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When did you last here a distinct difference between amps?


chn68b
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Yeah, seems like I would also need to get some MCMs to explore the pro sound and the pro amps.

 

For now, I recently went to 2" horns (2380 copies) and very large JBL D405 drivers, totally blown away.  Never going back to the small stuff.

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1 hour ago, Racer X said:

Agree.  Of the few preamps I've tried, the volume control was always different.  Some were not so linear, they had a flat spot.  The size, feel of the knob also oddly important to me.  Also whether just variable, detented variable, or stepped volume control.  

It is also always a game of matching voltages. I love the sound of my C22CE pre. But modern sources or players often have a relatively higher output voltage than before. But below 9:00 the volume control sounds thin and slightly distorted. The input tube obviously doesn't like such a strong signal in the circuit either. From 10:00 o'clock the C22CE begins to sing musically. For this I turn my Bluesound Node as a variable source of the C22 a little quieter. Sometimes it is very subtle matching requirements to achieve the most beautiful sound.
Even if I am aware that I may not fully exploit the digital resolution of the Node. But the overall result is very pleasant in this arrangement.

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On 9/28/2021 at 9:17 PM, Westcoastdrums said:

I have owned many amplifiers because there is a clear difference between them. If there wasn't, buy the cheapest one and call it a day.  Save yourself money. 

Chip amps perform well cheap.

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On 9/29/2021 at 8:39 AM, jimjimbo said:

Since you have money to burn, go with Mcintosh MC30 monos, or an MC240 with an MX110Z preamp.  You will be happy.

had those in my 20's. class D all the way, which is load independent and allows for some pretty scary passive Xovers and varying impedance loads, unlike Tube amps, with their Euphoric Distortions.

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On 9/29/2021 at 9:41 AM, capo72 said:

To stay on topic, I last heard a difference between amps a couple of weeks ago when I swapped in a First Watt J2 for a Dynaco ST-70 on my Lowther / Oris horn combo.

Non linear interactions with the speaker load.

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On 9/29/2021 at 1:19 PM, Shakeydeal said:

 

Which is exactly the reason DBT is so flawed. Differences come to light when you are relaxed and not stressfully trying to hear something. Long(er) term listening will show you which of two things you prefer.

 

 

time for a PWK Bullshit button. I was an AES member and heard the ORIGINAL AB/X box from SMWTMS members led by David L. Clark when I was 23. If you take as much TIME as you need to do AB/X testing, you will find the truth.

 

When you set the levels within 0.1 db from each other and compare, you will clearly hear a difference with AB/X testing. I think ALL METHODS should be employed to be as OBJECTIVE as possible. 

 

The common response to the question from the OP is almost all "I can hear the difference and I like it" from most people here. It's your own PERSONAL ILLUSION, which is all HiFi is anyhow. So enjoy your illusions, but don't put down the illusions of others, even if they paid a higher entrance fee to the "Garden of Illusions" than you did................or a lower one.

 

Google: Cowan Audio and look for his "Steps to great sound" (10). It requires 2 less steps than AA (Audio Anonymous) to achieve working towards something rather than get out of something (addiction). LOL.

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48 minutes ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

time for a PWK Bullshit button.

 

48 minutes ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

don't put down the illusions of others, even if they paid a higher entrance fee to the "Garden of Illusions" than you did................or a lower one.

 

Oh Claude, you big meanie.

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2 hours ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

If you take as much TIME as you need to do AB/X testing, you will find the truth.

At least it's closer to an apples to apples comparison of METHODs, rather than being part of the "Emotional Testing" group, which is not always wrong.

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On 9/29/2021 at 8:59 AM, Fido said:

Even if it’s just in your mind if you think something sounds better to you then it does. I thought my McIntosh hybrid integrated sounded better than my Yamaha  AVR. When I traded my MA 252 for my Primaluna  pure tube integrated I thought it sounded much better to me. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. My wife can’t tell the difference. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s real or not because it’s real to me.

Hence my constant titling of Audio as "the Grand personal ILLUSION!"

 

Especially when you consider that you can only optimize for only 1 seat in the room (move a microphone 1 inch in any direction and compare the curves to see the delta).

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I have only owned and used 6 different external multi channel amps, they all have left me with the impression that there were distinct differences in the way they sounded to me, in my space, with my connected equipment. I definitely preferred some over others. Both used and new. I stay far away from all tube amplifiers for this reason. My OCD would be completely overwhelmed by all of the available combinations. Not nearly the difference I heard when changing pre-amps or especially speakers. Optical players have had the smallest sound signature for me. Some interconnects, but never speaker wire. I feel no vanity in saying these things. I know there are many who do not believe it. That's totally fine with me. I would never sell someone on the idea that they should hear a difference, I just know that I do, at least up to a certain price point or build quality.

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5 hours ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

time for a PWK Bullshit button. I was an AES member and heard the ORIGINAL AB/X box from SMWTMS members led by David L. Clark when I was 23. If you take as much TIME as you need to do AB/X testing, you will find the truth.

 

When you set the levels within 0.1 db from each other and compare, you will clearly hear a difference with AB/X testing. I think ALL METHODS should be employed to be as OBJECTIVE as possible. 

 

The common response to the question from the OP is almost all "I can hear the difference and I like it" from most people here. It's your own PERSONAL ILLUSION, which is all HiFi is anyhow. So enjoy your illusions, but don't put down the illusions of others, even if they paid a higher entrance fee to the "Garden of Illusions" than you did................or a lower one.

 

Google: Cowan Audio and look for his "Steps to great sound" (10). It requires 2 less steps than AA (Audio Anonymous) to achieve working towards something rather than get out of something (addiction). LOL.

July was the 70th Anniversary of a working relationship between McIntosh Labs and PWK. In one letter from PWK to Frank McIntosh (July, 1951) he mentioned that one of his dealers would only sell the Khorn with a McIntosh amp as a complete package. PWK asked Frank for an AMP and Preamp on loan so he could see how he could maximize the synergy. PWK did request a modification (of course he did) which Gordon Gow agreed to.

 

PWK could hear the difference difference in amps, however, I think that had a lot to do with distortion and the way they paired with his two way Khorn. 

 

There is lots and lots of correspondence between PWK and folks like Marantiz, Fisher, Scott, McIntosh, Brook Electronics, etc.

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29 minutes ago, dwilawyer said:

July was the 70th Anniversary of a working relationship between McIntosh Labs and PWK. In one letter from PWK to Frank McIntosh (July, 1951) he mentioned that one of his dealers would only sell the Khorn with a McIntosh amp as a complete package. PWK asked Frank for an AMP and Preamp on loan so he could see how he could maximize the synergy. PWK did request a modification (of course he did) which Gordon Gow agreed to.

 

PWK could hear the difference difference in amps, however, I think that had a lot to do with distortion and the way they paired with his two way Khorn. 

 

There is lots and lots of correspondence between PWK and folks like Marantiz, Fisher, Scott, McIntosh, Brook Electronics, etc.

I met Saul Marantz in 1976 when he was President of Dahlquist. He did a demo for me and told me to always use solid state on the bass and tubes only on the midbass/mid/highs.

 

Also when PWK measured lower Intermodulation Distortion on his BGW 100 and Crown D60, he switched to Solid State. This is what I heard at his house after a shot of Glenlivet and he put on his symphony recordings for me, which were made with only 2 spaced Omni Microphones. It sounded wonderful with his Khorns out of the room corners!

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1 hour ago, 314carpenter said:

I have only owned and used 6 different external multi channel amps, they all have left me with the impression that there were distinct differences in the way they sounded to me, in my space, with my connected equipment. I definitely preferred some over others. Both used and new. I stay far away from all tube amplifiers for this reason. My OCD would be completely overwhelmed by all of the available combinations. Not nearly the difference I heard when changing pre-amps or especially speakers. Optical players have had the smallest sound signature for me. Some interconnects, but never speaker wire. I feel no vanity in saying these things. I know there are many who do not believe it. That's totally fine with me. I would never sell someone on the idea that they should hear a difference, I just know that I do, at least up to a certain price point or build quality.

90% or more of "audiophiles" have the same Quasi Religious experience as you. No one ever does a NULL Test for wires or and AB/X test for their stuff because it's too expensive and time consuming.

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8 hours ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

had those in my 20's. class D all the way, which is load independent and allows for some pretty scary passive Xovers and varying impedance loads, unlike Tube amps, with their Euphoric Distortions.

Yea baby.

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19 hours ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

I met Saul Marantz in 1976 when he was President of Dahlquist. He did a demo for me and told me to always use solid state on the bass and tubes only on the midbass/mid/highs.

 

Also when PWK measured lower Intermodulation Distortion on his BGW 100 and Crown D60, he switched to Solid State. This is what I heard at his house after a shot of Glenlivet and he put on his symphony recordings for me, which were made with only 2 spaced Omni Microphones. It sounded wonderful with his Khorns out of the room corners!

This is so true.  My entire audio journey I always had upgraditis.  Once I moved to K402 on top of dual 18" direct radiator jbl lowers with ss on the lowers and tube amp on the k402 i have had ZERO desire to change anything.  This is audio nirvana for me (ymmv)

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This topic is always so interesting when it comes around. I tend to accept a part of my audio habit is enjoying an illusion (delusion?). But hey, people enjoy getting high or drunk for entertainment too. Listening, at least below a certain DB level, does not cause physical harm. 

 

None of us are really smart enough to scientifically test (or identify what we should be testing) to ferret out our own audio preferences. Clearly, some have made progress. The ones that get a piece of it right, PWK, for example, are geniuses that stand the test of time. Not many of those. The most solid ground I have found is that I don't know much (and neither do you). In this vein, psychoacoustics quickly becomes a pursuit of what it is like/what does it mean to exist? A twist on a classic philosophical thought experiment comes to mind -- if a tree falls in the forest how does it sound to you? To me? And if neither of us are there, does it make any sound? Like most existential questions we humans try to answer, we run out of answers fairly quickly. Best to be honest about this point. Why prolong suffering combating our own collective ignorance? You know, just enjoy the music man... 

 

The other part of this hobby is aesthetics. I found aesthetics (I am defining this term here as beauty for beauty's sake) a reasonable way to navigate purchase decisions. I will pay more for pristine engineering. I, for one, find immaculate design and engineering is art for art's sake. Whatever you feelings may be about Apple, they have seemingly found success with a version of this approach. The other point is narrative and history. Like the posts above about the relationship between PWK and Gordon Gow. That matters to me. If my living room is going to be dominated by $$$$ in stereo equipment, it should be like a high end piece of art with all the aesthetics, beauty and story you would expect with that.

 

If you invest in state of the art technology found in modern gear like McIntosh, Benchmark, and Purifi (many others qualify here for sure) you can have confidence the design/engineering expresses the limits of what we know about audio reproduction (at least from an amplification perspective). At the end of the day, gear is still an appliance and I would advise to make decisions accordingly. Purchase the most technically perfect gear you can afford. At this point, the limit of our ears and our knowledge of psychoacoustics are likely the true limiting factors.

 

I know we talk about it here sometimes, but the real conversation probably should be around room design instead of amplification (at least beyond a certain threshold). My acoustician friend with his fancy degree in acoustic engineering has convinced me of that. Music fills and interacts with a room, a room does not fill and interact with music. 

 

With all that said, what choices have I made and why? I had the privilege of inheriting a McIntosh MC240 and MX110 (that a subsequently had restored by Audio Classics). I turned these units over and replaced them with modern McIntosh gear (C41 and MC152). Could I have gotten gear as technically competent for less (i.e. Benchmark, Purifi, etc.)? Yes. However, for me, a part of this hobby is akin to art installation/aesthetics/story -- as much as it is about sound/engineering. You know, I want it all (don't we all). And for the right price, you can get a lot.

 

My new gear is more technically competent than the 60+ year old gear it replaced. Can I hear sonic differences? I don't have the skills, patience, or desire to say for sure. If I said I could hear a difference, I would have to acknowledge that it is likely attributable to my own personal audio illusion. I do know, my gear looks great (to me) and will be trouble free for decades and will hold its value. What else could I want from an artful appliance? 

 

If I was forced to make a recommendation, I should say prioritize the pre-amp. Most modern amps are technically sufficient and often times it is the preamp that is lacking. On paper, at least, that was the case with the MX110 v C41. I will also say, if I did notice a difference in sound between my modern and classic gear, swapping out the MX110 was it.

 

As always, enjoy the journey, the music, and have fun! 

 

Edited by mdm7eb
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