Art’s First Report from CAF

Perhaps you've heard this before, but it bears repeating: Veteran exhibitors and attendees alike have a great deal of loyalty and affection for this seven-year-old show and its busy founder, Gary Gill. I was reminded of that during my very first stop on day one of Capital AudioFest 2017, when Kevin Hayes of VAC described the reasoning behind the decision to assemble such a large, expensive, and distinctly ambitious playback system: "In light of the move to this time of year, we wanted to help Gary and the show by doing something exceptional." The result: a system built around the mighty Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 11 loudspeaker ($295,000/pair), powered by two pairs of VAC's Statement 450 iQ monoblock power amplifiers ($120,000/pair).

Among other design distinctions, those monoblocks, which use KT88 output tubes, are the first VAC amps to use the company's patented VAC iQ automatic bias system, in which optimum bias current is kept stable with greater than 99% accuracy, regardless of output level or temperature. (Hayes says that VAC iQ can now be had in every power amp the company makes, and will appear in a forthcoming VAC integrated amp, due out in December.)

During my time in this room, which was sponsored by the Atlanta, Georgia-based dealer The Audio Company, the source was a Transrotor Orion turntable and 5009 turntable ($33,800, combined) with an Air Tight Opus cartridge ($15,000). Esoteric's Grandioso transport ($35,000), Grandioso monoblock DACs ($36,000/pair), and N-01 network layer ($20,000) were also in the system, other components of which included VAC's Statement phono stage ($80,000) and line stage ($75,000), with cables by MasterBuilt Audio ("expensive but extraordinary," according to Hayes) and Critical Mass isolation supports.

While listening, from a front-row seat, to an LP of Tchaikovsy's The Nutcracker, I was fairly stunned—no other word for it—by the realism and presence of the woodwind instruments in particular, and the believable colors and textures of the strings. But to dissect the sound in such a manner is to do this seemingly over-the-top system a disservice: It played the music convincingly, entertainingly, and thrillingly. A pretty good start!

In a second, smaller room sponsored by The Audio Company, concomitantly smaller products were featured. Prices were smaller, as well, the goal being to keep each product under $10,000. The turntable was the Clearaudio Innovation ($10,000, including tonearm), with an Ortofon Cadenza Red cartridge ($1200), driving a VAC Renaissance phono stage ($9900), Renaissance V line stage ($9990), and Phi 170 iQ amplifier ($9900), itself driving the Von Schweikert Endeavor E3 loudspeaker ($8000/pair), the whole thing sewn up with MasterBuilt cables. Also in the system was an Esoteric CD player, the model name of which I failed to get.

Before saying goodbye to the $1.5 million system in the other room, I listened to the Eiji Oue/Minnesota Symphony recording of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances—and I asked to hear the same track on the smaller system; it was pleasing, but in different ways. It was less colorful and impactful, but had just as good sense of flow—and, room volume for room volume, the smaller system seemed more spacious.

On the way out of The Audio Company's demonstrations, I saw David Stanavich of Waxrax, the Brooklyn-based metalwork company whose stylish custom record racks were featured in a recent issue of Stereophile. Stanavich mentioned that his company's LP-H Console ($7000 and up), which holds playback gear as well as LPs, is in use in the Robyatt Audio room, which I plan to visit before the show's end.

Of course, there's no sense having LP storage without LPs—and I was delighted to see a number of people selling new and used vinyl at CAF 2017. They included Doylestown, Pennsylvania-based Sound Stage Direct . . .

Baltimore's El Suprimo Records . . .

Acoustic Sounds . . .

. . . and Falls Church, Virginia's CD Cellar, whose stock of collectible LPs contained two LPs I simply couldn't leave behind.

Finally, I visited the booth sponsored by vintage-gear specialists Just Audio, whose founder, John Panzer, is seen in the pic above—and whose Lenny Florentine will join Herb Reichert, Joe Roberts, Early Bender, Blackie Pagano, and me at 10:30 on Sunday morning for a seminar titled The Virtues of Vintage. Fun awaits!

COMMENTS
mrkaic's picture

I understand that people want to make money. But charging $120k for some tube amplifier is grotesque. They can’t measure better that a Benchmark AHB2 — hence are worse.

That said, I am beginning to love these expensive and probably inferior components. They separate clueless science-denying audiophiles from a lot of money. Punishment for denying science is pretty steep. Should be harsher and more expensive though. I love to see audiophiles overpay big time.

supamark's picture

they're high powered mono tube amps, they're not supposed to measure (or sound) like a medium powered stereo class AB solid state amp.

Conflating science denial with a difference in taste is pretty dumb though. Your continual cheerleading for Benchmark's amp makes me wonder about your motivation$...

mrkaic's picture

Only a science denier can develop the taste for inferior and overpriced audio equipment. That is my experience from exchanging views with audiophiles.

Am I wrong? Show me a person who is pro (real, quantitative) science or engineering and has a taste for overpriced audio gear?

supamark's picture

I'm an actual scientist (B. Sci. Biochemistry, 2009), among other things. It's not denying science to prefer one set of distortions (such as those of tubes and turntables) over others (from transistors and D/A converters), but your inability to comprehend that your subjective taste is neither shared by everyone nor objectively correct is telling.

Oh, and FYI - I'm not really a tube guy, but I get why someone would be (and VAC makes really good, innovative tube gear for a very narrow market segment that doesn't include you).

mrkaic's picture

Well, it is good that you are a biochemist. That will make my last point about Bayesian updating much easier to communicate.

1. As regards science denial, I invite you to communicate with those who love distorted sounding low fidelity gear. You will be amazed to find the extremely high correlation between science denial and the preference for low fidelity (e.g. single ended tube gear). You will also be amazed to find the extremely high correlation between this preference and outright occult, like the belief in directional cables, directional fuses, breaking in electronic equipment etc.

2. In my experience as a Bayesian updater, the correlation between science denial and low fidelity is (almost) perfect. I started with a prior that science deniers like low fidelity. Every interaction with those people only confirmed my prior, so my posterior is unchanged -- science deniers and low fidelity lowers represent the same set of people.

3. Hence, my posterior beliefs are completely rational, based on the information I have absorbed so far.

QED

supamark's picture

you conflate differing tastes in music reproduction with belief in unproven tweeks - it's like you're trying to set this up as some sort of science vs. religion nonsense.

Put plainly, some people like things you don't and you can't deal with it. It's kinda funny.

One more thing you might consider - people with synesthesia (like myself) can pleasantly experience those distortions with other senses.

mrkaic's picture

I told you quite clearly that I have empirical reasons for my claim that science deniers like low fidelity gear. Did you learn any statistics in school? Probably not, at least not beyond using some mechanical recipes like p=5%. Why don’t you Read again what I wrote about Bayesian updating? It will be good for you. :))

supamark's picture

low fidelity gear is a $300 7.1 surround sound receiver, not an amp from VAC with automatic regulation of bias for all its tubes (an expensive and high tech feature grounded in science that will make an audible improvement in sound).

Also, considering the number of actual science deniers in the US alone, I find it rather hard to believe that your sample was either large enough or representative of the population at large. What was your control group? Did you take age/income/etc in to account? Who was the 2nd shooter? Have you run your experiment more than once?

mrkaic's picture

1. Do you even know what fidelity is? I don't think so. A $300 7.1 solid state receiver most likely has lower THD (and in general measures better) than your tube amp.

2. You obviously don't have a clue about electrical engineering. If you did, you would not write about automatic regulation of bias as an "expensive and high tech feature". Here are some circuits for you to see how basic this stuff is.

http://www.tubecad.com/2005/May/blog0045.htm
http://www.tubecad.com/2005/May/blog0046.htm

Not exactly high tech, is it? I mean, if you understood any electronics you would recognize this as pretty basic stuff? You get autobias in Primalunas and they show quite clearly that it is not high tech or expensive: http://www.primaluna-usa.com/adaptive-autobias

3. It seems that you don't understand Bayesian updating. I've told you how I reached my conclusion. You are just giving back to me recipes you learned in college.

supamark's picture

You're a blowhard talking out his ass trying to objectivise the subjective. It's like you don't get the concept of individuality, and individual tastes and choices; or that humans aren't actually very rational.

Oh, and you totally missed the JFK assassination conspiracy joke in my last reply... that's how seriously I'm taking this discussion, btw.

mrkaic's picture

I missed your so called joke about JFK because I am not as much into conspiracy theories as you appear to be. Have you set up a tent on the Grassy Knoll? Do you camp there to look for the second shooter?

You know, I admire your resilience. I proved that you have exactly zero clue about electronics, that you don't understand Bayesian updating, and that you fall for shallow marketing claims about "expensive and high tech auto biasing" etc. And what do you do? You completely ignore the shame that has befallen you and come back like nothing has happened. Amazing stuff, my friend, amazing stuff.

I think that the future has great things in store for you, just not in science. You appear to be a natural born motivational speaker.

supamark's picture

I've only been half paying attention to you (at best). The only thing you've actually proven is that you don't have a sense of humor and you're kinda full of crap. Beyesian updating won't work when you're suffering from cognitive dissonance (like, by definition it cannot work).

Keep in mind, for many years I got paid to essentially just listen (and spent 1000's of hours doing it for pleasure in the years before/since). Do you know much about biology and the brain? Did you know that the more time you spend doing something, the more of your brain you'll devote to it? It's true, that's how wine tasters get so good at it.

Spend less time worrying about specs (and why someone would want to listen to tubes, or horns, or Lowthers, etc) and more time just listening to the textures and colors of the sound. Oh, don't feel/see textures and colors when you listen to music/sounds? Well then, too bad you're really missing out (and there's no way to change it - either you've got synesthesia or you don't) but you can still thoroughly enjoy music, just not in all the ways I do.

mrkaic's picture

You clearly don’t have a clue about the subject. You can’t even spell it right. Dude, can you kindly stop embarrassing yourself? Your attempts at responding are too painful to watch.

supamark's picture

it's your term, your BS and like I said I'm not really paying attention to you though the conversation is bringing myself and a few others some amusement. You're like Julian Hirsch railing against the guys at The Absolute Sound because measurements 'n shit.

mrkaic's picture

My term? You must be kidding: http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~steffen/teaching/bs2HT9/kalman.pdf

There is no point wasting my time on these exchanges. You don't have the necessary knowledge of electronics, physics and statistics to talk about audio.

Have a nice day.

supamark's picture

you have a predetermined conclusion that you wish to reach, then you mfg evidence to support that claim, leading to your conclusion that you proved something other than your own cognitive dissonance (you didn't). I even point out the main flaw in your reasoning - that you're trying to objectively measure the subjective (taste in sound) and draw an unrelated conclusion from it. Literally using taste in art to claim science denial.

There are literally *millions* of millionaires in the US alone, and frankly it's better for the rest of us economically if they would spend a lot more of that money frivolously to redistribute it throughout the economy without the political problems of doing it via taxes. Unfortunately, people don't tend to get rich by spending frivolously... but there's obviously enough who like high power low maintenance tube amps to keep VAC in business.

maybe you're just jealous.

RH's picture

mrkaic,

While I agree there is plenty of magical thinking in high end audio, you are coming across as rather over-the-top.

FWIW:

1. I don't deny any science. In fact, I believe science is our best effort for dealing with some pretty fundamental epistemic problems. I also believe high end audio could use more emphasis on scientific methods (including blind testing etc).

2. I really enjoy music played via my tube amps (Conrad Johnson) over the typical better-measuring "more accurate" solid state amp.

Why? Because I like the touch of euphony the amps add. Is it less accurate? Yes and no. If by "accurate" one means the strictest fidelity to reproducing the signal (with the least distortion), then yes the tube amps produce less accurate sound than a good solid state amp.

But as a listener that is not necessarily the target I have for accuracy. My target is reproducing some of the characteristics I experience from live acoustic sources. And one of the salient characteristics of live acoustic sources that strike me - from guitars to voices - are a combination of clarity, richness and ease; in comparison most reproduced music sounds tight, brittle and mechanical.

Surely this is due to all the colorations often picked up along the way, from the original acoustics, to the microphone colorations, to production distortions, mastering etc. Therefore they are on the source.

Certain tube amps (those with enough euphonic distortion) to my ear add back a bit of richness to voices and instruments, slightly soften the hard edges, and add a smoothness and ease to the sound. The result is that the reproduced sound more accurately reminds me of real live sources. Hence I find the sound more "believable" and beautiful, like live music sounds. It is in *that* sense, "more accurate" or has "higher fidelity" to the thing I'm using as a yardstick: some of the characteristics of live acoustic sound sources.

I'm of course not talking about gross differences here. It's not as if using a tube amp alters the sound so much that it utterly changes the sound of the source. No...everything of importance is there in terms of the artistic use of production that gives any track it's signature sound. I'm talking only a gentle nudge in the direction of, to my ears, a more listenable and pleasing experience of the music.

If you can point out anything actually irrational or unreasonable in there...be my guest.

mrkaic's picture

...this would be a very different hobby.

I have no major disagreements with what you are saying. You are talking about your preferences while not denying science. It is the latter that is quite often an integral part of the irritating ideology of subjectivist audiophiles.

Of course, it would be interesting to see how much of enjoyment and the sense of musical authenticity that your amplifier gives you, happens due to sighted listening , but that a topic for a different day.

mrkaic's picture

What kind of amplifier would you prefer to use with live recordings? Still one that distorts in a seemingly pleasing way or one that is objectively accurate?

RH's picture

@mrkaic,

I don't see any difference for my approach whether the source is a live recording or studio recording. Both suffer various forms of colorations, often similar (e.g. microphones will introduce colorations, and anything else a mixer may be doing).

Reproduced sound, in general, strikes me as having an artificial character (not surprising as we don't have a fully transparent chain at this point from mic to speaker to listener's ears).

There are certainly more natural recordings than others - realistic voice reproduction for instance with a minimum of exaggerated sibilant or hardness to a voice, and they can sound easeful and natural through an SS amp in my system. But those are much more rare, given the nature of most recordings I buy.

Even on smoother, more naturally "audiophile" recordings, I still tend to find my tube amplification takes it a little further toward "the real thing." Probably because I tend to concentrate on the sense of ease, whereas if I focused more on, say, the absolute clarity and precision of transients and their effect on realism, I may prefer an SS amp that doesn't slightly round those transients like a tubey-amp does.

Generally speaking, even with audiophile-level recordings of voices and acoustic sources, I still find the sound slightly more convincing and enjoyable via the tube amps, and while much of my music library comprises far more artificial production (I love electronic music especially), I still appreciate the slightly more rich,"organic" and easy presentation my tube amps impart.
For a long time I owned both the Conrad Johnson amps and a really good Bryston amp, and (on my speakers) though I could certainly appreciate the grip, control, clarity and precision of the sound relative to the tube amplification, I also found it more fatiguing to listen to, especially with electronic music. I work in Film Sound so I'm recording, creating and manipulating sound all day long which can get fatiguing on the ears. Yet even with tired ears I can still fire up my 2 channel system and listen without fatigue.

BTW, I agree about your sighted listening question. Not that we need to go there but...the idea that "tube amps sound like X and SS amps sound like Y" is endemic in high end audio. But (and I'm not an EE), as I understand it a tube amp can be fairly easily designed to sound indistinguishable sonically from an SS amp (and the reverse, to some degree, as the infamous Bob Carver amp challenge showed). So I don't just presume "because I have a tube amp, it sounds different from an SS amp."

However, it does not seem controversial even among EEs and non-woo-woo equipment designers, that many tube amps DO introduce a degree of measurable/audible distortion. As your own post implies to the be case.

My CJ amp is an old one, back when they had the reputation for fairly obvious tubey coloration. Given the premise tube amps can sound different, that this amp comes from a time when they were known for coloration, and this amp sounds quite different to me than any SS amp I've had in my system, I'm ok going with the tentative premise "it sounds slightly different, and in a way I like."

But I do not hold the level of confidence in this that I would have if I were blind-testing it against an SS amp. And who knows, I may be surprised if I blind tested it and found I preferred the SS amp!
That's what's pretty fun about blind testing.

I've used blind testing - cables, DACs etc - to save myself quite a bit of money (it's one reason why I don't buy expensive cables). Just recently I switched to a new music server to stream my ripped CDs and I *thought* I was hearing a difference in the sound that I didn't expect. But since that didn't make sense to me I had a pal help me set up a blind test with my previous server. Whaddya know? The differences disappeared! I couldn't tell any actual difference.
So I find blind testing a welcome and helpful tool for settling cases of "audiophile nervosa" :-)

Cheers.

mrkaic's picture

I actually own a tube amp (Quad VA-One) -- mostly for sentimental reasons, since I like to observe old technology, i.e. tube amplification, in action. I also measured it and it acquitted itself very well -- low distortion, excellent output transformers etc.

I am with you on blind testing, audiophile cables and the general anti-science attitude of many audiophiles. What bothers me most about them is the ridiculous audiophile claims about directional cables and the need to break them in. There is no scientific or practical basis for any of that. I mean, we have built our entire power grid and information technology by assuming that wires are not directional. Practice confirms this very well - if wires were indeed directional, we would obviously observe that, for example, while building power transmission lines, where voltages and currents are much larger than in audio. Furthermore, there is nothing in the crystal structure of copper that would indicate any directionality. And finally, audio signals are AC, so what exactly would directionality in this context even mean?

But instead of admitting that they are inadequately educated to discuss the technical points of audio, many audiophiles invoke ridiculous unscientific claims. They avoid proving their claims (like to use the argument from ignorance), perform obviously biased sighted listening "tests" etc. For them it is not enough to state that they prefer certain equipment -- something that you do. No, they have to deny science and engineering along the way. I understand that such attitude is more comfortable than actually reading science and engineering, but it is an attitude that is rotten to the core.

Thanks again for your well reasoned post.

mrkaic's picture

Q: What justifies the price of this VAC amplifier? The market clearly cannot be competitive, since its price is way above the marginal cost.

=> VAC must have some market power to charge a markup above zero.

=> How do they get that market power? The strategy must include appealing to those people whose marginal utility of buying this stuff is greater than or equal to $120k and limiting the supply of their amps.

=> And who are those people? Definitely not those who prefer high fidelity.

=> Since lovers of low fidelity and science deniers are the same group (see my Bayesian updating argument), VAC can charge so much. Science deniers are willing to pay such prices.

=> I like science deniers to be fleeced.

=> I love VAC amplifiers -- just like science deniers like them. We just have different reasons for liking VAC amps. :))))

mrkaic's picture

Since you have no arguments to support your claims, you insinuate that I might have monetary reasons to support Benchmark. I am in no way connected with them, but I admire their engineering.

The only thing you’ve managed to show here is that insinuating monetary motives instead of using logic is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

ChrisS's picture

..."right", don't you?

Let's just say you are.

However, despite what you think, people will continue to shop and buy their audio products, pickup trucks, wines, steaks, iPhones, etc. they way they always do.

Not often because of measurements, perhaps of what they perceive as "good" value, but mostly because of what they want.

Not everyone wants a Corolla, mrkaic.

bagels123's picture

Why so angry?

bornie's picture

Wondering if you have heard the system mentioned above or have heard any of the individual components listed?

Fleschler's picture

I heard the same VAC equipment and von Schweikert speakers/wire with my wife. This was the highlight of the show. They played my classical LPs and Jazz CDs. My wife wanted that system over the 55+ rooms we heard (especially the bad to horrible sounding Magico based systems). There was NO contest-this room had the most revealing and musical sound of any room. That system had a retail price under $1 million, with my system closer to $80,000. My main system sounds about 50% as good as this one and I wouldn't trade it for any other of the LA Audio rooms systems (a few were as good but more expensive). The increase in enjoyment quality does not correlate to price-10X higher price to get 2X better sound. At the low end, I tell people who can afford only a few $1000s in an audio system where to cut corners and often buy good used equipment, tube or ss.

Ortofan's picture

... simply couldn't leave behind are ...?

supamark's picture

I recently picked up a Tandberg TCA-3008A preamp with an eye to refurbing it (there's a Tandberg guy at SoundSmith... plus it's fully discrete, no IC's). It sounds almost as good as I remember from back in the day (and this is a 30ish year old preamp), and total outlay with refurb will likely be under $1,500 for a preamp as good as anything at/below $5,000 new (and it's got a great phono section). Hell, other than my D/A converter, everything in my audio system is 25+ years old (and bought new, except the Tandberg). I'm kinda dreading the Re-capening (Dun Dun Dun!).

Ortofan's picture

would compare to the $1,100 Parasound Halo P5 (which also has a phono section; plus it includes a built-in DAC)?
https://www.stereophile.com/content/parasound-halo-p-5-21-channel-da-pre...

supamark's picture

not very well. I don't know how familiar you are with high end pro audio, but refurb'd and properly adjusted it should sound very similar to GML stuff - very dynamic (its in/out overload is a couple volts higher than the P5), fully discrete (no IC's), with wide frequency response.

I had considered the P5 before buying the Tandberg, but I knew the Tandberg's strengths were exactly what I was looking for (and I picked up a Schiit Modi2 Uber for D/A converter, $150 and probably better than the one in the P5). The Tandberg's headphone amp is also a separate amp circuit (about 1W into my 32 Ohm ortho's) like the P5, and has a separate phono pre for MM and MC with both cap. and imp. adjustments. I don't have a sub, and my current mains will go below 25hz (love me some sealed box bass) so I don't need one. Oh, and Larry Greenhill favorably reviewed it in Audio Mag. 30 years ago lol.

I would advise making sure there are folks who can work on the gear and parts available (which is true for Tandberg amps and pre's) before buying vintage/used gear. Also figure in the cost of refurb before buying if it wasn't recently re-cap'd and is more than 10 to 15 years old. I'd especially check on availability of replacement drivers for speakers before buying.

volvic's picture

I have lusted after their gear since 1981. Own a 2045 and think it is brilliant for its age, it was so good when I bought it that it trounced my then Linn Lk1 & LK2 combo that I promptly sold them. A few years ago I became too cheap to pull the trigger on a 3002 & 3006 that was in like new condition at my local dealer. Said I would come for them in one month. Well, someone else who was much smarter bought them before I did. Still kicking myself. If you don't mind the lack of remote Tandberg gear is some of the best around.

supamark's picture

pulled the trigger on a used 3002A back in 1990, but I wanted a remote and one of the RCA connector's ground came off when I pulled the cable off when I was demo'ing it at home... but damn was the sound good. I saw the 3008A online recently, verified I could get it refurbed at a reasonable cost, and bought it and man does it sound good. It's got a cold solder joint on the MM phono input, and is a little out of adjustment - minor issues to soon be corrected.

I've noticed that Tandberg has retained a solid following, and for good reason. Good luck finding another set.

volvic's picture

The quality of construction still shines through, their tuners and receivers pull in stations with ease. Sound is fantastic to my ears. You have awoken me from my Tandberg slumber.

supamark's picture

The guys at Soundsmith have a Tandberg specialist, below's a link to the pricing page (hoping to send in my 3008 before year's end) and they offer a 1 year warranty on their work.

https://www.sound-smith.com/services/tandberg-repair-pricing

volvic's picture

Have known about their Tandberg service for years. At first I thought it was too high a price, but if you amortize it over a 30 year period suddenly that cost isn't so high, they will do it right the first time.

supamark's picture

and as you said, it'll be done right the first time and last another 20 to 30 years trouble free. To improve, I'd likely have to go with something like the Ayre K-5xe or Parasound JC2 preamp, and JC3 Jr. phono pre at around $6k.

There's a lot of great older Mark Levinson, Threshold, and Krell stuff out there too for a bit more money.

ok's picture

Has anyone ever thought of mrkaic or whatever as some kind of chatting AI software? I really think he wouldn’t mind if one thought so..

ChrisS's picture

...difficulty with the real world, audio and otherwise.

Fleschler's picture

mrkaic is a troll. (I am assuming he is not a she). "A troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll's amusement." Audio forum trolls have nothing better to do with their lives than belittle those who enjoy the differences components, other equipment and tweaks make in their audio systems. Audiogon forums are full of them. It surprising this is the first audio troll I've encountered on a Stereophile forum although I'm rather new to this forum.

DougM's picture

Scientists are learning all the time. Just because something cannot be measured yet, doesn't necessarily mean it can't be heard. Julian Hirsch at Stereo Review used to claim that all amplifiers that measured the same sounded the same, and he was such a genius that he could measure everything about any amplifier relating to it's sound quality. And then millions of listeners proved him wrong.

Archimago's picture

As raised in the article with Nelson Pass, can anyone show us ONE example of an amp that measures well using typical measurements but actually sounds poor?

Millions of claims doesn't make something "right". Just like millions of faithful religious followers doesn't "prove" anything. At best it's just subjective preference with insight on the part of the person making the claim. At worst it's insightless dogma.

ChrisS's picture

We've already been there!

"Pass: Measurements and listening go hand in hand. There is a correlation between objective and subjective, but they're not strictly causal relationships. Clearly, there are some amplifiers that measure great with "standard" measurements but don't sound so good, and there are examples of good-sounding/bad-measuring as well. The discrepancies are interesting because they point to either things that have not been measured—more likely, misinterpreted—or aspects of perception and taste that don't correlate to measured flaws. Or both.

In the end, the subjective experience is what our customer is looking for. Our taste in sound may not appeal to everyone, but it's what we have to work with, and we only need a small segment of the market to be successful. I don't neglect the measurements; I put them to work."

Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/nelson-pass-circuit-topology-and-end...

Archimago's picture

But gimme names of what "measure great with "standard" measurements but don't sound so good".

Without names to verify the claim, there's nothing "actionable" here to confirm the assertion.

supamark's picture

Can two amps that measure the about same sound significantly different? So, similar distortion, output, damping, etc but one is a high current class A design and the other say a good class D design using N-Core modules driving several different speaker models.

I don't know the answer btw, never heard any N-Core class D amps.

Archimago's picture

IMO means that YES. For amplifiers with similar distortion, output dampening, at same output volume, they will sound the same whether it's Class A, A/B, D.

No meaningful evidence to suggest otherwise apart from some vague testimonials.

X