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Seems there is a decent amount of evidence to support the theory that differences between amps can be heard. The evidence also suggests that there are select few who can detect the differences by ear, and under very specific conditions. Which means... the debate will continue!

Seriously though, many thanks to this crew for putting so much thought and effort into the process. It has been very entertaining and informative so far. I'm looking forward to seeing the detailed results.

Edit: I will add that I pretty much agree with Sonnie. Although I think I have been able to sense subtle differences between amps, I have no proof that I could do it consistently. Spend what you need to get enough power to avoid clipping and you should be good to go.
 

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A question for your consideration:

When you have a typical get-together of family &/or friends over and you sit down together to enjoy a movie or some music on your system, how many of them typically care about and can appreciate really good sound quality?
What can I add that hasn't already been said?
  • Family/visitors impressed with picture and/or sound... CHECK!
  • Family/visitors unwilling to invest in quality components... CHECK!
  • Family/visitors put off by system complexity and calibration... CHECK!
But how about:
  • Visitors/family who don't watch/listen as if in movie ther or music hall?
  • Visitors/family who like to watch movies in daylight or lights on?
In other words, some people don't treat the performance as a primary activity. They repeatedly get up and move around, make annoying noises, narrate, etc., etc, etc. I suppose that's okay with certain types of performances like sports, but it can drive you up the wall if you're the type that likes to suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in the presentation.

To relate this back to the amplifier comparison, the participants recognized the difference between background/distracted listening and focused evaluation. And oh, how those distractions satisfied! Yummy food, and pleasantly rewarding company! :TT
 

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Keep in mind that we really needed more time to repeat the testing and see that identifying an amp can be repeated consistently among the same two amps over and over. This is one testing method we did not have time for. Not trying to discredit the ears of Dennis, but there was a chance that any one of these guys could have gone 7 of 7... or 0 of 7. We were more or less just having fun with this round and learning more about ABX testing.

We could have had more expensive speakers... more expensive cables... and a power plant in the back yard to help improve in the possibility of hearing differences... but we didn't. We can speculate all day long, but we had what we had and we did what we did... and as Leonard noted, not to please anyone here, but to have fun. We are sharing our results because we can and because we know there are some interested in seeing the results, but we could really care less for those who want to poke holes in it for whatever reasons.

What I ultimately took away from this was that if I feel I need an amp to power my speakers outside of a receiver, which I do because I have clipped my AVR amp on my speakers, then I need to find the least expensive amp I can find with the minimum power I need... and call it a day. I personally see absolutely zero reason to spend a lot of money on an amp. That is no way implies the same will be true for you... I simply proved for myself what options are best for my ears. :T
Well one of the main reasons why I was curious of this testing was this very fact... While I am leaning more toward the fact that amps make little audible difference when properly levele matched I do feel after reading and NOW agree that the biggest differences in amps that are audible are when they are driven loud are are driving into distortion.

I've read that and based on the results of these tests and some other publications I really do feel like amps make a minimal amount of differences IF driven into non distorted levels. This is solid state vs. solid state of course.. I do think tube amps sound different.

One of the only reasons I have a separate is the fact I got it for a decent price and that was that. After checking the actual test data my Krell can drive all channels into 108 watts at 8 ohms at .1% distortion and 136w at 1%... this is the actual test data of driving ALL channels at the same time.

Even checking current AVRs it takes a 2,000+ dollar AVR (typically) to be able to produce the same specs. My X4000 driving 5-6 channels only produces some 68 watts at 1% which basically means I can play louder and cleaner. than my AVR alone. I spent 2450 total on my AVR and amp which yes that could of bought me a high end AVR....

only issue is a high end AVR would be 1/4 the price in three years where my Krell value will hold true since it's market keeps the pricing current.

Now... something like the Outlaw 5 channel amp would be on my radar to test.... considering it's rated 200w each channel at .1% which gives me some 90w more headroom. Would love to hear that when playing loud and seeing if there are any audible differences.
 

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Spend what you need to get enough power to avoid clipping and you should be good to go.
THIS!!!

I think this pretty much sums it up. Sonnie said himself he has clipped the amp. Me... I've ran these SVS ultras to 105db playing pink floyd with the X4000 in direct mode and the volume set to +8db and never heard of any strain at all.

Do I hear my room... ya it sounds like . But the speakers played loud and strong. Very happy.

Now... I will never play that loud again... the was LOUD wow. Toooooo loud. If I can play 90db with bass peaks around 98-100 then thats still plenty loud that I will ever need to go.

So for me, the price... me having seperates gives me plenty of headroom which should be everyones goal. More headroom = less distortion. and distortion is audible.
 

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Seems there is a decent amount of evidence to support the theory that differences between amps can be heard. The evidence also suggests that there are select few who can detect the differences by ear, and under very specific conditions.
LOL yup this debate will never die

I do think it does show though that the differences are subtle at best. In normal listening conditions it probably would be even less noticeable.

Thanks for taking the time to do this guys :T
 

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Not arguing that one or the views is absolute and carved in stone. But I thought the following quote from Lonnie Vaughn, Chief Technical Officer at EMOTIVA, offers a decidedly non snake-oil explanation for why amps sound different:

"Amplifiers do sound different for a number of reasons. Paul cites a good one, the square wave response. On a personal note, I believe the power supply plays a big part in the way an amp sounds. I get that the power supply accounts for the biggest part of an amplifiers cost. But so many companies take it down to the bare minimum required to meet the specs that there is no headroom in the system at all and the amp itself just sounds flat as a board. In these cases, all the designer had to do was put in a few dollars more in storage and it would have made it a completely different unit." (Taken from an article on this webpage)
 

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It's very interesting reading results/impressions of this testing and as others have said thanks for doing it. I've often wondered if adding a dedicated amp to my setup would provide any audible improvement. To be honest with my speakers I highly doubt it but with harder to drive speakers I think it would. If I were to add an amp it certainly wouldn't be a boutique name brand but something along the lines of Emotiva's price range. Oh those pretty blue lights are oh so tempting! :)
 

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Not arguing that one or the views is absolute and carved in stone. But I thought the following quote from Lonnie Vaughn, Chief Technical Officer at EMOTIVA, offers a decidedly non snake-oil explanation for why amps sound different:

"Amplifiers do sound different for a number of reasons. Paul cites a good one, the square wave response. On a personal note, I believe the power supply plays a big part in the way an amp sounds. I get that the power supply accounts for the biggest part of an amplifiers cost. But so many companies take it down to the bare minimum required to meet the specs that there is no headroom in the system at all and the amp itself just sounds flat as a board. In these cases, all the designer had to do was put in a few dollars more in storage and it would have made it a completely different unit." (Taken from an article on this webpage)

Which is why all the higher end amps that have higher end costs have the big toroidal style transformers. My krell has a 1600w toroidal supply. cheaper units use standard transformer winding types. Or at least it's one of the differences I notice. does that make an audible difference... well who knows. The Denon tested has a normal non toriodal type transformer and that ended up falling last by the posts that was made?.... is that still true?
 

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Which is why all the higher end amps that have higher end costs have the big toroidal style transformers. My krell has a 1600w toroidal supply. cheaper units use standard transformer winding types. Or at least it's one of the differences I notice. does that make an audible difference... well who knows. The Denon tested has a normal non toriodal type transformer and that ended up falling last by the posts that was made?.... is that still true?
And thats where your not necessarily right. I have two different Samson amps both have nice sized toroidal transformers in each and neither of them cost me more then $350 new.
Onkyo has also used toroidal transformers in there high end receivers as well for years.
 

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And thats where you are wrong. I have two different Samson amps both have nice sized toroidal transformers in each and neither of them cost me more then $350 new.
Onkyo has also used toroidal transformers in there high end receivers as well for years.
I'm not wrong.... I know that they are found in the lower equipment but what I was saying is they are always found in the higher end stuff and are used as advertisement purposes. I know it shouldn't be, you can get a 2000w piltron toridal supply for 300 bucks and thats usually in the 2,000-5,000+ dollar amps.

and yes you get into the 900 dollar + onkyos and they have em. my comment was cheaper unit = sub 900 bucks and lower they don't TYPICALLY have them. maybe some of the emotivas do and thats where they stand out as price/value.

the Denon X5200 does not have one.
 

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Hey guys, a few things I'd like to add.

1. Yes, my results could be chalked up to chance.
2. 5 out of 7 is statistically significant and should not be ignored.
3. I admitted to fatigue at toward the end if the testing.
4. I did not start to miss until the end of the testing. My last few pairing evaluations took considerably more time due to this fatigue.
5. There is only so much time in the day and the group dedicated DAYS to this test, so we did the best we could with the time we had.
6. I feel that I could repeat this test and expect a similar outcome.
7. Each person used different, non standard methods to evaluate the pairings. This was probably the biggest deviation from control in the entire evaluation effort. I am not certain that a standardized method would be useful as we all hear differently and like different music.
8. Our sighted evaluations had better soundstage and imaging properties than the blinded, due to the bulky (but necessary) shrouding used to hide the amplifiers from view.
9. Audible differences in amplifiers are generally very small.
10. I have a favorite amplifier and will reveal that favorite after Leonard has crunched the numbers and posted the results. ;)
 

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I'm not wrong.... I know that they are found in the lower equipment but what I was saying is they are always found in the higher end stuff and are used as advertisement purposes. I know it shouldn't be, you can get a 2000w piltron toridal supply for 300 bucks and thats usually in the 2,000-5,000+ dollar amps.

and yes you get into the 900 dollar + onkyos and they have em. my comment was cheaper unit = sub 900 bucks and lower they don't TYPICALLY have them. maybe some of the emotivas do and thats where they stand out as price/value.

the Denon X5200 does not have one.
Lets take this discussion to a new posts so we dont derail this one. I have started one in the amplifier section
 

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Which is why all the higher end amps that have higher end costs have the big toroidal style transformers. My krell has a 1600w toroidal supply. cheaper units use standard transformer winding types. Or at least it's one of the differences I notice. does that make an audible difference... well who knows. The Denon tested has a normal non toriodal type transformer and that ended up falling last by the posts that was made?.... is that still true?
This is the reason I'm not upgrading my AVR as it has a toroidal transformer (Marantz SR8500).
I noticed that toroidal transformers are being used less and less. Technology keeps changing and the $ is the driving force. People are not being fooled into buying high priced equipment any more so cheap tech is being updated like crazy. I'm sure Marantz's top regular transformer can outperform my receive now but my brain will not let me change as I'm still brainwashed in the old school way. :sad:
 

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Which is why all the higher end amps that have higher end costs have the big toroidal style transformers. My krell has a 1600w toroidal supply. cheaper units use standard transformer winding types. Or at least it's one of the differences I notice. does that make an audible difference... well who knows. The Denon tested has a normal non toriodal type transformer and that ended up falling last by the posts that was made?.... is that still true?
I doubt that, BY ITSELF, dropping in a toroidal transformer will transport any amp into "higher-end" territory. Aside from trendy parts replacement such as toroids or fast recovery diodes, it's a particular power supply's DESIGN that helps account for any possible audible differences. For example, a fancy transformer won't make up for poor ground return paths in the signal chain.

How concerned is our review panel with, say, circuit topology, premium parts, and signal transfer of WBT vs Cardas vs plastic binding posts? Perhaps they'll become curious as they endeavour to explain slight differences. But I doubt they'll delve into a full blown, deep-dive exploration.

My point is that an amp with or without a toroidal transformer is only as good as the rest of its design. And even as you said, there are bang-for-the-buck amps out there that give the "big boys" a hefty run for the money.
 

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A question for your consideration:

When you have a typical get-together of family &/or friends over and you sit down together to enjoy a movie or some music on your system, how many of them typically care about and can appreciate really good sound quality?
Only One, and that is kind of sad really.
 

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Having been through this a time or a hundred, I am so glad you gents are doing this. I had a listening session this weekend and it was fun.
These types of get together s are never easy and will take repeated attempts but are always fun and educational. I look forward to your findings, whether they agree with mine or not.

Thank Y'all
 

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LOL yup this debate will never die

I do think it does show though that the differences are subtle at best. In normal listening conditions it probably would be even less noticeable.

Thanks for taking the time to do this guys :T
Phrases like "normal listening conditions" are filled with assumptions. Normal listening conditions for someone who cares are very different than your average consumer. This is what Wayne was getting at.
 

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I think the point Tony is making is that not all expensive amps have torroidal transformers. They offer some advantages in terms of hum and magnetic fields, but for the same price (and probably less space) you can get more power from a traditional transformer.

Neither necessarily has much to do with the sound of an amp, other than perhaps not having enough power available, perhaps.
 

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I think the point Tony is making is that not all expensive amps have torroidal transformers. They offer some advantages in terms of hum and magnetic fields, but for the same price (and probably less space) you can get more power from a traditional transformer.

Neither necessarily has much to do with the sound of an amp, other than perhaps not having enough power available, perhaps.
I'm steadily growing on this bolded part. Power power power... more power... cleaner output. I'm beginning to wonder if 125w all channels driven if that really should be like 400w each channel that the Emotiva XPR-5 can deliver.

I can literally sell my Krell and buy a new Emotiva XPR-5 for the same price. Hmm....
 
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