Is there an audible difference between 0.1% THD and 0.01% THD? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I would like to get some opinions on whether there is an audible difference between components (pre-amp or amp) with 0.1% THD compared to 0.01% THD (or less say 0.009) From a few threads and posts that I saw mentioned that to actually hear THD it has to be in the 5% and up range. I have debated this fact with another member who claims a pre-pro with say 0.009% THD will sound better than a pre-amp with 0.1% THD. And that when I listen to music with my pre-amp (Rogue Audio Perseus with a rated 0.1% THD) he states "I must like my music full of distortion" because of the 0.1% THD rating.

My thoughts are that the difference between 0.1% THD and 0.009% is inaudible which IMO will have no bearing in the SQ of said components. This is a totally uneducated opinion on my part so I would appreciate members with more knowledge on this to give their opinion.

Thanks, Bill

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post #2 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 07:21 AM
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Dont know exactly, but the fact is: The lower the better.
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post #3 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 07:29 AM
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The double-blind tests I've read about over the years have shown that indeed distortion measurements in the sub-1% ranges are impossible to distinguish from one another.

However, that's not to say that the equipment in question can't have meaningful audible differences for other reasons, such as tube designs vs solid state designs. There are other factors that affect the sound much more profoundly than tiny differences in THD.

It should also be noted that rated THD and actual measured THD may be two different things. Higher-end manufacturers tend to be more conservative in their ratings.
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post #4 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 08:05 AM
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Hi Bill,
Don't let that other thread bother you. He has never said what equipment he uses and just because he thinks his specs are better does not mean it will sound better. There is a reason why someone will not post what they own and put down alot of good equipment saying it is over priced. Many pro amps are rated at .1% distortion and other amps rated alot less. Do they both sound clean and distortion free, yes they do. He will put down many amps like ada, krell, mcintosh, and so on that are rated with very low distortion but yet will tell someone to buy a pro amp without realizing it is rated at .1% distortion because high end is just a name. He should make up his mind.

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post #5 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 08:20 AM
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It depends on what the order of distortion is as to the audibility. Generally though, I wouldn't be overly concerned with 0.1 vs. 0.01%.

"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #6 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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Come on bill, my opinion bugged you that much? We really need to put your tube pre amp on the bench and see how high the distortion gets. Did you look up why some people still use tubes for the guitars and why they ramp up the distortion over 1%?
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post #7 of 52 Old 06-17-2008, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougWinsor View Post

Come on bill, my opinion bugged you that much? We really need to put your tube pre amp on the bench and see how high the distortion gets. Did you look up why some people still use tubes for the guitars and why they ramp up the distortion over 1%?

DW,

No honestly your opinion did not concern me in the least and I am sure that bothers you. I am just curious as to what others here on the forum think of this. I believe the difference to be inaudible but maybe I am wrong. I appreciate opinions from others whether they are the same or differ from mine. That is the difference between you and myself is that I have an open mind. I am open to different opinions and thoughts. I do not try to stuff my opinions down peoples throats like yourself.

I have no interest in bench testing my Perseus. As I said before I am more interesting in listening to my system and enjoying it than bench testing it. Odd concept for you to consider is it not? But if it interests you why don't you buy a Perseus and bench test one yourself.

Why would I care if people use "tubes for the guitars" and that "they ramp up the distortion over 1%"? Why would I want to look up this in the first place? Does it have any bearing on home audio components? If they are happy with the sound I think thats great. I thought this was a discussion about THD with home audio pre-amps and amps by the way. I find it quite funny how some people go to great lengths to push their agenda and look quite foolish doing it. Rock on Spec Man!

Thanks to everyone else for their thoughts on this.

Bill

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post #8 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Mac View Post

DW,

No honestly your opinion did not concern me in the least and I am sure that bothers you. I am just curious as to what others here on the forum think of this. I believe the difference to be inaudible but maybe I am wrong. I appreciate opinions from others whether they are the same or differ from mine. That is the difference between you and myself is that I have an open mind. I am open to different opinions and thoughts. I do not try to stuff my opinions down peoples throats like yourself.

I have no interest in bench testing my Perseus. As I said before I am more interesting in listening to my system and enjoying it than bench testing it. Odd concept for you to consider is it not? But if it interests you why don't you buy a Perseus and bench test one yourself.

Why would I care if people use "tubes for the guitars" and that "they ramp up the distortion over 1%"? Why would I want to look up this in the first place? Does it have any bearing on home audio components? If they are happy with the sound I think thats great. I thought this was a discussion about THD with home audio pre-amps and amps by the way. I find it quite funny how some people go to great lengths to push their agenda and look quite foolish doing it. Rock on Spec Man!

Thanks to everyone else for their thoughts on this.

Bill

It's not the absolute magnitude of the distortions but the distribution and relationship of harmonics.

Because there are harmonic, intermodulation and phase components etc. of distortion in general terms, the distribution and interrelationship determines in the end, what is audible in one way or the other.

The absolute magnitude below 0.1% is rather insignificant and may even indicate a rather large amount of feedback applied, which might hamper signal resolution in complex signal mixtures and so on.
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post #9 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 03:12 AM
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gurkey,
interesting what you said about harmonics and ties in well with an article that looks at "The hidden harmonics behind THD".

I am including the link just for reading, I want to stress there is no need to respond in various ways arguing for/against what is in there.
It is just food for thought.

http://www.nutshellhifi.com/library/FindingCG.html

Edit:
Also I agree with the other aspects you mentioned as well.

Cheers
DT
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post #10 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 04:34 AM
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Do you have Golden Ears??
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post #11 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 04:43 AM
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"Is there an audible difference between 0.1% THD and 0.01% THD?"

No. THD measurements below 1% are not audible.
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post #12 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DulcetTones View Post

gurkey,
interesting what you said about harmonics and ties in well with an article that looks at "The hidden harmonics behind THD".

I am including the link just for reading, I want to stress there is no need to respond in various ways arguing for/against what is in there.
It is just food for thought.

http://www.nutshellhifi.com/library/FindingCG.html

Edit:
Also I agree with the other aspects you mentioned as well.

Cheers
DT

DT,

Thanks for the link very interesting read. Although I have to admit a good portion of it was over my head. I found the last four paragraphs to be very interesting. I thought this paragraph to be especially interesting:

" If it were why do stereo LP's made 40 years ago, amplified with 65-year old direct-heated triodes, sound so much better than today's digital sound played through 0.001% THD mass-fi rack stereos? The differences between mass-fi and true high fidelity are as plain as day to an (open minded) listener"

Whether you agree or not with the above quoted paragraph I think the key is to have an open mind. If you do not I feel you miss out on a lot of very good music listening. And to me that is what it is all about.

Bill

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post #13 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 07:54 AM
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I think most of the problem with the sound we hear today is bad mastering ,running
the mix hot with so much compression the dynamics from a quite passage to crescendo
is lost.
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post #14 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 07:59 AM
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distortion(s) can defiently have postive effect on the sound. it can also have negative effects on the sound.

1% is the generally accepted standard for it being inaudible.

But once again? Distortion specs are misleading. They can make that piece of equipment say darn near anything they want on a given test. I don't even look at the spec when selecting equipment.
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post #15 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 08:21 AM
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The problem with all those technical specs is, that there is little to no resemblance, what the final sound quality will really be.

Look at all those Asian high-tec monsters, which sport an endless list of technical innovations and features, but may sound quite dull at the end, despite all those extravagances.

Average sound quality has improved with the years, but there seems to be no real correspondence between technical specs (except may be noise) and superior sound quality (unfortunately).
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post #16 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNnDENVER View Post

distortion(s) can defiently have postive effect on the sound. it can also have negative effects on the sound.

1% is the generally accepted standard for it being inaudible.

But once again? Distortion specs are misleading. They can make that piece of equipment say darn near anything they want on a given test. I don't even look at the spec when selecting equipment.

John,

So would it be true that anything under 1% distortion is really unaudible and really not going to effect SQ? I agree with you and that I do not consider specs when buying audio equipment. I am looking for overall SQ than being able to say any one of my components has 0.0001% THD.

When looking for a specefic component I look at reviews (professional and from members here) then narrow it down to as few as possible. Then listen to as many of those choices as possible in my system then make a decision on what sounds good to me.

Bill

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post #17 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 10:20 AM
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As an audio engineer for a couple of decades. The 1% spec has been taught in schools at the generally accepted number.

You ears and preferences are the most important factor here.

It was funny though... There is a whole host of more vintage bargain equipment and many not so bargain and not so vintage as well, that ists the spec at .9 and you have to wonder about it. Especially knowing the below 1% figure has been bantered about for so many years now.
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post #18 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 11:19 AM
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In 1973..
Dr. Amar Bose during the hearings for the FTC power output measuring standards hearings held in Washington DC, stated that threshold for THD distortion to be audible was 1%..

Also I wonder if anyone knows what the audible threshold of THD% is through a loudspeaker..
The actual THD specification value will likely surprise many..


I don't hear any THD through my Wave Radio..

OK.. Boys flame away..
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post #19 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 06:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Why would I care if people use "tubes for the guitars" and that "they ramp up the distortion over 1%"? Why would I want to look up this in the first place? Does it have any bearing on home audio components? If they are happy with the sound I think thats great. I thought this was a discussion about THD with home audio pre-amps and amps by the way. I find it quite funny how some people go to great lengths to push their agenda and look quite foolish doing it. Rock on Spec Man!

Since you had no experience with tube gear before your pre amp I thought I would try something easy so you could get your mind around the "tube" sound. Some people like high distortion and some don't, you obviously like your sound with high distortion numbers. Why don't you look at a tube amp and crank that THD up to 1-10% and see how it sounds.
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post #20 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 07:12 PM
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It is interesting that no one has mentioned the speakers distortion in this discussion I would hazard a guess that a system's distortioni.e source to speaker would make a difference to discerning listeners. However most speakers have distortion in several frequency ranges if not most that exceed the distortion of the pre amp/amp chain. Thus one could not tell the difference between a .1% and .01% amp if the speaker had distortions in the 1% range for a particular frequency at a particular sound level.

joel

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post #21 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 07:57 PM
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Some claim 10% distortion figures for speakers. I am not sure about that, but I have seen that number.

One thing I have noticed - you can often easily hear differences from speaker to speaker. Which is NOT true, in my experience, of solid state electronics.

Speakers also also notably less flat in response. Crossovers, in particular, seem to be create uneven response curves.

Then there's the room. If you have never experienced this, I suggest you buy an inexpensive sound meter from Radio Shack, and get some test tones (you can download them for free as WAV files from some web sites.)

Now run some low frequency test tones and note the differences in response. Or just use test tones and your ears. I once noted a dramatic difference in volume from the same test tone simply by moving my ear a few inches. A little studying of acoustics and speakers will make you realize that we often misplace our time, energy and money on the wrong "weak link" in the audio chain.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #22 of 52 Old 06-18-2008, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougWinsor View Post

Since you had no experience with tube gear before your pre amp I thought I would try something easy so you could get your mind around the "tube" sound. Some people like high distortion and some don't, you obviously like your sound with high distortion numbers. Why don't you look at a tube amp and crank that THD up to 1-10% and see how it sounds.

DW,

Why not enlighten us in what you vast experience with tube gear is. Listing the components you have heard and spent time with in your system. Or will these two questions go unanswered as many others I have asked you. Like the fact that you refuse to list the components that you "own".

"get your mind around the tube sound" are you serious? Do you consider yourself some type of tube audio guru? I have been getting my mind around the tube sound since I bought my Perseus pre-amp and I am quite happy with it.

Here we go again with the numbers game. Without going back and looking at your previous posts I do not ever recall you talking much about the SQ of a specific component. Its always about the numbers. Now you are telling me to get a tube amp which I have no desire to get. But while you mention tube amps why don't you give some suggestions of ones I could look at if I change my mind.

Once again for someone who has not heard the components I own or heard them in my room for that matter. You assume my system is loaded with distortion. And how do you do that....... oh right by the numbers

Why don't you put you money where you mouth is and show us all here written documented proof that 0.1% THD is actually audible. And while you are at it how 0.1% THD effects SQ. Thats my challenge to you from me. Come on Spec Man put up or shut up! I am here to learn oh great one so educate me.

Thank you for putting a smile on my face at the end of the day, I appreciate it!

Bill

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post #23 of 52 Old 06-19-2008, 06:12 PM
 
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Quote:


Why not enlighten us in what you vast experience with tube gear is. Listing the components you have heard and spent time with in your system. Or will these two questions go unanswered as many others I have asked you. Like the fact that you refuse to list the components that you "own".

Again this is irrelevant and show how bad you are reaching for anything, just from a simple conversation with you it shows that you have no idea abut tube gear. Since you said this pre amp was your first and you did not even know that tubes wear out and need replacing.

Quote:


"get your mind around the tube sound" are you serious? Do you consider yourself some type of tube audio guru? I have been getting my mind around the tube sound since I bought my Perseus pre-amp and I am quite happy with it.

I think everyone has noticed since that is all you push for, you should really start some reading on tube audio gear to get a better understanding, that is if you can comprehend it.

Quote:


Here we go again with the numbers game. Without going back and looking at your previous posts I do not ever recall you talking much about the SQ of a specific component. Its always about the numbers. Now you are telling me to get a tube amp which I have no desire to get. But while you mention tube amps why don't you give some suggestions of ones I could look at if I change my mind.

You like high distortion sound so why not add to it?
http://www.lammindustries.com/PRODUCTS/ML3descr.html

Quote:


Once again for someone who has not heard the components I own or heard them in my room for that matter. You assume my system is loaded with distortion. And how do you do that....... oh right by the numbers

Who said anything about no hearing any of your components? Is your room some how special? So you do not think the THD rating matters?

Quote:


Why don't you put you money where you mouth is and show us all here written documented proof that 0.1% THD is actually audible. And while you are at it how 0.1% THD effects SQ. Thats my challenge to you from me. Come on Spec Man put up or shut up! I am here to learn oh great one so educate me.

First we need to put your pre amp on the bench since the THD is probably a lot higher then 0.1% and I do not think I can teach you since you refuse to listen or read.

Quote:


Thank you for putting a smile on my face at the end of the day, I appreciate it!

Oh don't worry because many other people are smiling but smiling at you.
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post #24 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
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DW,

It has become obvious to me that you are completely obsessed with specs and not at all interested in listening to your system. I never tried to push anything on anybody just to make suggestions on a component I have experience with. I am sure I would not comprehend some of the more technical tube component technology but I am honest with myself and others here in that regard.

Trying to make a point no matter how basic with you is always twisted by you back to some form of talk about specs. The title of this thread does not even mention SS or tube gear but you spun it into something personal on your severe distaste for tube gear. I am here on AVS as I enjoy learning and helping others if I can with this HT/audio hobby of ours.

I have been a little slow to realize that you are nothing but the quintestial forum Troll, no more no less. I actually feel sorry for someone like yourself as to be so close minded. And too always have the mind set that if someone has different interests or tastes in whatever you believe in to be wrong or misguided. I feel that if someone is happy with a AM clock radio and a 13" BW TV that is wonderful. I wish I would be as I would have saved a ton of money over the years!

So I am sure you will dissect this post and give us some nuggets of your wisdom. I am glad you are not in my area (maybe you are) as I would have to get a restraining order for you for your endless obession with trying to bench test my pre-amp. Its just not healthy to be that obsessed with any one thing. You should enroll in the 12 step BTA (Bench Testers Anonymous) program. Well I am off to listen (odd concept huh) to some music on my distortion loaded system

May the force be with you Spec Man!

Bill

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post #25 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 07:00 AM
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Bill Mac,

Don't bother. DW is just trying to prove that all high end gear(anything without the name onkyo, denon, etc...) is worthless. It is obvious. I remember when I posted that I was using a meridian processor and it was great. DTS and DD never sound better. I then put in a Denon processor to try the lossless audio and I thought it was great but could get a little harsh at reference levels where the Meridian and Ada did not. He told me it must be something else in the chain and mentioned maybe input voltage or something to that matter. Well, whatever it was, I put back in the Ada and Meridian(different times obviously) and the harshness was gone. The Ada was the cheapest of the bunch so that is what I kept. Here comes another thread(recent) and a guy mentions how his system sounds bright and harsh. You would think that if DW had good intentions he would have told the OP the same thing he told me. BUT the OP owns a krell showcase processor so DW only advice is try a new processor. When I found my denon harsh and bright he should have told me to try a different processor. There is an agenda there.

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post #26 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 07:17 AM
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Do I think your 100 wpc made-in-China 5.1 channel receiver that produces, according to the marketing department, .005% distortion sounds better than my 35 wpc 1% distortion Marantz 8b tube amplifier when both are actually hooked to speakers in a real room? No.

Do I think there is a lot more to the equation than THD? Yes. 2nd vs. 3rd order distortion, for example. Power supply capacity, for another; the ability to recover from a powerful transient.

Would I pay a penny more just because the component has .01% distortion rather than .1%? Never!

If I am buying a competent AV component, that is, destined for the man-cave, not the kid's room, I will have to hear it connected to speakers in a real room. If I am listening and find myself wondering when I can get a snack or read a magazine, I will walk away. If I find myself immersed and want to watch and listen all night, I will get out my credit card. At that point, vanishingly low THD specsmanship will not matter.
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post #27 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

Bill Mac,

Don't bother. DW is just trying to prove that all high end gear(anything without the name onkyo, denon, etc...) is worthless. It is obvious. I remember when I posted that I was using a meridian processor and it was great. DTS and DD never sound better. I then put in a Denon processor to try the lossless audio and I thought it was great but could get a little harsh at reference levels where the Meridian and Ada did not. He told me it must be something else in the chain and mentioned maybe input voltage or something to that matter. Well, whatever it was, I put back in the Ada and Meridian(different times obviously) and the harshness was gone. The Ada was the cheapest of the bunch so that is what I kept. Here comes another thread(recent) and a guy mentions how his system sounds bright and harsh. You would think that if DW had good intentions he would have told the OP the same thing he told me. BUT the OP owns a krell showcase processor so DW only advice is try a new processor. When I found my denon harsh and bright he should have told me to try a different processor. There is an agenda there.




You could have easily been clipping the Denon at "reference level". Check the difference in voltage capability of the preamp level output of the Meridian and the Denon. Depending on the gain structure that you have setup, you could easily clip the Denon's preamp and the Meridian will still work fine. That Denon "harshness" could easily be caused by user error, and not not be an equipment problem.

My Sony receiver will only put out 2 volts at the preamp level outputs. The current Meridian surround processor that I checked will put out 3.5 volts at the preamp level outputs. The preamp output levels relate to the power amplifier's input sensitivity. While those are just specifications, they do have a meaning.
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post #28 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 07:45 AM
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J_Palmer_Cass,

That is my point. With my gear the denon did not work for me. It would clip at reference. The denon had 2 different inputs(voltage switch). Both of them had the same results. So I could not live with the denon. That does not mean I say all denons are bad, in matter of fact I always recommend that denon. I still liked it. It is all about what works together in a persons room. My other point is as soon as someone buys or is thinking of buying a processor other than onkyo, denon, etc.... DW is quick to judge and does not help out on the thread, just creates arguments.

I am actually looking into getting lossless again, Just deciding on which receiver or processor to try.

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post #29 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 09:51 AM
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You're not likely to hear an audible difference between 0.1% and 0.01% THD, although you have to be careful what the specs actually are. A common newbie mistake is to confuse the THD figure in a power spec (i.e., X watts @Y % THD into 8Ω) with an actual THD spec.

How the THD is measured is important, too. Measuring THD typically requires sine waves, but measuring with a signal just below clipping will tend to hide some possibly very objectionable distortion mechanisms like crossover distortion, which is particularly objectionable and bad-sounding because it disproportionately affects lower signal voltages. A THD measurement done at 10 dB below rated output power would generally be a much better indicator of sound quality.

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QSC Audio Products, LLC
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post #30 of 52 Old 06-20-2008, 09:52 AM
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Sure, you just need the appropriate ears, speakers and, of course, sources.
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