Can we really hear a difference between amps? - Page 14 - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

View Poll Results: Is there a noticeably audible difference between two level matched solid state amps under controlled
Yes... I believe a notable difference can be heard. 133 49.44%
No... I do not believe there is any audibly significant difference. 136 50.56%
Voters: 269. You may not vote on this poll

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post #131 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 05:31 AM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

JerryLove wrote: View Post
I think they would just blame the anechoic chamber and argue that the amps make a difference that, when interacting with their room, is a huge deal.

The ideal scenario is to test in an area that the person claiming "I can hear the difference" has claimed to hear the difference.
This is a good point, but with one caveat. You then have to decide if the room is the difference, or the amp, or a combination of both. This would require doing the test again and again in multiple rooms to iron out the issue of room interaction, human perception and amp variation. Its well documented how the 5 human senses are basically one sense, with each influential on the other, in scenarios far outside of what is seemingly logical, and that the human mind takes short cuts based on experience to define what it thinks should happen. The individual senses arent fooled, but the mind is, by its own choice.

This leaves one solution IMO. Remove external influencing factors as much as possible, and especially factors that will manipulate the genetically inbred human tendency to assume results. I would do the test in a controlled environment, and go so far as to blindfold the subject etc to remove the influence of or other senses on the test. There does come a point though, were your just going to extremes to try prove a point, and real world scenarios are more representative. Round and round we go.

IMO, the round and round we go result is a clear indication of an area that is being explored to simply try prove a point, when there probably is no need, and no point to really prove, in this case, proving you can hear there difference.
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post #132 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 06:19 AM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

I tried out a McIntosh first gen solid state amp in the '70s (after my brother repossessed it) and it was truly awful as I believe all first gen transistor amps did. In the '90s I thought a Sony basic stereo amp sounded better than an old Sherwood amp did. These days I don't think that there is a difference in sound between well designed amps with low distortion, certainly those with flat frequency, and low thd and IMd. Measurement of sound equipment has been going on for many decades and today a thorough objective test suite will show what is causing differences in sound. One might like different colorations, I certainly like some, but if the amp tests well it will be neutral.
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post #133 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 08:40 AM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

Concerning testing environment.
As long as the amp is the only item changed in the system, it doesn't matter what the environment is. If the sound between amps is different, it has to be the amp itself.
I do believe listening in a controlled environment would make it easier to hear a difference if there is one, because it would minimize outside distractions.
Wolves separated in captivity would act differently than a pack in the wild, but wolves and amps are completely different beasts. The amps have no idea where they are, and do not change their characteristics.
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post #134 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 08:58 AM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

You are correct. There is all sorts of non-sense that goes on but at the same time there are measurements that explain all sorts of real differences in sound. One of the problems is people often compare the difference in sound between an inexpensive (or even $2000 one) receiver and a separate power amp. Receivers almost always overstate (lie) their power output and distortion will be much higher because of an insufficient power supply. I therefore doubt that there is a sound to amplifiers that can't be explained through measurement. Perhaps there is but that is for someone with more "golden ears" (read golden pockets) than me. If so they should spend some time coming up with a measurement that quantifies this and not use the subjective "language" (without correlating the word with something that can be measured) that has been developed by those selling and reviewing the very high end.
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post #135 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 01:06 PM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

I've got to agree with Jerry on this one.

The room is not a variable. It must stay the same during the tests otherwise it becomes one. Anything that is acting equally on both DUT's is not a variable. That word indicates that there must be some sort of change happening which there would not be otherwise the entire test would be invalidated. On a side note I'd contend that listening to speakers in an anechoic chamber would be a much stranger condition and effect on the listeners perception of sound than any usual acoustics issues present in a much more normal, random, room environment, taking much longer to get acclimated to.

Sure...Ideally you'd want as accurate of a playback system with as wide of a bandwidth as possible and the best environment possible with the lowest noise floor and intimately familiar material to listen to, but all of that doesn't really relate to the real world.

Let's say that you stick big time music producer Rick Rubin who has spent many years critically listening to music and probably knows how to spot minute differences in the sound, in a huge anechoic chamber outfitted with the most neutral set of passive speakers somoeone like Genelec or JBL can engineer coupled with laboratory grade power supply and front end electronics. You lock him in there for a month listening to his music on both amps with them being switched randomly in between songs so he can get used to the system and chamber. Then you do another 14 days of the tests where he guesses which amplifier is on for each of 72 songs a day. We'll get MIT to run the whole deal. At the end of it compile the results. Lets say that he actually got a statistically significant, higher number of guesses right than just chance would suggest.

Does that prove that you can hear the difference in amplifiers? Should you start listening to them before buying to use in your room at home? Personally I'd say no. Others would say yes we have the proof..EAT IT LOSERS! Obviously there are real measurable differences between most amplifiers and the way I see it if a test happened like that it would prove conclusively one way or the other whether it is possible to tell the difference reliably with the human senses, but it wouldn't mean much in the real world of inferior: speakers, acoustics, listeners, noise floor, etc. Basically if a scenario like that is what it takes to be able to tell the difference conclusively, a percentage of the time, what chance would there be for Sonnie to do the same in his underground swamp fortress? What if Mr. Rubin with Uber system and MIT moderation failed to identify the amps reliably?
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post #136 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 02:33 PM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

OK, here is something for you to mull over. If a 'real world' room is the test room, and a participant does detect a difference, then in theory, changing the room to one with different effects should still yield the same result should it not. It might even be conceivable to say that the fairest test would be one that is replicated in a few different rooms. If the results vary, the room is to blame, and an anechoic chamber would then be the only logical test facility. Swapping the order of the test questions would further help resolve that issue.

So I ask, why even risk that variable, and not just rule the room out anyway. The fewer variables the better the test, is that not the preference of science.

There are other concerns too, what if you used a pair of 50$ speakers, would that be a fair test . Obviously it wouldnt, but what would such a test reveal about amps? I'm with you on this though Ricci, if that is the kind of test required to prove this, then the results probably show its something we really dont have to worry about, meaning that a no vote above would be technically incorrect, but in the real world, actually closer to the real world result truth.
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post #137 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

I don't see where the room is going to matter if everything is equal other than the amps being swapped out.

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post #138 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 02:50 PM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

Something that stays the same is not a variable, it's a constant. And in mathematics, constants are usually pretty easy to get out of an equation. And also in real life.
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post #139 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 03:16 PM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

I must say that for a Thread that could easily devolve into anarchy and personal attacks that this Thread has gone quite well. Props to all who have taken part.

While I have never heard massive differences in the Amplifiers I have Owned over the years, I do believe in having large Power Transformers and high levels of Capacitance. This is predicated by the Electrostatic Speakers I have been using for over a Decade. Using a 5.1 Electrostatic Surround setup has really made me grateful that I have powerful Amplifiers that are stable down to 2 Ohms.

Electrostats are simply Speakers that are quite demanding of Amplifiers. Not only do they drop below 1 Ohm in the upper registers, but they present a difficult Capacitive Phase Angle. With Sonnie's Prodigies, while little Musical Information is present where Electrostats present their lowest Ohm load, at around 8 khz where there is plenty of action the Ohm load is still 3.55 Ohms with a Capacitive Phase Angle of -58 degrees.

While there might not be great sonic differences between the Amplifiers I use, not all Amplifiers are capable of coping with the demands of Electrostatic Speakers. Interestingly, it is the highs that are rolled off when not using a sufficiently powerful Amplifier.

Speakers: Martin Logan Vantage (Mains), Martin Logan Stage (Center), Martin Logan Vista (Surrounds), Martin Logan Montages (Surrounds) Hsu Research VTF-15h MK2, Martin Logan Descent i (Subwoofer)
Amplification: Aragon 8008bb, Parasound HCA-3500, Parasound HCA-2205 AT, Parasound HCA-1000a
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post #140 of 816 Old 11-08-10, 03:37 PM
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Re: Can we really hear a difference between amps?

Sonnie wrote: View Post
I don't see where the room is going to matter if everything is equal other than the amps being swapped out.
Then there should be no problems repeating the test results in several rooms, just to be sure, should there. If it was my 10k, I would be adding that into the mix as well. If I was taking the test, I would specifically ask for an anechoic chamber to try give myself the best chance of winning.
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