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Glass/Jonathan/Experienced Ones..

 

Silver Member
Username: Mikechec9

Chicago/atlanta

Post Number: 608
Registered: May-05
"Amps have no SQ." "A watt is a watt." "All amps sound the same when operated within their limitations."
These are all quotes that I have gathered from my readings (forums, mags, etc..). But according to Bob Norvelle in the September CA&E, "imaging and staging are what set amplifiers apart." I always thought this was the role of the speakers, their location and subsequent tuning.
Norvelle continues that "Using a high-grade capacitor or better op-amp, faster transistors or tubes, lower resistance connections-all of these elements conspire to improve or destroy the realism and the soundstage."
First, this is all news to me. The test seems to have been done in a very well thought out and objective manner, but there were no ties connecting these attributes to their respective amplifiers.
During the tests the Tru came in first w/3/4 votes. The Zapco was second w/great low and mid frequency and imaging scores. The genesis was 3rd w/good staging, and the class D Alto was last w/good lows and mids.
I have aways considered the internal construction of amps to be key when taking into account structural longevity and reliability. But I was hoping that others could explain how these structural characteristics specifically contribute to the imaging and staging of the sound reproduced by the amps.
or was this all just malarkey?
 

Gold Member
Username: Glasswolf

Wisteria, Lane USA

Post Number: 8692
Registered: Dec-03
it boils down to this:
yes speakers and positioning have a large effect on imaging and soundstage.
the better quality amplifier issue boils down to better or more headroom.
If the amp is good, it's power supply is rated for at LEAST three times the output of the amplifier, so no matter how demanding the input signal may be for the amplifier to produce, it'll be able to do it with power to spare.
When the amp's power supply gets maxed out, the amplifier will begin to sound flat or two dimensional. While the comment about amps sound the same within their operating range is fairly accurate, you have to ask yourself, how good or how rugged is that operating range for the amp in question?
If the amp is crappy, and you stay within it's ideal conditions, it won't be able to perform to the level of a better amplifier.
make sense?

Also, you have to understand that every little thing you do in an amp's design to improve it adds up to a better end result. It's cummulative.
A better power supply with oversized, high end capacitors, better OpAmps, better high grade milspec FETs and transistors, MOSFET power supplies and bi-polar output transistors, discrete power supply topology, and so forth all add up to a cleaner output, a greater power output, more headroom, and better reliability and duration over time.
It all adds up to a product worth the added money, and while you may be able to make a sony amp sound just like a mcintosh amp at low to moderate volumes I would wager the McIntosh is going to last longer, and be able to be louder and cleaner at or near it's peak output, even if both amps are rated for say, 50 watts RMS x 2 @ 4 ohms @ 20-20KHz with <.01%THD.

When the headroom is used up and the amplifier is no longer able to handle those transient demands of a rigorous audio track at high output, this is when your imaging and staging will falter.

This is why I always push better quality gear. I love good SQ, and I'm always willing to pay a little more to over-engineer a system to get it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Glasswolf

Wisteria, Lane USA

Post Number: 8739
Registered: Dec-03
that help any?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Winn

Santa Ana, California US

Post Number: 94
Registered: Jun-05
Thanks Glass,

I'm not trying to offend anyone, but buying the bad and cheap quality gears are hurting yourself in the future even now, not in term of face and reputation, it's all about "Quality of Life". Can not afford it now ??. that's OK.... just SAVE your money to do it and do it RIGHT at the beginning, this will save you a lot of money and time consuming. Good Gears is expensive but we don't have to be a millionair to be able to buy it.
We should strike all those manufactory that produce bad quality gears. So let them make the decision to do it better or just CLOSE.
Feel free to hit me if I'm wrong...
 

Gold Member
Username: Illuminator

Post Number: 1233
Registered: Apr-05
"...just SAVE your money to do it and do it RIGHT at the beginning...

You wouldn't believe how many people I've tried telling that to but they just don't get it. They have to have it now! Instant gratification! It's a dangerous way to live life...
 

Silver Member
Username: Mikechec9

Chicago/atlanta

Post Number: 614
Registered: May-05
"that help any?"
yeah, that was plenty informative, glass. i couldn't agree more. i mean w/headroom and the dynamic range, if you will, of an amp. but that still more or less boils down to the amp's operational limitations and the differences between amps' limitations. all of the amps in the test were relatively well constructed and of high caliber build. but the conclusions at which CA&E arrived revealed differences in staging and imaging WITHIN each amps limitations. They used a 10,000.00 pair of 8ohm Edgarhorn speakers w/an efficiency rating of 1watt/meter (105db of sound with 1 watt of input power). and they admitedly only used a few watts for the test, regardless of the rms of the amp.
now i could certainly understand if they drove the amps to clipping and took into account the range in which each operated well. but that wasn't the case, and these differeces in staging and imaging supposedly still developed.
if they were to have spoken on the differences between one being "warmer" than the other, and things of this ilk, then i would have understood a bit more (a small bit more).
now, while one (like myself) may argue that while speeding down the freeway listening to each of these amps, there will be no noticeable difference, i would still venture further and go so far as to say even in the environment used in the test no evident differences in staging and imaging would appear.
i think it would take a mammoth of a difference in amp measurement to notice such a difference (no sonys, boss, or audiobahns were used). it sounds like that new york reporter who made up a bunch of hogwash throughout his career and finally got busted when he did an article about a hacker that didn't exist. i'm thinking this might be that article for CA&E.
?
 

Gold Member
Username: Glasswolf

Wisteria, Lane USA

Post Number: 8743
Registered: Dec-03
well on that, let me say that an amplifier sounding warmer etc is actually an issue of distortion (odd order, which isn't always bad) and coloration. Ideally, to me anyway, an amp should be completely transparent, adding no coloration at all to the output signal it amplified, in relation to the source signal at input.
Granted there will always be some, but the less the better. When people hear a big difference between to amplifiers of equal power, I often have to wonder if it's due to equalisation within the amplifier coloring the signal to give the feeling of a warmer presence. This is a lot like television makers who use red-push to "warm" the images on showroom floors, making flesh tones warmer, and while this draws in many novices who buy TVs not knowing why one image looks nicer than another, in reality, it's altering the true, accurate color reproduction and bright reds look too bright, and often bleed over into adjascent images and colors. Result: looks nice to the unknowing. Isn't "good" by technical accuracy means. Grandma may love it, but a purist will have an aneurism seeing it.

The other topic to approach here is the comment on using only a bit of the amplifier's output for each comparison test.
While this is great for home audio, and whiie they used an 8 ohm load so as not to tax the amplifiers in any way on purpose, let's face it. Who really does this in a car? Yes I have enormous amounts of reserve power in my system and it's set up much the same way as these tests were for SQ purposes, but 99% of the people in car audio love to run 1 or 2 ohm loads to squeeze every ounce of power from their amplifiers, then they buy amplifiers that put out just enough power for them, so they don't have to spend more on a bigger amplifier, or be careful about overdriving their speakers with too much power, etc. When things don't seem loud enough, do they go buy bigger amplifiers? No, they turn the gains up more or wire down to a lower load.

The end result of this is they push the amplifiers right to their limits, so in real world applications you will usually hear the differences between good amplifiers and cheap amplifiers, because you're driving these amplifiers at next to nothing for reserve power and headroom, and at high volumes with large amounts of power.
I'm not saying this is bad, or everyone needs to go triple the power ratings of their amplifiers to get cleaner systems. I'm just pointing out the reality of how application applies to testing.
lab results and real world in-the-field results don't always mesh, if the lab testing isn't done under the same conditions as you see in practical applications.
 

Silver Member
Username: Mikechec9

Chicago/atlanta

Post Number: 615
Registered: May-05
i agree glass. while i still respect the purist for the sake of science, these tests were not even conducted scientifically. if Norvelle just said that he and a few of his buddies copped a squat and listened to amps for a weekend just because they could, i would perhaps respect him/them a bit more as well.
regardless though, no, the tests were not practical. it also reminds me (another analogy) of these idiot construction companies who perpetually "repair" and alter the roads here in chicago only to have the roads look the exact same in the end. the funds need to be appropriated, but eventually some results are going to need to be effected (unless you have a gangster like daley for a mayor).
as of late magazines give me very little information regarding the true characteristics of products. reflecting on the subject, i think i read them mostly for upcomming products and neat pictures. thwithit. i'm going back to concentrating on my home studio.
and i guess i should alter my perception of some of those screens. particularly the panasonics (i think i'm one of those grandma types).
 

Gold Member
Username: Glasswolf

Wisteria, Lane USA

Post Number: 8762
Registered: Dec-03
well, my point was just that real world application always reviels weaknesses they never planned for or tested in the "shop."
The Military has proven this time and time again.. learn through practice to prove what works.

I have plenty of respect for Buwalda, Clark, Norvelle, and the rest of the guys who've been around at least as long or longer than I have in this field, and have learned through both experience and through applied education. It's just a matter of sorting out what makes sense on paper and what happens when screwdriver meets car.

Home audio is even worse in some ways.. touting $2000 RCA cables as affecting sound quality and such.. people get downright silly with high end home audio and you really have to spend time weighing cost to benefit ratios.

anyhow, these are the kinds of discussions I really enjoy, but rarely see on forums, for obvious reasons. Thanks for bringing up a topic that lets me actually exercise my brain a little instead of just regurgitating the basics time and time again. :-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Mikechec9

Chicago/atlanta

Post Number: 616
Registered: May-05
likewise (and i can relate, hense my absence of late). even when i don't partake in many of these threads, the numerous ones w/your indepth input have always allowed me to excercise my brain as well.
i'm going to rta my system on tuesday. trying to get it reddy for comp (rookie). i'll yell back then.
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