find

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Old 02-02-2014   #295
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
I still want to know how all these subtle nuances are picked out between amplifiers while actually driving the car. Even the most quiet of luxury automobiles puts out between 68 and 72 decibels measured road noise, give or take a few dB. I'm sure it's easy to pick out those 6 watts of class A biased audio while cruising down the interstate with 68 dBA of road noise entering the cabin...

Then there is the non-equidistant placement of the speakers from the listening position. Sure, digital processing can help, but what happens when you look left or right while driving the car? What about if you lean over to grab something, recline back in your seat, slump down a little in the seat at the end of the day, etc. Heaven forbid you have a passenger whose leg blocks part of your midbass driver's path to your ears.

Yeah, I'm sure there is a huge difference in all these amplifiers that measure within 1dB of each other over the normal hearing frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Furthermore, I am really sure that one can actually pick out the differences while actually driving.

I once met someone who told me that he could hear the grass grow... That's what some of these "mah amplifier is better because," with no measured data to support the claim, debates are starting to remind me of.
here is a claim:

let's say you only have hearing up to 10 Khz, through age and environment-related degeneration of the hearing apparatus.

let's say you were born with 20 to 20, and held that ability through your teens into your twenties.

now, you've got the neural network, the infrastructure to support 20 to 20, but the little Speaker in your head says you have to top out at 10, the little hairs are broken. The eardrum is stiff, like your knees. The stapes isn't tight to the anvil, haha...

so, you've got the network, but you've got faulty in-out hardware.

sound familiar?

now, let's say that your brain adjusts. The range you had before, is compacted to work better, in the truncated range you work with now.

the way you hear, like blind people, goes through a transitional process where you are more sensitive to what you CAN hear, as opposed to being able to hear at the extremes.

this is what I think happens when we are driving our cars.

the static noise level is higher, so we have to be able to make the neural deficit up, we have to be able to discern a musical signal with greater precision through the noise background.


so it's possibly more important to have less THD at speed, than it is in a closed and anechoic environment.


I know, that's preposterous and how can anyone have the ability to make a judgement call about amplifiers when prevailing logic says that you shouldn't be able to tell squat, but that's part of the mystery.


imho, of course.
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Old 02-02-2014   #296
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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I think a REAL problem with testing is generally actual music is not used. It's either noise or test tones.

On the amplifier debate, it's 100% engineering. At the core the "best" class A's will beat the best class A/B's. Understanding that amplifier class is only one of the parameters that matter. Heck there are class D's out there which definitely beat some class A/b amps. But it's the closed-mindedness mentality that is aggravating to me and people unwilling to even try something because they think it doesn't matter.
Music is composed of tones. A multitone test would be adequate to serve as a substitute for music. IMD cannot be tested unless there's more than one tone present.

Amplifier classes is a funny subject. Most people doesn't even know what's the actual differences are. But yeah, speaking generally - many are close-minded (that goes for both sides of the arguers).

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Old 02-02-2014   #297
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Music is composed of tones. A multitone test would be adequate to serve as a substitute for music. IMD cannot be tested unless there's more than one tone present.

Amplifier classes is a funny subject. Most people doesn't even know what's the actual differences are. But yeah, speaking generally - many are close-minded (that does for both sides of the arguers).
It's been a long road and I came to the conclusions I currently have. It's a possibility that I am also closed minded I don't mean to be stubborn either.

If someone suggests a product I try to obtain it (usually used) try it and form my own opinion.

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Old 02-02-2014   #298
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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The ability to distinguish between between one individual frequency and another. Example 3000hz vs 3001hz or even a smaller difference say between 3000hz to 3000.1hz etc.

FS = frequency response. It's important but not the whole picture.
FR = Frequency response :P

It's not the whole picture, indeed. It's among the most important specs, most amps does 20kHz pretty easily though. The speakers on the other hand... not to mention that we are on an audio forum. How many here can actually hear the entire highest octave?

I'm skeptical about this "resolution". Such small differences will be masked by the adjacent frequency if the level difference is passed a certain point. I remember reading a document by Gedlee about the masking of frequencies and distortion. This is used in lossy mp3 coding and I can't discern any difference between 256kBit+ mp3 and CD even on a $100000 system - I actually have done that... nothing wrong with my hearing, my ears are fine to about 17kHz. I do know that certain people seem to be more sensitive to different types of distortion. It might be the ultimate reason why we have our preferences.

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Old 02-02-2014   #299
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by Hanatsu View Post
FR = Frequency response :P

It's not the whole picture, indeed. It's among the most important specs, most amps does 20kHz pretty easily though. The speakers on the other hand... not to mention that we are on an audio forum. How many here can actually hear the entire highest octave?

I'm skeptical about this "resolution". Such small differences will be masked by the adjacent frequency if the level difference is passed a certain point. I remember reading a document by Gedlee about the masking of frequencies and distortion. This is used in lossy mp3 coding and I can't discern any difference between 256kBit+ mp3 and CD even on a $100000 system - I actually have done that... nothing wrong with my hearing, my ears are fine to about 17kHz. I do know that certain people seem to be more sensitive to different types of distortion. It might be the ultimate reason why we have our preferences.
Sorry for the typo >.>

Great points as well, maybe I will be more open minded as to why some people don't think differences exist.

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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Some people can't perceive the differences - and some don't want to. I think it does take a certain level of training, or at least practice, to tell the difference a component or cable can make in the sound. As with wine or chocolate tasting, trying out different bikes or skis, or basically any other subjective use of your senses - an individual's experience, knowledge, and yes biases, will play into it - but just because you (or I!) can't perceive a difference doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If I can't tell the difference, I'd be foolish to pay more for the "better" product. But if someone else can, and they have the means to do so, more Power to them.

2 home-audio examples about perception and choice:
I was running NHT SuperZero's off a Sumo Andromeda amp and a Mission 12" sub w/ built-in 150 watt amp to fill in the bass (with a 'mates Pioneer Elite LD/CD player as the source) for the main L/R, and he had a receiver and some full-range Pioneer HT speakers, and a matching center, for surround and center. One day he swapped it out - put his Pioneer's in front, and moved my SuperZero's to the rear. He was happy because it looked good and would play loud. I only noticed because I put in Eric Clapton's "Unplugged", and listened to a track I'm very familiar with, and wondered where the depth and detail went. (Then I looked up, and saw his towers where my bookshelf's were supposed to be.) Instead of a fleshed-out 3-dimensional soundstage, I got a flat wall of sound between the speakers. The frequency response wasn't bad, though there was a little chestiness in the midbass I had not heard before (the SuperZero's are very neutral, but far from "warm") - he liked it better because the sound effects were "louder."

Around the same time, I had given my PSB Alpha's (the original ones) to my dad so he could Build a HT. He got some big, cheapie pioneers and I think a Sony receiver. I came to help him set it up - but got frustrated because it never sounded decent. I put it to 2-channel, placed the PSB's on stands in an equilateral triangle with his chair, and spun his favorite Johnny Cash. It wasn't as good as I get at home, but it was very present and alive. He says "Wow. It sounds like he's singing here in the room!"
Next time I visit, he's got the Pioneer's surrounding the TV, the PSB's at different heights pointing to different places in the room, and the subwoofer turned up way too high. You can lead a horse to water...

As for autosound, it's true that many sublte differences will be masked by the car's acoustics and inherrent noise - and it's really difficult to compare amps directly in your own car, in your instal - but within the bounds of my budget, I'd rather start with the best gear I can rather than start with something that can probably be made to work with a good enough installation and lots of tweaking.

In a previous mobile system, I went from Craig to RF to Hafler to PPI amps and while all were decent and none were unlistenable, each time, while not every aspect of the sound improved, some aspects changed and overall I was glad I spent the money to upgrade. But most of my passengers and people I showed it off to couldn't tell. Please don't take this the wrong way, or as any kind of dis - in my opinion, it's because they weren't as familiar with it as me, and they didn't know WHAT to listen FOR.
In some ways, they are lucky - they could buy equipment based on frequency response, looks, ease of installation or lowest price and be Very happy.
Unfortunately, once you find yourself able to discern the difference between MP3 and CD, amps, cables, etc. you can't go back the other way...

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