Originally Posted by jsm88
Oh, and while I'm at it, great post DS-21, something that isn't pointed out often enough about these amps. That doesn't mean our equipment sounds "better" just that we seek true, objective, accuracy over a colorful reproduction, no matter how artfully done.
I think I didn't write clearly enough for my post to be interpreted the way it was intended. While I was condemning the audiophool flavor of the past couple years (direct-heated single ended triodes) I was not claiming any special sonic superiority for digital amps over analog amps, glass or sand, that are not expressly designed to color the signal passing through them.
To be perfectly honest, the advantages of digital amps are limited to the following three:1) Social consciousness.
Digital amps, because of their superior energy efficiency and lower mass (hence, less raw materials used in construction and less energy expended in transporting them) are a more socially-conscious choice that giant space-heaters.2) Form factor.
A digital amp can be considerably smaller than a solid state or tube amp of similar power and performance. In addition to making them better for society, that is an aesthetic improvement as well; instead of dominating the room digital amps allow a electronics to command less attention in a room. After all, the focus should be on the music, not on the stupid boxes used to conjure it up.3) Cost effectiveness.
Digital amps seem to allow manufacturers to really lower costs without compromising audio quality. A $200-$300 receiver with binding posts for each of its seven internal channels of ~70watt real world amplification that can decode all of the current surround formats takes "high end" audio processing/amplification from a luxury to a practically a commodity. Commoditizing (and thus democratizing
) good audio is an unambiguously good thing, IMO.
One may, in the future, be able to add a fourth: durability. Intuitively, one would think that electronic gear that has less heat to dissipate with may be innately more durable. However, these things haven't been around long enough. And besides, the original purchaser might not care, as s/he may end up unplugging one and passing it down the food chain to someone or selling it via craigslist or eBay when new ones that can decode new formats or have important new capabilities (ever-improving room correction software, for instance) are readily and cheaply available.
Note that sound quality
isn't an advantage of digital amps in any way, shape, or form. That's because digital amps sound just like well-designed analog amps. That is to say, they don't have any characteristic sound at all.
Personally, I find the above-mentioned advantages sufficiently compelling that both my home systems have ditched pricey separates for cheap digital receivers. (XR55 in the main system, and just today in fact a Pio Elite EX-500 in the home office.) One could also make a compelling case for analog separates even today without resorting to faith-based rationalization about any supposed innate sound quality advantage thereof. That's personal preference, and who's to criticize another's preferences so long as those preferences are based on sound reality and not bizzard flights of fancy about the alleged sonic superiority of one's choice.