Want to learn about amplifiers...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lynn Johnson, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    So, being a 1 year vet of the home theater "bug", I am constantly considering upgrades. Would like to eventually move to separates, but don't know enough about amps to make an educated purchase. I don't just want to know which brands are good, but I would like to learn why some amps rated for 200W a channel are priced around $500, while a similarly spec'd amp is priced at $2000+. Anyone have good links or can explain some basics? Thanks in advance...
     
  2. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Lynn,

    What's really going to mystify you is how can an 8 watt amp cost over $15,000 !!!!

    Remember: All things being equal, go with the extra power. However, all things are never equal...

    Good luck to you. Your question would take more time to give a full answer to than I have time right now. I'm sure you will learn what you need to know.

    Kevin
     
  3. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Hi Lynn,
    In short, there are many different types of amplifiers that are designed for different purposes and varying price-points. This is why some 200 watt amps cost $500 and some 2 watt amps cost $5,000. There are tube amps and solid state... Class AB and Class A... and the huge variety of designs available ensures a wide range of performance and price points.
    Amplifier specifications, specifically THD, do not tell us much about the performance. Lower-quality parts and lesser circuit designs may produce a high amount of distortion. This distortion is reduced by negative feedback. While heavy use of feedback may reduce an amplifier's measured distortion, there is significant debate about its effects on sound quality. There have been a lot of amplifiers that had really low distortion specifications and still sounded bad.
    Some amplifier designs, especially Class-A solid state and tube amplifiers, have poor measured performance (THD up to and greater than 1%, for example) and still sound excellent. All harmonic distortion is not the same - lower order harmonics (2nd and 4th for example) are not very offensive sounding, and some claim an amplifier producing these distortions can be more "musical." Higher order harmonics and intermodulation distortions can contribute very little to an amplifier's THD figure, yet still create unpleasant sound... "solid state harshness" and any number of other problems.
    In other words, when shopping for an amplifier you'll have to rely on the judgement of others and not so much on the specifications. You'll have to decide how much money you're willing to spend, followed by a power requirement and the type of sound you're looking for... some amps have a "warm" tone for example.
    You can find a bunch of information about amplifiers and electronics from a do-it-yourselfer's angle at http://sound.westhost.com.
    It's really quite a pain, but I would have to say you're looking in the right direction - I have found a very worthwhile improvement from upgrading my own amplifier.
     
  4. Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks a lot! From what it sounds like to me, my best bet is to rely on reviews if I am unable to hear the amp in a sound test. Specs really don't seem to tell the tale and the key to what an amplifier is "worth" is how it sounds to you(regardless of the amount of distortion it introduces). I'm not really considering going the DIY route when it comes to amps, as I just don't have the time or patience to get to that level of expertise. I will focus my education in this hobby on speaker/sub building, as I will probably get more benefits out of it(and it will help other family members too). Thanks again for your explanation though!
     
  5. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Lynn,

    Since you live in Seattle and are considering DIY speakers... why not visit Adire Audio's headquarters? I think they're located downtown, and they'd probably be happy to show off their products and offer advice.
     
  6. Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh yeah, I'm all over that. I'm picking up the driver for the sub I'm building this week. I already own an M&K 750THX system(which I'm more than happy with), but I plan on getting into building as a hobby, so it's definitely nice to know I have the resources so close! A buddy of mine just built some really nice 281's, which I wouldn't mind putting together at some point. Fun stuff!
     

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