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Does Today's Equipment Sound Better Than that of Years Ago?

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    Rust
    Premier Club Member

  • Rust
    commented on Guest's reply
    Meant to say I'd have Ralph OTL amps, not that he uses NOS.
  • Rust
    Premier Club Member

  • Rust
    replied
    Tima - As stated, IF I had the money.

    Out in the fringes of DIY there are strange goings on. One forum or another years ago, one fellow had built what looked like at a least 30' horn out of the back of his listening room with twin compression drivers, the mouth took up most the rear wall. His collection of tube amps looked to be all one off customs, exotic tubes and beautiful to look at. Some of the serious triode folks in Japan have done similar things.

    Somewhere, I think Texas, they have a hobbyist speaker builders contest. You can't buy anything that looks any better than what shows up there and rumor has it some of it sounds pretty good too.

    As far as that goes I could knock together a set of boxes myself, even weld them out of aluminum plate (which would be sort of ugly) BUT I am not up on crossover design. Would probably have to farm that out to someone like Danny Ritchie from GR. At which point I'd have more money in it than what I spent on my current speakers which I think are just spiffy.

    But if I had money to burn, well who knows. Wait, I'd get a better turntable first....

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  • Guest
    Guest

  • Guest
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by Rust View Post
    So some aspects of what I am hearing is that as far as improvements in tube amplification go, the devil is in the details of material science and not basic circuit design. Better wire, better caps, better resistors, better solder. Iron? opinions vary there. And even then some of the more esoteric tube amps use unobtainable NOS parts. And that in most cases ancient NOS tubes are better than new production. Ralph Karsten, Mr. Thunderbolt Pagoda. If I had the money I would have someone make me a pair of BIG 16 ohm speakers to go OTL.
    ...
    I called him kaizen-master Karsten - he's been refining his circuit for over thirty years, and not just with parts. Unless he's changed things recently, I don't believe he uses NOS parts. Though, for sure, NOS tubes can yield great improvements. Its been hard to find decent Ken-Rad and Sylvania 6SN7s for a while now.

    Let me know who builds those speakers for you. I might switch back.

    I think much of today's gear is better - more so in the areas of analog front-ends, cables, speakers, and isolation - but so is my ability to match it well.

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  • Rust
    Premier Club Member

  • Rust
    replied
    How about a pair of Altec A-6s with the Kaguras? Or a BAT?

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  • MylesBAstor
    Administrator

  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Of course, an audiophile on a budget might be best served by putting together a system that in part comprises some of the better gear from yesteryear married to some more current components too. Say a current speaker with one of the better, older tube amps?

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  • allenh
    Premier Club Member

  • allenh
    replied
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

    I know my system has greatly improved compared say to what I owned 15 years ago, much less five years ago. For my system, the biggest improvements lie in the table, phono section, reel-to-reel and especially the speakers.
    Also to play devil's advocate, I think it would be hard for me to tell in my case. I think my room and acoustic treatments have a lot to do with the improved sound I'm hearing, as well as the time invested in SP/LP setup. I wonder what my old system (Aerial 10Ts, Rowland electronics) would sound like in this room properly setup. I feel I have better gear now, but significantly better? I used Andrew Jones' Pioneer budget speakers in this room. They sounded pretty damn good. Hmmm...

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  • JCOConnell
    Premier Club Member

  • JCOConnell
    replied
    I went to the 1994 stereophile show in Miami. This was when vinyl was just being reborn. I heard a room with the sme 30 table that was glorious, and right next to it they had another room with CD that sounded like garbage. Digital has come further than analog in the last 20 years only because it was so bad to start with.

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  • 1morerecord2clean
    Premier Club Member

  • 1morerecord2clean
    replied
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

    I know my system has greatly improved compared say to what I owned 15 years ago, much less five years ago. For my system, the biggest improvements lie in the table, phono section, reel-to-reel and especially the speakers.
    Even if your preference is for vinyl Myles as is mine, certainly your digital would be light years ahead of that 1996 show as is mine.

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  • MylesBAstor
    Administrator

  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by 1morerecord2clean View Post
    I think back to the Stereophile Show at the Waldorf in 1996. It was a big show with lots of vendors. Room acoustics aside, you could have easily sent as many as 40% of the exhibitors home the sound was so bad. So I would say that audio as a sum total without breaking it down into sources, amplification, and speakers has improved dramatically in 20 years.
    I know my system has greatly improved compared say to what I owned 15 years ago, much less five years ago. For my system, the biggest improvements lie in the table, phono section, reel-to-reel and especially the speakers.

    Leave a comment:

  • MylesBAstor
    Administrator

  • MylesBAstor
    commented on 's reply
    Garth: JC raised the old iron point! My point was that almost all (all?) tube amplifiers derive from a couple of basic circuit designs.Years ago, a designer I knew looked at the Jadis circuit, measured the amp and commented it was basically a Mac circuit with the best measuring output transformers he had ever seen. And some of these old designs can with some updating, acquit themselves pretty well. I recently heard the VAS amps made in China that are based on the Hegeman design driving some Blade 1s. I was shocked by how good they sounded.
  • Rust
    Premier Club Member

  • Rust
    replied
    So some aspects of what I am hearing is that as far as improvements in tube amplification go, the devil is in the details of material science and not basic circuit design. Better wire, better caps, better resistors, better solder. Iron? opinions vary there. And even then some of the more esoteric tube amps use unobtainable NOS parts. And that in most cases ancient NOS tubes are better than new production. Ralph Karsten, Mr. Thunderbolt Pagoda. If I had the money I would have someone make me a pair of BIG 16 ohm speakers to go OTL.

    No doubt sand amplifiers have gotten better simply due to the fact more suitable transistors have become available with transfer functions more closely approaching that of tubes. I have to wonder where sand amplifiers would be had the resources of Western Electric been thrown behind transistors for decades.

    But speakers, well. Speakers have been essentially miniaturized for decades, going from 100 dB+ efficiencies to a common 87 dB or so. So to hit 97 dB a solid 100 watts is needed. 107 dB takes 1,000 watts. But watts are cheap, aren't they? If you are referring to quality watts in that sort of quantity, hell no.

    As far as the design, materials science and construction execution of miniaturized speakers go, they have seen massive improvements. Yet there are a few things they still don't quite do as well as the humongous speakers of the past. Like scale. Miniature speakers take considerably more power to produce realistic sound levels. Think I2R losses causing heating in voice coils and thus compression causing inaccurate reproduction of dynamics. The exception being those rather larger boxes, like the big Wilsons and so on. Their dynamics are always positively mentioned so I guess size does matter. But they are still far short of 105 dB+ efficiencies.

    A conundrum of sorts. Bigger speakers = smaller amps, smaller speakers = bigger amps. My grandfather once told me you can only hit so hard with a small hammer. So what do you want for the bigger hammer, the speaker or the amplifier? Both?

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  • Garth
    Premier Club Member

  • Garth
    commented on 's reply
    old iron well Myles you had a couple of Kondo I will gladly find you some mint 1950s Heath kits for a even trade because I am willing to let you have the old iron for the kondo . Or any other 1950 amp always glad to help out. The stuff is better today a few great NOS tubes is even a maybe with what is coming out now. Because NOS is rare . A lot more talk about Unicorns than there are Unicorns
  • 1morerecord2clean
    Premier Club Member

  • 1morerecord2clean
    replied
    I think back to the Stereophile Show at the Waldorf in 1996. It was a big show with lots of vendors. Room acoustics aside, you could have easily sent as many as 40% of the exhibitors home the sound was so bad. So I would say that audio as a sum total without breaking it down into sources, amplification, and speakers has improved dramatically in 20 years.

    Leave a comment:

  • jcmusic
    Premier Club Member

  • jcmusic
    replied
    Myles the key factor here would be the iron used in the amps, today's is just not the same or the tooling is different... Yes the improvements have been substantial but I have not heard an improvement to the old iron used in the 50's!!!

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  • MylesBAstor
    Administrator

  • MylesBAstor
    replied
    Originally posted by jcmusic View Post
    When it comes to amps the old iron is really hard to beat, it has that tonal quality that sounds so real!!!
    I guess what I was thinking is that all tube amps derive from just a couple of basic circuit designs. Now there have been improvements in parts of the circuit such as lowering driver stage impedance, output and power transformer design, parts, etc. and of course Ralph continues to push the envelope in OTL tube amp design too.

    But several years ago, Dick Sequerra played for me a Marantz 8b (that of course he was involved in the design of) driving his Sequerra speaker and it was magical.

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