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Do We Underestimate The Importance of Amplifiers?

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  • Do We Underestimate The Importance of Amplifiers?

    What do you think?

    It seems the first thing most/many audiophiles think about changing in their system is the source or speakers. Even had one person laugh at upgrading an amplifier instead of a turntable.

    Yet the more I listen, the sonic impact of an amplifier is unmistakable. Especially with bigger systems (less efficient/harder to drive) that really extend into the lower frequencies.

    There’s just something about the quietness, ease, drive, dynamics, tone and speed of the top amplifiers. Without that everything else just gets lost and jumbled up.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 440 mono amps
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    I believe you are correct Myles.

    One of the opportunities many have is change within the same realm of sophistication resulting in different but not better results.

    When you are able to move up in strata you get the ease quietness , drive and dynamics you speak of. The problem is good amplification is expensive - transformers and design , not to mention CNC casework that everyone seems to demand. They're heavy, costly and difficult to move around and experiment with- thus less likely to be upgraded.

    They're probably not as obvious as speakers or your DAC either- they sit quietly.

    I've heard this with big CH monos recently- but you're talking $100K and this is not even where this type of amplification cost ends.



    Phono: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
    Brinkmann Balance & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas Lamda, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
    Amps: Custom Direct Drive, Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2. Bedini 25/25
    Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
    Speakers: Beveridge Model 3 Direct Drive amps, REL S/2 x 2, Quad ESL pair
    Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

    Comment


    • #3
      nope. i do have a large room and my driving force behind my system building is not restricting the scale of the music. i can respect that not all real world situations can have my approach....but in any system the same issues occur to some degree.

      the amplifier is the life blood of the presentation. it determines the first watt nuance and subtlety and life, and the authority and flow to the music.

      4 years ago i compared 3 heavyweight sets of mono block amplifiers in my room together for 4 months. big differences in the character of the system. the more i pushed the system into big music, the more the amplifiers separated themselves.

      my favorite was the amps that could cover the whole range of musical demands. and never held the system back by restricting the music. amplifier headroom is addicting.
      https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/615

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
        What do you think?

        It seems the first thing most/many audiophiles think about changing in their system is the source or speakers. Even had one person laugh at upgrading an amplifier instead of a turntable.

        Yet the more I listen, the sonic impact of an amplifier is unmistakable. Especially with bigger systems (less efficient/harder to drive) that really extend into the lower frequencies.

        There’s just something about the quietness, ease, drive, dynamics, tone and speed of the top amplifiers. Without that everything else just gets lost and jumbled up.
        Agree. The power amplifier is important and at some level has to preserve the input signal while simultaneously delivering that signal, amplified, to a complex impedance load loudspeaker. On the surface, a simple task that, in the reality of practical application, is not that simple.

        Dre
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day to play analog.
        - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
        - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day for live music.
        **************************************************
        Every day is a good day to listen to music.
        **************************************************
        Industry Affiliation:
        Contributing Writer, The Absolute Sound
        **************************************************

        Comment


        • #5
          I have been encouraged to upgrade from the Pass 150.8 to the 250.8. Parts build is suppose to be better although the 150 drive my Piegas easily. One day I may do that. ITMT I have to say that the most perfect match of amplification to speakers are my Sennheiser Headphone amp and headphones. The match is perfection in terms of detail, power, spatiality. I don’t know if the Sennheiser amp is different in design to the Pass philosophy of amplification but the match is so good I may try another amp in the system before I upgrade to the Pass 250.8.
          Turntable: TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter mat & weight; PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.
          Digital: Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer
          Amplification: VTL 6.5 preamp Series II, Pass Labs 150.8 Amp
          Loudspeakers: Piega C711 Loudspeakers
          Isolation: Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks and grade 2.5 Balls
          Misc: Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 Atmosphere power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref IC, synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

          Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm one of the SET heretics. I was mesmerized with the sound of the SET back in the mid '90's and bit the bullet in the early 2000's with a pair of lightly used Cary 2A3 Signature monoblocks. At 3.5W per channel it needs a very high efficiency speaker and I found a pair of lightly used Avantgarde Duos within a year. Had them ever since. I've switched power tubes in the 20 years of ownership from the original KR's to Shuguang Treasures, to Psvane Grey have been very happy with Psvane Acme 2A3s for the past few years.

            Larry
            Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,Lyra Skala+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Otari MX5050B2,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
            Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
            Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiHorizon, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
            Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
            Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
            Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
            Music-1800R2Rtapes,50TBrips

            Comment


            • #7
              The amps have always been the centerpiece of my system and where I’ve spent the most money
              Analog: VPI Aries 3, custom suspension & platter interface || Magnetically stabilized JMW 10.5i || Ortofon A90, Verismo || Modded & fully shielded Pass XP-25 || VPI SDS speed controller || Magnum Dynalab MD-90SE/105 Digital: Spectral 4000SV Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV || DMA-500AR Speakers: Custom MartinLogan Cabling: Shielded MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X,90.1,Shunyata Alpha v2 Other: Shunyata Everest & cords; Isodamp, mumetal, 3M AB5100, Dynamat, Copper foil; Vishay diodes, resistors; Mundorf coils & capacitors

              Main System Link
              Second System Link

              Comment


              • #8
                I have always looked at the amp/cable/speaker as a unit. The interactions are important and changing any one of the three will almost always change the sound, and not necessarily in a predictable way. This can potentially be a big advantage for an active speaker, but done poorly (a la Meridian?) just as big a disadvantage.
                Tascam BR-20
                Technics 1506 with tape path upgrades, FM head , DeHavilland 222 tape head pre
                Modwright Oppo 205 full tube mod w/LPS
                Euphony Summus server, EtherRegen, HDPLEX LPS
                MSB Discrete DAC (dual PS, ISLPro, balanced out)
                Pass Labs XP-12, XA60.8 (pair)
                Daedalus Audio Apollo 11’s
                VMPS Larger Sub
                Daedalus/Wywires, Audioquest, Acoustic Zen, Sablon Audio, Wireworld cables
                Core Power Equi=Power
                Adona rack; Stillpoints and IsoPods, Tube Traps, GIK

                Comment


                • #9
                  I forgot to mention in my earlier post I would love to buy monoblocks but I don’t have the room. I have no doubt that would be a benefit to my sound.
                  Turntable: TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter mat & weight; PS Audio Stellar Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.
                  Digital: Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer
                  Amplification: VTL 6.5 preamp Series II, Pass Labs 150.8 Amp
                  Loudspeakers: Piega C711 Loudspeakers
                  Isolation: Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks and grade 2.5 Balls
                  Misc: Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 Atmosphere power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref IC, synergistic Research Atmosphere X Euphoria Level 3 Balanced ICs, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

                  Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Amps probably have the easiest job in a system, to make a small signal into a larger signal, just needs to do it cleanly and with some headroom left.
                    Amp-McIntosh MC501x2,ATI 2505,ATI 1505,Innersound amp
                    Preamp-McIntosh c2200,Marantz AV7005
                    Phono Pre Sutherland Phono Blocks
                    Speakers-Innersound Eros w/new panels and woofers,
                    Von Schweikert VR4 HSE,Paradigm 80's 60's and CC350
                    Crossover-DBX Venu 360
                    Analog-Hanss T-60/SME V,Hana SL/Rega RB330 Ortofon Quintet Black ,2-Sony APR 5003,Revox B77
                    Digital-Sony SCD XA5400ES, JRIVER Media Center
                    Wadia DI122 DAC Desktop Computer
                    Subs-2 Velodyne HGS10's,2 Velodyne 1200's
                    Tuner-Revox B760 McIntosh MR74 Sony XDR F1HD
                    JVC Projector,Draper electric 92" screen
                    Room dedicated 27'x16'x10', Bass traps
                    VPI 17 record cleaning machine
                    Sennheiser HD600

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The job of an amplifier seems simple - take a small signal and make it a bigger one and don't change it in any way while doing that. Sadly, it isn't that easy. Power amplifiers do indeed add or detract from the sound and I'm not sure there are any rules about what attributes to look at when searching for a good amp.

                      I have had excellent luck with Class A amps in terms of sound, though they run hot as Hell and weigh off-putting amounts if you need to move them. On the other hand, one of my favourite amps is a tube amp that puts out 70 W per channel. I have an old Class A amp that I used to run and kept because I like it too much to sell it (fairly rare Belles 'A') which has the same output and have been meaning to try them against each other some time.
                      Last edited by wspohn; 08-03-2022, 09:44 AM.
                      Main:VPI TNT V, SME V, Koetsu Urushi, Vendetta SCP2-D, Conrad Johnson Premier 14, Conrad Johnson Premier 11a, Wilson Maxx 2, Inouye power conditioner, Moon 280D DAC

                      #2 Sota Cosmos, SME V, Lyra Clavis, Bryston BP17, Conrad Johnson Premier 15 phono, Classe DR3 VHC, Martin Logan CLS, Hegel HD12 DAC

                      #3 Roksan Radius 5/Nima/Goldring Eroica LX Classe DR-7, Classe DR3 VHC bridged monos + PSE V monos (bass), Classe DAC1 DAC, Vandersteen 4A,

                      #4 (AV) Marantz AV 7702 Mk2, Rowland 5, Wilson Maxx 2, Vandersteen VSM-1 (x4), Hsu VTF-15H Mk 2 (x2)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        IMO amps (and Pre amp) are the heart of a system. We were running Pass Labs 260 monos until just a few weeks ago. I’ve long enjoyed Pass and still do. Everything in our system sounded superb. But we’re doing a system update and we’re focused on new amps. We tried Boulder, MSB, Gryphon, EMM Labs, Westminster Labs REIs, etc. While we enjoyed them all, we finally choose some Vitus SM-103 monos. The entire system changed. We didn’t know what we were missing until we changed amps.

                        With the improvement of our amps now, other system upgrades are being considered.
                        Sincerely,

                        Joe


                        Our System

                        Speakers: Magico M3s w/ MPODs
                        Amps: Vitus Signature SM-103 Monos
                        Pre-Amp: EMM Labs PRE

                        Phono:

                        TT: J. Sikora Standard Max Turntable
                        Tonearms: 2 x J. Sikora KV12 Kevlar Tonearms
                        Carts: Airtight Opus1 and MSL Platinum Signature
                        Phono Stage: VAC Renaissance

                        Digital:

                        EMM Labs DA2 V2 (DAC)
                        EMM TX2 Transport (SACD / CD)
                        Aurender N30SA (Streamer)
                        Aurender ACS10 (CD Ripper)

                        Other Necessities:

                        Power Conditioner: Shunyata Everest w/SSF Feet

                        Cables: Shunyata Sigma, Alpha and Aural Symphonics Optimism Fiber Optic

                        Cable Elevators: Shunyata DF-SS

                        3 x Dedicated Circuits (10g) with Shunayta SR-Z1 Outlets

                        Rack: Adona Reference, 2 x Custom Eric’s C3s and 2 x Zero GR1 Amp Stands

                        Comment

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