How pre-pros actually sound

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BruceD, Feb 17, 2002.

  1. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Following is a list of some current prepros and specs from their owners manuals or websites (except where noted).
    Do you think their S/N ratios, especially in stereo which indicates a great analog stage and power supply implementation, accurately represents their
    "sound quality ranking" particularly for 2-channel music?
    Sony TA-E9000ES . . . . . . S/N of 94Db analog, 100 dB digital**
    B&K Ref-30 . . . . . . . . . S/N of 98dB
    Rotel RSX-1066 . . . . . . S/N of 95dB*
    Lexicon DC-1 . . . . . . . . S/N of 90dB
    Lexicon MC-1 . . . . . . . . S/N of 105dB
    Lexicon MC-12 . . . . . . . S/N of 111dB
    Integra RDC-7 . . . . . . . . S/N of 100dB (stereo)
    Bryston SP-1 . . . . . . . . . S/N of 110dB analog, 100dB DSP
    Anthem AVM-20 . . . . . . . . S/N of 110dB analog, 102dB digital
    _________________________________________________
    *Legairre's response directly from Rotel
    **provided by Andrew Pratt
     
  2. Legairre

    Legairre Supporting Actor

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    Bruce,

    Nice research. The more you pay the higher the S/N. It looks like to get into the 100db or higher range you have to spend in the $3000 and higher range. I guess this is one reason higher end gear cost more.
     
  3. brucek

    brucek Second Unit

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    BruceD

    I think it does make a difference. I have an SP1, and when you switch to analog bypass you have to press your ear against the speaker to hear any noise floor. It makes the music seem so effortless. No detail is lost in the noise.

    When everything is quiet in the house and you are listening to music - when the song ends you can hear the artist breathing................ it's an important spec.

    brucek
     
  4. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    FYI another pre to add to the above list. Sony TA-E9000ES 94Db for analog inputs and 100 dB for digital inputs.
     
  5. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Andrew,

    That's interesting, the Sony has a lower noise floor for digital than analog. All the other prepros with analog bypass have a lower noise floor for analog rather than digital.

    My guess is the lower analog noise floor shows greater care spent on analog output and power supply design.

    Doesn't the Sony digitize all analog inputs?
     
  6. Miles_W

    Miles_W Second Unit

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    Bruce,
    I have a Cal ssp 2500 the analog sn is 123db...
    It does sound pretty good [​IMG]
     
  7. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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  8. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    "I have a Cal ssp 2500 the analog sn is 123db..."
    I still shake my head every time I read that! I have heard a Bryston SP-1 in a store and with its' 110dB S/N it is eerily quiet. I would imagine that the CAL 2500 must leave the room when you listen to it! LOL! [​IMG]
    Michael
     
  9. Graeme Shiomi

    Graeme Shiomi Stunt Coordinator

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    I've posted this elsewhere, but I'll post it here too.

    Let me give some 'real world' experience to respond to this question. A friend of mine has a Conrad Johnson Premier 16LS for 2-channel music, and the Anthem AVM-20 for HT. He has an Audio Note (I believe that's the name) DAC and a Conrad Johnson Premier 15 Phono Pre-amp. He much prefers the sound of the Conrad to the Anthem for 2-channel Analog Sources. That's despite the fact that the Conrad's S/N is 96, much lower than the 110 of the Anthem.

    In other words, it's what you like. You could have a S/N of 130 dB, and hate the sound of the Pre. S/N is a consideration, but not the be-all-end-all spec.

    Graeme
     
  10. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Hi Graeme,

    While I understand your point, it's not quite the real-world example I would choose.

    Your quote:

    -------------------------------------------------------

    Let me give some 'real world' experience to respond to this question. A friend of mine has a Conrad Johnson Premier 16LS for 2-channel music, and the Anthem AVM-20 for HT. He has an Audio Note (I believe that's the name) DAC and a Conrad Johnson Premier 15 Phono Pre-amp. He much prefers the sound of the Conrad to the Anthem for 2-channel Analog Sources. That's despite the fact that the Conrad's S/N is 96, much lower than the 110 of the Anthem.

    -------------------------------------------------------

    I wasn't trying to introduce someone's preference for the euphonic even order distortion of tube preamps, which the Conrad Johnson Premier 16LS is. That's a separate issue I won't go into here.

    We are discussing comparsions and differences between the SNR of SS Prepros and their ability to reproduce music and HT.
     
  11. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Miles_W,

    The specification listed by CAL Audio for SNR is rather unrealistic or actually theoretical.

    Signal To Noise Ratio: 123 dB (ref. 6.5 VRMS)

    Why you ask?

    Because no-one will actually listen to output from this prepro at 6.5 VRMS.

    A normal output measurement spec for SNR would be at ref 2.0 VRMS, as this more accurately represents what volume we listen at in our HT.
     
  12. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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  13. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  14. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Saurav,

    Oh well I guess you missed my point. I'm not interested in tubes at all, don't want to compare them, don't want to buy them, you get the idea. You can't really buy a tube prepro anyway.

    The discussion was simply focused on the perception or coincidence of sound quality with SNR. It was just an observation on my part not a mantra.

    Yes, there are many parts that make up the whole, but I can't help but think that the lower the SNR the less potential the unit has to pull out all the detail.
     
  15. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  16. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Saurav, haven't seen you posting lately. You go on vacation or something?

    How'd that DIY Tube 2 channel preamp turn out you were working on a while back?
     
  17. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    The Foreplay turned out awesome. I rebuilt it from scratch thrice, added a bunch of mods, and it sounds great - much better than the NAD C340 that I was using before. No, I haven't been on vacation, I'd been busy with my preamp, trying to understand its circuit and the mod circuits. It's been a great learning experience.
    I went on to build a pair of speakers from a kit, and now have tube amps on order... my system's gone through some major changes recently [​IMG]
     
  18. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Bruce- 2 thoughts: the Sony TA-E9000ES pre/pro does digitize all of the analog inputs with a 48 kHz sampling rate. (No one's ever been able to confirm the bit length, but probably 24 bit.)
    So, in this case S/N has nothing to do with the fact that the Sony will *always* impart some "digitalness" to its sound even with the best analog rig you could hook up to it.
    The other part is: Shame on you! [​IMG]
    I would never ever in a million years believe the specs that a manufacturer puts out. Only if it was actually run through tests (unfortunately) by the old Audio Magazine and Stereo Review folks. (OK, S&V is still OK.)
    I would *bet* that a lot of those S/N numbers are theoretical numbers simply based on the internal DACs and ADCs performance.
    Oh, and I remember seeing 86 dB for the B&K Ref 30 somewhere...
     
  19. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Kevin,
    You and many others are right of course, [​IMG] this is only an attempt to roughly match what people say and feel about the sound quality of different prepros with vendor published SNR. Certainly not an exact science, just opinion.
    I don't blindly believe any specs, but I do prefer if they are quantified similiar to this:
    S/N Ratio (ref. 2.0 Vrms A-weighted)
    All Direct Inputs . . . 106 dB
    Analog-DSP Inputs . . . 98 dB
    Digital Inputs . . . . 102 dB
    Regarding the Ref-30 specs, their website says 89dB and the downloaded Ref-30 manual says 98dB, so my guess is the web content input specialist transposed the two numbers (8 and 9).
     
  20. Tony Lai

    Tony Lai Stunt Coordinator

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    Please do not use the word 'analog' and 'Sony TA-E9000es' in the same sentence. It upsets the owners.

    Here is an excerpt from the TA-P9000es manual:

    Freq. Resp.

    115dB (20 khz LPF, A)

    1.3v input level

    This is a Stereophile Class A product btw.

    T.
     

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