Transparent Amps and Colored Speakers

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Yogi, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Almost all the SS amps have a flat frequency response within about a db over the whole audio spectrum. Yet we (including me) talk about accurate, transparent, neutral amps when its the speakers coloring the sound drastically. Even the most expensive speakers have wild dips (with in +/- 3db) over the whole spectrum. Some have a peak-to-valley range of over 6db. That's enormous (and certainly very audible) compared to almost all amps out there. That is what gives speakers their distinctive sound and thats why speakers sound so different. So no matter how accurate your components are its the speakers that decide the final sound that comes out of your system.

    Almost everyone claims to want transparent, neutral uncolored sound when it is something that doesn't and cannot exist. So what if you get a Bryston flat out to 500KHz when it will be paired with a speaker with 3db peaks and dips in the audible spectrum. The speaker will dictate the sound that comes out of your amp, period. So as long as you have an amp with low enough output impedance that it doesnt interact with the speaker and has enough headroom to reproduce the dynamic transients of the sound track it should be just fine.

    Now I am confused. Which boat am I on.[​IMG] Well I still feel that amps can and do sound different paired with the same set of speakers (which makes me a subjectivist), but if someone wants to tailor the sound of his system he should first look at different speakers and his room acoustics and only if he is satisfied with those should he/she start looking at different electronics (which makes me an objectivist)..... Ok, now back to dreaming about owning the Reference Mark Levinson No 33 monoblocks sometime in the far far distant future[​IMG]

    Thanks for listening to my ramble.
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Real Name:
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  3. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Good suggestions Lee. I do think that speaker/amp matching is critical. Also it would be really nice to have a B&M dealer that lets you take equipment home to audition because I too feel thats the best way to audition equipment. Anything demoed in a store is practically usless when it comes to how its going to sound in your room.

    Personally I too prefer tubes in the front end, but in the back end (amplification) I still like SS amps and am not willing to sacrifice the kick ass brute force (with finesse) of SS amplification. Most of the signal regeneration and shaping is done in the preamplification stages and thats where the linear nature of triodes becomes very useful to imparting that seductive airy tube sound. Once preamplified I like SS amplification to take over and just amplify the waveform. Plus speaker matching is much more easier with todays robust SS amps.

    My 2 cents.
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well said, what say we sit down and try and decide something really important, like which one of these we like?
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Wouldn't mind that a bit Chu.
     
  6. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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  7. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It's the beer! yeah and maybe the bottlecap will say you've won a newcastle too!
     
  8. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Well Angelo I wanted to take out the human subjectivity out of the equation. I wanted to talk about the sound that your system creates and not the sound that your brain assimilates, so I didnt want to get into human hearing and how everyone hears. So from your list I would only start from the room and its treatments.
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Another case where opposing factions resolve their situation through suds. Is there a bottle of Pacifico Clara available?
     
  10. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    The amps may have a flat frequency response, but does that make them "transparent"? I mean, you could have a speaker with a flat frequency response and no THD that still sounded bad.
     
  11. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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  12. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Yogi you haven't checked out Studio Monitors have you?

    Look at Mackie's active monitors.. +/- 1Db all the way
    through thier useable FR.. Yes speakers can be flat...

    "High end" companies just choose to not make them flat.. I
    guess it's sort of how Bose wants the Midrange to overshado
    trebble and bass.
     
  13. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I just checked out those monitors and yes they do have flat FR, something like I have never seen before. But the thing is they are active speakers and so the question of mating transparent amplification doesnt apply here. Unless I am missing something here.
     
  14. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Well, what I was getting at is there are other characteristics of the sound not described by frequency response and harmonic distortion; for example, nonlinear distortion, off-axis response and phase response. There may be similar attributes to the performance of amplifiers and other components that cause differences in sound that would not seem evident through the usual specifications.
     
  15. RichardHOS

    RichardHOS Second Unit

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    Studio monitors may have flatter FR than what we typically see in a consumer speaker, but their distortion output is still well above any reasonable SS amplifier.
     
  16. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Richard,

    Sorry if I disagree... I think if you Demo'd a pair of
    Mackie's mated with an apropriately flat sub in a good room
    with a good preamp and sources up to the task you would in
    all likelyhood be amazed.

    Honestly if I was "buying" speakers again I would seriously
    put the Mackies high on my list. If they are so horrible
    distorsion wise, then it stands to reason they would not be
    used in a mastering studio environment like they were designed.

    IMHO of course!
     
  17. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Richard,

    Nevermind... I understand what you are saying now.. You mean
    the "speakers" distorsion is higher than any S.S Amp.. I
    would say any speaker has higher distosion factors than any
    quality S.S Amplification, even most Tube amps would have
    better Thd's than most speakers..
     
  18. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Going out on a bit of a limb, I'll say that distortion is but one component that needs to be considered. Generally, getting low distortion in the midband regions seems to be done with various degrees of success. It gets more problematic down in the bass with levels often rising substantially. But then one needs to consider that the distortion is typically of lower order and that can and is masked very easily.
    I'm not so sure how important a totally flat FR is across the audible specturm but of greater importance is to get it fairly flat in the middle. Other factors that should be weighted with at least the same, if not greater importance would be the speaker's radiation patterns:polar, direct, indirect.
     
  19. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Question for those who seem to want to put electronics closer to speakers in their ability to influence sound:

    Which would you rather have:

    A Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX receiver (100 watts per channel, available for around 600 bucks), connected via Home Depot wire to:

    JM Labs Grande Utopia or
    Wilson Grand Slam or
    VMPS Super Tower III or
    Magnepan MG20


    or ANY other speakers on the Highest of the High Stereophile or Absolute Sound "recommended" list, OR

    The Highest of the High Mark Levinson, Krell, or any other Highest of the High "recommended" electronics connected via the Highest of the High Transparent or Kimber or other cable to....
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    bose cube speakers.

    Choose.
     
  20. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Actually RobertR both choices are extreme and I wouldn't choose either. In one case I wouldn't want to feed distorted and clipped power off the Pio (at reference levels) to the expensive speakers and in the other case I wouldn't be able to realize the sonic benefits of feeding ML and Krell power to Bose cubes as they would still sound horrible.

    I would choose a system with about 50/50 alocated to amplification/preamplification and to speakers. Any deviation in the extreme of that ratio is IMHO not a good match. For example I would mate a $5000 amp and a $5000 preamp to $10000 worth of speakers. I would allocate perhaps $1000 to source and cables.

    My 2 cents.
     

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