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Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

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lindsayt's picture
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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

I've found the sonic differences between power amps on highly efficient and easy to drive speakers to be relatively small. Smaller than the differences between vinyl sources. Smaller than the differences between speakers.

 

So that a £40 new T-amp with good, highly efficient, easy to drive speakers will sound more enjoyable than £30,000+ new amplification with mediocre speakers.

 

However, swap the T-amp for a good solid state amp or a good SET amp with the easy to drive speakers and you will hear an icing on the cake diffference between them.

 

Most hugely expensive amplifiers sound fine. There are plenty of highly affordable 2nd hand amps that sound fine too.

 

 

Phono amps can have significant sonic differences between them, to the extent that they can spoil an otherwise good system.

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

If you can hear a difference and have the money then it's simply a matter of whether the difference is worth the money.

Chris

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

MakkaPakka wrote:

What can you hear that can't be measured?

Cohesion, emotion, sterility, authenticity, believeability, musicality, insight, refinement, authority and communication.

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

CnoEvil wrote:

MakkaPakka wrote:

What can you hear that can't be measured?

Cohesion, emotion, sterility, authenticity, believeability, musicality, insight, refinement, authority and communication.

Tactile fluidity?  Laughing

Chris

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

Covenanter wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:

MakkaPakka wrote:

What can you hear that can't be measured?

Cohesion, emotion, sterility, authenticity, believeability, musicality, insight, refinement, authority and communication.

Tactile fluidity?  Laughing

Chris

I missed that one.  doh!

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

Mellifluousness. Don't forget the mellifluousness.

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

An emotional amplifier? 

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

John Duncan wrote:
Mellifluousness. Don't forget the mellifluousness.

....and euphoniousness, but certainly melliflousness.

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

audiokid wrote:

An emotional amplifier? 

It depends.........

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

CnoEvil wrote:

audiokid wrote:

An emotional amplifier? 

It depends.........

 

ha!

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

Interesting debate, all. 

There are definately at least two camps here. 

It's hard to demo all options, but would love to hear some extreme comparisons with Harbeth, such as a 'basic' Yamaha A-S500 or NAD 365 vs a 'luxurious' Luxman 505u or something like a Naim Supernait. All not a million miles away in terms power output.

Same source, same volume of course

 

 

 

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

Ahhh....... this old chestnut.

No one who has a clue about hi-fi will say that all amplifiers sound the same, they clearly do not, though the differences are often much smaller than people think.

The big differences that people so often remark on are, in the main, the way an amplifier interacts with the system and the way they are voiced. 

The first of these has been touched on in this thread, amplifiers being stable enough and powerful enough to drive the (difficult) speakers in the system being one obvious interaction, output impedence, phase response and simple frequency response being others

There are more complex ways that amplifiers interact with systems and I feel that these interactions are what causes many of the differences that people hear. 

Voicing is a different issue altogether, some products are deliberately designed to conform to a house sound, others to what the market wants at a particular moment in time and the real killers are the ones that, somehow, are voiced to sound more real than real.

This is a really good trick that some designers have, somehow they manage to add something to the amplifier that somehow manages to reveal more of the music, you know that anything added is, by definition, distortion yet the amplifier somehow sounds more transparent and more involving.

The amplifier that i have heard recently that does this the best is the D-Premier, which is easily the best amplifier I have heard in a long time, if I had the money I would audition the new cheaper models but I don't so I am staying well clear... talk to the hand

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

davedotco wrote:

This is a really good trick that some designers have, somehow they manage to add something to the amplifier that somehow manages to reveal more of the music, you know that anything added is, by definition, distortion yet the amplifier somehow sounds more transparent and more involving.

The amplifier that i have heard recently that does this the best is the D-Premier, which is easily the best amplifier I have heard in a long time, if I had the money I would audition the new cheaper models but I don't so I am staying well clear... talk to the hand

Dave, the Dev 170 is as good as the D-Premier. Your life would be enriched by hearing it, and in your heart of hearts you know that.   twisted

But I'm a bit surprised you think the Devs achieve transparency by means of distortion. Putting to one side the counterintuitive nature of the idea that distortion improves transparency, the Devs have vanishingly low levels of measured distortion.

Matt

EDIT: Damn! Just realized this is one of your jokes ...

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

Back to the original question.

Having spent a day and a bit with my old £300 Arcam, this is the main difference FWIW.

Initially I was pleasantly surprised. All sound rosey. However, after about 5 minutes of listening to a very familiar CD (compilation of 70s stuff) it demonstrated deficiences the longer I listened.

Surpringly the treble seems too prominent, almost to the point of being very harsh. Likewise the bass: It sounds "flumpy" and boxy. The overall sonic picture is practically one dimensional.

It's fine for a budget amp, but yes, theres a distinct difference between a good budget and a good midrange amp.

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RE: Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference?

David@FrankHarvey wrote:

Do more expensive amplifiers make a difference? 

Not necessarily. But better quality ones do Smile

 

This. The "all amplifiers sound the same" theory is always a qualified statement and it assumes level matching and that the amplifiers are working within certain limits, which I don't think necessarily applies to most real world applications.

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