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a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

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  • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

    waynew, since you helped voice'em, whats your take on the stentorians?

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    • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

      They would make a dandy PA speaker. They would also be a good party speaker. Our opinions are on Curt's webpage. Speakerdesignworks dot com.



      Regards,

      WayneW

      Comment


      • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

        Agreed. Very good advice. Great post.

        This thread was just trolling for trouble from the start.

        Bill

        Originally posted by waynew View Post
        This is an interesting thread, flaming aside. I would like to offer up a few opinions and maybe a few facts.

        1. I have been involved in the voicing of several speakers; The JCW's (the W is for my last name), the Statements, The Tritrix, The Mavericks, The Exclamations, The AviaTrix, The Cinderellas, The Scrappy's, The Singularities and the Stentorians. I enjoyed all of them.

        2. My reference speakers have Accuton and Hiquphon drivers and boutique caps. They cost a lot. They sound very good and I enjoy them greatly.

        3. I have a Tube amp, and several SS amps of varying "audiophileness". I like to play with the cheap ones, and the expensive ones. I really enjoy them.

        4. I like to expirement and see if I can truly "hear" differences. I enjoy this.

        5. Upon comparing a Musical Fidelity to an Arcam, I believe that I heard a significant difference, and upon trading opinions with Curt, we both had the same opinions as to what we heard (no leading, no guiding). It was an enjoyable experience.

        6. Building new and different small 2-ways is, for me, an enjoyable experience (strangly enough, none of them has ever sounded better than my reference system, but I still enjoy them).

        Here's the deal boys, it's a frickin hobby, okay! ENJOY IT. If you are looking for amplifier nirvana, I wish you an enjoyable search. If you like to build 2 way speakers, enjoy yourself. It's all about enjoyment, and at the end of the day, if you think you can hear a difference in an amp, then good for you. If you like swapping out cables...good for you. If you are all about squeezing that last penny's worth of value out of a super budget design...awesome! Take people's opinions and statements and let them bounce around in your mind prior to discounting them out of hand. It's the internet, and crazy things get posted, but no one requires that you believe or dis-believe.

        Soap box rant completed.

        WayneW......over and out.
        The first one through the wall always gets the bloodiest...

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        • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

          Originally posted by waynew View Post
          5. Upon comparing a Musical Fidelity to an Arcam, I believe that I heard a significant difference, and upon trading opinions with Curt, we both had the same opinions as to what we heard (no leading, no guiding). It was an enjoyable experience.
          Was it just that the difference was in and of its' self significant. Was it a series of trade offs? Did you have a preference? And finally did it take you 6 months?

          They are both respected products. I think you would also agree the SQ is 99% in the speaker. I built my Statements for ~$1100, another $600 on my computer and $200 on amplification (have to love outgoing product line discounts). If you don't have a budget then get what ever amp you want. For the rest of us you can get something that will have fidelity, drive a wide range of speakers, and not break the bank.

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          • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

            Originally posted by lunchmoney View Post
            Emotiva is a popular brand amongst budget audiophiles that (supposedly) steps up a bit without being way expensive.
            The Emotiva USP-1 stereo preamp was a noticeable step up from a integrated Yammy AVR.

            Overall, it did seem to sound a little cleaner, but that one might be a little hard to prove. What it did do much much better was the phono input. The yammy had lots of background noise, couldn't be turned up very loud. The Emotiva can be jammed without hearing hiss or a hum. The adjustable 2.1 is just the cherry on top.

            The only thing it is missing in a XLR stereo output. Not sure why they left that out. The unit has a XLR sub out...

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            • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

              Originally posted by Pallas View Post
              Thinking the "sound" of amps is simply a waste of time. Pick one you like for whatever arbitrary reason suits your fancy. And then spend the actual effort on things that actually matter.

              Kvetching about the amp is like a football team trying to fix the problems caused by an immobile and inaccurate quarterback who's prone to fumbling by...planning to sign Albert Haynesworth.
              But yet many here seem to disagree. I think that there is some validity to their arguments. But I also agree that some of these claimed differences are more psychological than real. If you dumped a lot of money on a "audiophile" amp, of course it's going to sound good. Even better if that purchase put a heavy strain on your budget. We can see this with other component types, especially speakers.

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              • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                Originally posted by jinjuku View Post
                Was it just that the difference was in and of its' self significant. Was it a series of trade offs? Did you have a preference? And finally did it take you 6 months?

                They are both respected products. I think you would also agree the SQ is 99% in the speaker. I built my Statements for ~$1100, another $600 on my computer and $200 on amplification (have to love outgoing product line discounts). If you don't have a budget then get what ever amp you want. For the rest of us you can get something that will have fidelity, drive a wide range of speakers, and not break the bank.
                Jin,

                The difference was immediately noticable, it took 30 seconds of listening to the amps using a switcher to discern it. Right off the bat, I will say that this is my opinion, and I don't have any measurements to back it up. Disclaimer finished - The Musical Fidelity had more bass impact and more sparkle in the highs. The Arcam had less bass impact, more relaxed highs but a wonderful, liquid midrange. The midrange just seemed to jump out with the Arcam. I really enjoyed it. Ideally, I could harness both the bass/treble of the MF and combine it with the midrange of the Arcam and I would be a happy guy. So it was a series of trade-offs. Currently, I am running Parasound Halo gear, and I like it alot. But I also like my Jolida 302A. I even like my Radio Shack Accurian amp that I modified. To my ears, there are differences between all of them. I don't know if they are psychosematic or not. But I sure think I heard a difference.

                Regards,

                WayneW

                Comment


                • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                  While I don't have any science to back it up, I do believe there can be audible differences between "crap" and "decent".

                  What I haven't been convinced of are the differences between "decent" and "expensive high end"... yes, I've heard fairly high end, and wasn't convinced.

                  A couple of recent experiences going from "crap" to "decent".

                  - Going from the "crap" stock head unit in my car to a "decent" $180 head unit. Very noticeably difference in sound quality.

                  - Going from the "crap" bottom of the bucket Yamaha HT receiver to a "decent" $1400 higher end Yamaha (got on sale for much less than that, but whatever). Again, very noticeable improvement.

                  No I don't have any science to back this up. But the "crap" in these scenarios are components I spent ENDLESS hours listening to.

                  The dollar amounts here are just for a bit of reference, I don't think they necessarily correlate to sound quality... but they do, however, represent how I was able to achieve significant improvement without spending a fortune... but only because I began with "crap".

                  Comment


                  • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                    Originally posted by waynew View Post
                    Jin,

                    The difference was immediately noticable, it took 30 secondsi of listening to the amps using a switcher to discern it. Right off the bat, I will say that this is my opinion, and I don't have any measurements to back it up. Disclaimer finished - The Musical Fidelity had more bass impact and more sparkle in the highs. The Arcam had less bass impact, more relaxed highs but a wonderful, liquid midrange. The midrange just seemed to jump out with the Arcam. I really enjoyed it. Ideally, I could harness both the bass/treble of the MF and combine it with the midrange of the Arcam and I would be a happy guy. So it was a series of trade-offs. Currently, I am running Parasound Halo gear, and I like it alot. But I also like my Jolida 302A. I even like my Radio Shack Accurian amp that I modified. To my ears, there are differences between all of them. I don't know if they are psychosematic or not. But I sure think I heard a difference.

                    Regards,

                    WayneW
                    Not doubting your experience but i would really like to see measurements as to 'why' the arcam had more liquid midrange. was the sparkle something the MF was adding or was it something the Arcam was subtracting?
                    :blues: Flat frequency response, a smooth sound power response free of resonance, careful driver-integration, and high dynamic range both upward and downward :blues:

                    Comment


                    • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                      Originally posted by lunchmoney View Post
                      While I don't have any science to back it up, I do believe there can be audible differences between "crap" and "decent".

                      What I haven't been convinced of are the differences between "decent" and "expensive high end"... yes, I've heard fairly high end, and wasn't convinced.

                      A couple of recent experiences going from "crap" to "decent".

                      - Going from the "crap" stock head unit in my car to a "decent" $180 head unit. Very noticeably difference in sound quality.

                      - Going from the "crap" bottom of the bucket Yamaha HT receiver to a "decent" $1400 higher end Yamaha (got on sale for much less than that, but whatever). Again, very noticeable improvement.

                      No I don't have any science to back this up. But the "crap" in these scenarios are components I spent ENDLESS hours listening to.

                      The dollar amounts here are just for a bit of reference, I don't think they necessarily correlate to sound quality... but they do, however, represent how I was able to achieve significant improvement without spending a fortune... but only because I began with "crap".
                      I'd agree to a point. I think modern day starter stuff is nicer then it was 10 years ago. I was rather surprised how nice a refurbished Marantz NR1501 was when I installed for a family member. It was a noticeable upgrade from a starter Onkyo. In all fairness, it could have been the room EQ that made it all better, but for under $300, its a nice unit.

                      Once you have good, it is hard to get better, and by most people's value, not worth the upgrade. As already suggested, improvements can be made in so many other places that once you have a good sounding amp, it should be the last place you look for improvements. All this talk about improvements makes me want to mod my crown fans.

                      I probably don't have to tell you that 7 out of 5 people won't agree and 4 out of 3 people here are the only ones that even know what they are talking about. The rest of us are just blowing smoke out our arses.

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                      • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                        Originally posted by GranteedEV View Post
                        Not doubting your experience but i would really like to see measurements as to 'why' the arcam had more liquid midrange. was the sparkle something the MF was adding or was it something the Arcam was subtracting?
                        Read the disclaimer Wayne posted. It's his opinion. If others want to respect his opinion on the audible differences as a long standing member of the speaker building community with multiple successful designs under his belt, best to leave this alone.;) There are quite a few Statement owners who trust Wayne's ears. All the measurments in the world couldn't prove that they don't sound great. n'ough said.

                        Comment


                        • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                          Originally posted by GranteedEV View Post
                          Not doubting your experience but i would really like to see measurements as to 'why' the arcam had more liquid midrange. was the sparkle something the MF was adding or was it something the Arcam was subtracting?
                          I would like to see those measurements as well. Personal experience tells me that measurements are usefull, but not the end all be all. I have seen many drivers that measured great, but didn't sound so good. I don't know if this crosses over to the amplifier world, but based off personal experience I suspect that there is at least a small comparison that can be made.

                          In my opinion, it is very difficult to hear a difference in an amplifier unless you have very, very accurate speakers. The words analytical and revealing come to mind. Unless you have this, I think that it is much more difficult to hear the subtle differences in amplifiers.

                          Comment


                          • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                            Originally posted by Mayhem13 View Post
                            Read the disclaimer Wayne posted. It's his opinion. If others want to respect his opinion on the audible differences as a long standing member of the speaker building community with multiple successful designs under his belt, best to leave this alone.;) There are quite a few Statement owners who trust Wayne's ears. All the measurments in the world couldn't prove that they don't sound great. n'ough said.
                            Read the part "Not doubting your experience" :rolleyes:

                            I would like to see those measurements as well. Personal experience tells me that measurements are usefull, but not the end all be all. I have seen many drivers that measured great, but didn't sound so good. I don't know if this crosses over to the amplifier world, but based off personal experience I suspect that there is at least a small comparison that can be made.
                            I think it's a matter of how many measurements we look at! Sometimes we focus on one (IE Harmonic distortion in a driver) but miss out on something important (IE Le(x) and IMD and BL curve and off axis irregularities) In that respect, listening to as many drivers as possible TOTALLY makes sense because there's not just one factor at play! I think we can measure anything if we can hear it, but that doesn't mean I think everything we do measure is everything that we hear.

                            Likewise I think that applies to amps as well, but I'm kind of disinterested in the idea because it involves listening to amps ;) - I suppose I just prefer the amp that measures the best in as many aspects, many of which I probably don't even know exist!

                            In my opinion, it is very difficult to hear a difference in an amplifier unless you have very, very accurate speakers. The words analytical and revealing come to mind. Unless you have this, I think that it is much more difficult to hear the subtle differences in amplifiers.
                            Fair enough. I think jinjuku is kind of advocating the same thing, although he's agressive against the "amp crowd"; his experience is that many spend as much money as they do on amps, even if their speakers aren't on that "invincible" tier yet. I concur 100%. The speakers and the room are something like the first 95% towards audio nirvana, yet people treat amps as 50 to 60%. I think that's ridiculous.
                            :blues: Flat frequency response, a smooth sound power response free of resonance, careful driver-integration, and high dynamic range both upward and downward :blues:

                            Comment


                            • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                              Originally posted by GranteedEV View Post
                              Not doubting your experience but i would really like to see measurements as to 'why' the arcam had more liquid midrange. was the sparkle something the MF was adding or was it something the Arcam was subtracting?
                              waynew has observed "impact", "liquidity", "sparkle" and "relaxation" in a sighted test. How would you go about measuring such things?

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                              • Re: a bit OT. Is an 'audiophile' amp a waste of money?

                                Originally posted by andy19191 View Post
                                waynew has observed "impact", "liquidity", "sparkle" and "relaxation" in a sighted test. How would you go about measuring such things?
                                Among other things, crossover distortion, IMD, phase, electrical interaction with speaker reactance, input impedance, top octave frequency response (even 0.3db loss at 15khz could be audible for all I know), even classic things like clipping, and damping for all I pesonally know of these particular amps. even though i'll tell you I can't hear negative feedback, it's still a fact that some amps have upwards of 50db of feedback correction while more linear amps can have only around 20 to 30db of correction. I just don't know the audible consequence of this realistically.

                                The real question (IMO only) is simply "which amplifier does the least to the signal" rather than trying to find the amplifier that has the most pleasant coloration to counteract problems with your speakers, which I take issue to as I kind of feel it's a waste of time for most people.

                                The amps i'm looking at are the new NC1200 hypex amps. However I can full state that it seems like a moot goal until i find the perfect speakers. if I did it, it'd be for fun, not to "hopefully improve the sound of my system".
                                :blues: Flat frequency response, a smooth sound power response free of resonance, careful driver-integration, and high dynamic range both upward and downward :blues:

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