HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH - Car Audio | DiyMobileAudio.com | Car Stereo Forum

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Old 12-22-2012   #1
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Default HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

I have used several amps over the past 6 years ranging from RF, LP, McIntosh, MTX, PPI, ARC AUDIO, POLK AUDIO, JBL, ZED, LANZAR OPTI, JL AUDIO, KICKER, ECLIPSE, Etc, Etc. While some amps did have a sound that was pleasing to the ear, I noticed that amps with higher power ratings set to a decent pair of speakers whether they were separates or coaxials sounded just as good as the so called higher end amps. My point is an 100 watt x 4 channel of a good brand sounded just as clean, crisp and clear as the so called higher end brands such as Brax, McIntosh, etc. The same applied to bass as well. I swapped out several good brand of amps with higher end amps to notice very little difference in sound quality using a sealed enclosure. If this is the case, why spend so much money on the so-called higher end brands?
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Old 12-22-2012   #2
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

That's why some people said an amp is an amp....
This will be a good debate...
So far I notice amp from different origin do sound different, like a Japan brand will sound slightly different to USA amp. I only used limited of amps so I can't really say much on this...
I'm comparing a JL Audio A6450 to a JDM Pioneer DEH-P01's mini amp...

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Old 12-22-2012   #3
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

If you can't hear a difference, change your speakers

Kelvin

Lycan
Quote:
I'll repeat it for the miliionth time : All amps do NOT sound the same ... It's astonishing to me that nobody understands this
Who knows, some might understand now
and here's another one and another <-- click on the links
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Old 12-22-2012   #4
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

I have to somewhat agree. I've used countless brands over the last 25yrs. I'm currently using 3 different brands (Mcintosh, Alpine, Kicker). I've never really heard that big of a difference. A difference many claim to hear as night and day which I just think it's other factors and not amps. Now I think there is certain instances when an amps performance changes with age or internal capacitors loose their efficiency or change rating and this effects the sound. I'm talking amps that meet the manufacturers original specifications. But with all things perfect from amp design to amp design, at least in my experience, there has been little to no differences especially at comfortable listening levels. Then again I've never used junk and have always used a careful selection in my equipment. I used the 35 series Alpines from 89 to 94, regarded as some of the best Alpines (even amps) ever made for SQ. I switched them out for the Mcintosh in the same system same power replacements. Only noticed a difference at extremely high volumes. Mcintosh kept it's composure better but I attribute it to them being more under rated than the Alpines. Otherwise, audibly speaking, no difference at least there. I want to make that distinction but I'm not going to try to compare one amp to another in different systems, just not practical or accurate. I only give credence to those that have switched out amps from the same system in this fashion. Most of it is all BS!!

On a side note, my Mcintosh amps are 18-19yrs old and playing like a champ. My alpines croaked at about the 10yr mark. Every Alpine amp I've ever had lasts about 10yrs then I start having problems. I moved them over to other cars and was actually easier on them. So that's something to be said about running high end gear, or at least McIntosh. My actual Mcintosh rep told me they would easily last 30 plus years and told me to send them in at the 30yr mark to have them evaluated. If they do not meet the original specifications at the 30yrs mark they will fix it till they do. Who else does this?

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Last edited by RNBRAD; 12-22-2012 at 08:06 AM..
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Old 12-22-2012   #5
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

I am not a firm believer in high end amps but I do believe in quality and power.
So I chose Genesis as I saw a lot of 20 year old genesis amps still for sale in working condition. I figured it would be nice to try a second hand ~3 year old for not much money. Here in Europe they are priced quite fair/cheap second hand. It worked so well I decided to get another.
I think it is a sheer power difference but they did sound better than the JBL they replaced. I had one serviced (by their designer Gordon the Amp Doctor) and was still under half of their new price and expect to be able to use it for many more years.

It's not german but it is highly regarded over there (lol).

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Old 12-22-2012   #6
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Sometimes what makes a brand expensive is the components used inside.... Like Mcintosh using capacitors that passed 50 their own internal test while Alpine maybe 20 tests....

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Old 12-22-2012   #7
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Obviously using quality speakers makes a huge difference. I know about the quality of the components in the inside makes everything different. I notice very little difference between amps in sounds with all else being equal.
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Old 12-23-2012   #8
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Some people cannot tell the difference between a Ferrari and a Honda

If you can't tell the difference, buy the cheaper option.

I went from 20 + year old adcom to pheonix gold elite...... All my adcom amps are now gone
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Old 12-23-2012   #9
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

I must confess I've convinced myself that the more I pay for one, the better my system sounds.

(2.5GT) Limited Legacy / Alpine INA-W910 /Audison APK-165....

Selling Sinfoni nib speakers ......
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Old 12-23-2012   #10
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coppertone View Post
I must confess I've convinced myself that the more I pay for one, the better my system sounds.
Lol, I've convinced myself as well! On a serious note, i have always been able to tell the difference in sound between the amplifiers everytime i have done a change, and i do agree that the more expensive the amplifier the better the refinement and the quaracter of the sound...some people are colour blind maybe some people are tone deaf

Some of the amplifier brands that I've had the pleasure of owning (not in specific order)
Pioneer GMH
Orion GT, SX
Orion HCCA
Rockford Fosgate DH, DSM, Power
ADS power plate
Pheonix Gold ZX
The purple monsters (forgot the brand, made in florida...the used to also name some of their other amps "Merlin, Terminator...)
Soundstream Old school Reference series
JL audio Slash v1 v2's
Audison Lrx
Arc Audio SE

I may have forgotten a few, but i feel fortunate to have been able to experience so many different manufacturers, in my opinion every change has been in the right direction.
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Old 12-23-2012   #11
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Well you also have to take into affect the psychological thought processes involved which is like the "placebo effect". If you think it's better when in actuality it is not, you may still hear a perceived improvement, though there is none. It's funny how the brain will try to mimic your expectations. This is actual science!!

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Old 12-23-2012   #12
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

^I agree to a point, the mind only remembers difference in sound over maybe a period of 20 minutes or so, but I spend a lot of time in my vehicle (in sales on the road 8 to 10 hrs a day) I get to listen to my gear for a pretty good period of time and I can usually tell what's good or not so good or what's pleasing to my ears.

And easy way to test for difference in sounds from different amplifiers is to visit a high end home theater shop (no best buy) they can easily switch from amp to amp and use the same source same speakers...this is why I have an arcam receiver right now...huge sound difference over everyday brands.

Higher end brands spend more more on internal components/power supplies...the end result is better sound, that's a fact...problem is "how much more money are you willing to spend?" to see a result in better performance
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Old 12-23-2012   #13
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by Sound Suggestions View Post
The purple monsters (forgot the brand, made in florida...the used to also name some of their other amps "Merlin, Terminator...)
US Amps
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Old 12-23-2012   #14
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaturnSL1 View Post
US Amps
Yes lol! I had used 2 of their series, old school goodness, the one that left an impression on me was the vrx I believe (plexiglass bottom and 1/2 ohm capable) thx
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Old 12-23-2012   #15
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sound Suggestions View Post
Yes lol! I had used 2 of their series, old school goodness, the one that left an impression on me was the vrx I believe (plexiglass bottom and 1/2 ohm capable) thx
I think you mean VLX, those things are monsters lol. I've got a USA series that's similar to the VLX in that it has a plexi bottom. Mine was broken when I got it though




Incredible amplifiers though. I'm stoked that I was able to own one for so cheap.
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Old 12-23-2012   #16
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Yes! Serious power there! You sir are one lucky guy

It's been years since I owed one of those, I also had the USA series then the vlx...both purple!
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Old 12-23-2012   #17
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

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Originally Posted by Sound Suggestions View Post
Yes! Serious power there! You sir are one lucky guy

It's been years since I owed one of those, I also had the USA series then the vlx...both purple!
You'd have to pick your jaw up off the floor if I told you how much I paid for it.
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Old 12-23-2012   #18
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

With the current very average sounding HU's and DSP's you would have to have a very good ear to hear any difference in amps. In the future as source units and DSP's improve the sonic signatures of amps will be more noticeable and in some cases night and day.
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Old 12-23-2012   #19
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

The difference in the sounds should be more based with the speakers and through the head units. A rf or kicker 100 x 4 will sound better than a 60 x 4 McIntosh merely because the are more power.
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Old 12-23-2012   #20
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

^ unfortunately I don't think that I can agree with this last comment, I would take the McIntosh amp any day over the kicker or Rockford amp, it's not all about claimed power ratings (but I do agree that having lots of clean power on tap will help greatly on dynamics/headroom and hopefully signal to noise ratio) Kicker/RF may rate their power at greater distortion levels plus at constant 14v....give them less voltage and stop recording your their output at .009/.04 distortion level and you'd probably get 40w or so. Back in the old days people would build whole systems around an amp that would be rated at 22.5w x 2 (the old RF punch45) or even the 25w x 2 Orion HCCA, loud enough to make most people uncomfortable...most manufacturers used to focus more on quality of the sound versus the output levels, they use to rate their power at .004 distortion plus at 12.6volts or so...in fact they were cheater amps and performance much better than their rated power once you lowered the impedance and increased the voltage closer to 14 volts.

Make sure you have a good clean signal to start, also make sure the system isn't starved of available current voltage....the rest is subjective to the owner on which brand they prefer.
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Old 12-23-2012   #21
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Stick to the saying garbage in garbage out, start with the source and move down the flow...i wouldn't expect the best amplifier in the world to sound good with bad signal going in.

Same goes with subs...place one of the best subwoofer money can buy in a poorly design box and it will sound really bad, then take a decent sub and put it in the perfect box and it will sound good
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Old 12-23-2012   #22
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

This horse is so dead. It reminds me of the Skittles commercial when the Zombie on the bus says "You're boring me to death. I'm already dead and you're boring me back to death!"

No one is going to convince anybody else they can or can't hear a difference between amps.

If you can hear a difference, spend extra money on your amps.

If you don't hear a difference, buy a reliable amp that has adequate power for your application and is reasonably priced.

Just for fun somebody start a thread on the audible differences between cables :-)

"No where in your rambling incoherent response did you come close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. We are all dumber for having listened to it."
"People are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it."
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Old 12-23-2012   #23
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbno1 View Post
This horse is so dead. It reminds me of the Skittles commercial when the Zombie on the bus says "You're boring me to death. I'm already dead and you're boring me back to death!"

No one is going to convince anybody else they can or can't hear a difference between amps.

If you can hear a difference, spend extra money on your amps.

If you don't hear a difference, buy a reliable amp that has adequate power for your application and is reasonably priced.

Just for fun somebody start a thread on the audible differences between cables :-)
I agree with these statements 100 percent.
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Old 12-23-2012   #24
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

not gonna argue your belief, my belief....as long as we are all happy! ultimately in the end that's what matters
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Old 12-24-2012   #25
 
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Default Re: HIGHER END AMP SQ IS A MYTH

IMVVVHO (V for very) and based on those I've auditioned, different high-end amps will sound different in different cars with different high-end gear.

And tuning makes the most difference. In the end, the installer's (or the DIY owner's) tune is what you will hear.

Like one time I sat in a car with budget amps (Powerbass ASA600.4) powering not-high-end speakers (Focal 165VR3) with a not-high-end head unit (Eclipse CD7200Mk2). The system was professionally installed, properly wired and RTA-tuned and time-aligned... then re-tuned by ear to sound really good. And it did! It sounded like a system worth 5 times the price. Well-balanced with great focus and staging.

Then I sat in another car with high-end amps (Focal Power Symmetric), high end speakers (Utopia Be Kit No.7) and a high-end head unit (Pioneer ODR RS-D7II with processor). The system had just been installed and only basic crossover settings and amplifier gain (level-matching via oscilloscope) had been done done. No RTA. All EQ set flat. No T/A. Sorry, it sounded bad. Really bad. But its actually what one would expect from an untuned system.

Then the owner of the car brought another amp he wanted to try out. A Zapco REF1000.4 (which is definitely not low-end). The installer swapped it in and adjusted gains. With the previous crossover settings, zero EQ and zero Time Alignment, we were all hard-pressed to hear any difference in sound quality. It sounded equally bad as with the Focal Power Symmetric -which is what we all expected to hear.

That system was since professionally tuned over a 2-3 month period and although I haven't heard it yet, I bet it will beat the ASA600.4-VR3-CD7200Mk2 system hands down in any hardcore SQ competition. I'll also bet novices will hear the big difference with the more expensive system sounding so much better, even to inexperienced ears.

My 2-cents: with high end amps (or high end gear), what one is getting is the POTENTIAL to sound great. Whether or not it will sound great cannot depend solely on the amp (or any one component). It will depend on the installation and TUNING.

Merry Christmas, folks!

2007 Honda Civic / Pioneer DEX-P99RS / Seas Excel Millenium T25CF002 Tweeters / Seas Excel W12CY001 Midrange / Dominations CFS4 midbass / Sundown Z15 sub / Sands M475 front-stage amps / Sands M1000 subwoofer amp / Tchernov Original Balanced RCA cables / Team DSD
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