Originally Posted by Archaea
Have you ever participated in a blind amp test?
dozens of times... and since I recognize where this will inevitably go and what it is, I'll engage to say the following and then never respond again because the pointlessness of the round and round that comes from it doesn't interest me in the slightest.... you won't change my mind so I probably should just not even reply......
in every single rigorously setup blind test I participated in except one, I was able to hear differences to a statistically significant level or outright 100% of the time. I've shown my buddies and, most importantly, myself that I can hear differences and they aren't imagined, placebo, simple gain mismatches, etc. etc. Why I hear the differences and what is really the reason for the differences I hear is not that important to me since I'm not going to be modifying the equipment to try to make one sound like the other or alter the distortion spectrum of one piece to be more like another, etc. etc. etc.. I merely try to find one I like and decide if the difference in sound is something I like and is worth the price to me to purchase.
I don't assume more $ means better. There is a shocking amount of absolute garbage sounding ultra expensive stuff on the market. There are some generic trends, but no absolutes.
I don't always do super rigorous blind tests for every single gear comparison. A lot of times I compare sighted with everything but the piece being compared staying as constant as possible and gain matched more than I do the full blown blind stuff. Simple reason is convenience... its a PITA to setup a really good blind test and you need more than one person to do a true blind test. I don't always have that luxury at 2AM on a Monday morning. I also have often done a series of sighted comparisons with other pieces in the chain changing to see if my perceptions hold up with other combinations of gear (i.e. does it sound bright with two different preamps, or does one make it sound less bright than the others and does the other amps in the comparison have a similar sonic change when the preamp is changed... basically an examination of system "synergy" that audiophools like to ramble on about)
this particular comparison of these amps was done sighted, but every piece was constant around it except for the amps and all were level matched. I got changes down to under 20 seconds to limit aural memory loss. But that wasn't really necessary. It was not a subtle difference in sound between the compared pieces. The comparison was done again and again over numerous days and notes compared to make sure other factors like quality of power and ambient noise floor of time of day, my attention span, etc. didn't bias what I was hearing. I've since listened to the amps in question again with a different DAC and preamp than the PS Audio DirectStream to see if my thoughts changed about its overall sonic character or if the impedance matching with another piece did something sonically to alter my perception of the overall sonic characteristics I wrote about in my initial post (it didn't... but it did further reinforce my comment that putting fatter, denser, or warmer sounding pieces around the Crown helps make it more listenable and tames the leaner nature of the amp overall. It didn't magically make it a world class piece, but it did make the overall system more listenable and let the pros of the amp shine through, while mitigating some of its weaknesses to be less distracting).
It's a very good amp and a ridiculous bargain for the cash outlay. $99 for this kind of piece is kind of funny to get the power output and sound quality it offers. It's not a world class high end audiophool approved device, though for a dedicated 2 channel system.