Originally Posted by DustinF
If all amps sound the same, why even bother visiting this board?
I can't speak for the other poster, but, IMO, there's lots of reasons to purchase a better amp than purely the cheapest amp available, even if in a lab all reasonably designed modern amps "sound the same" when level matched. These are attributes like build quality, low-noise floor, power efficiency, a preference in topology, whether the amp needs a cooling fan, whether its balanced and the type of connectors it accepts, etc
., which are all things that can differentiate one amp from another.
Also, I may need more power out of an amp than the cheaper amp that gets the benefit of "level matching" in laboratory-listening tests provides. I think cheap or underpowered amplifiers can and do get pushed past their design limits and clip or disport more frequently than some might like to admit, in which case a more robust amp will obviously sound better than an amp that's getting pushed past its design limits.
I personally desire amps that are reasonably priced, that are well designed, that have a low noise floor, that are efficient, that look aesthetically pleasing and look like a quality component, that will power my speakers to as loud as I want them to get without clipping within the speaker's design limits, and that are built with quality parts by qualified workers so that the amp will last for years to come. I'd also prefer to not have a fan if I can get away with not having one. So I come on here and read posts about new amps to see how they fare compared to the competition.
What I really don't want, however, is an amp that materially alters the signal, i.e
., one that "colors" the sound, i.e
., one that gives the signal a "house sound," when it is operating within its design limits. IMO, a modern amp that actually colors the sound (other than its noise floor within its design specs) is defective by definition and likely introducing an unacceptable amount of distortion or noise into the signal. I would be really surprised if a $2K, 7-Channel, 200 watt per channel amp from Emotiva would sound materially different than a comparable offering from ATI, for example. I would be very surprised--more like shocked--if I could blind A/B/X select between an Emotiva and a comparable ATI amp in my system. But there are still attributes that can differentiate these amps from one another and influence a rational purchasing decision. And hence this thread.