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Old 17th November 2013, 01:01 AM   #1
freddi is offline freddi  United States
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Default how sacred is the audo path?

as a teen in the early 1960's, my way to audio reproduction was a modest turntable, a mono pp-6bq5 amp and a diy 5 cubic foot reflex with a cheap and semi-cheerful Jensen-Knight 12" dual cone speaker. Moving to stereo meant EICO ST70 with diy cabinets and coaxial. As time went on, a number of push pull solid state and tube amps were tried. My phono preamp preference stayed with tubes and those preamps varied somewhat with topology and power supply strategies - one favorite was a C7 Precision Fideity cascode preamp with its original regulator chip replaced with a simple Zener referenced TIP 50 and relatively small capacitance RC decoupler for the first stage as it sounded "better" with the Sonus Blue cartridge of the time. FWIW I never quite warmed to IC phono stages.

as time went on, there was more use of op-amp building blocks and digital was rolled in so the last 30 years of the hobby included a lot of digital with DAC feeding SE tube amps or whatever solid state amp is in the system. Sometimes, foil and oil caps have been used in crossovers for flavoring.

tonight I patched in a cheap Behringer "exciter" after a transformer DAC on a Johnny Cash - and enjoyed the effect.

how can one have a situation with lp playback which sounds "wrong" with op-amp phono stages yet acceptance of a device on CD playback which compresses the bass and adds upper frequency harmonics? Are the modern op-amp building blocks more neutural than a good tube circuit ? - or do both the op-amp and tube have certain characteristic which provide certain "tone"? How about single ended solid state gain and buffer stages?
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Old 18th November 2013, 01:07 PM   #2
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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It is unclear whether you are aiming for neutrality or a pleasant effect - or aiming at one while sincerely believing that you are aiming at the other?
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Old 19th November 2013, 10:00 PM   #3
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Neutral isn't pleasant? Is that what you are trying to tell us?
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Old 19th November 2013, 10:37 PM   #4
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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I find neutral pleasant, but I realise that not everyone does.
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Old 20th November 2013, 12:01 AM   #5
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Is this the product you're using?
Behringer: SONIC EXCITER SX3040

Regarding op-amps vs tubes: Different op-amps, like tubes, are not created equal. This also goes for the various circuit topologies, power supplies and so on. If you really want to look for differences between a good solid state design vs a good tube design, it must be that the solid state designs often have less metal in the signal path (sockets, xformers, wire lengths, etc), which may have some effect.

Pano or whoever else that have some form of answer:
I remember you mentioning using some form of expander from a previous discussion about compression. You do not know of any really good sw based expanders/exciters by chance? Have been toying some with various solutions to improve the horrible compression and limiting on newer recordings, as I want to listen to the music and actually enjoy it. Wondering if there is some good solution that can be used to just convert horribly compressed music to more exciting dynamic stuff for my music storage solution. Do not want a lump in my system that needs switching on/off pending on the recording.
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Old 21st November 2013, 06:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by freddi View Post
Are the modern op-amp building blocks more neutural than a good tube circuit ?
Modern op-amp circuitry can sound identical to tube circuitry.

Originally Posted by freddi View Post
or do both the op-amp and tube have certain characteristic which provide certain "tone"?
No, it depends on the designer if he/she wants a circuit to sound identical to the source or if he/she wants a circuit to add nice sounding artefacts. Both can be done with op-amps and with tubes.

I see equipment as black boxes with inputs and outputs and I don't care what happens inside. If it sounds like I want it to, without costing to much, I'm a happy camper.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 02:58 AM   #7
JoeDJ is offline JoeDJ  United States
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Yeah just about every signal is processes from the point it enters the mic.

Then it is mixed in speakers that add their own processing/sound and interpreted according to how someone's hearing that can vary. .

Finally, it's played back on a system that adds its own coloration.
Then there are room acoustics...........

So, what difference does it make to add you own processing/EQ to it if adds no perceived distortion.. There never was an "uncolored/unaltered path.

Personally, I EQ the sound playing a variety sources and when I no longer get the urge to frequently adjust something, I leave it there for the most part. .

No one has found the proverbial "straight wire with gain" yet. .

Last edited by JoeDJ; 22nd November 2013 at 03:11 AM.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 07:53 AM   #8
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As you can see there is no consensus on the subject. I personally believe that good quality modern ADCs, DACs, opamps and solid-state power amps are transparent, they don't colour the sound in any audible way. However loudspeakers and rooms, vinyl, analog tape and tubes most certainly do colour it.

The effect of the Behringer Sonic Exciter is probably not a million miles away from the distortion introduced by a vinyl record or analog tape.

The skeleton in my audiophile closet is a Behringer DEQ2496.
'Like the thirteenth chime from a crazy clock which not only in itself fails to command belief but also casts a certain doubt upon the accuracy of the previous twelve strokes.'

Last edited by scopeboy; 22nd November 2013 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 02:21 PM   #9
JoeDJ is offline JoeDJ  United States
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Let's not loose site of the fact that like a chain, audio is only as good as its weakest link.
A great amp will only reveal a sow's ear in all its clarity.
As we all know there are many "bad" recordings out there, many that we still like for one reason or another.

I'm an old audiophile (and rock musician) from the '70s and I learned...........
You have to enjoy your music in spite of hardware/recording limitations......... you have to own the system and not let it own you.
You will never get that unachievable 100% unaltered sound received by your ears.

BTW, I think some audiophiles would be surprised at the sound hardware used in many recording studios. Many audiophiles have better home hardware. A studio's main goal is to produce a pleasing sound which is hardly ever 100% natural or unaltered..

Last edited by JoeDJ; 22nd November 2013 at 02:47 PM.
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