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post #1 of 32 Old 11-18-2013, 01:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all, this is my first post. I have viewed the forum off and on for a while now, but only now I have some gear worthy of asking a question about...

 

So Ive recently purchased a used Mcintosh MHT-200 5.1 Reciever. Its one heck of a unit with 8 completely separarate amps inside.

 

I'm currently using my computer as a source and an external soundcard is sending a digital bitstream via Optical Out directly into the Mcintosh and uses it's onboard DAC. This then goes out to my Klipsh Reference Series 5.1 Speakers.

 

The only thing is the Mcintosh was built in 2003(ish) and isn't capable of HD audio or 192Khz because of the limitations from the optical connection.  So I was thinking...should I get a new DAC and send the signal from the computer into the DAC and then into the RCA inputs of the McIntosh to possibly get even higher quality sound?

 

I was thinking about the Emotiva UMC-200 (link below) which fits into my budget and has all of the codecs and inputs I want.

 

But the McIntosh was a $6800 reciever in its day, and although dated now, would it still have a better onboard DAC

than the Emotiva???

 

Emotiva: http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/processors/products/umc200

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post #2 of 32 Old 11-18-2013, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Just one more try to see if anyone can comment...:0)

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post #3 of 32 Old 11-18-2013, 05:30 PM
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It's a tough one to answer. I general, I would think a quality DAC such as the Emotiva will be a improvement over your Mac's DAC .... but it might not be a HUGE improvement sound wise. The ability to play "HD audio" and higher bit rate files may be the deciding factor for you. The dilemma is having to buy one to find out for sure. Companies like Schiit (audio?) have a 15 day money back if you are not happy with the results of their products. I'm not sure if Emotiva does but If they do then try one and see if it's worth the upgrade. Let us know .... I for one am curious what you find.

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post #4 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 05:56 AM
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DAC's are DACs. There would be no audible difference between any of them manufactured after the late 1980's or so. If you need surround sound then you will have to do something else. If not, then you are probably good to go.
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post #5 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 06:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehorse1983 View Post

Hello all, this is my first post. I have viewed the forum off and on for a while now, but only now I have some gear worthy of asking a question about...

So Ive recently purchased a used Mcintosh MHT-200 5.1 Reciever. Its one heck of a unit with 8 completely separarate amps inside.

I'm currently using my computer as a source and an external soundcard is sending a digital bitstream via Optical Out directly into the Mcintosh and uses it's onboard DAC. This then goes out to my Klipsh Reference Series 5.1 Speakers.

The only thing is the Mcintosh was built in 2003(ish) and isn't capable of HD audio or 192Khz because of the limitations from the optical connection. 

Generally no great loss. What are your real concerns about this?

There is plenty of evidence that shows zero inherent sound quality advantage for sample rates such as 24/192 over lower sample rate such as even 24/96.
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I was thinking...should I get a new DAC and send the signal from the computer into the DAC and then into the RCA inputs of the McIntosh to possibly get even higher quality sound?

The digital connection right into your Mac generally has better measured performance than RCA inputs.
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post #6 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

DAC's are DACs. There would be no audible difference between any of them manufactured after the late 1980's or so. If you need surround sound then you will have to do something else. If not, then you are probably good to go.

Over the years I've updated my receivers from a Yamaha rx-v2095, rx-z1, rx-z11 and there were LARGE increases in sound clarity, separation EACH time on every music/movie source... weird since all dacs and amplifiers sound the same :\

Get the Emotiva and test it out for yourself and don't let anyone on the internet fool into what you can and can't hear. If you're not sure if you hear a difference and it's not obvious - return it.
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post #7 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realtight View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

DAC's are DACs. There would be no audible difference between any of them manufactured after the late 1980's or so. If you need surround sound then you will have to do something else. If not, then you are probably good to go.

Over the years I've updated my receivers from a Yamaha rx-v2095, rx-z1, rx-z11 and there were LARGE increases in sound clarity, separation EACH time on every music/movie source... weird since all dacs and amplifiers sound the same :\

Get the Emotiva and test it out for yourself and don't let anyone on the internet fool into what you can and can't hear. If you're not sure if you hear a difference and it's not obvious - return it.
describe your evaluation process for comparisons between your upgrades.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #8 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realtight View Post

Over the years I've updated my receivers from a Yamaha rx-v2095, rx-z1, rx-z11 and there were LARGE increases in sound clarity, separation EACH time on every music/movie source... weird since all dacs and amplifiers sound the same :\

Get the Emotiva and test it out for yourself and don't let anyone on the internet fool into what you can and can't hear. If you're not sure if you hear a difference and it's not obvious - return it.

Unfortunately it is advice like yours that leads to the never ending chase of audiophilia. Nothing like a good old bias controlled listening test.
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post #9 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 05:25 PM
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But you don't yet know what his evaluation process was and are making assumptions.
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post #10 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thankyou all for your comments. If it were true that DACS have not evolved since the 1980s I would think that few more would have been produced...but this is not the case. Leaps and bounds are being made in the audio realm.. Were it not for me getting nearly %80 off of the Mchintosh amp I was able to locate, I would never be so lucky as to own a piece of high end gear such as this. Of course, with this amp connected to my sounds card via optical out, this system is now lightyears better than the cheap Onkyo system I was using before. Funny because I'm told all amps sound the same... ;^)   Only the problem Im having now is very common. Because the veil of noise and distortion has been lifted I can now hear other things that impinge on the sound quality. Such as room treatment, etc. Its funny how those things didnt matter with the cheap Onkyo!    So now that Ive already spent around 3k for the system I have it would seem kind of dumb to not spend another $500 to make sure the source material is as good as I can get it, if that is (big if) there is much improvement to be made. Also my requirements are more specific because I want to enjoy 5.1 surround even for my music also.

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post #11 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 05:50 PM
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I'll resist the temptation to comment and simply let you think about this:

http://matrixhifi.com/contenedor_ppec_eng.htm
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post #12 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post

I'll resist the temptation to comment and simply let you think about this:

http://matrixhifi.com/contenedor_ppec_eng.htm

+1.
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I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #13 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehorse1983 View Post

Thankyou all for your comments. If it were true that DACS have not evolved since the 1980s I would think that few more would have been produced...but this is not the case. Leaps and bounds are being made in the audio realm.. Were it not for me getting nearly %80 off of the Mchintosh amp I was able to locate, I would never be so lucky as to own a piece of high end gear such as this. Of course, with this amp connected to my sounds card via optical out, this system is now lightyears better than the cheap Onkyo system I was using before. Funny because I'm told all amps sound the same... ;^)   Only the problem Im having now is very common. Because the veil of noise and distortion has been lifted I can now hear other things that impinge on the sound quality. Such as room treatment, etc. Its funny how those things didnt matter with the cheap Onkyo!    So now that Ive already spent around 3k for the system I have it would seem kind of dumb to not spend another $500 to make sure the source material is as good as I can get it, if that is (big if) there is much improvement to be made. Also my requirements are more specific because I want to enjoy 5.1 surround even for my music also.

That's how audiophilia begins. Best of luck to you.
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post #14 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Your words don't fall on deaf ears for sure. I only want to change my DAC if a very noticeable improvement can be made. I'm not at all into "magic box" solutions or fake mystery mojo. Its probably from my time noodling in studios as a musician that I have trained ears and am probably more sensitive than most when it comes to audio. I'm also aware that its more likely that 80+% of the improvement in sound is coming from my new speakers, BUT....as I said before I have an interest in 5.1 surround sound, now this is where things get interesting...

 

The holographic imaging of sound is why I'm interested in the 5.1. For example, to hear where the music/sounds are coming from in the mix directionally. This is where a high quality DAC and processor might really shine. For example the Mcintosh is pretty good at converting the audio so that you can pinpoint where sounds are coming from in a movie. Alot of this of course has to do with speaker placement. But sound staging can really make a big difference to how a song also sounds. This is what I'm really after and can't be achieved with a fancy 2 channel DAC.   These differences in sound I believe are less subjective. You might be right that another DAC is a waste of money, but Id sure like to find out for myself for sure by listening.  Again, your points about audiophilia are well taken and I think that many systems are truly a ripoff and snake oil abounds in high end audio.  This is why I bought a 10 year old receiver instead of a new one.

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post #15 of 32 Old 11-19-2013, 11:42 PM
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Unless you already have a very good DVD player you might want to get one with 6/8 channel direct output. Your Mac probably has 6 channel direct channel inputs. This bypasses the DAC in the Mac (sounds like a book eh?) and utilizes the DAC in the DVD player. Oppo makes a couple of excellent DVD players and the DACs are top notch. With direct channel inputs you will also gain the Dolby-HD and DTS-HD audio which your Mac cannot do - plus SACD and DVD-A if the player supports that. What you will lose is any room correction built into the Mac since direct channel inputs do not route the audio signal through the DSP. If you already have a DVD player see if it has 8 channel outputs.

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post #16 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Unfortunately it is advice like yours that leads to the never ending chase of audiophilia. Nothing like a good old bias controlled listening test.

Actually it's not, I've setup many listening controlled test with my equipment that was all level matched and was able tell the difference between separate amplifers and different receivers.

My very last test, two different amplifers, one class ab, one a class d pro amp. Both were level matched to my speakers. Both sounded completely different - period, end of discussion. The pro-amp sounded like garbage. Could care less if anyone doesn't believe me because it was that obvious.

The test I did before it was between my Yamaha rx3300 and the newer rx3900. both level matched both being fed the same signal. Switching between the both of them i could easily pick out the two. The 3300 was less clear and warmer and the 3900 was more clear. I don't know what was causing the differences between them but it was there and it was audible.
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post #17 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by audio4life View Post

But you don't yet know what his evaluation process was and are making assumptions.

All Dacs do not sound the same and the same goes for amps. Anyone that is that hell bent on saying otherwise has hearing problems and needs to back anyway from there measurements because it's simply not true.

Maybe KMW needs to buy some speakers cable of distinguishing audible difference between amps and dacs... but then he'd have to get rid of his BOSE setup wink.gif
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post #18 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by realtight View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by audio4life View Post

But you don't yet know what his evaluation process was and are making assumptions.

All Dacs do not sound the same and the same goes for amps. Anyone that is that hell bent on saying otherwise has hearing problems and needs to back anyway from there measurements because it's simply not true.

Maybe KMW needs to buy some speakers cable of distinguishing audible difference between amps and dacs... but then he'd have to get rid of his BOSE setup wink.gif

There is some pretty bold claims here, as well as a certain amount of "speaking from authority".

Please provide all technical details of these tests you ran. Equipment used, how they were level matched, how quickly switching was able to switch. I'm curious how you came to your conclusions.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #19 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 01:56 PM
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Me or the people saying all dacs, amps, receivers sound the same no matter how old or different their topography is?

My last setup was the easiest and by far the most eye-opening.

Ceton Echo, optical output
Yamaha Rxv3300
connected to samson s-convert which was connected to my two amps, Adcom GFA555-II and a Yamaha p5000s.
a/b switch box
Infinity Monitor IIa's

Level matched, same db's using my Samsung S3 smartphone app (I know not the greatest but it works fine for volume) used white noise test files.

The Yamaha p5000s was going to be the first pro amp used for my speakers other then subs in my home theater as I was planning on going with all pro amps. To my surprise it sounded extremely shrill in the mids and highs at any level played. Shocked, I used my a/b switcher and went to the Adcom. It sounded much better, mids and highs were back to normal, noticed the bass wasn't quite as loud as the pro amp but clearly everything else sounded much better.

Thinking something had to be wrong with the setup I removed the switcher. Same screetchy/honky highs from the Pro amp. I removed s-convert, plugged the rca's directly into the amp and played it without anything else in the chain to see if something else was wrong... same sound. Removed amp, hooked Adcom back up... delightful sound once again.

My friend who is a musician brought over his Crown -can't remember the model off the top of my head... but he was heard the same exact things as I did. If he wouldn't have brought his amp over to test, I might have brought my Yamaha amp in to get tested.
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post #20 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 02:22 PM
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When I tested my new Yamaha rxv3900 vs the 3300 it wasn't as nice of a test and it wasn't a hands down slam dunk either other then the fact that both my dad and my wife could pick out the new 3900 each time.

HTPC - optical out
I setup each receiver separately and level matched them both with my smartphone app using the same test files as the test mentioned above. This wasn't as good of a test because I literally just plugged in the optical cable to the receiver's one at a time, sometimes unplugging it and plugging it into the same receiver to trick the listener.

Each receiver, same brand, no eq or special settings, flat, straight through, level matched. We could all tell the difference.

My speakers in this setup are custom Swope 3-way towers with an upgraded SB Tweeter. I'm not sure what the difference was (I thought it was the newer dacs) but the 3900 was clearer.

**This being said, I tested the 3300 vs my z1 which was more expensive and could not tell the difference, I also did the same test between my 3900 and my z11 and couldn't tell the difference.
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post #21 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 03:16 PM
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Level matching with a smart phone ap is far removed from the realms of reliability. I also see no mention of any sort of blind testing, let alone double blind abx testing. Please try again when you are able to test to accurate standards.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #22 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 03:49 PM
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Going way back to your starting post .... the Mac "isn't capable of HD audio or 192Khz because of the limitations from the optical connection" I don't think it is just the optical that is limiting it. I believe the Mac's DAC is limited to 96Khz. which then leads to my original reply .... "The ability to play "HD audio" and higher bit rate files may be the deciding factor for you" (in buying a DAC). If you want to be able to play higher than 96Khz sources, a stand alone DAC is your only option.

On a side note, great examples of 5.1 surround music are the DVD-A version of The Eagles Hotel California and all of the Pink Floyd Immersion Box surround mixes.

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post #23 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
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Level matched, same db's using my Samsung S3 smartphone app

I stopped reading your post right there. biggrin.gif
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post #24 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 06:12 PM
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Level matching with a smart phone ap is far removed from the realms of reliability. I also see no mention of any sort of blind testing, let alone double blind abx testing. Please try again when you are able to test to accurate standards.

How so? It's completely accurate enough to match even amplifiers levels... please.

Each test was done by having one person switching between amps and sometimes switching back to the same amp after 3-5 minutes of the other listening. The pro amp was picked every time. The lamest myth of all is to say everything sounds the same, such a sad life to live.

I'd tell the poster to get the new dac/processor so he can have the better formats at his disposal but at the same time sell his over-priced piece of junk Mac and sell it to me dirt cheap so he can pick up some cheap receiver at Walmart.
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post #25 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 06:36 PM
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Sorry the phone app is not trustworthy enough to be accurate. First of all the phone Mic has a real hard time even picking up lower frequencies, and second as it is not a verified calibrated device it can have a 3dB or more swing in either direction. You wanna play, get the right gear. A digital multimeter used to measure the voltage across the speaker terminals is way more accurate to level match over a crappy phone Mic and an uncalibrated SPL app.

And like the other poster, I didn't read a whole lot beyond "I used a phone app SPL meter to level match". I just kinda skimmed over the rest. You need more accurate tools and better controls, until then your claims remain in subjective land and should not be taken as any sort of authority. Nothing wrong with preference, just don't go around claiming your preference is the only right preference....especially when there exists tools to prove or disprove subjective claims.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #26 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 06:48 PM
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I think the Emotiva matched with the Mac is a pretty cool idea, basically turning it into a pure amp. I'd give it a shot for a couple weeks. You might like the usability updates even if the sound isn't significantly better.

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post #27 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Sorry the phone app is not trustworthy enough to be accurate. First of all the phone Mic has a real hard time even picking up lower frequencies, and second as it is not a verified calibrated device it can have a 3dB or more swing in either direction. You wanna play, get the right gear. A digital multimeter used to measure the voltage across the speaker terminals is way more accurate to level match over a crappy phone Mic and an uncalibrated SPL app.

And like the other poster, I didn't read a whole lot beyond "I used a phone app SPL meter to level match". I just kinda skimmed over the rest. You need more accurate tools and better controls, until then your claims remain in subjective land and should not be taken as any sort of authority. Nothing wrong with preference, just don't go around claiming your preference is the only right preference....especially when there exists tools to prove or disprove subjective claims.

Fair enough, please provide a link to where I can buy a some-what reasonably priced set of testing equipment and I'll do this test all over again... I'd be more then happy to find out that their is nothing wrong with my Yamaha amp - because I love the thing. But the way this amp sounds on my Infinity's is terrible at any listening level - period. I'll invite you over to my house to prove it, I don't think leveling the amp to another is going to help it but I'm all about trying. Until I tried this test I was in the all amps sound the same camp - just an fyi...

I also think getting the Emotiva DAC is a great idea regardless of what others want to say.
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post #28 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 08:30 PM
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I stopped reading your post right there. biggrin.gif

Hey I was being honest. But you ask another question, wouldn't the louder amp if the leveling was wrong be the better sounding amp and wouldn't the amp only suffer under loud listening levels? Both my amps are extremely powerful and I would be shocked to learn that the Yamaha Pro was clipping at such low levels but that's exactly what it sounds like, all the time.
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post #29 of 32 Old 11-20-2013, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Sorry the phone app is not trustworthy enough to be accurate. First of all the phone Mic has a real hard time even picking up lower frequencies, and second as it is not a verified calibrated device it can have a 3dB or more swing in either direction. You wanna play, get the right gear. A digital multimeter used to measure the voltage across the speaker terminals is way more accurate to level match over a crappy phone Mic and an uncalibrated SPL app.

And like the other poster, I didn't read a whole lot beyond "I used a phone app SPL meter to level match". I just kinda skimmed over the rest. You need more accurate tools and better controls, until then your claims remain in subjective land and should not be taken as any sort of authority. Nothing wrong with preference, just don't go around claiming your preference is the only right preference....especially when there exists tools to prove or disprove subjective claims.

Fair enough, please provide a link to where I can buy a some-what reasonably priced set of testing equipment and I'll do this test all over again... I'd be more then happy to find out that their is nothing wrong with my Yamaha amp - because I love the thing. But the way this amp sounds on my Infinity's is terrible at any listening level - period. I'll invite you over to my house to prove it, I don't think leveling the amp to another is going to help it but I'm all about trying. Until I tried this test I was in the all amps sound the same camp - just an fyi...

I also think getting the Emotiva DAC is a great idea regardless of what others want to say.

something like this would likely serve as a good tool to measure voltage for level matching. There may be cheaper alternatives out there.

as far as a ABX box for DBT's you are on your own there. you may have to build something. this is the hardest part of a proper ABX test. I have not been able to successfully pull one off on my own yet, but would like to. I have been able to to do reasonable facsimiles doing single blind testing using a basic A/B switch box.

I have access to a SPER Scientific Sound Meter as a tool for my work. This spl meter is professionally calibrated every 6 months and the last time it was calibrated (4/13) two days afterward I was able to use it at my home for some spl tests. I use the spl meters to confirm dB levels not to set them btw.

you also need access to some good test tones for calibration purposes. I have used tones from my Spears & Munsil calibration disk. There may be better out there, but these are sufficient for home use I presume.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #30 of 32 Old 11-21-2013, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by realtight View Post

Hey I was being honest. But you ask another question, wouldn't the louder amp if the leveling was wrong be the better sounding amp and wouldn't the amp only suffer under loud listening levels? Both my amps are extremely powerful and I would be shocked to learn that the Yamaha Pro was clipping at such low levels but that's exactly what it sounds like, all the time.

Yes, in a blind listening tests differences in level - even slight differences - make identifying the subject amplifiers easy and foolproof. They need to be matched within .01 volt at the speaker terminal. In terms of preference, listeners will choose the louder one every time. The power of the amplifiers is immaterial as long as the system isn't dissipating all the amplifier's output. In other words, if one amplifier is clipping then the ID is again easy and foolproof. There may be something wrong with your Yamaha. It may make sense to have it tested since you are hearing distorted sound even at reasonably low levels.
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