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Thread: What kind of amp do you like?

  1. #1
    Member sean19's Avatar
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    What kind of amp do you like?

    Some people swear by tube others solid state some people swear by low watt amps 25 or under other people swear by amps from 40 to 60 watts and some swear by big powerful amps. Tube amps have less components that's good and lower watt solid state amps have less components and so far it seams i like the lower watt solid state amps over the higher watt solid state amps. What do you guys think any truth to this or am i just drinking too much ?

  2. #2
    Senior Member richluvsound's Avatar
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    Class A solid state ..... the warmth of tubes without the distortion .

    Rich

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Warmth doesn't necessarily mean fidelity. Warmth can be a form of voicing or tone-control.
    Do you want warmth or accuracy? What is the rest of your system?

    I switched from tubes (Fisher SA1000 and Mac C20) nearly 40-years ago and have found accuracy in Crown amps over that time. I have others and, truth be told, I've not tried a "modern" tube amp. But if I want warmth, I have EQ in nearly every system in my home. I find it works best to start with a clean sheet of paper (no coloring) and then add pigment (EQ/tone control) to create what I want. In most cases, especially with a good recording, that means no EQ. Sometimes I'll kick in a Fletcher-Munson curve for low-level listening. I'm not against tubes, but I fail to see how creating a "warmer" presentation than the original recording would be anyone's goal. Of course that assumes "warm" is not already the color of the recording and that "warmth" is not assumed to simply be the opposite to whatever would be solid-state.

    It always becomes somewhat of a semantic issue. Do tube proponents assume their sound is "warmer" than the original and that solid-state is the opposite and still not accurate or faithful to the original? Just different ends of the same spectrum? One seldom hears claims of more accuracy or fidelity to the original from tubes, simply that they impart a warmth not available from solid-state.

    Different horses for different courses. You need more power for specific purposes. Control of a large woofer under demanding use will require more power and damping factor. Clean, clear, no-noise reproduction from a high-frequency driver won't need the power but may benefit from the lower noise in a low-power amp. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

    I'm not an engineer but I do play with a lot of different amps. If that makes some here label me a Subjectivist, whatever. I wish we'd stop with the labels since they call up an ugly specter of Ayn Rand hype and from that jumping-off point I can't separate the connotation of the label from the words of the poster. You either like the sound, or you don't. Does anything else really matter?
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."óGreg Timbers

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    Warmth doesn't necessarily mean fidelity. Warmth can be a form of voicing or tone-control.
    Do you want warmth or accuracy?
    Maybe Rich was talking about actual heat... both tubes and class A amps can really heat up your room.

    Personally I really like class A amplification... but the room heating aspect can be unpleasant.


    Widget

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    Quote Originally Posted by richluvsound View Post
    Class A solid state ..... the warmth of tubes without the distortion .

    Rich
    I concur.
    S4700 owner.

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    Senior Member dino's Avatar
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    One that sounds good to my ears lol. I love a wide variety of music. So what that said it depends on the individual room set up it depends what type of drivers you have inside cabinets some horns can sound like their beaming or little harsh which all depend on what kind of amp you are using. Just my opinion tubes sound better in the mid to hi frequency. Solid state rules in the low end. I always have more clean power than I need [ head room ] some people might have a speaker that have a sensitivity of 96 to 98 db at 1 watt so they can use the little 20 watt amp. I personally have several speakers with different db at 1 watt ranges from 93 to 95 -97. Some all cone drivers one compression at the mids and hi frequency and the last one that has a air motion tweeter. So what I am getting at there is a lot of factors that play's a role in a good sounding amp. But I believe this is a never ending story we will always have the need to seek out great sounding stereo equipment

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Warmth equates to the 2nd harmonic distortion in the context of THD.

    Class A power amps have inherently low 3rd harmonic distortion. SE class A amps exhibit tendency towards warm sound in the absence of 3rd harmonic distortion.

    SS SE amps like the Pass Aleph where like that. They are very nice but not on trend in terms of contemporary hifi listening.

    In contrast the Pass X series cancelled out the 2nd harmonic distortion.

    Pass then added a small amount of SE bias up to a few watts in the X.5 series.
    I have one of those the X250.5.

    I donít mind tubes in preamps. They can add. A certain emotional feeling. Again itís the 2nd harmonic distortion.

    A bit of 2nd harmonic goes a long way with metal diaphragms.

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Given the (relatively to electronics) massive distortion present in speakers and untreated or undertreated listening spaces, distortion in electronics could be considered a non-issue, but I don't think so. When fidelity is already so imperfect, it makes no sense to NOT minimize distortion in everything else. IMO.

    The pastime of listening to music, audiophile style, generally ignores the fact that speaker manufacturers hardly ever list distortion figures. It also ignores actual fidelity to a great degree, and I don't mind saying I find this odd. After all these years I am finding it bordering on annoying. The only conclusion I can reach is that everyone seems to have their favorite distortion. If this seems an outlandish take, I can report that whenever I mention my pursuit of hearing as closely as possible what went into the microphone, the but-but-buts come out of the wall. I have yet to have an audiophile or audio equipment enthusiast say yes, me too. A few agreed then furiously qualified and backpedaled.

    Like everyone here, my answers to the original question on this thread have evolved. I still favor large, (very) high-efficiency speakers and low distortion First Watt power amps. I have great tube gear and have pulled all of it out of my systems. I am now completely happy to eschew speakers entirely to enjoy the stellar clarity, fidelity, complete integration and cohesion, perfect time alignment, and vanishing distortion of high-end Stax headphones powered by a suitable amp. I am tired of letting bass slam dictate how much distortion and lost detail I want to put up with. Even my $129 Etymotic in ears have less distortion than all but one speaker I have ever heard. Since this paragraph will not auto destruct in five seconds, know it is irrelevant to anyone else and should be ignored.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  9. #9
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean19 View Post
    Some people swear by tube others solid state some people swear by low watt amps 25 or under other people swear by amps from 40 to 60 watts and some swear by big powerful amps. Tube amps have less components that's good and lower watt solid state amps have less components and so far it seams i like the lower watt solid state amps over the higher watt solid state amps. What do you guys think any truth to this or am i just drinking too much ?
    I thought about your post again.

    Historically there have been segments or groups as you suggest.

    Looking at it a bit more closely at a certain price point people certainly have those kind of preferences because as product they exist and meet demand at a price point.

    I am talking about classics like Rogue amps, Audible illusion preamps, the A1 Musical fidelity small class a integrated amp and low powered SE valve triode amps from Decware. Itís a broad market with lot of players.

    So you have people that have grown into a preference and in many cases stayed with it and are brand loyal.

    And in that space has been the big SS amp thatís got an iron grip on the bass.

    But there is a category that is never entirely happy. They keep changing out amps looking for navana and they keep the industry going.

    Of course the loudspeaker is a controlling influence in terms of sensitivity and itís not uncommon to see low powered SE Triodes power a horn system. Depending on the design a SE triode may not have a warmth of a Leak amp that has a traditional valve sound.

    On your point Tubes have less components is good l think it comes down to the skill of the designer not the parts count per say. Some of the best low parts count valve amps and preamps are also very expensive.

    If you go further up in price point the market is different in that you can have what you want without the limitations. But thatís a small market. Here ML, Macintosh, Pass and numerous others give you everything and more.

    Then there are the diy guys. If you donít want the diy route there are people in the business who defy conventions like Carver, Hafler and others who can get to market really good products and pitch them as world beaters that punch way above their weight.

    Is less is more in terms of parts? It can be and the amp tends to be lower powered. There is a lot going on in that space with the diy group and you have Nelson Pass meeting the market with his First Watt lower power amps like the excellent F7. That group are in some cases running open baffle loudspeakers with efficient full range drivers like Fostex and a large woofer often also open baffle. They Biamp a big SS amp on the woofer.

    In the Jbl space the Jbls are more sensitive relative to an AR9 and you can get away with a low power amp BUT the full dynamic capabilities do require higher power levels. If you have the flexibility to Biamp then splitting the heavy lifting to the big bad ass SS amp on the woofer and your smaller and lower parts count SS amp on the horn or mid is a logical approach.

    From here you can be happy and set and forget.

    But there are those of us who will want to finess the illusion and look at voicing the overall system.

    This involves a somewhat disciplined and time consuming approach to selecting components that have complimentary sonic qualities that deliver the most satisfaction from the loudspeaker system. The power amp is the end of the line in terms of the electionics and itís often the biggest influence in terms of getting at one extreme an analytical presentation to a lush and emotionally engaging presentation at the other end of the spectrum.

    Refinement exists further up stream in the signal path and down stream in the loudspeaker as a system. The key to it is in the listening and understanding what really makes a difference and where to make changes. With some persistence you can attain a stellar system that goes beyond the generic preferences.

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