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Is there a noticeably audible difference between two level matched solid state amps under controlled

  • Yes... I believe a notable difference can be heard.

    Votes: 136 48.6%
  • No... I do not believe there is any audibly significant difference.

    Votes: 144 51.4%

  • Total voters
    280
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I think there is a lot more feeling that processor make a fair bit of difference in a setup, and I for one lean that way. I agree, starting a thread on that subject would be very interesting.
The quality as a whole unit will depend on how a processor sounds, so it will be the pre amp stage DAC's and also the processors that will determine how it sounds, the pre amp stage is superb on my Arcam allowing my CD players full potential to be heard, and then the DAC's for my digital inputs (HDMI) also make a big difference and luckily Arcam have taken into account the amount of jitter that HDMI can cause, virtually eliminating it therefore making a better sound, then there is the latest SHARC processing which will also make a difference...anyway best left for another thread...but you get my drift :nerd:
 

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The only reason I ask it hear is because I think most people would agree that the circuit design and different components in a DAC make a difference in the sound and I wonder why the same wouldn't be true for an AMP?
 

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Elite Shackster
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The only reason I ask it hear is because I think most people would agree that the circuit design and different components in a DAC make a difference in the sound and I wonder why the same wouldn't be true for an AMP?
A processor not only has that, but it also has on board software that intentionally augments the signals as they pass through. Simply hitting a DSP mode is a huge example of this kind of thing.
 

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I am not talking about a processor. I am talking about a DAC (digital to analog converter). There is no software...just a process that affects the sound.
 

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I am not talking about a processor. I am talking about a DAC (digital to analog converter). There is no software...just a process that affects the sound.

Yes, there are many types of DAC's and some are at the low end of the mainstream AVR's and then you have the top of the range ones, Wolfson and Burr Brown come to mind, some will accept DSD from SACD and others will not, it is all down to there sampling rate and there are 24bit and some 32bit but it is not to say that the 32bit DAC is better, there is loads of white papers on DAC's and most of it will go straight over our heads for us mere mortals, here is an example to Digest...

http://www.wolfsonmicro.com/products/dacs/WM8741/
 

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Elite Shackster
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I am not talking about a processor. I am talking about a DAC (digital to analog converter). There is no software...just a process that affects the sound.
I appreciate that, but for many (I would argue the majority), the DACS are tied into a processor of some kind, and that the processor is a big variable in that. John makes some better points on the specifics of DACs too though, and he is probably the better person in that subject. I suppose a good test would be a setup comprising of the same amp(s), speakers and source, with stand alone DACs placed in the loop that could be swapped out?

I feel a new thread or two coming on already :nerd:
 

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The only reason I ask it hear is because I think most people would agree that the circuit design and different components in a DAC make a difference in the sound and I wonder why the same wouldn't be true for an AMP?
It's testable the same way amps are testable. Put given waveforms in and compare the output for differences. Quantify and then qualify those differences to determine if they are audable.

The good news is, moreso than sounic waves in the air, electrical waves in a conduit are relatively absolute things (for the purpose of powering a speaker).

One could also try the ever-popular DBT method to remove theory from practice.
 

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I used to be convinced that I could. For instance I chose a Yamaha RXV 2095 over an identically powered Yamaha receiver because the one sounded better driving Martin Logan Speakers. They sounded roughly the same driving less challenging speakers.

I introduced a partially deaf friend to my hobby years ago. He was delighted to listen to my stereo because, even with his limitations, he could hear sounds/music more clearly at my house. That was in the days of a Pioneer Reciver and Speakerlab kit speakers I built myself.

I'm finding these days, at 64, that my aural acuity isn't what it once was, but I can still tell the difference between a good system and a bad one. I doubt my ability to tell the difference between amplifiers - save possbily the comparison between a tube amp and a transistor-based one.

It's all fun, though.
 

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As asked in the original post, the answer is 'no' you cannot hear a difference between amps.
But in reality most all amps have some coloration of sound whether intentional or not.
Hearing a difference between amps depends on their coloration characteristics and if you know what to listen for. 2 amps that color sound the same way will sound similar. 2 amps that color sound in different ways will sound different.
So I think the answer is 'yes' and 'no' here in the real world.
 

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Elite Shackster
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As asked in the original post, the answer is 'no' you cannot hear a difference between amps.
But in reality most all amps have some coloration of sound whether intentional or not.
Hearing a difference between amps depends on their coloration characteristics and if you know what to listen for. 2 amps that color sound the same way will sound similar. 2 amps that color sound in different ways will sound different.
So I think the answer is 'yes' and 'no' here in the real world.
Are you talking intentional colouring, or unintentional though.
 

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Are you talking intentional colouring, or unintentional though.
It doesn't matter whether it's intentional or not, if it's colored, then it's colored. The sound through most amps has been altered in some way, either the eq or THD or feedback or etc... Hearing the coloration depends on how much there is and if you know what to listen for. Whether 2 amps sound similar or different depends on the characteristics of the sound coloring.
 

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But in reality most all amps have some coloration of sound whether intentional or not.
Assuming that you are discussing only potentially audible coloration (as surely we don't care about what we cannot hear): Please support this claim.

What was your criteria for coloration here, and how did you determine that most amps had it (indeed, do you mean "the majority of models", or "the majority of sold units"; and are you looking specifically at currently sold amps, or are you including the last 100 or so years). Are you discussing only home-audio amps, or are we also talking about the amp in my cell-phone? And finally are we discussing "at all listening levels", or only at some; and if the latter, which.

I assert that any properly built amp, sufficiently powerful for the load given, will be indistinguishable to the human ear from any other properly built and sufficiently powerful amp on the same load. Though I think this is true for any sort of amplifier: I am actually making this assertion for home-audio amplifiers of the types most likely to be discussed on this board.

For example: I assert that you would be unable to identify by blind listening my McIntosh 2125 amp from my Yamaha P5000S amp powering my Paradigm S2's at a "reasonable listening level" (let's say <98db @1m) in the listening room of your choosing.

Do you challenge that assertion? Or are you asserting that the majority of amps are either improperly built or not sufficient to the loads they power?
 

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Elite Shackster
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It doesn't matter whether it's intentional or not, if it's colored, then it's colored. The sound through most amps has been altered in some way, either the eq or THD or feedback or etc... Hearing the coloration depends on how much there is and if you know what to listen for. Whether 2 amps sound similar or different depends on the characteristics of the sound coloring.
My question really was, are you including DSP modes etc in this, or are we talking about pure amplification in its most straight forward form? Ruling out intentional colouring, which I regard as the afore mentioned, and I'm not convinced you can hear a difference till you push the amps beyond their comfort range, in which case I would argue you need a different amp, but otherwise not.
 

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Maybe my earlier post was a little vague and needs elaborating.
I believe when used properly, any properly built amp should not show their coloration (just the amp, no DSP) and should not be distinguishable from another amp that is similar.
In the real world most people (in my experience) push their systems to the limit and then amps will show their true colors.
There's more to my thoughts but I'm trying to watch Poltergeist now.
 

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My question really was, are you including DSP modes etc in this, or are we talking about pure amplification in its most straight forward form?
Now that makes sense to me.
Sometimes you gotta spell things out for me, I'm numb as a Hake.
No DSP, I was sticking to the intention of the thread with just the amp.
 

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For example: I assert that you would be unable to identify by blind listening my McIntosh 2125 amp from my Yamaha P5000S amp powering my Paradigm S2's at a "reasonable listening level" (let's say <98db @1m) in the listening room of your choosing.
I'd love to be there for that listening test. Those are some great amps.

I think a real difference comes with sub amps.
 

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Elite Shackster
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Maybe my earlier post was a little vague and needs elaborating.
I believe when used properly, any properly built amp should not show their coloration (just the amp, no DSP) and should not be distinguishable from another amp that is similar.
In the real world most people (in my experience) push their systems to the limit and then amps will show their true colors.
There's more to my thoughts but I'm trying to watch Poltergeist now.
I think people that are more into AV dont push their systems to the limit. I think the people pushing their kit to the limit arent really that bothered and dont really pick up on the rubbish being produced. I think most of us here probably also have system that play to levels we are happy with while still within their happy operating range.

I'd love to be there for that listening test. Those are some great amps.

I think a real difference comes with sub amps.
You know, Ive compare the EP4000 against the ED 1300 and I couldnt tell any difference. Ive also hear a true IB using an EP 4000 and the IB was the best by a considerable margin. The sub made a huge difference, to my ears, the amplification didnt. I think that the money you might spend on a better amp, once you get to a certain level, is better spent on drivers etc, as the improvements are much more noticeable, and beneficial. This again assumes amps working happily within their limits. Ive heard a single driver sealed AV15 sub of the back of a Bash500, and we swapped it out for an EP2500, and the improvements were significant. The Bash500 was simply out of its comfort zone and it showed, nothing to do with it being a bad amp, it was just simply being asked to much of.
 

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I think people that are more into AV dont push their systems to the limit. I think the people pushing their kit to the limit arent really that bothered and dont really pick up on the rubbish being produced. I think most of us here probably also have system that play to levels we are happy with while still within their happy operating range.
I agree and wanted to say the same thing but Poltergeist was distracting me.
 

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IMHO with modern solid state amplifiers that are not intentionally designed to have some coloration, used within their operational boundaries (below clipping, with some dynamic headroom left and with a load that is representative of that intended for use with that particular amplifier design.), you cannot reliably tell the difference between 2 amps in a double blind scenario. There are subtle differences there but I believe that they are too small to detect reliably and get completely swamped by the distortions and inaccuracies imposed by the room and speaker system. The differences do start to become large enough to be apparent as the amplifiers start to get driven towards the edge of their capabilities.

Tube amps are a whole other affair and add a considerable amount of coloration which is easily heard.
 

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My friend and I did some comparative listening when I bought my amp. Everything was the same except the amps. We auditioned some pure class A vs AB from the same manufacturer only. 3 different amps (2 of them class A monoblocks and the other a stereo AB) and we could tell 99 percent of the time the difference, with the levels all matched. The surprise was that the biggest difference was between the two pure class A amps, which had different output ratings, one at 100 and the other at 160 watts!!

Up until that point both my friend and I were in the "I don't think the differences are easily audible" camp. I don't claim to be an expert or anything, I just enjoy music and quality gear. Haven't done other comparisons, but on this one the differences were audible and rather obvious: warmth, detail and so on.
 
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