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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm having an argument with a friend about how different companies or amps have different 'sound qualities'.


He thinks power doesn't have "sound qualty" -- speakers do. I disagree. I feel some amps are warmer and some are not. Simply put, I think amps don't just take the signal and amplify it without giving it its own 'sound'.


Otherwise amp brands wouldn't matter. If all we were looking for and had to worry about was power and thd, we wouldn't have to audition. Correct?
 

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amps do have sound or describe as coloration


in 2 channel sound system you may have pre/pwr system and if you change the pre amp it will sound different, and if you change power amp it will sound different too


any electronic component will generate magnetic field when current pass thru so affect the flow of electricity in other electronic components, that is why shielding is important


similarly different interconnect cables have different sound too
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here's a quote from him, he was talking about the guy that offers that $10,000 challenge to folks about amps and how they all sound the same.

Quote:
Tom Nousaine sometimes flies across the country to test people who claim to have extraordinary hearing abilities. The last one I remember was a hifi dealer named Singh who said that he could easily tell the difference between two cables that he sold. He talked up a big game beforehand, but, needless to say, his blind test scores were worse than if he was guessing. People often fall short and it's pretty easy to exaggerate on the Internet.


There are a lot of similar test results, and while it isn't correct to say all amps sound the same, the evidence seems to suggest that most amps and sources sound pretty similar if they are properly designed and run within their abilities. Yet people seem to claim the exact opposite, especially salesmen and people on the Internet, who often believe that fact and opinion are one and the same.


Why is this the case? There is speculation (with pretty good research evidence to back it up) that humans will tend to report differences when two choices are the same. This behavior makes sense if you consider man's primitive origins: if you are a caveman running around trying to avoid danger, a false positive carries no real penalty while a false negative means that the tiger eats you. So now that tendency that saved our lives during the prehistoric era makes us easy prey for con artists and scammers.
 

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wonder if that guy Singh had impaired hearing so he could not distinguish the sound of amps thru years of listening to music?


some people can and some cannot. if you cannot distinguish the sound from mark levinson and a cheapo amp then you may as well stay with mid fi instead of hi fi
 

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Amps do have sound - some are warm and others are colder (most prefer warm). Some amps like adcom and acurus seem to get out of the way (without adding a color of their own), and some people like that quality in an amp - that they are colorless. While others like a souped up warm sounding tubes for that tube magic.
 

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If you are talking tube amps vs. SS vs. Digital - yes there is a difference. I think the front end - source and pre-amp have the biggest effect on sound besides speakers. Try a double blind test to see if you can hear a difference - I don't think you will between SS brands.


Dave
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by cpu8088
wonder if that guy Singh had impaired hearing so he could not distinguish the sound of amps thru years of listening to music?


some people can and some cannot. if you cannot distinguish the sound from mark levinson and a cheapo amp then you may as well stay with mid fi instead of hi fi


Well then there is 10,000 USD for you to win if you want. Plenty of challenges to the supposed golden ear crowd like yourself ;)


The one that I know of and that it is a double blind test is the challenge that has been conducted by Richard Clark for about 5 years so far. As the one poster stated. The best person has had a marginally better chance than guessing would have ;)


He can be found in the carsound.com forums. Under his own section. BTW this guy KNOWS sound as he won the IASCA world championship 4 times in a row in his Award winning (and once up for grabs in the same contest) Buick Grand National GNX. He is an Engineer by trait. Read his section and read it good. There are plenty of other folks that attempted what you thought what possible and failed miserably. As he states. Usually the only thing that gets lost is the ego ;)


edit: speaking of.. Here is a thread specifically on that. This is a suckers bet and not for the RC ;)

http://www.carsound.com/UBB/ultimate...c;f=1;t=021942
 

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Good responses so far.


There are variables here that make a huge difference. If we're talking about POWER amplifiers, and not PREAMPS or RECEIVERS, and the speaker load is tame, and the amp is not driven to clipping, and levels are exactly matched, I agree with my friend Tom Nousaine. Unless the power amp is absolute cheese, I doubt any of you could detect a difference on program material. I've done some double-blind listening with Dr. Floyd Toole, and it's not something you'd want to bet money on. If you hear any difference at all, it can be traced to a frequency response anomaly.


There are exceptions, though. One particular inexpensive amp from twenty years ago exhibited different sonic characteristics depending upon what speaker it was driving because (allegedly) it was prone to have it's response manipulated by electromotive feedback. I would also respectfully submit that many Class D amplifiers sound a bit...uh...different than other designs. I am being nice...
 

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Quote:
wonder if that guy Singh had impaired hearing so he could not distinguish the sound of amps thru years of listening to music?


some people can and some cannot
Sounds like you consider yourself to be one of those who "can". Have you ever participated in a proper double blind listening test? Many who trumpet their "golden ears" fail to distinguish amps (and cables) in such tests. Even more shy away from such tests, in apparent fear that their "golden ears" won't hear the difference.
 

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Quote:
Many who trumpet their "golden ears" fail to distinguish amps (and cables) in such tests.
I've witnessed the total humiliation of a few industry leaders at double blind listening tests. When you remove ego and alchemy, reality sets in.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Scarpelli
Good responses so far.


There are variables here that make a huge difference. If we're talking about POWER amplifiers, and not PREAMPS or RECEIVERS, and the speaker load is tame, and the amp is not driven to clipping, and levels are exactly matched, I agree with my friend Tom Nousaine. Unless the power amp is absolute cheese, I doubt any of you could detect a difference on program material. I've done some double-blind listening with Dr. Floyd Toole, and it's not something you'd want to bet money on. If you hear any difference at all, it can be traced to a frequency response anomaly.


There are exceptions, though. One particular inexpensive amp from twenty years ago exhibited different sonic characteristics depending upon what speaker it was driving because (allegedly) it was prone to have it's response manipulated by electromotive feedback. I would also respectfully submit that many Class D amplifiers sound a bit...uh...different than other designs. I am being nice...
The sonic differences that one may hear with different amplifiers could be...

due to the way the amplifier's output stage and loudspeaker interact. Some amplifiers can have a higher damping factor and this can cause some audible differences. Here the loudspeaker's x-over and reactance may cause the amplifier take on a different sound character, additionally the way an amplifier handles dynamic, high transient source material can alter its output.. But once you get a good quality, proven amplifier the differences between amplifier become far more subtle than say the differences bewteen loudspeakers which are very significant....
 

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I imagine that sound gets colored most in the preamp/processing stage and then it gets colored by the characteristics of the speakers. Speaker movement can also color sound if that can be called as colored.

Speaker material can end up coloring sound vi.z. kevalr vs. Polypropylene vs. paper, etc.
 

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Different loudspeaker drivers sound different. Of course, it is rather easy to measure different frequency responses and distortion products, so that is hardly surprising. Different amplifiers can sound different, but I am in total agreement with Mr. Scarpelli here - if the amps are competently designed, working within their design range, and have similar design goals (i.e., output impedance and frequency response aren't intentionally or even necessarily different than most other amplifiers due to a design goal or choice) then I any differences between the two will be practically impossible to differentiate under controlled conditions. I don't believe it is difficult to design an amp to sound different from another, but on the other side of the coin I believe the design space where amplifiers perform well and sound identical is rather large.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So if amps don't color sound why do so many here audition amps and recommend auditioning amps? Do you audition amps?


Personally, I'm one of those guys who doesn't really hear a difference. I'm mid-fi and happy with my 45tx and Studio40's, CC and 20's. I may go with a outlaw for more headroom, but I doubt I could tell a difference between a Outlaw and a Rotel. I can tell a difference in a speakers sound and a recievers, that is much more pronounced.


I started to believe amps color sound from what I've read here. Otherewise if most HT amps sounded the same. Why ask which one to buy?
 

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Personally, I have a Rotel 1075. I bought this one because:


1. has 12v trigger

2. reputable company

3. got a good deal

4. has the watts I wanted and outputs more measured than stated

5. looks good


However, although all solid state amps may sound the same, I'm sure there's an audible difference between tube, SS, and the new digital amps.
 

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Drunken philosophers have been debating subjective matters of religion, politics, utopia, and many other topics since wine was first fermented. It would be a shame to lose this fine human tradition. Besides when you're drunk you might be able to hear the differences between cables better.


As far as amplifiers go, listen to several candidates (with your speakers, preamp, and source components), pick one that sounds good and relax, you just made a good decision.


Or you could pour over the audio forums, read the "phile" rags, analyze the specs, then buy, without auditioning, the most expensive unit your budget will allow. Then spend the next year telling everyone on the audio forums why your amp is perfect instead of listening to your system. When the forum opinion changes to favor another amp, you can sell yours (heck you didn't use it anyway) and get the new fad.


Or you could just ignore the "expert philes" and enjoy the music. I'm blessed with a tin ear so I'm doing the latter.


For the tragically serious, my post is a stab at humor so put those flame throwers down.


MT
 

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MikeTz hit the nail on the head.


In the late 60's early 70's Ivor Telfenbrun realized that if you've got garbage going in you got it coming out. His Sondek LP12 got people listening to music again. The Sondek could make every thing sound a little better.


Then CD's came along. I'm not debating digital vs. analogue here. Most any amplifier built to day will probably sound "better" just by feeding it higher resolution software.


So buy what makes you happy. But do what MikeTz suggests and enjoy the music, watch them tell you a story.
 

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I went through about a dozen amps in my system before I found one that sounded perfect me. "Perfect" meaning the music was presented with total transparency, accuracy, dynamics, and the sensation of a live performance, along with all of the clean bass my full range speakers can deliver. I doubt if I could pass a blind test unless the other amp was a Citation 7.1 (I could pick that one out with ear muffs on). While it is probably true that many amps sound much alike, after having listened to so many I will never agree that they ALL sound the same. Same for preamps.


Dsmith
 
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