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Discussion Starter #1
Hello fellas! I've been reading in the background but this is my first post. I'm in the process of laying out my build and choosing equipment. I know that AB amps are a bit "old school" but that's the path I'm pursuing until I run into a roadblock that prevents me from using them.

Yesterday, I went to a local shop and looked at a couple of Mosconi units. I've also been considering Zapco, Helix, Audison (would love to go Brax, but that's not going to happen at their going prices) ?. There are a few other other brands, Phoenix Gold comes to mind and the the rest escape me right now.

If I go down the digital road, I'll probably stick with Alpine or JL. But of course, I'm willing to consider any recommendations you might have. I know there's a wealth of knowledge here! One thing that I've never used are some of the rarer classes of amplifiers, G, H, GH, etc. I certainly like the design concept and there's a clear advantage but it's not something I've ever tested personally so it could be marketing and nothing more.

All of this is to drive, primarily, the frequencies above the subwoofer ones. My OEM system:
  • Factory Bose
  • Small "under seat" amp.
  • 3 dash speakers
  • Center (which I'm disregarding for now)
  • 2 (3“) "tweedlers" I hate that term in the corners
  • 2 (8") woofers in the front doors
  • 2 (5.25") full-range in the rear doors
  • 2 (3") tweets in the D Pilars
Okay, I just read through this and I'm sorry for the length; it's probably an awful first post! Admins, feel free to relocate this to the "long winded", who cares thread. ???

I'm not asking one specific question; I suppose that I'd just like to hear your thoughts. I think it's obvious but in case it isn't, my objective is "quality over quantity). Clean, clear sound OVER SPL. I want power but ONLY if it's delivered with extremely low distortion.

Thanks in advance for even getting this far and have a great weekend my friends!
 

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I used Class-AB mainly because I found "period authentic" used amps that looked right.

If one is buying everything new then I would likely be factoring size somewhere in your equation.
Or if the budget is not a constraint, then why not Class-A?
 
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Discussion Starter #3
I used Class-AB mainly because I found "period authentic" used amps that looked right.

If one is buying everything new then I would likely be factoring size somewhere in your equation.
Or if the budget is not a constraint, then why not Class-A?
Appreciate your input! Size is an issue but I believe that I can fit one of the reasonably sized AB's. As for class A, I have three issues.
  1. They are harder to find
  2. Size to power ratio
  3. Drain on my electrical system
Do you have any suggestions for either new or older ones like the ones you found?
 

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I’m an SQ person and I will only use class D, which applies to my car or home theater. I know you said an old school install but I wonder why. Does that mean you won’t use a new DSP unit? Will you choose to use a couple old school analog 31-band EQs instead?

To me a new DSP unit is so much more capable than something even a few years ago that I wouldn’t even consider a new install without a current DSP.

And to me, class D digital amps have so many advantages that I also can’t see using anything else. Size, power, power efficiency, less heat all while having great SQ.

But I’m a new school guy so my opinions may not be compatible. I like classic cars because I’m a car guy but I could never see myself owning a classic car as newer cars are faster, safer, and more efficient. So like I said, my opinions may not be compatible with yours.
 

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If you want compact and class A/B then consider the DLS cci44. That amplifier was the best sounding amplifier in my testing.
 
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Appreciate your input! Size is an issue but I believe that I can fit one of the reasonably sized AB's. As for class A, I have three issues.
  1. They are harder to find
  2. Size to power ratio
  3. Drain on my electrical system
Do you have any suggestions for either new or older ones like the ones you found?
As DGage says... Class-D is not bad.

Used maybe, Phass, older Nakamichi, McIntosh, etc.

If you have lots of lira, then a Class-A on tweeters and/or mid range, and a Class-D on woofers, and Class-D on subs.

Or just get small Class-D new and call it a day?
 
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As DGage says... Class-D is not bad.

Used maybe, Phass, older Nakamichi, McIntosh, etc.

If you have lots of lira, then a Class-A on tweeters and/or mid range, and a Class-D on woofers, and Class-D on subs.

Or just get small Class-D new and call it a day?
Actually, I say class D is damn good, not bad is selling recent class D designs entirely too short. As a matter of fact, let’s flip this discussion. Forget putting class D on the hot seat, let’s put class A/B on the hot seat. What is superior about class A/B or even A over today’s quality class D amps? I think class D has too many advantages and is the superior amplifier topology.

Quality used amps, aka, ”old school amps” MAY still be quality amps but electronic components don’t last forever so capacitors and similar components may need to be replaced before they are up to their original capabilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I’m an SQ person and I will only use class D, which applies to my car or home theater. I know you said an old school install but I wonder why. Does that mean you won’t use a new DSP unit? Will you choose to use a couple old school analog 31-band EQs instead?

To me a new DSP unit is so much more capable than something even a few years ago that I wouldn’t even consider a new install without a current DSP.

And to me, class D digital amps have so many advantages that I also can’t see using anything else. Size, power, power efficiency, less heat all while having great SQ.

But I’m a new school guy so my opinions may not be compatible. I like classic cars because I’m a car guy but I could never see myself owning a classic car as newer cars are faster, safer, and more efficient. So like I said, my opinions may not be compatible with yours.
I can see your point of view and I respect that. For me, it's about more than the numbers. The best example I can give you is my experience when I bought my first home CD player decades ago. I was excited about it and in fact, I told all my friends just how clear the sound was. In the back of my mind, I felt like there was something missing but I believed in hard data and on that front, the technology was, no doubt, the winner.

The problem is that these machines are used to produce things ultimately interpreted by human senses. What wins in a technology shoot-out, doesn't necessarily win in a competition judged by the human senses. Music touches two of those senses and every one of us experiences things differently. I don't think this is a good/bad scenario. I don't think there are any single right/wrong answers either.

I am not completely opposed to using digital amplifiers, but I'm trying this avenue first. As for signal processing, I'm not sure what you're asking exactly. The first and only thing to consider (for me of course) is to produce a clean and clear signal that has been amplified to your power requirements.

Once you have that, you can then do what you want to "adjust" it. I know that many modern amps have the ability to tweak the frequencies to your liking, and that's nice actually. But whether you use simple passive components mounted on a speaker, install separate active crossovers, or you use external units to control each frequency, the goal is the same. You will tune your system and all that that implies. My only point is that in a perfect world, all of that would take place "after" you have amplified your signal. I like to control the frequencies going to every different type of speaker tightly. But that is more because I believe that each speaker is built to perform its own function and sending frequencies above or below those will take away from their peak performance.
 

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Actually, I say class D is damn good, not bad is selling recent class D designs entirely too short. As a matter of fact, let’s flip this discussion. Forget putting class D on the hot seat, let’s put class A/B on the hot seat. What is superior about class A/B or even A over today’s quality class D amps? I think class D has too many advantages and is the superior amplifier topology.

Quality used amps, aka, ”old school amps” MAY still be quality amps but electronic components don’t last forever so capacitors and similar components may need to be replaced before they are up to their original capabilities.
We would need to look at specs, but Class-A does have an easier design to minimise crossover distortion, which is not an issue in Class-D (I believe??)

In my case used period authentic Class-AB look nice and sound nice.
And you are (implicitly) correct that the recapping of them adds cost.

If one was buying used, then some older Class-AB can be better value, than newer Class-D.
If one can afford the time to pour over eBay and Craigslist postings.

But two amp with similarly low THD+N , and cross channel isolation specs... should pretty much sound about the same.

I would still run a class-A on the lower powered channels (MR and/or tweeters) if I have the lira for it... mostly just because (with no real solid reason).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If you want compact and class A/B then consider the DLS cci44. That amplifier was the best sounding amplifier in my testing.
That's an interesting amp and totally new to me. I only glanced at it for a few seconds but I will look into it further. Thanks!
 

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In my case used period authentic Class-AB look nice and sound nice.
And you are (implicitly) correct that the recapping of them adds cost.

If one was buying used, then some older Class-AB can be better value, than newer Class-D.
If one can afford the time to pour over eBay and Craigslist postings.

But two amp with similarly low THD+N , and cross channel isolation specs... should pretty much sound about the same.

I would still run a class-A on the lower powered channels (MR and/or tweeters) if I have the lira for it... mostly just because (with no real solid reason).
Can you mention a couple of specific products in the class A for high frequencies? That'd be great.
 

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Can you mention a couple of specific products in the class A for high frequencies? That'd be great.
There was the celestra one for sale here a week or two ago.

Luckily someone else bought it, but I was licking the chops like the coyote looking at a roadrunner. And it was still at about 60% of retail cost,

In reality, It is hard to argue with dgage logic... a good Class-D does not have many bad attributes.
Are you purchasing new?
Do you have any ideas for THD+N specs that you want to stay under?
Will you even hear any difference, as in how great are the speakers that sit downstream of the amps?

I feel you are buying used, then I already chucked out some class-AB names. And there were some low powered class-A from the era, typically Japanese and some US and EU ones.
 
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There was the celestra one for sale here a week or two ago.

Luckily someone else bought it, but I was licking the chops like the coyote looking at a roadrunner. And it was still at about 60% of retail cost,

In reality, It is hard to argue with dgage logic... a good Class-D does not have many bad attributes.
Are you purchasing new?
Do you have any ideas for THD+N specs that you want to stay under?
Will you even hear any difference, as in how great are the speakers that sit downstream of the amps?
I can relate to being relieved when someone buys something I'm itching to get but have no business buying....?...on the question of TDH for example, I know the general consensus that you can't hear the differences when you get down low, and that may or may not be the case....certainly when you are on the highway, the acceptable level can go up quite a bit before you notice it....but again and not unlike CD vs. Vinyl, there is "different" sound produced by each. I am not saying that one is good and one is bad...the keyword is different and CD technology has improved since those initial ones were sold but again, it's a matter of personal taste....one thing that frustrates me greatly is that none of the local shops I've been to so far have anything setup to listen to different equipment....that's true for class D as well....I was trying to compare one of the newer Alpines against JL, and they didn't have that set up in their showroom either.
 

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Are you keeping the factory speakers?
 

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Once you have that, you can then do what you want to "adjust" it. I know that many modern amps have the ability to tweak the frequencies to your liking, and that's nice actually. But whether you use simple passive components mounted on a speaker, install separate active crossovers, or you use external units to control each frequency, the goal is the same. You will tune your system and all that that implies. My only point is that in a perfect world, all of that would take place "after" you have amplified your signal. I like to control the frequencies going to every different type of speaker tightly. But that is more because I believe that each speaker is built to perform its own function and sending frequencies above or below those will take away from their peak performance.
Before I respond to this point, let me make another point, which will make clear my point about DSP, which I’ll come back to.

Let’s look at 2-channel home audio briefly where audiophiles can spend an enormous amount of money on speakers, DACs, speaker wires, audio wires, power wires, wire trays, etc. My dad recently did just that, he bought some really nice equipment with a really nice(expensive) price tag and everything looked very fancy. Speakers were beautiful rosewood veneer but I really wasn’t that impressed by everything. The speakers didn’t sound that great and the polished aluminum case with engraving in the back was unreadable. The problem with my dad’s setup is that he didn’t pay any attention to the room he was putting everything in. Once a speaker is placed in a room, room nodes and room effects will change the way the speakers sound. This is why you see high-end audio rooms and home theaters have treatments on the walls, ceiling, and floor so that some sound waves are absorbed and others diffracted. This is also why some music halls are known for their sound over other music venues. The environment matters such that I’ll take mediocre speakers in a treated room over the best performing speakers in a poorly treated room. I’ve heard the top JBL M2 reference studio monitor, which is one of the Most accurate speakers ever built, in a poor room and in a really nice room and the sound was night and day different.

Which brings me to the car,which is really a pretty poor environment for audio. Glass, hard plastics, and the roof that reflect a lot of audio waves. And big consoles in the way that cause issues along with common issues like a null in frequencies between 100-200Hz due to the size of the waves in proportion to the width of the car. And then you get cabin gain (room gain happens too) that will reinforce the deep bass some by keeping the long bass waves in the car.

So really, you can have the best speakers and the cleanest signal path and you still won’t have flat or clean output because the environment will have its last bit of say. Today’s DSPs have the power to help mitigate some issues though some issues such as the 100-200Hz null will likely need to be addressed by the install. The DSP can also very precisely time align drivers such that they are perfectly aligned. Today’s DSPs can also have absolute control of crossover points when running active such that you can try 72 Hz or 81 Hz or whatever you want

I think your thinking is good but incomplete. You need to think of the entire install and how everything fits together including the vehicle itself. Regardless of which amps you choose, without a new school DSP, your system will not reach its full potential. My opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Before I respond to this point, let me make another point, which will make clear my point about DSP, which I’ll come back to.

Let’s look at 2-channel home audio briefly where audiophiles can spend an enormous amount of money on speakers, DACs, speaker wires, audio wires, power wires, wire trays, etc. My dad recently did just that, he bought some really nice equipment with a really nice(expensive) price tag and everything looked very fancy. Speakers were beautiful rosewood veneer but I really wasn’t that impressed by everything. The speakers didn’t sound that great and the polished aluminum case with engraving in the back was unreadable. The problem with my dad’s setup is that he didn’t pay any attention to the room he was putting everything in. Once a speaker is placed in a room, room nodes and room effects will change the way the speakers sound. This is why you see high-end audio rooms and home theaters have treatments on the walls, ceiling, and floor so that some sound waves are absorbed and others diffracted. This is also why some music halls are known for their sound over other music venues. The environment matters such that I’ll take mediocre speakers in a treated room over the best performing speakers in a poorly treated room. I’ve heard the top JBL M2 reference studio monitor, which is one of the Most accurate speakers ever built, in a poor room and in a really nice room and the sound was night and day different.

Which brings me to the car,which is really a pretty poor environment for audio. Glass, hard plastics, and the roof that reflect a lot of audio waves. And big consoles in the way that cause issues along with common issues like a null in frequencies between 100-200Hz due to the size of the waves in proportion to the width of the car. And then you get cabin gain (room gain happens too) that will reinforce the deep bass some by keeping the long bass waves in the car.

So really, you can have the best speakers and the cleanest signal path and you still won’t have flat or clean output because the environment will have its last bit of say. Today’s DSPs have the power to help mitigate some issues though some issues such as the 100-200Hz null will likely need to be addressed by the install. The DSP can also very precisely time align drivers such that they are perfectly aligned. Today’s DSPs can also have absolute control of crossover points when running active such that you can try 72 Hz or 81 Hz or whatever you want

I think your thinking is good but incomplete. You need to think of the entire install and how everything fits together including the vehicle itself. Regardless of which amps you choose, without a new school DSP, your system will not reach its full potential. My opinion.
I understand completely; furthermore, I don't disagree. I don't mind managing the whole system by way of external processing. My point was simply that I'm focusing my attention on getting the best signal I can to a DSP, EQ, or whatever other equipment I end up installing.
 

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Before I respond to this point, let me make another point, which will make clear my point about DSP, which I’ll come back to.
...
^Yeah^
I would take $1000 of sound deadening, tools, and time and the class-D over the best Class-A.
 

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I understand completely; furthermore, I don't disagree. I don't mind managing the whole system by way of external processing. My point was simply that I'm focusing my attention on getting the best signal I can to a DSP, EQ, or whatever other equipment I end up installing.
Fair enough. I still go back to you not being able to notice a difference in sound quality between a good class A, class A/B, and class D, I stand by that point even in a quiet room but in a car environment, forget about it. I expect you’d have no way to be able to tell the difference in a car unless you listen to your car with the engine off and away from civilization. And don’t turn on the A/C or engine or you’re all of a sudden way over the noise floor of even mediocre amps.

For my home theater sub business, I have to go out in the middle of a field to measure my subs when I’m testing a product and it is damn hard to find a quiet, open field with access to power.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Fair enough. I still go back to you not being able to notice a difference in sound quality between a good class A, class A/B, and class D, I stand by that point even in a quiet room but in a car environment, forget about it. I expect you’d have no way to be able to tell the difference in a car unless you listen to your car with the engine off and away from civilization. And don’t turn on the A/C or engine or you’re all of a sudden way over the noise floor of even mediocre amps.

For my home theater sub business, I have to go out in the middle of a field to measure my subs when I’m testing a product and it is damn hard to find a quiet, open field with access to power.
Again, I respect your opinion. I don't want to get into a heated discussion where we dig in our heels and try to prove one thing is better than another. Baskin-Robbins would be a pretty boring place if they only sold one flavor instead of 31.

This is not even about amplifier topology per se. In fact, I am not a fanatic supporter of one technology over another at the expense of all else. I mentioned other classes aside from AB in my original post, just as I explained that I was not unwilling to consider using class D amps.

Maybe this thread I just ran across will get my main point across more eloquently. It's an old thread and it doesn't even include AB amplifiers but rather compares two class D's.

I will post a link to the entire thread but I have highlighted just a couple of sections that are germane. Even amplifiers with very similar design and specs can sound different to different people. The second point that he makes is something that I think is often bypassed altogether. Call me old if you will but, I do not tune an install before I've heard it. Okay, perhaps that's too broad. I make certain adjustments mostly based on electrical measurements but fine tuning comes down to how "you", as an individual, experience sound and that means listening for a more than 10 minutes.

I appreciate the input you guys have been providing and I am still interested in hearing more!
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Arc Audio XDi 1200.6 review
 
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