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Old 2nd August 2012, 08:51 PM   #1
Boscoe is offline Boscoe  United Kingdom
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Default Amplifier distortion characteristics.

I have been on a mission for the past year or so for ultra low distortion and ended up with DSPs LME49830s and active monitors with the flagship scan speak drivers which are all very good, I wouldn't have it any other way. Some others would. The reason I went with low distortion is because i don't think a system should have any characteristics, if it does (in my opinion) it isn't doing its job properly.

Another reason is because those who like distortion in their products, so they sound different, don't have any way of getting to their goal whatsoever, they work 100% blind and so most are messing around with combinations like a blind person trying to find a needle I a haystack. Someone will make an amp, someone will build it, some will like it and others won't. But inevitably the amps start life with the electronic engineer, who in my experience don't seem to have a grasp on what people want as an amp, the designer will try and make an amp with as little distortion and best performance as possible (because he is an engineer!) but because of costs and old stereotypical ways of doing things in audio they will end up with a mish mash of an amp.

So they will end up with an amp that was designed to be good but ended up not. This amp will then be connected to some speakers they make be totally inappropriate for it perhaps due to damping, voltage, current capabilities or more. This is what gives us the total lottery of hi-fi, which ends up being not really hifi.

On a side note I think very few people know what hi-fi is. Hi-fi is high fidelity or being true to the original signal, this does not include the listeners opinion! If it's true to the source then it's true to the source! You get what your given! For this reason tubes, passive crossovers or anything with naturally high distortion are not hi-fi. They are enjoying music with a different perspective.

This is what leads me to think integration is absolutely key to a achieving true hi-fi, at least with current driver technology.

What if we could design an amplifier to driver one woofer, no other, we could tailor if perfectly so we need no more or less power, voltage current etc. This way the designer knows exactly what he's doing and so doesn't have to make sacrifices in performance to try and make the amplifier compatible with the majority of speakers, this also reduces cost for unnecessaries.

So what i am saying is this forum does things wrong! We shouldn't have a amplifier section nor a speaker section, or line level and so on, we show have two sections. Audio systems and everything else!

I hope this opens eyes for some people or at least gives a spin on things!
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Old 2nd August 2012, 08:58 PM   #2
Boscoe is offline Boscoe  United Kingdom
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Also by splitting the audio system up you give the user who has no clue to electronics the position to decide what components will work with each other, again totally down to luck.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 11:56 PM   #3
fas42 is offline fas42  Australia
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Originally Posted by Boscoe View Post
So what i am saying is this forum does things wrong! We shouldn't have a amplifier section nor a speaker section, or line level and so on, we show have two sections. Audio systems and everything else!

I hope this opens eyes for some people or at least gives a spin on things!
I'm on your side, Boscoe, I would agree that the audio industry in general is approaching the goal of optimum sound in the wrong fashion, that being, to be fiercely obsessed with refining the performance of one element therein, and ignoring the rest of the ensemble. Imagine if a Formula 1 car was developed by distinct groups of people, each of which was totally dedicated to extracting the most from either the engine, the suspension, the control systems, etc, who never talked to each other, consulted on anything. Until just before the race, the bits were quickly tied together as best they could -- just the way to create a real winner, I reckon!!

A typical example: bloke creates the "ultimate" amplfier, hooks it up, and it sounds rather non-special. Aahh, he says, everyone knows speakers are the weakest link, what hope have I got when you have to deal with such a device slugging the sound quality ...

Many, many years ago I realised that the "only" way to get optimum sound, the only way, is to treat everything in it as a gesalt, as a single entity, as a unity. Doing otherwise is always going to create an under performing compromise, the sort of setup that does some recordings brilliantly, and makes a mess of a whole lot of others ...

Frank
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Old 3rd August 2012, 12:29 AM   #4
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think this is the wrong area of diyaudio for this topic...

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Old 3rd August 2012, 12:35 AM   #5
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Another thing that the audiophile circles seem far too interested in is spending lots of time/money obsessing over things that are largely unimportant, or are actually completely pointless. Of course one needs to be quite capable to be able to build/mod things in any semi decent (read competent from an engineering point of view) way*, but even so, people end up spending silly money on areas that don't really count, where really they'd be far better just spending that money on music and enjoying their system!

* of course one area where most people could easily build excellent quality parts is with interconnects/speaker cables.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 12:37 AM   #6
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think this is the wrong area of diyaudio for this topic...

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Agreed the lounge might be a better place as the topic is more hifi in general, with the OP only using solid state amplification as an example.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 12:42 AM   #7
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But inevitably the amps start life with the electronic engineer, who in my experience don't seem to have a grasp on what people want as an amp...
In most companies an amp starts life in Marketing where some guy in a suit says, "I need an amp that does this and costs this much". The engineer is just a hired gun. If he can't meet those goals in the allotted time, there is somebody just out of college that will be hired to do the job. When an engineer is allowed to design with a clean sheet of paper, most often the result is something that takes too long to finish the design, costs too much and nobody will buy it. If you want such a design, you are in the right place.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 02:04 AM   #8
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Boscoe,

While I agree in proinciple with much of what you seem to believe, don't get all hung up on "distortion" measurements. Low THD and IMD might be necessay but they are far from sufficient. Hint: They only pertain to the steady-state response of the system.

Cheers,

Tom
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Old 3rd August 2012, 05:42 AM   #9
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Much of the attraction of DIY is for the very reasons belittled in the OP. Many guys here are indeed seeking that particular quality sound in the electronics that tickles their fancy rather than the purist notion of "no characteristic sound". I think the popular term is "high end" sound. In fact, most commercial offerings will often do straight, clean amplification better and cheaper overall than typical DIY efforts, so why would we bother reinventing that wheel?

I suggest there is no basis in the field of personal entertainment to say that an audio device should or should not have a sonic character, colour or whatever effect the user wants. If we look at the entertainment field, we find huge variation in the form and function of products intended to fill basic needs so why should amplifiers be any different? Also, in the High End market, we find that the popular big bucks are in the bent, not straight commercial amplifiers. I should think it only natural for DIYs to be attracted to such High End, high profile products which can also be cheaply emulated.

Now, 'still wondering why when someone posts a new design, after the salutary peer remarks, the first interested DIY post always asks "How does it sound?"
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Old 3rd August 2012, 06:00 AM   #10
Boscoe is offline Boscoe  United Kingdom
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Thanks for the replies. I didn't mean to belittle it! If that's what your into so be it! Even in that case I don't think pele have a goal whe designing an amp, they just hit and hope.
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