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Thread: Amplifier upgrade

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muse Wanderer View Post
    There are no objective differences that can mirror the listening experience.

    Measurements can quantify certain parameters of audio equipment and are an important part of designing and comparing equipment. However they cannot replace the actual listening experience. Measurements cannot be surrogate outcome measures for the sense of hearing. It is way more complicated and still not fully understood.

    Just taking measurements is not a viable scientific method to completely rely on as unknown variables are not controlled.

    In order to control variables including unmeasured equipment variations and the actual hearing experience much bigger studies are needed with enough power to give us a statistical result that can be generalised to the whole population. At present there are no properly conducted studies and probably there will not be as the financial implications are huge.

    Blindly relying on measured criteria makes no sense as much as solely relying on biochemical processes or animal studies when a new medicine is put out.

    Pharmaceutical companies base their products on large well controlled studies were variables are carefully controlled. These companies spend billions on these studies, hardly the realm of audio companies!

    Telling me that there is no difference between amps or other audio equipment such as dacs (contrary to my experience), simply because measurements are in line with what is expected, does not make sense as much as telling me to invest loads of money on the latest cable made of unobtainium.
    Couldn't agree more.
    The ears are the best measuring tool around and the only one that matters.
    It isn't necessary to spend a fortune. It is amazing how many people will buy expensive gear only to trade them in within weeks to pick up the latest. Let them take the depreciation hit.

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    The nice thing about ears is that they are very forgiving. They'll fail to detect a lot of flaws that measurement tools pick up. Measurements are great at making mountains out of molehills.

    To ears, music is music. As long as you reach a certain threshold, everything sounds good.
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  5. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muse Wanderer View Post
    I have a new amp (Schiit Ragnarok) in the house with impressive measurements as my old one (Musical Fidelity M6i). I am using Monitor Audio Gold speakers to compare them. Both amplifiers are manufactured by reputable companies but they could not sound any more different!

    The Schiit Ragnarok is smooth, highly resolving with impressive life like tonality. It also performs superbly with the Sennheiser HD800 headphones.

    The Musical Fidelity M6i is warm, laid back but still detailed and a pleasure to listen to.
    Thanks for your observations. I also have this amp and am looking into matching speakers. I remember being impressed by the Gold range when I auditioned it many years ago.

    Right now, I'm wondering whether the Ragnarok would also drive the floor standers of the range well. They have higher sensitivity but also higher min. power requirements per the manufacturer. In fact 100W for the GS200, which is above the Ragnarok's output assuming the requirements are specced for the speaker impedance @ 8 Ohm.

    Do you have sufficient headroom left driving the Gold 100s?

    Note that the Ragnarok's volume dial has a different taper compared to other amps in that it has 40dB attenuation between 12 and 5 o'clock, and is linear with 1.2dB per click.

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    I think that the "all amps sound the same" sentiment is egalitarianism masquerading as objectivity.

    They don't all measure the same, so they don't sound the same. Here is an interesting article: http://www.audioholics.com/audio-amp...f-an-amplifier

    I have been both cursed and blessed with some bad amps to know that amps can sound very different. My first amp was a Christmas gift from my parents. It was a JVC stereo receiver, and if you pushed the volume knob past 10 o'clock it started distorting badly. In grad school I ran through some dyi headphone amps back before it became a major industry. These were the days in which people that built a small number of them would post on head-fi, maybe have a website. These amps had really obvious coloration. My first AVR was an Onkyo, and it's headphone out was just a stepped down signal from the speakers. There was an audible noise floor and sounded terrible. After that I had a Denon with a headphone out with no noise floor. But it had incredibly poor bass management with my speakers.

    Anyway I now use a Marantz integrated amp, and I'm pretty happy. My speakers sound great through them, and it's so simple to use.

    I'm not a fan of equalizing flat, I want to hear the sound signature of the speakers that I bought. And I don't want to treat my room. The coloration that a room gives the sound is part of the experience, with both recordings and live music. I don't need my living room to be an anechoic chamber. Some of these ocd tendencies just go too far. And please no more shouting "double blind test!" Words have meaning. It is literally impossible for a single individual to double blind test their own equipment.

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  8. #65
    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by haydnfan View Post
    They don't all measure the same, so they don't sound the same.
    You need to understand how specs relate to the established thresholds of human hearing. If THD measures .01% in one amp, and .0001% in another, there is obviously a measurable difference. But it isn't audible, because even the poorer rating is a full order of magnitude below the threshold of human perception.

    Audiophiles spend all their time researching abstract numbers on a sheet of paper, and don't spend any time researching what those numbers mean to their own all-too-human ears. You need to compare the spec sheet of your amp to the spec sheet of your ears to give context to the numbers.

    When it comes to modern amps and receivers, just about all of them exceed the thresholds of human hearing by a wide margin. However power ratings vary, and an underpowered amp can result in the "distortion at 10 o'clock" clipping you cite. Impedance mismatches can result in poor bass. Impedance and power are generally much more important than published specs. Especially with multichannel speaker systems where the power is divided up between 5 or 7 speakers. The problem is employing the right tool for the job, not the quality of the tool itself.
    Last edited by bigshot; Aug-06-2015 at 19:12.
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  9. #66
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    I would recommend anyone fond of the expression "if it can be measured it can be heard" to study a bit of sensorial physiology. The term "threshold" is important. As an example, you can weight 1 mg using a good instrument. Can you feel 1 mg in your hand?.

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    What you will find is that, amps do sound different.
    The reason is that different manufacturers add their own "colouration" to the sound
    It's a question of finding the one "YOU" like
    Good luck
    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

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  12. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwarchc View Post
    What you will find is that, amps do sound different. The reason is that different manufacturers add their own "colouration" to the sound
    That is true of certain high end "audiophile" brands who jury rig things just to sound different for the sake of sounding different. But I have yet to find a current midrange solid state amp or receiver that doesn't have a perfectly natural balance and no audible distortion. If you get a Yamaha, Onkyo, Dennon, Sony, etc. receiver, they will all be perfectly clean and flat. The main consideration with these is the impedance/power needs of your speakers and of course the features.
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  13. #69
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    Generally speaking, differences between what goes in and what comes out of an amp are accounted distortion. It's hard to understand how a maker can "add coloration" without driving measured distortion up. Bigshot can check me on that, thanks.


  14. #70
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    Marketing. Sellers of hi-fi equipment say their amps sound better. Some people believe it and buy them. Look around and watch the adds on tv. All try to catch the emotionality of the buyer. And most buyers are very ignorant of the whole thing. They dont know what they purchase, and they agree to be cheated. The marketing-publicity bussiness.

  15. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by BDMFi View Post
    Thanks for your observations. I also have this amp and am looking into matching speakers. I remember being impressed by the Gold range when I auditioned it many years ago.

    Right now, I'm wondering whether the Ragnarok would also drive the floor standers of the range well. They have higher sensitivity but also higher min. power requirements per the manufacturer. In fact 100W for the GS200, which is above the Ragnarok's output assuming the requirements are specced for the speaker impedance @ 8 Ohm.

    Do you have sufficient headroom left driving the Gold 100s?

    Note that the Ragnarok's volume dial has a different taper compared to other amps in that it has 40dB attenuation between 12 and 5 o'clock, and is linear with 1.2dB per click.
    The Ragnarok is crystal clear, neutral and very smooth with my Gold GX100. They are 88db/W sensitive and have 8 Ohm impedance. The ribbon tweeters really shine and the resolution outclasses my old amp in every way. The soundstage is wide and you feel like being in the front row of a symphony hall.

    The headroom is good as it can get really loud if the amp is maxed out. I had to get used to the different topology of the volume knob, since it is a relay-switched stepped attenuator. My usual setting is at 3 o'clock with plenty of headroom. Compare that to 10 o'clock on my old 200WPC amp!

    Monitor audio have a new range of Gold speakers this year, so you could always trial them in store if possible. Their sound signature is fairly neutral. I don't think the Gold floorstanders are a good match with the Ragnarok as the power requirements are prohibitive. Besides this, a subwoofer would probably be more beneficial to the bookshelf setup. That is probably my next step after acquiring the Ragnarok and Yggdrasil.

  16. #72
    Senior Member Muse Wanderer's Avatar
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    Blind faith in measurements as being the ultimate truth baffles me.

    I already made my point that there are no studies published in the literature that show true internal, let alone external validity.

    Measurements are very useful as long as their validity is kept in mind.

    Validity is the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure.

    How does someone know that he is measuring all that can be measured?

    Besides this, a test is good until it is superseded by another test.

    A measurement is what scientists call a surrogate endpoint.

    As an example blood pressure is a surrogate endpoint. If you give a medication to lower the blood pressure of a large group of persons with high blood pressure (with a placebo given to a matched group), lowering of the blood pressure to a degree is a surrogate endpoint.

    A true hard endpoint is the mortality rate or heart attack rate of the group given the blood pressure medication versus the placebo group. These hard endpoints are usually avoided in small studies as it would be too expensive to follow-up patients for a number of years.

    There is probably no audible difference between 0.01 and 0.001% THD.

    However is THD a true hard endpoint?

    The simple answer is no.

    The same can be said about frequency response, intermodulation distortion, signal to noise ratio, crosstalk, output impedance, etc.

    These are extremely useful especially for the engineers who design amps and when we consumers match amps with speakers.

    However in my opinion, the only rational answer is that these are not the one and only truth of the listening experience.

    A surrogate outcome can never replicate a true hard outcome, in our case the actual listening experience.

  17. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Generally speaking, differences between what goes in and what comes out of an amp are accounted distortion. It's hard to understand how a maker can "add coloration" without driving measured distortion up. Bigshot can check me on that, thanks.
    Well, with solid state amps distortion is almost always at an inaudible level. Tube amps are a different story. There are tube amps that sound as clean and balanced as most modern solid state amps, and there are tube amps that are all over the map. In solid state "audiophile" amps that have been jury rigged to sound different for the sake of differentness, it's usually the frequency response that is colored- usually with a high end roll off designed to be described as "analogue warmth".

    It's much easier to get a balanced, clean solid state midrange amp and be done with it. For me, it's doubly important because my system has a calibrated equalization curve designed to correct for my speakers and room acoustics. If I get a new amp and it is "colored differently" (read: performing out of spec) then I have to start from scratch and recalibrate my EQ all over again. It was a lot of work getting my system balanced properly. I don't want to have to do that every time I buy a new component. Easier to correct once and then just buy equipment that isn't colored.
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  18. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muse Wanderer View Post
    How does someone know that he is measuring all that can be measured?
    Perception and sound reproduction have been studied for over a century. Most of the principles of audio fidelity go back to Bell Labs in the 1920s. At this point, if you discover an aspect of sound reproduction that is audible, but not measurable, you should go straight to your local university's engineering and audiology departments and let them know you've discovered something completely new. If you're correct about it and they can verify what you have discovered, they'll be MUCH more interested in your findings than a high end audio salesman will be.

    As I said before, you need to compare the range of human perception to the range of measurability. There may be things far beyond the range of human perception that we can't measure accurately, but none of that is going to make a lick of difference to how your home stereo sounds to you. If an amp or player has specifications that exceed the human ability to hear, it is Audibly Transparent, and any audibly transparent component will sound identical, no matter how it measures beyond the ear's ability to hear.
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  19. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    Perception and sound reproduction have been studied for over a century. Most of the principles of audio fidelity go back to Bell Labs in the 1920s.
    It is a far fetched claim to say that all the facts to a scientific subject such as audio engineering and human hearing and physiology have been fully and factually determined. It would be the only exception I know of in the scientific community.

    The only logical answer to this is that measurements are a very useful tool that can always be improved upon.

    Measurements are only surrogate endpoints that cannot take the place of the perception of hearing.

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