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Do all "Competently Designed and Level Matched" Amplifiers/Head Units sound the same?

  • All Head Units AND Amplifiers sound the same!

    Votes: 26 12.6%
  • All Head Units sound the same, but Amps sound different!

    Votes: 6 2.9%
  • All Amps sound the same, but Head Units sound different!

    Votes: 11 5.3%
  • Both Head Units AND Amplifiers sound different!

    Votes: 113 54.6%
  • Yes there are differences, but at 80 mph you can't hear them!

    Votes: 50 24.2%
  • Yes there are differences, even audible at 80 mph!

    Votes: 35 16.9%
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am conducting a simple poll to see what the opinions are form the DIY community regarding the sonic differences (if any) between head units and amplifiers. This is simply what you believe.

Please keep it to only a poll so this thread does not deteriorate and get shut down (i.e, vote, but keep your comments to yourself). This is a real hot spot that has very strong supporters on both sides.

****This poll is NOT intended to prove anything as perception can be vastly wrong, and just because one side will win this poll does NOT mean their perception is fact or accurate.****

****If you vote yes, also vote if you think it matters at 80 mph - This poll allows you to select more than 1 answer****
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Thanks for those who chose to move this to the "no question is dumb forum", since this is an opinion poll. It won't stop the results and I am sure many regard it as a dumb question on both sides of the topic. Thanks to all that have voted!
 

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I say yes, with "competently designed" being the key word here, because if a headunit/amp is competently designed, it should be low noise with a completely flat frequency response.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I say yes, with "competently designed" being the key word here, because if a headunit/amp is competently designed, it should be low noise with a completely flat frequency response.
Thanks
 

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no offense intended, but the poll is silly. The correct answer is not dependent on ... in fact, only loosely correlated with ... a majority opinion on an audio message board.

The only real question of interest is : do we have a comprehensive set of specifications that completely describe & determine "the sound" of purely electronic devices (lets not include loudspeakers, for now)? All data ... all scientific investigation, all theory, and all tests ... leads to an affirmative answer.

If two pieces of audio electronics have the same gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion ... then what is the parameter by which they CAN sound different?

What is it?

The type of solder used? If it doesn't impact gain, power, frequency response, noise or distortion ... then it is irrelevant.

The type of capacitors used? If it doesn't impact gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion ... then it is irrelevant.

The type of wire used? If it doesn't impact gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion ... then it is irrelevant.

By the way ... nobody in their right mind says that all amps sound the same. I can pull two amps off the same production line, and set their gain controls different by 0.25dB. They WILL sound different. However, the REASON they sound different is because that gain knob happens to impact one of these : gain, power, frequency response, noise or distortion.

Conversely, there's always someone who says : "I swapped amps, and i KNOW they sounded different !!!!"

That's a meaningless statement. What WOULD be a meaningful statement is : "I swapped amps, and i carefully measured gain, power, frequency response noise & distortion to make sure these classic parameters were the same. Then, in a controlled listening test where the name brands were hidden, a statistically significant difference was identified. And because i carefully eliminated the classic variables of gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion, i have come to the conclusion that the difference could NOT be attributed to any of these classic variables".

Of course, that statement has never been offered in the history of the world.

So the question always remains : How do you know whether or not the difference you heard can be attributed to : gain, power, frequency response, noise or distortion?

How could anyone possibly answer this question? Do we have no choice but to wander aimlessly in the dark ... no choice but to rely on guru opinions and internet polls? Is there no logical process to determine if differences can be attributed to gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion? What's the process to determine if these specs are indeed comprehensive?
 

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I don't understand the purpose of this poll. All these subjects have been discussed dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times in this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I don't understand the purpose of this poll. All these subjects have been discussed dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times in this forum.
Yes this has been discussed, I was looking to see how many actually think one way or the other. It is a little hard to read through endless threads to determine that. Discussed is a nice word to describe it by the way ;).
 

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no offense intended, but the poll is silly. The correct answer is not dependent on ... in fact, only loosely correlated with ... a majority opinion on an audio message board.
Damn. I hit reply expressly to say just that. Well, I wanted to put it more coarsely: reality doesn't give a damn what a poll says. The earth doesn't magically become a cube, or President Obama a Muslim, just because people are stupid enough to answer that way in a poll.

(And yes, at this juncture in the polling at least there are at least 17 people in active denial of reality. They probably just got back from Glenn Beck's klansman gathering in Washington.)

But at least there's one point on which at least the way we would phrase the issue, if not our actual position, seems to differ a smidgen.

The only real question of interest is : do we have a comprehensive set of specifications that completely describe & determine "the sound" of purely electronic devices (lets not include loudspeakers, for now)? All data ... all scientific investigation, all theory, and all tests ... leads to an affirmative answer.
I would phrase the only real question as being: in competently designed, nonbroken equipment properly specified for a reasonable application, has anyone ever heard a difference between devices under test? The answer, in case it wasn't obvious, is once: a nonbroken and competently designed CD player with 14-bit resolution (I believe the first model of CD player sold for home use) sounded different from a nonbroken and competently designed CD player with 16-bit resolution (a generation or two more advanced, but we're still talking early 1980s here).

If it's not audible, it's just not worth discussing if one's goal is reproducing music.

That's of course not to say that there are any number of subjective (looks, brand loyalty/snobbery, color, perceived quality, perceived value, etc.) or objective (I/O layout, projected resale value, features, price, form factor, etc.) properties that can distinguish one digital source/amp/wire from another. But non of those properties have anything to do with the "sound" of the box or wire in question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Damn. I hit reply expressly to say just that. Well, I wanted to put it more coarsely: reality doesn't give a damn what a poll says. The earth doesn't magically become a cube, or President Obama a Muslim, just because people are stupid enough to answer that way in a poll.
Wow, to get a law degree, I thought you had to learn how to actually read? I guess not :(. It does explain a lot though!

****This poll is NOT intended to prove anything as perception can be vastly wrong, and just because one side will win this poll does NOT mean their perception is fact or accurate.****
 

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Actually, one thing one learns when one goes to a real school is how to read between the lines. Obviously, you were trolling for support for some of your more idiotic premises. Any reasonable person could see that.
 

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no offense intended, but the poll is silly. The correct answer is not dependent on ... in fact, only loosely correlated with ... a majority opinion on an audio message board.

The only real question of interest is : do we have a comprehensive set of specifications that completely describe & determine "the sound" of purely electronic devices (lets not include loudspeakers, for now)? All data ... all scientific investigation, all theory, and all tests ... leads to an affirmative answer.

If two pieces of audio electronics have the same gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion ... then what is the parameter by which they CAN sound different?

What is it?

The type of solder used? If it doesn't impact gain, power, frequency response, noise or distortion ... then it is irrelevant.

The type of capacitors used? If it doesn't impact gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion ... then it is irrelevant.

The type of wire used? If it doesn't impact gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion ... then it is irrelevant.

By the way ... nobody in their right mind says that all amps sound the same. I can pull two amps off the same production line, and set their gain controls different by 0.25dB. They WILL sound different. However, the REASON they sound different is because that gain knob happens to impact one of these : gain, power, frequency response, noise or distortion.

Conversely, there's always someone who says : "I swapped amps, and i KNOW they sounded different !!!!"

That's a meaningless statement. What WOULD be a meaningful statement is : "I swapped amps, and i carefully measured gain, power, frequency response noise & distortion to make sure these classic parameters were the same. Then, in a controlled listening test where the name brands were hidden, a statistically significant difference was identified. And because i carefully eliminated the classic variables of gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion, i have come to the conclusion that the difference could NOT be attributed to any of these classic variables".

Of course, that statement has never been offered in the history of the world.

So the question always remains : How do you know whether or not the difference you heard can be attributed to : gain, power, frequency response, noise or distortion?

How could anyone possibly answer this question? Do we have no choice but to wander aimlessly in the dark ... no choice but to rely on guru opinions and internet polls? Is there no logical process to determine if differences can be attributed to gain, power, frequency response, noise & distortion? What's the process to determine if these specs are indeed comprehensive?

So will I be wasting my time trying new op amps?

I was planning on trying these:

Digi-Key - LME49720NA-ND (Manufacturer - LME49720NA/NOPB)
 

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So will I be wasting my time trying new op amps?

I was planning on trying these:

Digi-Key - LME49720NA-ND (Manufacturer - LME49720NA/NOPB)
Which parameter do you hope to improve :

power, gain, frequency response, noise or distortion?

Which of these is currently unsatisfactory, in your amp (or other gadget)?

It's VERY instructive to understand that ALL of these parameters are QUANTIFIABLE. You need not spend your money because some internet guru described how much more "air" or "speed" or "lush-osity" you'll get with new opamps.
 

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Different "air" can be had in the mountains [ thinner if U will ] for "speed" going down a mountain is exciting and "lush-osity" is what you'll be hoping you land in if you drive off the side of a mountain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Actually, one thing one learns when one goes to a real school is how to read between the lines. Obviously, you were trolling for support for some of your more idiotic premises. Any reasonable person could see that.
Remember, when you assume you make an ass of yourself ;). You seem to be an expert at that!
 

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I'm intrigued by the fact that when lycan says something, nobody gives him ****, but when DS-21 says the same exact thing people jump up his ass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Which parameter do you hope to improve :

power, gain, frequency response, noise or distortion?

Which of these is currently unsatisfactory, in your amp (or other gadget)?

It's VERY instructive to understand that ALL of these parameters are QUANTIFIABLE. You need not spend your money because some internet guru described how much more "air" or "speed" or "lush-osity" you'll get with new opamps.
I understand what you are saying, but how without having extremely expensive test equipment are we able to know the "power, gain, frequency response, noise, or distortion" of the amplifier/headunit we intend to buy? There does not seem to be a standard that everyone actually uses to test amplifiers/headunits. You see all the time where the published specs vary in some way or another from the specs on the "birth certificate" included with the amplifier. Even taking that out of the mix, manufacturers seem to test under various conditions (hot vs cold), many to the amps advantage to make the specs look as good as possible. Do different caps, resistors, etc., perform differently when hot/cold vs others...and can this effect the sound quality? What about a cheap internal part being substituted that has a larger variance for change/failure? How many of us actually measure the amps/headunits we buy to compare against the published specs....how do we know it performs like it says it should?

With that said, the word "competently designed" seems to get thrown around all the time without a definition attached. How do I (an average consumer) know which products are competently designed before I purchase? Do a trust a "brand name" company? I mean, its not like they never make mistakes, develop new ways to build (i.e. class D, etc.), try to cut costs or anything like that.

It is hard more me to read that people are not able to hear a 1 dB variance, but on the other be told that I am required to level match to better than a .25 dB difference and that is the reason there may be an audible difference between 2 amp or headunits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm intrigued by the fact that when lycan says something, nobody gives him ****, but when DS-21 says the same exact thing people jump up his ass.
Lycan does it without being an ass and insulting people....that is the difference!
 
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