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Thread: Class A vs Class AB amplifiers

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Yes, absolutely.

    I encourage you to listen to a good Class A amp, a Krell or a Luxman or an Accuphase.
    Shall I give you my address so you can send me one.

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    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    If we are talking about a pre-amp that simply drives a high impedance input stage I can't imagine an amp with perfect specs that sounds "grey."
    I'm really interested in finding an example of this. If it isn't measurable, then it must be something other than frequency, amplitude, distortion and phase. I would love to find out what that is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    I'm really interested in finding an example of this. If it isn't measurable, then it must be something other than frequency, amplitude, distortion and phase. I would love to find out what that is.
    "Sounding grey" is hard to quantify. It was meant as a bad thing, but you could say grey is good, uncolored.

    I could imagine an amp that had problems with slewing, impulse response, that passed tests on various sine waves. But square wave tests are common and would pick up such limitations.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    To sound ‘grey’ is generally thought of as sounding uninspiring or lackluster overall. Lifeless. It is not a complement. The amp is supposed to help bring something to life, and some of them can check out with low distortion, have transparency of sound — the end-all and be-all for the chronic dependent spec readers — but still sound sterile, clinical, and uninspiring. It’s why some people dislike solid-state, though there are always exceptions to the rule and some can sound fine. But beware the spec readers who can no longer tell the difference between amps on the basis of its quality and warmth of sound. Sometimes you have to live with a piece of equipment to know its true worth and that’s sometimes not encouraged around here by those who should really know better. They think if any amp has transparency and low distortion and you don’t happen to like it, it’s you that’s the problem when it may still be a barren, clinical and unsatisfying grey piece of equipment. They think others are fools and under the power of suggestion to take what their ears tell them into account, so they try to entirely objectify the experience through blind tests and reading specs, nor are they truly up on what’s happening in the marketplace as far as what choices are available in quality and satisfying amps other than what’s offered in the crass commercial marketplace. There’s no substitute for direct experience.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jun-22-2019 at 01:53.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    To sound grey is generally thought of as sounding uninspiring or lackluster overall.
    I've heard music that is uninspiring and lackluster, but amps generally have a high degree of fidelity to the original signal or they don't. An amp doesn't inspire me. Musical creativity does. I haven't run across an amp that wasn't audibly transparent in 30 years. Transparent is as good as it gets, because that means that what goes in is identical to what comes out... a wire with gain.

    The problem with audiophile terms is that they tend to describe how the person feels about sound, not the sound itself. Imagine if you had appendicitis and you went to the doctor and said, "I can't accomplish my normal tasks because I am unhappy and unsatisfied." It wouldn't tell the doctor anything to let him know what the problem was. It's the same thing when you describe the sound of an amp in poetic terms.

    I think if you are serious enough about a hobby to plunk down hundreds of dollars on it, you would spend a little time researching how the basic physics of sound and the digital reproduction of sound works. Then you could say, "The high end sounds like there is a roll off." or "There seems to be distortion in the upper mids." When you say things like that, I know EXACTLY what you mean and can come up with suggestions on how to correct it. When you say, "The sound is opaque." or "This amp sounds uninspiring." all I can do is look at you with a blank expression because your description is so solipsist, only you know what you are referring to.

    Of course high end audio salesmen encourage this kind of thing, because focusing on how you feel about sound invites expectation bias to make you think you hear things you don't. It really isn't hard to figure out the basics of describing sound in specific and accurate ways. I'm happy to offer suggestions on how to do that if anyone is interested.

    But it's been my experience that people who are deep into audiophoolery refuse to listen seriously to anything but information that validates their pre-existing misconceptions. That is a common trait among a lot of people on the internet lately, not just in home audio.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-22-2019 at 01:12.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    I think you may have a point if you are discussing power amps with loudspeakers. I could imagine an amp that has perfect specs in a bench test driving an 8 ohm resistor, but manifests pathological behavior driving a badly behaved reactive load of a loudspeaker. I had a set of speakers I drove with two different amps and I could convince myself there was a subtle difference in bass (one more punch, the other a bit more transparent). Maybe the responded differently to the impedance characteristics of the speakers. But it was at the "barely perceptible" level and I can easily believe it was my imagination. But interaction with the speaker load should manifest itself in tests driving the actual load. If we are talking about a pre-amp that simply drives a high impedance input stage I can't imagine an amp with perfect specs that sounds "grey."

    No I’m talking about power amps with good specs which sound rubbish with all speakers




    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    Can you please list a few examples of makes and models of amps that fit this description? I'd like to look into it.
    Most everything I’ve ever heard by Linn. I’ve got here a Quad 405 Mk 1 which isn’t much better - if anyone wants to buy it PM me. And I think the Meridian 105.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-22-2019 at 06:42.

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    Which model of the Linn do you have and what kind of speakers? I'm looking for the most extreme examples.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-22-2019 at 08:18.
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  9. #23
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    Had not have. LK280 I think, I’m not totally sure now. I think I tried them with some Rogers studio monitors. This is years ago!
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-22-2019 at 10:05.

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    A few questions... Was this thirty years ago? Were you listening to LP records when you had this amp? What kind of cartridge were you using? Did you find that the "gray" sound was a bigger problem in louder parts?

    I had a lousy amp in around 1980, before home audio became so developed, but I haven't run across a non-transparent one since. I don't think bad amps exist any more. If one does exist, I'd sure like to find it.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-22-2019 at 18:05.
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    Any LPs through a Linn Sondek with SME arm, I can’t recall the cartridges - various ortofon and Decca. The CDs were pretty poor at the start mostly but they got better quite quickly - I had a quite good Marantz player I think, with a good Deltec external DAC, which I still have and use.

    The other amp would have been a little Sugden, some variety of A21. And then a Quad 303. There were odd things floating around - a little Ferrograph amp I loved, a friend’s Radford valve amp.

    At the time I shared a flat with someone in Hampstead. There was a bloke selling hi fi in Brick Lane market at dawn, we used to go clubbing on Saturday night, and at 3.am we’s go to Brick Lane for a bagel breakfast and I’d pick up some nice new bit of hi fi on the way home. In retrospect it was probably knock off.

    There you go, now you get a portrait of London life in the 1980s.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-22-2019 at 18:20. Reason: E

  12. #26
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    What preamp were you using with that Linn? The matching Linn preamp?
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-22-2019 at 19:43.
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  13. #27
    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    "Sounding grey" is hard to quantify.
    I find that words like this are used because what reviewers and the like speak to cannot be qualified and quantified.

    Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

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    I think in this case there actually is a reason behind it. He used this amp for mostly playing LPs. The amplifier circuitry does measure very well. There's no reason why it should sound bad. However, I found a review that tested the phono preamp on the matching Linn preamp and found it to be way out of spec. Not enough to clip, but close. I had an Orotofon cartridge myself back in the day, and I tried to use it with the built in moving coil phono input in my amp, and it barely made a sound. I had to buy an Ortofon phono pre amp and run it through the moving magnet input. But it was louder than my other stuff coming in through the other inputs.

    I bet he had the same Ortofon phono pre amp and combined with the out of spec inputs on the Linn, it clipped slightly on loud parts. The amp itself wasn't the problem. It was a badly designed phono pre. It was probably deliberately designed to be too hot. "A little louder" sounds better to human ears in non-level matched comparisons. They were probably pushing to the edge of acceptable level to get an edge on the competition. Combine two preamps using the same trick and you end up with clipping.

    I agree though that most anecdotal reports are just sloppy comparisons, but I always do a little research to see if I can find a real reason to explain it. Sound is frequency, amplitude, distortion and time. All that can be measured better than we can hear. If there is a problem with an amp or player, it will show up in the specs.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jun-23-2019 at 19:05.
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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Advice found online to someone who'd just bought a new Denon AV receiver and it sounded 'empty' to him:

    "Don't worry- just it's placebo that you're hearing.
    In blind tests no one can hear the difference between amplifiers- trhat includes you. Your speakers and your room create more distortion than your amp ever could. An amp should sound "sterile". It should sound like it's not there. If your old amps didn't then there was something wrong with them. If you don't like your denon's invisibility then use the EQ
    In a few weeks you'll forget about the placebo and all will be better"

    Hard to image advice that could be more demeaning of someone's experience who liked the warmth of what he had before the Denon. Such condescending advice rings a bell.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jun-24-2019 at 06:12.
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  18. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Advice found online to someone who'd just bought a new Denon AV receiver and it sounded 'empty' to him:

    "Don't worry- just it's placebo that you're hearing.
    In blind tests no one can hear the difference between amplifiers- trhat includes you. Your speakers and your room create more distortion than your amp ever could. An amp should sound "sterile". It should sound like it's not there. If your old amps didn't then there was something wrong with them. If you don't like your denon's invisibility then use the EQ
    In a few weeks you'll forget about the placebo and all will be better"

    Hard to image advice that could be more demeaning of someone's experience who liked the warmth of what he had before the Denon. Such condescending advice rings a bell.

    I had to laugh at myself because until I read the last line, your comment, I thought it good sound advise. I guess it could have been stated with more compassion, I agree.
    Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age

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