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Old 31st August 2007, 06:36 PM   #1
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Default Mr. Babin and Mr. Bezjak......

Since you two have so much experience with amps I am curious as to what amps you think to be really decently built, commonly available and reasonably priced amps? Even with 30+ years in this hobby, I do not know enough of the inner workings and circuit designs to really know what is what. I have many old school, "Made in USA" amps, but wonder what current amps, that the average Joe can afford, can compete SQwise with amps of 10-12 years ago. Or is the "old school" thing overblown?
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Old 31st August 2007, 11:51 PM   #2
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Well the key words seem to be "the average Joe can afford" is this correct ?

Cause you gonna be looking some time to find a affordable High SQ amplifier. As far as myself I am running a Xenon 200.4 with minor tweaking to its internals for a pretty OK SQ solution for the price. < this being a $350.00 800 watt RMS amp for my four corners.>

I am using a ultra high powered amp but I am running it at way less then its rating to attain "Affordable SQ".
By running way below its rating I manage to keep it closer to its linear range of operation which keeps SQ high. Its made overseas but it has a bunch of PG design left inside of it, so I was impressed enough to buy it. Most of the other Class AB amps are just clones of one another in different cases .

I had a MacIntosh before, a MC-431. I actually think the Xenon sounds better, but maybe I just have a tin ear, who knows ??? I am also partial to PPI- Butler amps, and Butler amps but these are not cheap.

My private collection consists of Adcom all mosfet amps BNIB, and several PG ZPA 0.5's, again not very affordable, but well built and designed none the less. The Adcom's can play into a dead short without failure, so they were very stout for their day. I have mine tweaked internally for optimum SQ vs Distortion and linearity. I even keep a 30 watter on my bench as a SQ reference test amp, Shame these are no longer made.
The ZPA 0.5's can do 1600 watts unclipped in mono at 2 ohms with tweaking < here again I am using ultra high powered amps in a derated service to get higher linearity for better SQ>

One of the best SQ amp your money can buy is the older M series PG amps. I have been impressed with the M-25 especially. For a 25 watt per channel amp it has very good SQ, and does typically twice to three times its power rating unclipped. These go cheap on e-bay but due to their age they must be serviced to really enjoy their SQ. < these amps are 15+ years old now so the service thing is standard for any amp this old, Caps go bad with age, and use so service should be expected for any amp this old.

There are lots of interesting amps out there. I find myself interested in Tru technology for some home grown listening. They seem to have a dignified SQ protocol in their business plan, But they are not cheap. Handmade never is cheap.

Brax, Helix, Sinfoni, and a host of other European names have come around in the last few years trying to fill the gap. I have been impress with European construction, they seem to build a well made product. But alas there are so few to listen to because of their price.

As for my clients tastes well, I have restored more "Old School" amps lately then anything else. If you have the SQ you want why gamble on new stuff, just have your older amps refurbished by a dedicated and caring person that will give your equipment the attention it deserves and the respect you deserve also.
I find myself restoring High SQ amp from the past more and more. I lose money on it currently but I have work coming in from as far away as Norway and Tahiti requesting I give it my best touch to return it to its original luster and performance. Its time consuming work, but I get a kick out of this at my age. All my clients ask for is that I treat their amp as if it was mine

I will continue this later as I headed out on a mini holiday. I will be back later Thanks for asking C
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Old 1st September 2007, 01:27 PM   #3
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I find it difficult to recommend any amplifiers on the market at this time.

Old school amps are often better designed mechanically/physically. It was rare to find an amp that would fall apart during normal use (Rockford's HD series was the exception).

The audio circuits in the linear amplifiers (class A, B and AB) have essentially been the same since the 1970s. As far as I know, no one has made any great strides in basic amplifier design in many years.

Although people tend to believe that amplifiers with extremely low distortion numbers sound better, as long as the overall distortion is less than ~0.1% across the entire bandwidth, the distortion is not a factor.

One of the most important things you need to get a good sounding system is headroom. Clipping distortion is the most audible distortion. If you want a clean system, buy the highest power amplifier you can afford.

There are other things that can make one amp better than another but they are generally inaudible and add to cost so most manufacturers don't focus on them.
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Old 2nd September 2007, 02:52 PM   #4
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Gentlemen,

Thanks for the replies. I have people ask me often about recommendations I can give, and I find myself at a loss more and more because of a lack of true knowledge about today's gear. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and trash this brand and that brand, or give a rave review, but enough people do that already without really having a factual basis. I like to be able to back up what I say with some knowledge based on something other than hype or hearsay.
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Old 5th September 2007, 09:47 PM   #5
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Perry, if you could look at my thread when it appears I'd appreciate it.
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Old 6th September 2007, 04:05 PM   #6
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Newbie here, I'm partial to my old infinity kappas, however, one cycles on/off (one output transistor is dis-colored, and the sub board is warmer than I would expect?). Need a source in N. Cal. for help. I appreciate the "elegance" of my Eclipse head-unit and wondered about their amps; SQ only. Jeff.
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Old 6th September 2007, 05:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by jazzdane
Newbie here, I'm partial to my old infinity kappas, however, one cycles on/off (one output transistor is dis-colored, and the sub board is warmer than I would expect?). Need a source in N. Cal. for help. I appreciate the "elegance" of my Eclipse head-unit and wondered about their amps; SQ only. Jeff.


I am in Nor Cal. which Kappa are you talking about? They are pretty straight forward. LMK or e-mail me through the forum.
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Old 6th September 2007, 06:25 PM   #8
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What luck! As a new member, I am unable to use the forum e-mail, but I can be reached at dienamicsinc@aol.com. I have a 255a, in use, (original owner); a 202a to use for a moderate sub, and a broken 255a for tune-up/repair. Maybe all of these should be "tweaked"? I had seen that 'justonemoreamp' owns some similar ones, and had hoped my "N. Cal." reference would get your attention, even though I'm in RI. Thanks, Jeff.
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Old 7th September 2007, 01:31 AM   #9
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Perry, Are you saying that all amps are more or less the same in sound quality and performance?
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Old 7th September 2007, 02:22 AM   #10
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If you take the 'power amplifier section' of virtually any of the commercially available solid state car audio amplifiers that use negative feedback, they will all sound the same. The negative feedback insures that the output is precisely the same as the input (except for the amplitude of the signal).

The biggest differences in the sound of the amplifier will be the crossover and the bass boost/equalization. These can certainly make one amp sound different than another.

If you want an amplifier that sounds better at higher volume, you need more headroom which means you need an amp with more rail voltage which means it will be able to produce more power. As I stated before, clipping is essentially the only distortion you'll hear (unless the amp is in need of repair). An amplifier that has more rail voltage will not clip as easily as one with lower rail voltage.

There are only a handful of solid state amps that MAY have a sound. For example, the Tube Driver amps may have a 'sound' that's different than other amps. Some people may like the sound and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. I don't know of any but if there are any amplifiers with tubes driving a large output transformer, they would almost certainly sound different than a standard amp.

There are MANY things that can make one amplifier better than another. In my mind, a quality amplifier will perform the same for 10+ years. After approximately 12-15 years, you'll begin to have random failures of semiconductors and other components but that's generally due to age, not design.

Todays amplifiers typically begin to have problems after about 1 year. Most of it's due to poor mechanical design. This is generally due to a lack of support for the circuit boards. I've seen a run of very large amps lately that need to have ALL of their power semiconductors replaced due to a lack of support for the boards. There is simply no excuse for this in an amplifier that sells for $3000+.
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