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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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Well guys, I'm in the pro-audio since early 1990 and the only thing I have to say is that "there is a big difference" between amps and I will put an example from my personal experience : Back in 1999, I won a contract to upgrade an auditorium sound system that has an EV 2 way active system 4 tops+4 subs all with QSC MX 3000 & 4000 amplifiers. So before moving to a new speaker system , I switched all amplifiers and tested with Lab-Gruppen FP series and the sound changed absolutely , so big was the difference in sound quality that I did an A/B comparison test with the same system : L with the original QSC amps & R with the Lab Gruppen and that's it and the difference was immediately noticed.
This is my personal experience and there's a big difference between amps, at least in the pro-audio field.

Cheers.

Alan
..., always a sensitive and potentially highly controversial topic, please do not feel offended by any comment I make. I am no expert on any Amp class type and/or amplified sound qualities. I am only trying to understand how there can be differences in reproduced sound.

Alan I wonder..., if a third party had set-up the new amps to reproduce sound similar to the amps being replaced (before your first listening) would the sound you first heard be as starkly different.

But I wonder too did you replace an old Class A with a new Class AB and/or transistorized AB. I am learning that some of the newer transistor AB amps can get the cross-over distortions to nearly non-existent. Most amp designers and builders today are able to achieve and maintain low distortion levels in sound amplification for moderate dollar values etc etc

I could be wrong but I believe the original question is, "can you hear a difference between two amps of similar design when each is set up to reproduce their best sound or a similar sound...?" Seems to me there was a $10,000 challenge. If anyone can hear a difference between a $1000 amp and a $10,000 (approx) amp of similar Class Type in a "Double Blind Placebo Controlled Study" when each amp is set-up to reproduce its best sound, all other variables being equal... :scratch:

You'll have to do the research on this if you want to reproduce the original experiment using newer equipment. But I'd love to watch and listen and contribute what I can. :innocent:

Alan I believe your statement was in response to your experience and I believe you did hear a difference but I believe one long standing question on this is... "why?"

Thanks for your comment - i love this question :surprise:
 

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I would have to say YES in general - but SO many factors in the chain affect the sound to a greater degree than the amps involved its almost a mute point > ie speakers-source-source recording etc etc

On that note - my new setup with BALANCED connections > Marantz 7702 > DDRC-88BM > Emotiva XPA7 has a much more discreet channel resolution than any unbalanced system Ive had .... The DDRC obviously has made a world of difference - especially in time alignment and phase response .. I am a true believer...
 

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Going out even further on this limb that is already very fragile...

I wonder if many of the differences actually heard can be explained by:
  • amps operating in spec but...
  • attributes that are not specified, poorly specified, or spec is poorly understood
  • attributes that are more difficult to correlate directly to "listening experience" because of psychoacoustical interpretation factors involved
 

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Going out even further on this limb that is already very fragile...

I wonder if many of the differences actually heard can be explained by:
  • amps operating in spec but...
  • attributes that are not specified, poorly specified, or spec is poorly understood
  • attributes that are more difficult to correlate directly to "listening experience" because of psychoacoustical interpretation factors involved
Fragile limb, I like that AC and may steal it at one time or another.

I am of the no all amps do not sound the same or maybe I should say that while different amps made by the same manufacturer might sound very similar amps made by a different manufacturer may sound significantly different. You may be right that amps may operate within its specs and yet not operate as one would hope may fall short.
If in the second post you mean amps that cheat on their specs, i.e., 100 wpc x 2 @6ohms vs 100 wpc x 2 @ 8 ohms or some dishonest variant thereof.
I am unsure what the third entry means, as such I look to your further enhancement of the statement.

I have three amplification systems in my main room, Denon, Emotiva and an integrated Tube amp from Dared. All three sound significantly different from each other when fed from the same dac to the same speakers using all of the same cabling. Denon is less powerful than the Emo but considerably more powerful than the Dared. The differences in sound between the two solid state amps is one of timbre and the integrated tube amp seems to have more solid bottom end and a much improved soundstage...I should add perceived.

Like anything, maybe its in the power supplies, or any of the internal components, but when properly volume matched, well as close as I can get, all three sound different enough from one another to allow my to pick preferences. This is also true with the four dacs I have in house presently...but that is another discussion. :wink2:
 

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A fr'instance:

Channel Separation gets worse as frequencies increase and is more an issue with a power amp or integrated amp than with a preamp, because of the current levels involved. Most manufacturers do not even specify this (Yamaha does). Poorer channel separation will affect imaging at high frequencies. It is conceivable that a difference in imaging could be heard between two amps, one with good channel separation and another with poorer channel separation, and there would be no explanation because that particular spec is under-emphasized these days. Both amps could be operating in their linear range (no clipping), and still "sound" different.
 

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Late to the discussion...but:

Until yesterday my answer would have been a resounding no. But with my new Klipsch RF-7 III's, there is a difference in sound between my two systems.

#1 - Dynaco PAS 3 Series II Tube Preamp & Sound Values Mosfet 32 Power Amp
#2 - Yamaha CX-A5200 A/V Preamp & Emotiva Power Amp

We can run both systems side-by-side, with a selector option so I can do direct A-B comparison.

System #1 has a much more liquid nature, with just a hint of warmth. Easy to listen to.

System #2 is more analytical, anti-septic in nature. Clear, concise. Non-colored.

For 2 channel stereo, the tube system is much better. For 7.2.2 surround sound movie tracks, the all solid state system wins hands down.

Yes, you really can hear a difference.
 

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I have only two thoughts/questions..., 1. have you allowed time for your equipment to acclimate and adjust. Years ago it was believed system parts and pieces including speakers required extended time to break-in. Today's capacitors etc are not as finicky etc and an acclimation period is more often missing from conversations somehow but not necessarily any less required. 2. a psychological perceptual set theory e.g. after using curry in every main dish one is desensitized thereby requiring more of the stimulus curry in order to achieve past equivalent sensation. Also other taste sensations change or are altered in relation to the original taste of curry and with every iteration of change.
I feel the curry analogy is a fair representation of how with equipment changes, sound changes for reasons described above but only briefly.
After some break-in time and after adjusting each sound system to achieve its best sound repro are the differences still apparent?
I love that this question rises to the surface from time to time. thanks
 

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The theater surround amps, 4 B&K, 2 Emotiva, all sound very neutral. B&K has a reputation for being "tube-like", but I do not think so. They are neutral, putting out whatever is delivered to them, in a manner that does not "color" the sound.

Same for my Emotiva's. Neutral. Period.

The RF-7's have about 50 hours break in time now. Just went to the theater, and did another direct A-B sound check.

Let me qualify this by saying I'm middle aged, with a long career of flying jet aircraft (noisy cockpit!), so my hearing is not what it was years ago (dang it!).

The difference between the two systems is very hard to notice. The volume levels are matched pretty close. Switching back and forth, between the tube system, and the Yamaha/B&K system, there might (might) have been a very small difference. But then it may have also been what they call "expectation bias".

To know for sure, it would have to be performed as a double-blind listening test.
 

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Expectations, they become obvious without warning and what then is the answer? How do we quantify what is mostly subjective to begin with..., the struggle is a strong inclination to believe everything we tell ourselves?

However objectively, are you loving, enjoying what you hear? If so isn't this the hope? I am approaching 70 and i still love a loud, clear and detailed soundstage. The sizzle of Zildjian cymbals...

You've got great pieces of kit. Sounds like the tubes in your Dynaco are adequate e.g. the warm and liquid descriptors are almost an expectation, these details are repeated so often. Your Yamaha on the other hand i would expect is lacking weight or body, though the sound is detailed and involving.

However i believe most modern AVR's, pre/pro's and amp's can be improved, tweaked to fulfil hopes and expectations.
I wonder does the yamaha preamp have a "Direct" setting? You see where i am going with this. Whether listening to digital or analog programming, everything connected to or switched onto the signal path can effect sound repro etc etc.

Next, interconnects and cables. Although, some here will disagree, there are modestly priced speaker cables that WILL dramatically effect the quality of sound your Yamaha or any piece of HT kit will reproduce. Unfortunately as their popularity grows so to their price. I am using Kimber Kable 8TC - multiple wire sizes of oxygen free copper (99.99 pure OFC) individually teflon coated is recommended for longer runs and/or dynamic and difficult speaker loads or any speaker. A neutral speaker cable able to deliver accurate dynamics and a large soundstage. Features sixteen individually insulated strands of OFC copper wire that have been Teflon coated and braided into one monolithic cable and reasonably priced. They make better cables and others that did NOT work for me. The Kimber 8VS reinforced bass and mids but lacked a full spectrum sound.
Also, Audioquest is pricey but an excellent cable manufacturer as is Furutech, Cardas,

Enough, i'm preaching to the choir. Just sayin' i like that this topic is resurrected
 

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I'm not surprised either that tube amps sound different than SS amps. The question should be do all solid state amps sound the same?
 

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I'm not surprised either that tube amps sound different than SS amps. The question should be do all solid state amps sound the same?
Amplification is not supposed to have any "sound". If done correctly, the job is to make audible what the recording engineers dictated for the final audio mix.

Good quality amps and preamps should not affect what we hear as listeners.
 

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Amplification is not supposed to have any "sound". If done correctly, the job is to make audible what the recording engineers dictated for the final audio mix.

Good quality amps and preamps should not affect what we hear as listeners.
Agreed but tube amps run with a lot of harmonic distortion which "warms" up the sound. I'm not saying its wrong or right..just different for tubes.
 
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