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tube fanatic

Some thoughts on power requirements.....

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Most people don't need every last horsepower their car has either but its sure nice to have when you need it, or want to play. :D  I've been passively bi-amping my little speakers with 200 wpc into each input (400 watts @ 4ohm) and love the extra headroom. In my experience speakers just seem to sound more lively when juiced up, even at lower volumes.

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I will say that back in the day when I was running Carver amplifiers with the meters I was surprised to see that my "normal" listening volume only registered a couple of watts, 4 was pushing it.  

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9 minutes ago, wdecho said:

Many SS amplifiers numbers are measured at many watts instead of where it counts, 1 watt. 

 

Measured in which way? I've had and seen many Sunfire amps measured on a test bench and yes, measurements are taken at certain input voltages to test for distortion and power output. Measurements are taken at maximum rated output to ensure the amplifier meets factory specifications. From what I've seen distortion actually gets higher as the input voltage is increased so if an amp is rated at .05 distortion at full volume (or rated output) it may very well be .01 or less at 1 watt.

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I have a Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature Series II 425x5 sitting at Flannery's Vintage Audio right now that has just been serviced and ready for me to pick up today, I'll see if Bill will put it on the bench for me and take measurements at 1 watt.

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I look at it from the listening experience. The EE audio friend mentioned once about listening to a SS amplifier versus a tube amplifier on a all day basis.

You have a nice hefty powerful solid state amplifier...to me IMO, the inherent nature of a big wattage SS amplifier is to crank it up.

So you crank up the music, shoot for realistic loudness levels and enjoy. Of course over time hearing fatigue sets in. Not from a clipping amp, but from beating on your ears with 100dB music levels.

So you turn it down. Now the music doesn't seem that exciting and hard to connect with, and eventually turn it off.

 

With a tube amplifier one realizes the limits in wattage. They will set the volume at a good moderate level and keep it that way. One may turn it down a bit over the course of the day, but the music is still easy to connect to and enjoyable. One will find themselves listening to a tube amplifier all day and not wanting to turn it off to go to bed.

 

That is just my experiences. I've listened to a few spendy SS state amplifiers over the years, but never have heard any low watt Pass gear. Or the exotic forms of class D for that matter.

I had a Sonic Impact amp once. Cool for what it is, but not Heritage Klipsch.

 

Like mentioned in the Audio Asylum thread, a tube amp has a compressed squished sound when at full clip. I found this out when I hooked the CD player straight to the 2A3 SET amp without a volume control.

 

I love the spell checker. It thinks Klipsch is a miss-spelled word.

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I like the Nelson Pass designed Adcom's that I've heard, in fact I ran a 5800 for quite awhile and thought it sounded as good as the Sunfire amps that I had at the time. The real reason I gave it up was it added too much heat to my room.

 

As far as the watt ratings I agree 100% and not just with the amps that you mention-- its just simple math really. 105 db at 1 watt sensitivity with 25 watts in a small to midsize room will run you right out of there I'm sure.

 

The only thing I question is this whole "first watt" philosophy, is the first watt really harder to make with low distortion? Do amplifiers measure or "sound" worse generally at the lowest levels?

 

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Ok, so just got back from Bill's and he was kind enough to re-test the amplifier and let me take some pictures. The first one is set at basically full output, the second was dialed back to roughly 1 watt.

 

 

20160911_130616 (1280x720).jpg

20160911_130810 (1280x720).jpg

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All I'll say is Bill really got a chuckle out of the "First Watt" idea. I guess he's under the impression that a properly working amplifier operated within its rated specifications should sound the same at any volume. If you don't like the sound at 500 watts you'll likely not like the sound at 1 and vise versa.

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There is no doubt that Nelson Pass is a genius and I'm confident that anything he takes part in is cutting edge and top notch. I'm just saying the whole, "the first watt is the most important" is gimmicky at best. That is just my non technical opinion, thanks.

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Good SS amps don't need to be cranked to sound good with high efficiecy speakers like Khorns, LaScala and a few other Klipsch offering.  This is an endless debate but, I've heard some LaScala's on McIntosh SS amp and they sounded great with the meter hubbering in the 1-2 watt range.  This is from memory and it may have been less.  It could have been a tube amp if I did not know it was SS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You're absolutely correct. I half read what you posted and misinterpreted what you were trying to say. After I seen my name highlighted and enlarged in the center of your last post I figured I had better investigate what's going on and you are right, sorry!

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William correctly points out the huge difference between an amp like the Sunfire and a simple SET or SEP.  What many users of SS equipment don't realize is that tube amps are easily capable of similarly low distortion levels.  It's just a matter of matching the amp to the speakers/room/listening level/listening position. In my own system with RF-15s, my typical power requirement is 20 to 50 milliwatts (yes, you read that correctly!)  per channel.  If I'm listening with one of my 4 watt SEPs for example (which employ some nfb), at that power output level the distortion is so low that it is not worthy of comment.  The same even applies to the SETs which, in many cases, have 2nd harmonic distortion figures of only 1.5% at their full output of around 1+ wpc.  There are guys using LSs in medium size rooms of around 12 X 12 with as little as 1/3 wpc SETs.  At their typical listening levels the amps sound every bit as clean as super low distortion SS equipment while providing the enormous soundstages which SS amps can't touch.  One guy easily gets an 85db spl at 7 feet from the speakers with around 30 milliwatts!  The 1/3 wpc amp gives him 10 db of headroom before measurable clipping starts (not necessarily audible).  He never listens at anything approaching that level.  What else can I say?


Maynard 

 

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I really let my Cornwalls have it yesterday, me and the boy listening to some "Cake by the Ocean" while playing D3 and we had the desks and chairs literally bouncing.  At 110db (measured using REW) the needle was flirting with 2 Watts, just 1% of the total output my McIntosh MC2205 is capable of.

 

Joe

 

Thanks for the info on the Sunfire, I run the same amp and often wondered about this.  It is a great AMP!

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I remember years ago, at the Music Box in Wellesley, Mass. (where I bought my Heresys), they ran a pair of Klipschorns with a Sony Walkman. 

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When I met Michael Colter in a parking lot at a truck stop in Fort Wayne to purchase La Scalas I used a laptop to test them.

 

@colterphoto1

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Well, I've been sitting here listening to the new RF-5's and figured I'd pull out the old SPL meter. It appears as though my normal listening volume at my seated position is about 65 db. With speakers rated at 98 db at 1 watt I'm guessing I'm barely using any of the 405 watts on tap but it sounds very good with plenty of detail and bass. I know the room plays a big part in that being only 13x14.

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100 db sensitivity speakers are using milliwatts for normal listening in most cases.

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