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"bright" and "warm" receivers


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40 replies to this topic

#1 of 41 Nathan Stohler

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Posted November 16 2004 - 12:58 AM

I've been having a "discussion" with a gentleman on another forum, and I was wondering if some of you experts can weigh in before I make more of an ass of myself.

Someone asked for suggestions for a receiver to go with his speakers. This other guy replied and said that one of the receivers was too "bright," and since he already had bright speakers, it would sound like "glass breaking".

This got me thinking. If a receiver was truly "bright", "warm", laid-back", etc., wouldn't this be reflected in the THD rating? In other words, if a receiver is "bright", doesn't that mean that the output differs from the original source, and hence it is distortion?

I've just gotten into the habit of ignoring peoples' opinions of bright/warm when it comes to receivers since it's so subjective and they're making that judgement using their own speakers and listening area.

Thanks.
--Nathan

#2 of 41 Brian L

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Posted November 16 2004 - 03:29 AM

I'm with you on this, Nathan.

If any device that passes a signal (with or without apmlifying it) had that sort of charateristic, I would consider it either broken or at the very least, an intentional tone control.

Take a look at this thread for a similar discussion on the term "musical".

http://www.hometheat....hreadid=216993

My personal opinion is that a recording can be bright, dark, warm, polite, brash, or any number of terms to describe its sound. Same applies to a loudspeaker. If anything between the recording and the loudspeaker has any of those charateristics, its either not working right or at the least has some flaws.

IMHO, YMMV, AFAIC.......

BGL

#3 of 41 Bob_M

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Posted November 16 2004 - 05:51 AM

I agree too. I don't think the design teams at Yamaha sit down and say, "Let's design a receiver that is bright". I am sure the main goal of every design team is to be as neutral as possible, but I could be wrong.

Bob

#4 of 41 John Garcia

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Posted November 16 2004 - 06:20 AM

Amps DEFINITELY have a sound to them, as do DACs and DSPs. A given combination of all of these will give a receiver a certain characteristic presentation. IMO the characteristics many apply to a given brand stems mostly from the DACs rather than the actual amps, but the amps are also a factor. I doubt if you asked Yamaha's engineers if they characterize their receivers as "bright" they would say "accurate, not bright". It is not the intention to create a bright receiver, but rather the particular sound it makes is a function and result of their design philosophy.

The combination of certain receivers with certain speakers CAN result in notceable variations in sound.
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
System Two: Marantz PM7200, Pioneer FS52s, Panasonic BD79
(stolen) : Marantz SR-8300, GR Research A/V-2s, Sony SCD-222ES SACD, Panasonic BD-65, PS3 60G (250G)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 


#5 of 41 Nathan Stohler

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Posted November 16 2004 - 06:49 AM

John,

For the sake of argument, I am suspending my beliefs and assuming for the moment that each amp does have its own unique sound. If an amp is considered to be bright, I'm wondering if that deviation from the source material is reflected in the distortion (THD) rating.

It seems to me that it should be since software determines THD and doesn't care whether the receiver is bright or laid-back; it only quantifies how different the output wave form is from the input signal.

I haven't been able to find enough information on how THD is computed, so I don't whether this is the case or not. It's possible that I have the wrong idea about what THD means.

Thanks again.
--Nathan

#6 of 41 Brian L

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Posted November 16 2004 - 06:52 AM

I guess I am OK with the notion that certain amps (or receivers) driving certain speakers may have a "sound", but I would attribute that to either a weird load characteristic of the loudspeaker, and/or the amps inability to cope with that load.

Both issue represent, to me a flaw in the design of one or the other.

And while I will probably regret bringing this up, when was the last time you read a published test result of any modern solid state amp that did NOT measure almost dead-nuts flat from 20 to 20K (usually a lot higher than that, actually).

Side note: John, cool link. I have been to a few indoor karting centers overseas (Brazil, Argentina, Australia, France) and those places are a blast. unfortunately, the South Americans are just born and bred to drive these things. The best I was ever able to muster was a second place!

BGL

#7 of 41 Nathan Stohler

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Posted November 16 2004 - 07:52 AM

Brian,

I was making things too difficult. I guess you don't need to make any deductions from the THD figure; you can just look at the frequency response (as you were mentioning). For instance, my Pioneer receiver is within 3 dB for 20 hZ - 100 kHz and my old Sony was within 2.5 dB for 10 hZ - 70 kHz.

--Nathan

#8 of 41 Bob_M

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Posted November 16 2004 - 07:59 AM

>test result of any modern solid state amp that did NOT measure almost dead-nuts flat from 20 to 20K (usually a lot higher than that, actually).<

All the lab results I have read from S&V are dead-nuts like you say on a sweep. At what power levels do they do that sweep? How can they be so perfect when noise levels are not? Does that mean they subtract out the excess noise when calculating the frequency response? As Nathan asked, how does THD come into play?

Bob

#9 of 41 John Garcia

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Posted November 16 2004 - 08:00 AM

LOL. When the pro races come to our area, they often drop in at Speedring, and it's like watching magic. It's hard to believe these are the same karts everyone else is driving Posted Image They modeled the place after a karting place in Belgium I believe, and brought the karts from overseas. My friends started the place, so I used to hang out there a lot (and worked as a kart mechanic part time to help out when they first started) Posted Image

I don't think the amp itself really imparts so much to the sound in terms of electronics, but rather how much current it is capable of and how it handles impedance changes will affect how it sounds with certain speakers, particularly if it is paired up with speakers that push the amp's limits.

To me the DACs impart much more of the characteristic sound for a brand than anything else. There is a noticable difference between my SACD player's DACs and my receiver's DACs.

Quote:
Both issue represent, to me a flaw in the design of one or the other.

Those flaws are inherent and it is those flaws that give character to each component. That character may or may not be desireable for each person.
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
System Two: Marantz PM7200, Pioneer FS52s, Panasonic BD79
(stolen) : Marantz SR-8300, GR Research A/V-2s, Sony SCD-222ES SACD, Panasonic BD-65, PS3 60G (250G)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 


#10 of 41 Chu Gai

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Posted November 16 2004 - 10:39 PM

My general advice for someone who bought speakers and finds them to be bright or uncomfortable to listen to would be to

1) See if the issue has to do with the room/speaker interactions by investigating first order reflections. Hard surfaces have a way of influencing the FR and not for the better.

2) See if it has to do with general speaker placement.

3) If the above don't seem to do the trick, then return them for a refund while you still can.

4) Oops! Can't return them for a refund? Sell them, take the loss, and next time don't wait so long.

Unless the receiver was so woefully inadequate to drive them, then betting that another receiver is going to do the trick is not one with favorable odds. Its like trying to fix the Leaning Tower of Pisa by tilting the ground.

#11 of 41 Tom_Mack

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Posted November 17 2004 - 01:52 AM

I have tried many different receivers with my same speakers (and the speakers in the same position) and the sound is quite different receiver to receiver.

I wouldn't go as far as to define one receiver as "bright" and another as "warm", but I could definately say that one receiver was "brighter" or "warmer/darker" than another.

I have Paradigm Monitor series speakers and by playing the same CD using the same CD player using the same cables and the speakers in the same positions using "direct/pure direct" mode, I had the following results:

Brighter receivers: Integra 7.1, Yamaha 2400, Yamaha 596
Neutral receivers: Denon 3805, Marantz 8200
Warmer receiver: H/K 525(?), Denon 3802

For my situation, the Integra 7.1 and Yamaha 2400 were extreamely fatiguing. I had headaches every day fro listening.

The H/K 525 and Denon 3802 sounded boring and dull to me when watching movies, but not bad for music.

The Marantz and Denon 3805 were the most neutral and pleasing to listen to in all situations. Just enough upper end without any harshness. No headaches.

I would be very surprised if you had played say an Interga/onkyo and an H/K using the same speakers and noticed no difference.

#12 of 41 Nathan Stohler

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Posted November 17 2004 - 03:54 AM

I think I've drawn my own conclusion on this. I won't dispute someone's ability to differentiate between two receivers, but that's just not enough to sway my decision on what receiver to buy.

To me, the variance in frequency response of your speakers will almost always make your receiver's FR look negligble.

In other words, if you care enough about your system's FR, you will have already EQ'ed your system, in which case your receiver's "brightness" or "warmth" has already been compensated for.

--Nathan

#13 of 41 Tim O...

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Posted November 22 2004 - 03:26 AM

Being lost in this discussion, I think, is something the full implications of which only recently dawned upon me. I've only got a budget system, but I did my homework and can now say I have a respectable home theatre. But like many I'm always lusting after that "perfect system," the one that takes your breath away, the one that makes you "feel like you're right there."

I recently realized there is no such thing as the perfect system, however. Every sound system is imperfect. It's all a reproduction, a facsimile, an imitation. If you get good components, match them up well, design your room the best you can, calibrate properly, then you can get *closer* to the *original* source material. But you'll *never* get right to it, so to speak. Because it's never going to be the actual strings of a cello, or the actual blast of a stick of dynamite, right in your living room. It's just a manipulated, filtered electrical signal vibrating a bunch of paper/plastic/aluminum cones inside wooden boxes. So there's a fundamental flaw inherent in every system, no matter what you do to it.

With that said, it doesn't surprise me one bit that not only do speakers have their own "sounds," but amplifiers, CD and DVD players, etc., do also. We're working with imperfect media here. And from personal experience, I went from an entry level Sony receiver to a HK 525 and there was indeed a noticeable difference in sound - warmer, fuller, clearer. Also, when played at similar volume levels - less distortion.

Which brings us to the THD question: I'm definitely not an expert in this, but to my knowledge THD simply measures how linear the FR is of a piece of gear. In other words, will the *volume* (measured as SPL) of source material be evenly reproduced across the entire frequency spectrum? Perhaps I'm mistaken but this is a matter distinct from the tonal quality of gear. It's generally agreed that speakers can have both different tonal qualities as well as different FR's. Why would it be shocking that other equipment involved in the (inherently imperfect) reproduction of sound will have its own tonal quality also? I also agree that while the DACs and DSPs are probably the major factors in an amplifier's tonal quality, it's probably more accurately the entire combination of components working together in the amplifier.

#14 of 41 skip marr

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Posted November 22 2004 - 03:42 AM

Tom_Mack,

I am not clear on your perception of the Denon. You state:

Brighter receivers: Integra 7.1, Yamaha 2400, Yamaha 596
Neutral receivers: Denon 3805, Marantz 8200
Warmer receiver: H/K 525(?), Denon 3802

How can 2 different Denon models sound completely seperate? Don't you think they would sound similar?

Also, is the 3805 all it is cracked up to be? A few years ago I A:B's a Denon and an HK - comparable power and specs - and the HK blew the Denon off the shelf. It had more of a Rotel / Adcom sound. Even when I A"B's with Rotel, it held it's own.

Do you think receivers change much over time regarding cound quality - so much that maybe Denon is now a lot better sounding than 3-4 years ago.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts or anyone elses. Thanks.

#15 of 41 Nathan Stohler

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Posted November 22 2004 - 04:31 AM

One of the reasons I brought up this topic was because of a review I saw on a Sony STR-DE845 in Home Theater Magazine, which stated:

Quote:
The analog frequency response [left channel, from CD input to speaker output] was +/-0.39 decibels from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz.


and...

Quote:
From the Dolby Digital input to the loudspeaker output, the left, center, and surround channels are all flat, +/-0.60 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.


So, what I don't understand, is how the receiver can have a flat FR like this, but then the reviewers say things like:

Quote:
Mike conceded that, despite an articulate and transparent midrange, the all-important boogie factor was not quite on a par with the Onkyo's. At times, the Sony was a touch bright and tizzy for his taste, but the bass was pleasingly deep and tight. The bass seemed heavy to me, at points fuzzy and often at the expense of the vocals and some instrumental detail.



I'm just having a hard time understanding what one could hear it terms of tone that isn't reflected in the frequency response. Is it possible that the reviewers are describing their test speakers rather than the receiver?

--Nathan

#16 of 41 Brian L

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Posted November 22 2004 - 05:19 AM

Quote:
I'm just having a hard time understanding what one could hear it terms of tone that isn't reflected in the frequency response. Is it possible that the reviewers are describing their test speakers rather than the receiver?


As I said at the beginning of the thread, I too find these sort of reviews puzzling in comparison to the measured performance, but what you are really getting to is the difference between subjective and objective reviews.

You might just as well try to comeup with a formula for world peace as get the two camps to agree!

BGL

#17 of 41 Tom_Mack

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Posted November 22 2004 - 06:18 AM

Quote:
How can 2 different Denon models sound completely seperate? Don't you think they would sound similar?


Many people have said that the 3805 has a different, more detailed sound than the 3802. The 3802 sounded boring for movies, in my opinion, where the 3805 has a more lifelike sound without being harsh.

#18 of 41 Paul S

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Posted November 22 2004 - 11:13 AM

For those of you who think amps/receivers have a different sound and that you can definitely tell the difference why don't you take the $10,000 challenge???? Go to WWW.audioholics.com and do a search for $10,000. There you will find mention of an offer of $10,000.00 for the man who can tell the difference between ANY two amps. So go take the test and compare a Lexicon to a lowly Panasonic or any other amps you care to compare. To the best of my knowledge, this is a legitimate offer and to date no one has claimed the money.

#19 of 41 Shiu

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Posted November 22 2004 - 02:27 PM

Tim, I believe THD means Total harmonic distortion. Harmonic distortion measures distortion from the pure sinuisoidal waveform. F.R. is just frequency response, that refers to the output level across a specified frquency range, e.g. 20 hz to 20,000 hz.

If there is no distortion at all, and everything else (e.g. power output)being equal, two amplifiers with the same frequency response should sound "almost" the same. In real applications, the speaker load is complex, and it varies with frequency. Some varies more, some varies less. Presumably 8 ohms (nominal only) speakers with flatter impedance values vs frequencies, are easier to drive. This could be part of the reasons why amplifiers sound different. I do think the difference are generally small, compare to the sound difference between different speakers.

Regarding the Denon AVR3805, I have yet to read a bad review on this unit. If you read the reviews by HTM and What Hi*fi (a U.K. magazine), you will think that the 3805 is almost unbeatable at its price point. They rated it higher than the HKAVR630 for sure. But, it is subjective..................right? Then, so is the claim that "the HK blew the Denon off the shelf".

#20 of 41 skip marr

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Posted November 22 2004 - 03:31 PM

So what about owners of the 3805 - any comments??

Also, a key might be what speakers you are running. Please let us know a good/great combo with 3805.

Thanks


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