Originally Posted by citizen arcane
With all the discussion of blind testing and subjective opinions of solid state power amps I'd like to know why manufacturers of more expensive amps can justify their costs or are perceived to be of better audible quality.
E.g. why would ,say, a 150 w/ch 2 channel NAD cost three times as much as an Audiosource 150 w/ch 2 channel amplifier - other than possible features - what components in the NAD would out perform the less expensive amp if powering non demanding (say) 8 ohm speakers? They weigh about the same if that's of any consequence.
The audio market is all about perceived value, and it gets more that way the higher the prices go.
I've done my share of blind testing, and frankly one of the questions that presented itself to me once I had done a fair amount of testing is why the technical specs of things could be so different and the sonic results so much the same.
This launched me on a decade long study of human perception. If you understand how much information that the successful and highly regarded perceptual coding tools throw away, you get a clue about why measured specs with lots of leading zeros are meaningless.
Throw in how technically bad speakers and rooms are, and you've got the picture.
Without having any electrical knowledge (and being horrible with math) the science involved is all Greek to me. I've swapped out several power amps (with disproportionate prices) within the same system and can't really differentiate audible differences between them (at different times and non level matched - just listening to sources and volumes I'm intimately familiar with.)
Perhaps the most interesting things for me is how people so easily and strongly perceive audible differences among things that actually are as sonically alike as peas in a pod.
First off, just about every listening comparison that almost everybody relies on is grotesquely flawed. The near-universal lack of level matching and quick switching are the two big stumbling blocks. As soon as people start listening with levels accurately matched and quick switching, most don't need any more bias controls to know that their world has just been rocked pretty thoroughly.
Throw in concealment of the IDs of what people are listening to at any particular moment, (IOW make it a DBT) and serious vertigo sets in for anybody who still thinks that audible differences abound after the level matching and quick switching.
Them's the facts and I've observed it for literally 100s of people of all ages and all backgrounds over an (amazing to me) nearly 4 decades.
As far as build quality goes, the actual quality of parts and construction is converging a lot faster than many would believe. I was looking at a $5K AVR the other day and 99% of what I saw said $300-500 AVR. Anodize the heat sinks and maybe have an industrial designer make them look different, and throw in a toroid in a nice round black metal case, and after that its mostly the front panel.
All of this gear is heading towards being a big empty box because once switchmode and class D take over, the size of receivers will all be about, you guessed it, perceived value. Take a look at a Sansa Clip+, and like it or not that's actually a fairly full function high performance FM stereo receiver/player with small power amps. The size of the power amps is pretty much the only difference between a Clip+ and a classic stereo receiver. That's where it is all headed!