Warm vs Bright ??

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Kevin C Brown, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I was just curious as to what y'all thought:

    1) Hogwash. If a component measures 20 Hz to 20 kHz at within +/- 0.2 dB, ain't no "warmth" and ain't no "brightness." Just that some people *need* another parameter to describe a component's sound, because if, for example warmth vs brightness doesn't exist, then that means that most components sound more alike than people will admit. $500 receiver vs $10k separates, don't matter none.

    2) Does exist. Even though measurements can be ruler flat, they don't take into consideration such things as interactions between components, real music vs test tones, etc. There is a benefit to trying to balance warmth and brightness between components and the room.

    I tend towards #1 because I have actually had what other people called bright components in my system, and I have never heard a gosh darn difference. (Speakers and the room, I agree, but not electronics.)

    Now with that being said, however, if there is something I'm missing, I'm currently in the process of matching my speakers which *reviewers say* are a little more laid back with amplification that is slightly forward but with no harshness or brashness. [​IMG]

    The other reason why I tends towards #1, is that after reading all the reviews I could get my hands on regarding a bunch of multichannel amps, for some amps there tends to be a consensus. But others, some reviewers say they are bright, and others say they are warm.

    And, Rotel is my favorite example. I am 95% (not 100% mind you, but 95%) convinced, that because Rotel components in the past have always been reviewed as "warmer", that now in the back of every one's mind is that fact, and that is the premise upon which all future reviews rest.

    One last example, is that I went over a dude's place once to compare pre/pro and amp combos. Later on it was revealed that the other guy had a completely different opinion as to what he heard vs what I heard. And "warmth" and "brightness" differences were there for him, but not for me. (No, not DBT A/B/X.)

    But like I said, I'm curious as to what y'all out there were thinking... [​IMG]
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    One of these days Kevin, you should find the time to get whatever high end amp (Krell, ML, or whatever you can find from a dealer who'll let you 'audition' one at home) and do a level matched, blind comparison to something much more pedestrian...let's say an Outlaw.

    There's merit in #2 but those can be seen in products whose design is intended to introduce a bit of coloration.

    Don't forget reviewers of speakers generally have certain expectations and preferences for speakers. For example a reviewer who expects to move around a bit within the sound envelope may well not take kindly to speakers that image within only a very narrow region. It's one of those things that you've got to determine about yourself...what your preferences are. Once you can do that, then one needs to find reviewers who are like-minded. One thing you won't find is reviewers who are willing to do an evaluation without at least knowing the identity of the speakers. I mean, can you imagine the horrors if they spoke positively about Bose?
     
  3. Tom_Mack

    Tom_Mack Stunt Coordinator

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    If #1 was true, you should be able to hookup any receiver, put it into "direct" mode and a CD should should the same on any receiver of the same class. Well, it doesn't. I have tried 5 receivers in my quest to upgrade from my entry level receiver and they can sound quite different!

    For example, I tried an Integra 7.1 receiver right after a H/K 525. In direct mode, playing the same CD, the Integra was so "bright" that my ears were fatigued in no time at all. The H/K was on the opposite end of the spectrum, too "warm" for my ears. The Yamaha 2400 I ended up was the perfect middle ground of "brightness" and "warmth". No matter what the specs say, most people with a good ear can tell the difference.

    I vote #2.
     
  4. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    My opinion: hogwash.

    All subjective descriptors of "sound" as produced by any electronic part of the equipment chain are boulderdash, with no meaning other than what they signify to the person providing them. Furthermore, trying to correlate a subjective descriptor ("warm," "musical," "revealing," "muddy,") with some measurment of an electrical event seems like a fool's errand to me.

    One may infer from this that "most components sound alike." I prefer to believe that electronic components do not have a sound at all. Receivers or amplifiers of similar specification ought to produce similar end results. And if they don't to your ear, use whatever descriptor you like to characterize the difference, but don't expect anyone else to agree.

    BTW, Kevin, what's your favorite beer? [​IMG]
     
  5. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    IMO, it comes down to what sounds best to you. One person's bright or harsh is another persons accurate sound. Warm sound to one person is muddy to another.

    I have a Yamaha/Paradigm combination and I really like the sound. Some are of the opinion that this is harsh or bright. A lot of it is just personal preferences.
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Just find me a bar with a microbrews on tap...I'll find something I like...eventually [​IMG]

    Tom, I'm not looking to get into some kind of pissing match, but in the most sincerest interest, what 2 receivers that you evalutated had the greatest disparity with regards to CD playback and further, were you able to a/b them at the same time while level matching at the speakers? Thanks for in advance for an answer.
     
  7. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    It depends on which Rotel amp you're talking about. I know that the 2 channel versions are made to sound different then the 5 channel versions where the 5 channel versions can extend a little higher for bandwidth were the 2 channel versions are rolled off slightly for a more audiophile sound. There are differences in designs and implimentation between amps and receivers which account for differences in sound. In perticular I have rotel and HK power amps in my rack and they sound very different from each other.
     
  8. John S

    John S Producer

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    Put a Sony receiver into the same system as say even a Denon, do they sound way different? Of course they do.

    Does a tube amp sound different still? Of course they do.

    I mean, these differences are way more obvious than, say speaker wire changes, or bi-wire..ect..ect.. and people swear they can hear that as well.


    I choose what I call flat, or what many call neutral equipment. My audio engineering background, as dictated this will provide the most invisable results, and get closer to what the engineer was mastering with and how he heard it when he finished.

    It is the biggest reason, I choose Denon power amps in particular, and even the reason I still love JBL s38 speakers. very flat, amazingly flat across the spectrum.

    A couple of years ago, I got out the sweep tone generator, a mixing console, a high end studio vocal mic, an Oscilloscope and set out to evaluate my system at real world power, and living room enviroment. This is the same way we used to evaluate live performance rooms and even some studios for EQ during the old band days.

    I was shocked at how the Denon 4802 and JBL combo worked on this test.

    It was maybe the flatest curve or non-curve I have ever seen. From like 30hz through 20khz.



    Just more thought on it all, more than anything.
     
  9. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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    I think you also have to take into account the peoples' hearing. I have an older friend whose system makes me cringe because I think it is too harsh in the upper frequencies. He doesn't know what I'm talking about. The same older friend also says what and huh? a lot.
    People hear differently.

    So could that mean the guys that start audio companies (B&K, Rotel, Outlaw, etc...) (save the big mass market giants) have an idea of what they think audio should sound like and then tailor their equipment to their tastes?

    How can all audio equipment sound the same?
     
  10. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Pass me a Newcastle. It's "way different" than Heineken. [​IMG]
     
  11. cabreau

    cabreau Second Unit

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    Angelo


    Time to put away your Pirate of the C DVD, it is. Star Wars the DVD instead you should watch. Understand me, do you, hmmmmmmm? To keep you balanced my only intentions are. [​IMG]

    If you have a +/-
     
  12. Tom_Mack

    Tom_Mack Stunt Coordinator

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    The only two receivers that I was able to A/B at the same time at the same level (+/- a couple decibals) were the Denon 3802 and Integra 7.1. In direct stereo mode, with mains set to large just in case, the Integra emphasised the upper midrange and up, bass was lacking. The Denon had more bass, but rolled off the top. I also tried both of these at home at different times with the same results.

    Of all the receivers I tried (Marantz 8200, Denon 3802, Integra 7.1, H/K 525 and finally Yamaha 2400), I believe that the H/K and Denon had the most rolled off high end. The Integra emphasised the high end. The Marantz rolled off high frequencies, but was still balanced. The Yamaha was the most Neutral.

    I realize that these are going to be a difference of opinion on this subject, but in my experience there is most definately a difference in sound from each brand name. Maybe on the higher quality amps they do all follow the 20 Hz to 20 kHz at within +/- 0.2 dB, but my ears don't believe it. Its just like how all 100 Watt receivers aren't really all 100 Watt receivers.
     
  13. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    There are several different (and unresolvable) issues in this thread, begging a multitude of other questions. There are no answers forthcoming, at least none that are acceptable to everyone.

    "All electronics sound the same."
    "No, they don't."

    "Terms like 'warm,' 'bright,' 'detailed,' 'musical,' 'revealing,' etc can't be used to describe amplifiers/receivers/etc."
    "Yes, they can."

    "A system with such-and-such frequency response curve is 'flat,' or 'netural,' or 'unbiased,' or 'clean,' or 'accurate.'"
    "No, it isn't."

    "Amplification doesn't significantly affect the 'sound' of a system."
    "Yes, it does."

    There. All sides argued.

    This type of thread rears its head every once in a while, resulting in much gnashing of teeth and, sometimes, a decent discussion about beer. [​IMG]

    (Note to cabreau: I'm officially scratching my head.)
     
  14. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    Chris, I don't know how old your "older" friend is, but as I approach 55 I definitely fit in the category you described. When a person starts losing some hearing it is usually in the higher range of sound. I guess I should have listened to my parents when I was a teenager when they told me I was playing my music too loudly. [​IMG]
     
  15. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Why would all amps sound the same when they use different devices like FET or Bipolar and various amounts of feedback? The amps i've auditoned that use FET's in the input section all seem to have warmer sound than the ones who use bipolar. FET's are supposed to produce even ordered distortion like tubes and bipolar odd ordered. I think despite a makers intention all amps and preamps color the sound.
     
  16. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    John S, is it possible the biggest reason you have such flat response is you have a great room for music? Just playing the devils advocate.
     
  17. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Of course, if you were to unknowingly run your receiver into a state where there's some clipping, then depending upon the program source, one might perceive that as bright, harsh, edgy, something along those lines. It's really a pity that places that do in-depth reviews of things like receivers don't also provide measurements like THD as a function of frequency into various loads. The single measurement is better than nothing, but not a whole lot better.
     
  18. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    And now to start a real fight [​IMG] I swear that men & women hear diferently because it always seems that women like a "Brighter" sound & how many times do you hear them say, "Turn the Bass Down" Maybe it reminds them of the deep male voice trying to tell them to do something [​IMG]
     
  19. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Angelo- I've been on a "bitter" kick for a few years now. Bass, Red Tail, Red Hook, etc. [​IMG]

    Chu- I actually somewhat did what you've said. Not A/B/X, but just casual listening, which for me is the best way to judge; speakers anyway. [​IMG]

    Aragon vs Acurus.
    Acurus vs Bryston.

    To me? No difference in sound quality. Didn't keep the Aragon at the time, because it didn't "fit" in my system, but I'll probably keep the Bryston. Built like a tank.

    MOSFETs, bipolar, etc. They are all however designed to do the exact same thing: amplify the signal with as little coloration added as possible. And, I've never come across for example anyone saying that MOSFET amps are typically warm whereas bipolar amps are typical bright. Always more than 1 way to do the same thing.

    I found the same thing with electronics: Sony vs Outlaw vs Lexicon, all pre/pros. To me, no difference in sound quality. But I have the MC-8 because I like Logic 7.

    Like I said, I'm not 100% sure of it all, and I'm hedging my bets trying to match a 5 ch amp to the 2 ch Bryston, and then the amps to the speakers. But one thing I think I discovered: the more I read reviewers say things like bright and warm, the more I'm inclined to believe it, not necessarily because it's true, but sort of just by osmosis. If 100 million people said that 2 + 2 = 5, well, you have to give *some* credence to it...
     
  20. John-Tompkins

    John-Tompkins Second Unit

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    I think its easier for people to say this is "warm" or that is "bright" then trying put into words the actual differences they are hearing. Lets face it, its hard to describe to somebody what your hearing..There are sound differences between amps and thats for sure. Now whether if its because one is designed better then the other/or uses better parts/or whatever the reason..I dont know.

    Its funny because a reputable audio person who I respect says the bryston's are warm and I dont agree at all..he also says the sherbourns are warm and again I dont agree. Ive also had 3 different rotels and find them bright while reviewers say there warm..the thing is we all may be hearing the same thing and just "describing "it differently.

    I just put in a bryston 9bst and directly ab-ed it with a parasound 1206 a/b/a style .. the differences in sound could easily be detected by a 95 year old women who's half deaf...she may not descibe the differences the same as I would though.

    Kevin,

    I gotta ask ya..what speakers are you using ? I find it had to believe you didnt hear a difference between the amps and pre-pro's you tried ..
     

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