Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by shaizada, Nov 23, 2016.
@brencho nice follow up shitpost. 10/10
FWIW, for those who do not know, New Order is a post-modern rock band from the 80s which was formed from the remnants of Joy Division. They gradually fused late 70s punk / New Wave with more synth, techno stuff, and dance beats through the 80s. Their album Power, Lies, and Corruption was sort of the point when their sound started to change. By the time they did that song Shell-Shock for that movie Pretty in Pink, it was all over for the Joy Division / oldschool New Order fans. I own all their albums, but I only touch the older ones.
To add, the New Wave thing is play on Nwavguy's "New Wave" movement of amps designed solely through measurements and not by ear, which fizzled after about two years. Before Nwavguy there was Doug Self. There appears to be a huge gap in belief systems that will not be settled via discussion. You guys already know where I stand. To those who are not aware, nwavguy and Doug Self's approach are largely frowned upon by people here. This is just the way it is. Folks here do not believe that a handful of measurements, or even a platitude of measurements will explain away all aspects of sound reproduction. (Now whether they matter in design is another matter, and really more of concern to engineers).
I should add that I do have Doug Self's small signals book and do use it, and I know Craig Uthus (who was mentioned) does a ton of work measuring transformer candidates that go into his amps.
Please carry on with the food fight.
What I am about to say is premature, and perhaps is bad timing as I do not want to appear to "dump" on anyone. But I would advise that MOTs be careful in what they say, especially in relation to competitors products or designs. The last thing I want is MOTs jumping in here getting at each others' throats, as what I am told happens at Computer Audiophile. We currently do not have rules governing what MOTs can or cannot say, and the anti-statist in me prefers to keep it this way. My preference is to encourage, not coerce positive behaviors, purchase of insurance plans, mandatory exercise, etc.
Thanks man @Psalmanazar had me lost in his lyrics there.
Hard to follow up from my iPhone here.
@SteelCannon, I was rather impressed with Schiit's Jot. The 2i2 is Ok. Not very powerful, better than your average Windoze laptop. It is also an improvement to the historical BitHead. The LH Go is better that the 2i2, but I think the Jot might have an edge there.
The SS amp (I think it was SS) @dsavitsk brought to the meet for @TMoney was IMO really nice.
I did not like the GSX w some songs. The O2 does indeed clip in high gain. I use it only on low gain, and its Ok like that.
I also have read some of DS chapters. Its a good source. But not flawless.
Characterzation alone does not tell the full story IMO. There is the human aspect which can be much more complicated.
The problem I see has more to do with folks provoking one another, perhaps to push their own agendas and mini jihads. Or their superior "objective" or "subjective" truths. I prefer a balanced approach. Possible I'm reading @Psalmanazar wrong and hard to follow all using my iPhone.
The problem is relativism vs. absolutism. Both objective and subjective (using a disciplined approach) methods do work, but they are essentially different methods, with similar but slightly different goals.
This any isn't different from religion. The purpose of religion (authentic) is to help people be happy. I've found that those who exercise methods prescribed by their religions able to make their own lives happier. They can be Baptists, Pentecostals, Tantrikas, Sufis, Athiests, etc. The problems only come about when people who practice their religions start to take their methods as absolute truth instead of relative truth (one that works for them). Eventually, these positions harden, and ultimately leads to people killing each other, which is pretty much what is happening now in the Middle East.
The science guys will argue that science is absolute truth, but this is obviously not the case. Science is a method. The very definition of theorem is inferred truth! Based on axioms, which are reference points to give us a place to start, not absolute truths describing the nature universe, consciousness, sentience, observation of phenomenon, etc.
The second argument is that science uses measureable and repeatable techniques and that subjective impressions are not as reliable. To large extent this is true, but with the few blind test experiments I've conducted and documented here, which involved a familiarization and practice period, I've found that subjective impressions are repeatable, even with very similar sounding gear. Besides, the last time I checked, the "listening to music" consciousness phenomenon going on in our minds didn't involve DCTs / FFTs, and lines showing up on an analyzer.
All of you guys know by now that the roots of CS and now SBAF were with measurements. Over time, this has shifted away toward the subjective. Personally, I am a bit disappointed that people ask the same questions over and over again on aspects that are clearly explained by the measurements; but that is just the way it is. Ultimately it's a subjective hobby.
The O2 is garbage.
I know there was so much stock put into how it measures but it is literally one of the worst devices I have plugged my HP into, even worse than the hp out of my imac late 2015. I really don't understand why @Tom wants to compare his to that. Maybe for objectivity's sake but otherwise if the HP1 doesn't sound way better it sucks and I really believe it'd be harder for it to sound worse that it would be for it to sound better.
Measurements can always tell you when things sound bad. They cannot always tell you when things sound good. All we have to do is look at the hundred or so headphone, speaker, and IEM measurements here to know this. Going back to Craig. Only one of six amp designs goes into production. The aborted projects didn't have enough potential, ultimately didn't sound good enough, or were deemed too expensive to make / poor value / not marketable.
From what I've seen at Schiit, same thing. Jason Stoddard is a mega super duper measureabator, with measurement gear way more expensiver and betterer than the APs. He just doesn't wear it on this sleeve. Mike Moffat makes fun of Jason for being an point oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh kind of guy. Craig secretly measures shit when people aren't looking. His background is pro audio where -1.0 db at 22Hz is not acceptable, even with tube gear.
Like @ultrabike , I really enjoyed Doug's DHSA 2 transformer based amp at the meet. Someone mentioned it already I believe, but the influence of transformers on the signature of a tube amp is significant. So it stands to reason that Doug's design borne out of his love affair with great transformers is going to appeal to the senses. I can't, off the top of my head, recall any SS headphone-purposed amp I've heard that I'd put above it. It was simply musical. Of course it lacked the tube qualities of ultimate staging among others that we discuss. But perhaps we should consider "I listened to XYZ solid state amp, and it didn't sound like a tube amp" to be a no shit Sherlock observation by now. If you like tube amps, you like tube amps. I do. Solid state tube emulation is a thing, but it has always failed to impress me. The Nutube DIP tube certainly has me interested because it seems to be the first engineering innovation of significance in this arena in a long time. I don't even care if the first generation sucks, I have to hear it. Better Than SET advertised by @liamstrain seems almost ready for prime time now, and I'm also curious there to what extent they've been able to achieve their design goals subjectively. I'm a gear junkie. I am an EE. I love innovation, and I love to evaluate it subjectively as well. But I'm not looking for a pot at the end of a rainbow containing a magical solid state amp that does everything the best tube amps do and more. I think I've found the sound signature I want in my Lynx/Yggy/ZDS chain, and am done there. Time to broaden my horizons, go in other directions, and perhaps learn to love alternate takes on musical reproduction...
These aren't good solid state amps. That's the point. If they were good, they would properly reproduce instrumental timbre but they don't. There are many decent to good solid state amps but there are also many horrible ones.
Yeah I didn't even get into that. I wanted to know why some amps are so bad they can't even deal with a single instrument and why they fail so miserably.
This thread is not about amp measurements. This thread is about tube vs solid state. I asked why many solid state amps are compressed to hell microdynamically and macrodynamically to the point of not being able to reproduce proper instrumental tone and timbre in stringed instruments and why the measurements don't reflect this. Tom provided no answers, he has merely cited useless technobabble that means nothing to us in the given context. He has repeated the same points that solid state amps have lower total harmonic distortion ad nauseam when everyone has already accepted that as a given and doesn't really care as it's mostly inaudible when cranked and would not explain the perceivable differences between different amplifier constructions and topologies. It's the same as watching Star Wars Episode I: The Phanton Menace where we paid to go see compelling characters act out a real plot with drama in the Star Wars universe and instead George Lucas paid Liam Neeson to lecture the audience about imaginary space taxation and imaginary space molecules in Jedi blood for an hour. Hell George Lucas took years to create over six hours of CGI to show what Alec Guinness explained better in a few lines of dialogue in the original.
Science attempts to explain human perception of the world through rational conceptions. Most of these amps (many tubes and class D included) measure perceptibly fine yet sound drastically different when cranked. These cited measurements aren't explaining jack then beyond if the amp could actually work and how much power it can hopefully ouput . We've even seen that been wrong in the O2 which can even be clipped in low gain trying to amplify quiet tracks or drive insensitive sources. Audio obejctivists (not audio scientists/engineers/measurebators) saying their gear functions better, is more transparent, higher-fidelity, more live gain wire thrashing about on the ground than than gear that measures fine and sounds better (or actually reproduces instrumental timbre and tone) might as well be communists holding up Mao and Marx as absolute truth in the face of economic devastation and mass starvation.
@bazelio , I dislike the warm, noisy, soft, natural sound associated with many tube amps. Based on my preferences for neutrality, control, speed, impact etc I would be a prime candidate for ss amps. But I cant live with the glare, grain, flat sound stage, lifeless treble etc. So I tend to go for tube amps that sound solid stateish and have a little bit of warmth in the mids and at least some semblance of a sound stage. The torpedo 3 is a lot like what I am describing, minus the tinny treble. The studio also is neutral, transparent fast etc, it even has an extremely refined and lifelike treble .
But other than those two amps and maybe the zds, what else is there? I ask this sincerely since I am currently ampless and am struggling to fill the void.
I think that there is a lot of room for improvement in headphone amps. I am patiently waiting to hear a totl amp from jason, a torepdo 4, a studio jr etc. But for now, I am pretty disappointed with what is it out there especially on the ss side.
One thing to consider perhaps is to figure out what equipment was used to produce a particular recording. If tube amps were used for monitoring and recording, perhaps matching the equipment might yield good results.
Things might not be very consistent though.
@Psalmanazar: I can't speak for Tom, but it looks like he works under a completely different set of principles which are not compatible with yours. You will never get a satisfactory answer from him. I have my own views of course, but I do not have a dog in this fight.
It is obvious what this must come to.
Trial by combat or a duel until one obtains "satisfaction". Someone please post a still from Barry Lyndon.
Does anyone have ideas on technical level why proper tube amplifiers have better stage and real depth while solid state amplifiers don't ?
Top tubes recreate sounds more physically with borders in 3D space while all ss amplifiers (that I have tried) have flat discs at the same places or even worse, dots.
Most of you have the experience.
- If someone says 2-nd and 3-rd harmonic again.... arghhh!! Gtfo. Amplifiers with shitloads of low order harmonics don't necessarily have ''perceived'' depth even less so precise 3d rendering.
- It feels to me that depth is linked to microdynamic granularity. Amplifiers lacking in perceived microdynamics have no depth.
- Stage size seems to be linked to macrodynamic capability. Amps with squishy dynamics have compact stage.
- Some solid states have very precise imaging, perhaps this is down to ultra precise phase but depth is lacking because of dynamics granularity ?
- Maybe phase in microscopic scale is more stable with better tube electronics ?
I also don't see the point about pressuring @tomchr for an answer. If he knew why @Psalmanazar doesn't like solid state amps I'm sure he would provide it some time ago. I don't have a definitive answer either. I can only speculate this, that, the recording... whatever.
Hell, why do I like Madonna @Psalmanazar?
(((its because solid state amps suck)))
You tell me man.
I don't think the answer is in stability, phase, or stage size.
So far the answer is that SS sucks. Because they suck.
@ultrabike that was meant as a joke! Solid state amps suck for all the reasons stated, whether that it is do to topology, tube magic etc is still unclear. I reject that notion that it is a matter of preference because sound stage, timbral accucacy, grain glare etc arent really subjective things.
As an example Jot has great frequency response imo, i actually like the slight brightness, but instruments sound off and the sound stage is thinner than a piece of loose leaf.
@TMoney ss amp by doug, was pretty promising. Wish I could get a chance to listen to that amp again.
The question is why.
Sound stage, timbral accuracy, and glare are measurable to a large extent. And BTW sound stage is shit in headphones. TBH I don't know the answer.
Measurements ARE different. But folks dont like or relate to the answer they provide. So I really dont know then.
Also Doughs amp was awesome. He brought two. I dont know if @TMoney took the transformer one or not. I think not. But I do recall liking the one he took quite a bit.
It just seems odd that as of now, we are still unable to fully recreate a good tube amp with solid state components. I also appreciate that we are picky/particular enough to hear the apparent flaws, and express exactly how the SS designs are failing. I don't think SS designers should take offense to discerning listeners, as long as the criticism is precise.
I'm going to go back and read more into the Black Widow discussion... @Marvey is there any hope that Craig would be interested in trying more SS designs? I have a feeling that Craig feels that there is no compromise to a well designed tube amp, so that probably answers my question.
As far as amps like Jot or Rag, I feel like they approach something that sounds satisfying, but just doesn't hit the magic that comes with tubes. It's a deal breaker.
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