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Old 20th August 2005, 10:29 PM   #1
tlf9999 is offline tlf9999  United States
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Default The Sound of Science

or is it the science of sound? or the art of sound?

I was browsing the chip forum, and noticed that many now consider the inverting topology that much superior to the non-inverting topology, based on multiple sound (pun not intended) theories and personal testimonies from trusted forum members.

But if you go back a little bit, you will see that not too long ago, the non-inverting topology was all the rage, based also on sound theories and personal testimonies from equally trusted forum members who have listened to both topologies.

this reminded me of my experience with audio. When I first started in audio, the williamson's amp was all the rage, countless people (DIY and commercial) raged on as to how the transformerless and PP topology of the Williamson's were that much superior to the SET and how they felt a huge improvement in sound quality after going to the Williamson's.

Then, it was the age of transistors. first people loved the sound of germanium SET amps. that was replaced by the "far superior" germanium Class AB PP transformer-coupled amps. Then OTL came alone, and people were in love with them, due to their "far superior" sound quality (no transformers!). Only to be toppled by the "far superior" OCL.

Soon after that, we got MOSFETs because of their supposedly "tube" sound that bipolars couldn't provide - wait, didn't we just say that transistors were that superior to tubes?

And then we saw people coming out stating how superior the bipolar sound over the MOSFETs (?). We did take a detour in the IGBT and chip amp land but that didn't take too long to get back.

Now, you hear people talking about how much better tubes sound, or transformers sound, or carbon film resistors sound; how much tantalum caps suck (they were once thought to be the king of audio, remember?), or polyester caps suck (they almost took out those "bad" sounding oil paper caps, remember?).

The point I want to make is that our perception of sound is much like our perception of fashion: too many of us just don't know the good from the bad, in spite of our firm believe that we do.

So when someone tells you next time A sound so much better, take that with a huge grain of salt. Because chances are that person don't have the slightest clue what he is talking about.
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Old 20th August 2005, 11:28 PM   #2
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This is interesting! You might be starting a fight!

But it is good to put things in perspective. I got back into diy audio a few years ago, starting with National chip amps, and ending up with tubes and mosfets. And I remember how transitors were supposed to last forever and sound better through direct coupling. Now I know better than to believe all that.

My experience is that they can all sound good, but in different ways. My LM3886 amp sounds very clean and detailed, but compared to my triode amp, it sounds rather dry and lifeless. The tube amp has a warm lively sound, but may be rather "colored" compared to the more "analytical" chip.

Which is more "accurate"? I have no idea! Maybe it's more a matter of taste. I like my tube amp, but I have also heard transistor amps that I could be just as happy with. I am still looking for my ideal amp..... and that's the fun of this hobby.

At this point, I don't think there is a "best". Just lots of interesting paths to take.....

Kent
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Old 20th August 2005, 11:32 PM   #3
anatech is offline anatech  Canada
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Hi tlf9999,

Thank you! I couldn't have said it better myself. Over 25 yrs of observing people and their audio components prove you correct.

I can't tell you how many audiophiles have come in wanting an upgrade ("the unit sounds great, I want to make it better"). Setting the unit up on the bench then shows actual problems, and no, it didn't measure to spec either. The customer was always surprised. Hmmmm

-Chris
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Old 20th August 2005, 11:33 PM   #4
anli is offline anli  Russian Federation
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I have tried to inspire the forum members to discuss a very close theme:

Neutral amp parameters

As you can see, I was not lucky there
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Old 20th August 2005, 11:58 PM   #5
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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Audio is subject to the very same fad and fashion which besets most other consumer arenas. Some even formalize it by calling it Fashion.

This is normal behaviour for the human being, and merely reflects two facts: that the wisdom of the parents is not transferred to the offspring at birth, and that human beings are herd animals, unself-consciously seeking the approbation of those around them.

Cheers,

Hugh
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Old 21st August 2005, 12:17 AM   #6
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hi tlf9999

absolute phase means that the sound comimg from the microphone is in phase with the sound from the speaker

in an ideal HiFi system the non-inverting topology is prefered
over anything else and it is the one used in most descrete
form amplifier topologies

"or is it the science of sound? or the art of sound?"

in my opinion science becomes art when its sound is also judged
by subjectivism which in other words means art of sound just
as a painting is mostly judged by vision

"The point I want to make is that our perception of sound is much like our perception of fashion"

this could be the case, perception is an individual thing especially
when ears behave like mics of different specs

"Soon after that, we got MOSFETs because of their supposedly "tube" sound that bipolars couldn't provide - wait, didn't we just say that transistors were that superior to tubes?"

in my opinion it is not a device issue but rather a circuit issue
there is however advantages over devices with certain circuit
topologies

"So when someone tells you next time A sound so much better, take that with a huge grain of salt. Because chances are that person don't have the slightest clue what he is talking about"

as ive said before it all comes down to what their ears tell them what to talk about that doesnt mean they dont know what they talk about

nice thread!

cheers
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Old 21st August 2005, 02:53 AM   #7
anatech is offline anatech  Canada
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Hi mastertech,
If I hear something reproduced exactly as I heard it live, there is absolute fidelity there. Same goes for everyone, no matter what their hearing is like. So that cancels out. Hearing loss can mask a non-perfect reproduction but that's it.

Phase? What is the correct phase after it goes through the outboard gear and mixer + tape decks in a studio? That's a crap shoot. Some amps are inverting, some speakers are reverse phase to the norm. Some cables are miswired. Happens.

People each can deal with some shortcomings and not others. That's called taste I guess. As the system becomes more accurate, the more people tend to agree on those systems - in general (on average).

No one likes to appear less knowledgeable than others. It only takes one self proclaimed expert to start a "fad" - misinformation. People trying to learn will pick this up.

Salesmen and manufacturers use this to sell useless items to the public. Good money wasted for greed and or stupidity. May as well be tonic.- (cures all don't ya know) And many people haven't any clue what they are talking about, but they do like to talk. Those people will defend their point of view to the death, as in "all I know is what I heard (insert saw). The same goes for people with "special powers".
I wish physiology didn't come into it, but that's where we get into trouble. A young child is an excellent defence here.

-Chris
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Old 21st August 2005, 03:15 AM   #8
SY is offline SY  United States
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I think you guys mean polarity, not phase. A recording by its inherent nature will have millions of degrees of phase shift from the microphone signal.
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Old 21st August 2005, 05:44 AM   #9
Eva is offline Eva  Spain
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When we make choices based on sound differences that we think we can perceive but we actually cannot, those choices are always random or not related to sound at all (they may be based on any other criteria like shapes, colours, materials, names, finishings, prices, smells, etc...)

This explains the evolution of past and current audio fashion and market trends quite well. Indeed there is a strong random and non audio-related component.

I've even seen a website demonstrating that blind A/B tests render 50% / 50% results (purely randum) when similar enough equipment and a high enough number of listeners is employed. This is the same statistic result you get when you throw a money a high enough number of times.

Have you ever heard about Synesthesia? It is a well known neurologic phenomena involving unconscious cross-talk between different senses and it's well documented on medical literature.
http://web.mit.edu/synesthesia/www/synesthesia.html

Try google for more links. Note that it's also sometimes misspelled as 'Synestesia' or 'Sinestesia'.
http://www.hyperogga.com/synesthesia.asp


I remember that decent trebble at moderate volumes made me feel cold back when I was in my teens and got my first pair of decent-sounding speakers. It was obviously a new stimuli that my brain was misunderstanding. In fact, I no longer have that ability.

Actually synesthesia is a natural stage of child brain develompent, we all have gone through it in the first few years of life and a small amount of it remains in most adults.
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Old 21st August 2005, 08:56 AM   #10
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Default Brain adjust everything, so, many times, the decision of good or bad

Depends your own decision.... everything is brain processed.

As images, from movies, flicking and we do not see them flicking, because light persistence phenomena of our eyes/brain.

Also, try to look down.... the nose will be blocking.... brain re-compose the image to you, and your nose do not appear in the image perceived.... Brain make that.... you see one illusion, not the real image.... and the audio?

We can listen music, produced by our brain (memory), and no music playing, when we are feeling deep love...and no music is playing...brain produce music, play it using memory....many guys that really had strong passions can say that.

So...there are many subjective things to study, because we can hear 3 db of power changes.... so.... 100 watts and 150 watts are the same for us.... that difference has no meaning, only numbers, we do not perceive nothing!

0.001 and 0.01% of distortion sounds the same for humans, i believe the scopes can be happy, distortion analisers can feel very good, and i believe spectrum analisers will smile a lot.

But you will not see those equipments going shopping audio appliances....so, do not make sense construct amplifiers having too much worries about some distortion reduction from 0.01 to 0.001, as speakers, by itself already distorted 1 percent or more...so...good to see Eva studying Human perception, i really think this is a need to Enginnering College.

To invert the phase, you can check.... stay up side down and listen to the music..... and tell us if you perceive some....yes, you perceive.... your home furnitures will appear inverted!

regards,

Carlos
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