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  #1  
Old 05-05-2012, 06:31 PM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Default Richard Clark Amplifier Challenge Discussion (split from the FLACs And MP3s thread)

This edit was inserted into mutescreams post to by skip252 to explain why posts were moved here

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The Software forum sticky "FLACs and MP3s" initial post contains a reference to the Richard Clark $10,000 Amplifier Challenge FAQ. A forum member felt that the reference and testing weren't appropriate. That triggered a debate/discussion that was outside the original intent of creating a sticky that members could use as a reference when discussing ABX testing of audio files.

There were appeals to either delete or relocate the posts that were outside the original purpose of the sticky. saratoga's response was
Quote:
Originally Posted by saratoga
I'll probably just delete this crap once its over. Until then, its probably easier for everyone if we keep it in the same thread.
Members appealed to not have that happen as they felt the discussion was interesting and informative. Moving these posts here is an effort to fulfill that request and stop the disruption of the original thread.

Please use this thread for any further discussions about hardware testing once it's unlocked. Hair splitting as to what constitutes hardware vs. software testing won't be tolerated.

Moving the posts and then unlocking this thread may take a bit as I'm trying to be careful to not break the continuity the discussion in the other post had. I'm also trying to make sure any information that might be helpful won't be lost.

Also any continuation of the rudeness that cause the other thread to be locked and triggered the clean up won't be allowed. If you can't figure out how to play nice you won't be able to play at all.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigmatic View Post
land.com/tests/ampchall/index.htm"]Expensive amplifiers sound better than ordinary amplifiers debunked.[/URL]
From that link:

Quote:
Amplifier requirements

The amplifiers in the test must be operated within their linear power capacity. Power capacity is defined as clipping or 2% THD 20Hz to 10kHz, whichever is less. This means that if one amplifier has more power (Watts) than the other, the amplifiers will be judged within the power range of the least powerful amplifier .

The levels of both left and right channels will be adjusted to match to within .05 dB. Polarity of connections must be maintained so that the signal is not inverted. Left and Right cannot be reversed. Neither amplifier can exhibit excessive noise. Channel separation of the amps must be at least 30 dB from 20Hz to 20kHz.

All signal processing circuitry (e.g. bass boost, filters) must be turned off, and if the amplifier still exhibits nonlinear frequency response, an equalizer will be set by Richard Clark and inserted inline with one of the amps so that they both exhibit identical frequency response. The listener can choose which amplifier gets the equalizer
and

Quote:
Does this mean all amps sound the same in a normal install?

No. Richard Clark is very careful to say that amps usually do not sound the same in the real world. The gain setting of an amplifier can make huge differences in how an amplifier sounds, as can details like how crossovers or other filters are set. When played very loud (into clipping), the amplifier with more power will generally sound better than a lower powered amp.

Most people perceive slight differences in amplitude as quality differences rather than loudness. The louder component sounds “faster, more detailed, more full”, not just louder. This perceptual phenomenon is responsible for many people thinking they liked the sound of a component when really they just liked the way it was set up.
but this is where it kind of gets to the point:

Quote:
Does the phrase "a watt is a watt" convey what this test is about?

Not quite but close. Richard Clark has stated that some amplifiers (such as tubes) have nonlinear frequency response, so a watt from them would not be the same as a watt from an amplifier with flat frequency response.
What this test ignores is that a more expensive amplifier's quality difference is by and large going to be based on several factors... Such as linearity, or a preferred sound characteristic. Such as a warmer sound, as comes from tubes... Due to solid state amplifiers inherently relying on negative feedback for stability (which cancels out even order harmonics).

His tests rely on coloring the results to make "all things equal", when in fact they are not. He stacked the deck in his favor, before the test even began. I could respect it, if he wanted to place limitations on the volume control to ensure no one clipped an amp to reveal its identity. But, he went waaaay beyond that.

As for the wire one... I agree that wire would not make a difference the vast majority of the time. The only time I could see it making a difference at all, is in situations of a very high powered amp pushing inefficent speakers (such as planars). The only reason I believe it to be possible under that circumstance, is that issues such as capacitance and signal degradation due to resistance (not to mention the characteristics of the speaker wire changing due to temperature) of using too small of a cable for the signal going through it. According to Magnepan, some of their speakers can take 1KW. On a 5ohm load (what their speakers are rated at), that's a 14A 72V RMS signal (which would be ~103 VAC peak, ~206Vp-p) going through the wire. Using 16 or 18 gauge wire is just not going to cut it (not just for SQ, but also for fire safety reasons). Then you also take into consideration the length of the wire itself and the inherent resistance of the wire itself increasing with length...



I concede that the vast majority of the time, and for most applications the wire itself won't make much of a difference. But making the broad sweeping statement that it never makes a difference is just as false.

Amplifiers have their own signatures, based on their linearity and on their odd and even order harmonics. Unless you cripple one amplifier, either through equalization or limitation of power, you will NOT be able to make all amplifiers equal in the real world, when driving certain speakers and headphones.

Were that the case, then those two tests would make a case for external headphone amps being purely placebo effect and non essential for driving certain headphones. They could even be extrapolated to conclude that all headphones sound the same.

Truthfully. neither of those ABX examples are even remotely relevant to comparing codecs for audio compression (or lack thereof). Better examples would be comparing analog and digital recordings (mastered the same) or DACs to one another.

Last edited by skip252; 05-11-2012 at 08:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2012, 08:31 PM
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Hmmm, food for thought. Excellent,... Amplification is one thing. The wire,...meh.
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  #3  
Old 05-05-2012, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The DarkSide View Post
Hmmm, food for thought. Excellent,... Amplification is one thing. The wire,...meh.
The wire thing was semi necessary for part of my following points, and also it was simply wrong (under certain circumstances).

People that spend tons on speaker wire, should be the very same people that spend tons on their amps and speakers. Using esoteric wire on a less than esoteric system is like putting high performance racing parts on a Yugo.
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
What this test ignores is that a more expensive amplifier's quality difference is by and large going to be based on several factors... Such as linearity, or a preferred sound characteristic.
Wrong. Any good amplifier that has things like flat and wide frequency response, low noise, and low distortion is going to sound neutral.
Quote:
They could even be extrapolated to conclude that all headphones sound the same.
How?
Quote:
neither of those ABX examples are even remotely relevant to comparing codecs for audio compression (or lack thereof).
I explained why I listed those ABX examples: “ABX tests have been used to debunk audio myths.”
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2012, 09:04 PM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Originally Posted by Enigmatic View Post
Wrong. Any good amplifier that has things like flat and wide frequency response, low noise, and low distortion is going to sound neutral.
How many budget amps do you know of that have that flat of response, when pushed beyond 50% volume (read over 10% of their max output power)? Without significant rolloff at the top or bottom ends? With low noise/distortion?

Not all good amps are completely neutral, either. Some people prefer the warmer sound of a tube amp. Tube amps that don't have a ton of distortion are usually pretty damned expensive. Not to mention, tube amps require really efficient speakers, and if you have long runs of speaker wire (big room, and/or in wall wiring), you better have something better than standard 16/18 gauge wire, to avoid issues with capacitance and resistance.

Further, if what you are saying is true, why did Richard Clark need to equalize out amplifiers to make them sound the same? Give me a couple equalizers, allow me to limit the volume to them to the lowest power handling ability, and I can make any two pairs of headphones sound the same, too. The cheap ones will sound better, and the high end ones will sound worse for the effort.

Amplifier architectures make tradeoffs for cost and performance, as well as heat dissipation and efficiency. It's much cheaper to make an AB amplifier, than it is to make a class A, for example. The class AB will also be more efficient, as well. The class A will sound better.

Define what you mean by "good". I'm guessing that most amplifiers that are really "good" are also really expensive, too. I know that has been the case in my experience.

Quote:
How?
What is a headphone? It is a series of wires in a coil. With a magnet, and a diaphragm and a seal around the edge (surround). If all wires are equal, then how would they sound different? Especially considering the relatively minor size differences between headphone drivers.

Further, if allowed to equalize to compensate between the response curve differences of any two headphones, limit the volume to where the weakest one experiences degradation, and I bet you couldn't tell the difference between them (aside from the way they feel on your head from weight/size differences), either.

Because they would be outputting the exact same signal. Put them in identical chassis, and have them equally weighted, and you will not be able to tell the difference.

Quote:
I explained why I listed those ABX examples: “ABX tests have been used to debunk audio myths.”
The problem with the Amplifier one, is that he pulled some serious BS by putting in the equalization caveat. It's not a true ABX test, if you are not actually comparing the actual "A" and the actual "B". It's a BS test.

The problem with the wire one, is that it is not universally accurate, either.

How technical do you want to get in this discussion? I am an electronics technician with 15 years of experience in the field.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:30 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
As for the wire one... I agree that wire would not make a difference the vast majority of the time. The only time I could see it making a difference at all, is in situations of a very high powered amp pushing inefficent speakers (such as planars). The only reason I believe it to be possible under that circumstance, is that issues such as capacitance and signal degradation due to resistance (not to mention the characteristics of the speaker wire changing due to temperature) of using too small of a cable for the signal going through it. According to Magnepan, some of their speakers can take 1KW. On a 5ohm load (what their speakers are rated at), that's a 14A 72V RMS signal (which would be ~103 VAC peak, ~206Vp-p) going through the wire. Using 16 or 18 gauge wire is just not going to cut it (not just for SQ, but also for fire safety reasons).
First of all, lets be clear, voltage isn't related to wire gauge. So basically, half of that has nothing to do with the other half. What you really mean to ask is what gauge of wire is needed to carry 14A. The answer can be found on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_wire_gauge

A minimum of 16 gauge is needed, but lower is probably better for long runs in order to ensure that resistive loses are kept small compared to the load.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
I concede that the vast majority of the time, and for most applications the wire itself won't make much of a difference. But making the broad sweeping statement that it never makes a difference is just as false.
No, its correct, you just misunderstand it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
People that spend tons on speaker wire, should be the very same people that spend tons on their amps and speakers.
No, they shouldn't exist because more knowledgeable people helped them to make informed decisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
What is a headphone? It is a series of wires in a coil. With a magnet, and a diaphragm and a seal around the edge (surround). If all wires are equal, then how would they sound different?
Is this a serious question? The actual composition of the wires in a pair of headphones has very little impact on performance. Instead, its the spatial arrangement of the wires such that they produce a coil a given inductance as well as the mechanical properties of the diaphragm that determine the sound. The wires themselves are just copper, which pretty much just reduces to a resistance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Further, if allowed to equalize to compensate between the response curve differences of any two headphones, limit the volume to where the weakest one experiences degradation, and I bet you couldn't tell the difference between them (aside from the way they feel on your head from weight/size differences), either.
The majority of the difference between headphones is the frequency response, but there is more to it then just that. They are not linear devices, so distortion between identically equalized headphones will still make them sound different. I recommend trying this yourself, its quite interesting to listen to carefully equalized headphones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
The problem with the Amplifier one, is that he pulled some serious BS by putting in the equalization caveat.
No, its the most sensible way to test these things, since any serious amplifier will need equalization to compensate for the response of a room (or even headphones). Without that, the difference between amps is basically irrelevant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
It's not a true ABX test, if you are not actually comparing the actual "A" and the actual "B". It's a BS test.
This doesn't really make sense to me. Are you sure you understand what an ABX test does?

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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
How technical do you want to get in this discussion?
Feel free to be as technical as you need to be.
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  #7  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:14 AM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Originally Posted by saratoga View Post
First of all, lets be clear, voltage isn't related to wire gauge. So basically, half of that has nothing to do with the other half. What you really mean to ask is what gauge of wire is needed to carry 14A. The answer can be found on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_wire_gauge

A minimum of 16 gauge is needed, but lower is probably better for long runs in order to ensure that resistive loses are kept small compared to the load.
Essentially what I was saying previously... It sounds like you want to be condescending here, without really arguing with what I said.

There are also other issues to consider (such as inductance and capacitance)... Which are impacted by the separation of the conductors and the length of the wire. Thicker wire (lower gauge) has larger capacitance per unit length. Inductance is determined by how far apart the wires are, in relation to their gauge.

Why is this important? Lower frequencies are impacted by capacitance more, and higher frequencies are impacted by inductance more. Having the right distance between the conductors (relative to the gauge) becomes more critical with the length of the wire. Lowering the capacitance will increase the inductance (and vice versa). The speaker wire essentially becomes a bandpass filter (why lose any of that freq response paid for in amps and speakers?).

Quote:
No, its correct, you just misunderstand it.
No, I was correct, you simply misunderstood what I was discussing.

Quote:
No, they shouldn't exist because more knowledgeable people helped them to make informed decisions.
I'm not sure where you are going here. I would concede that most things audio related are overpriced, and as you go further into the realm of "high end", you get vastly diminished returns on logarithmically increasingly priced items... But, there are some instances where standard 16/18 gauge wire will not suffice.

Quote:
The majority of the difference between headphones is the frequency response, but there is more to it then just that. They are not linear devices, so distortion between identically equalized headphones will still make them sound different. I recommend trying this yourself, its quite interesting to listen to carefully equalized headphones.
Interesting point. Which means that it would have to be stepped volume increments, with differening equalizations at each point to ensure the response curves remained identical.

I think you probably missed the point I was trying to make with the headphones. It is an absurd test analogous to the absurd tests and subsequent statements that standard 16/18 gauge wire is suitable for all speaker wire applications and that stereo amplifiers are all created equal (which the cited ABX tests misrepresented themselves as proving).

Quote:
No, its the most sensible way to test these things, since any serious amplifier will need equalization to compensate for the response of a room (or even headphones). Without that, the difference between amps is basically irrelevant.
Two amplifiers, with two identical sets of speakers (or headphones) will be impacted by the same room (or headphones) in the same way. In that instance, the only difference between the A/B is the amplifiers themselves.

I don't recall mention of equalizing for the room in his tests, only to correct for differences in response curves for the specific tests. He made sure each of the two amplifiers simply had an identical sonic signature.

Quote:
This doesn't really make sense to me. Are you sure you understand what an ABX test does?
It randomly tests your ability to correctly identify either A or B, by randomly assigning A or B to X (and attempting to determine which was assigned to X blindly). The problem with the Amplifier test, is that it was bogus. It was presented to indicate that people could not objectively tell the difference between two amplifiers qualitively.

The problem with that, is that it limited the amps to the weakest link, either way. It ignores that some amplifiers can drive a four or even a two ohm load comfortably, while others cannot. It also ignores that some amplifiers are more linear than others. There are reasons that some amplifiers cost more than others, some can bring it, some cannot.

A Yugo and a Porsche will both get you to work. If you are blindfolded, and properly sound isolated, you will probably not know which one you are a passenger in (with someone else driving of course), if both cars are going 25mph. Open them up, and take some hard corners... Then you will have a better idea of the performance differences.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:24 AM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Originally Posted by h1a8 View Post
LOL I don't understand. If one can't hear a difference in a ABX then it is silly to debate about how something sounds better. Just common sense that's all.
That depends on what the ABX test is actually testing, and what it represents itself as proving. When you adjust either A or B prior to the test (to make them identical), the test is a sham.

When making a broad sweeping statement, resulting from a test with limited parameters, and a conclusion that covers parameters not tested... It is similarly a sham.

I don't think all ABX tests are a sham, incidentally. Comparing a properly mastered digital recording to a properly mastered analog recording is something that has been well established (and realistically, the sampling rates for digital recordings are sufficient in relation to the frequencies of normal human hearing as to be negligible for consideration, anyway).

I'm not even arguing that MP3's of sufficient quality in general can be distinguished from FLAC files. MP3 encoders seem to have problems with some audio recordings, and as a result give compression artifacts... But, I have seen very few instances of that being an issue.

but, some of the ABX tests the OP tossed in for show were shams. Which is what I am taking issue with.
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:17 AM
Enigmatic Enigmatic is offline
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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
How many budget amps do you know of that have that flat of response, when pushed beyond 50% volume (read over 10% of their max output power)? Without significant rolloff at the top or bottom ends? With low noise/distortion?
ABX tests of amplifiers are done with none of the amplifiers clipping.
Quote:
Not all good amps are completely neutral, either.
Yes they are.
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Further, if what you are saying is true, why did Richard Clark need to equalize out amplifiers to make them sound the same?
Someone might want to ABX a low-quality amplifier.
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Amplifier architectures make tradeoffs for cost and performance, as well as heat dissipation and efficiency.
Performance as in sound quality? No. At least not for the good ones.
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The class A will sound better.
Wrong.
Quote:
Define what you mean by "good".
Please see my previous post.
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I'm guessing that most amplifiers that are really "good" are also really expensive, too.
Wrong.
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I know that has been the case in my experience.
Then your experience goes against the evidence.
Quote:
The problem with the Amplifier one, is that he pulled some serious BS by putting in the equalization caveat.
There was never any bull. He put in the equalization caveat, because he wanted it to be a fair test if someone wanted to ABX a low-quality amplifier.
Quote:
It's not a true ABX test, if you are not actually comparing the actual "A" and the actual "B". It's a BS test.
Please see above.
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The problem with the wire one, is that it is not universally accurate, either.
Wrong.
Quote:
How technical do you want to get in this discussion?
I am not sure of how I should answer this question. The technical aspects of this discussion have already been presented in great detail in The Audio Critic, in the list of references I linked to in the first post of this thread, and in the extensive list of references provided by The Audio Critic.
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  #10  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:35 AM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Ok, rather than individually quoting a bunch of sentences that will not make sense out of context... Consider this:

If not all amps can function well under all conditions equally, then there are obviously performance differences. If you limit the premium product to only being tested within the parameters of the non-premium product, you are most definitely NOT demonstrating that they are equal quality products. You are only demonstrating that the premium product doesn't do what the non-premium product does any better than it, in that instance.

That is of course ignoring that the tests were doctored. If the amps tested all have identical sonic signatures, of course they are going to sound the same. BUT, not all amps will have identical sonic signatures in all situations, such as situations that involve differing resistive loads of various speakers (or headphones) or at increased output levels.

When you limit the test to only testing the ability of two audio products to the parameters of the weakest link, and have tampered with them to ensure they have identical sonic signatures, of course the outcome is predetermined.

As for all quality amps having perfect linearity and low distortion, consider the tube amp. It colors the signal pretty heavily with even order harmonics (which creates a warmer sound). Some people may prefer this warmer sound, in particular with the music they enjoy. Some people may prefer the colder sound of a solid state amp that only possesses odd order harmonics.

This is even ignoring the distinct possibility that a particular amp and speaker combo may have a closer sonic signature to what a room requires than another combo, and subsequently require less equalization to achieve the proper corrected sound (the fewer components and connections you introduce, the less distortion).
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:50 AM
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The only tests where adjustments were made contained low end components. A high end component will sound neutral. That's a givin. Myths will have you believe otherwise. Low cost & high cost will sound the same with high quality internals. It's as simple as that,...

Read through all the info provided, as you seem to be missing quite a few points and coming to (way off base) conclusions.

You don't need to be a full-on tech nerd to understand, and overanalizing seems to be skewing what your coming away with from all of this. it's not as complicated as most want you to believe. The guys here know their stuff,...and tell THE TRUTH!
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:09 PM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The DarkSide View Post
The only tests where adjustments were made contained low end components. A high end component will sound neutral. That's a givin. Myths will have you believe otherwise. Low cost & high cost will sound the same with high quality internals. It's as simple as that,...
What makes the difference between low and high quality? That is the real question here. As I recall, the adjustments were made anywhere there was a sonic difference, not just based on the price of the components.

When you make a blanket statement such as "all high end components will sound neutral, you enter into the realm of implying that equalization is bad or that solid state sounds better than tube amps. Rooms have their own acoustics, and individual amps have their performance differences in differing situations (that can better match individual listening rooms)

Quote:
Read through all the info provided, as you seem to be missing quite a few points and coming to (way off base) conclusions.
I have. The problem is that the ABX tests do not test what they were stated to have proven at the end.

Quote:
You don't need to be a full-on tech nerd to understand, and overanalizing seems to be skewing what your coming away with from all of this. it's not as complicated as most want you to believe. The guys here know their stuff,...and tell THE TRUTH!
Unfortunately, you do need to be a techie to understand a lot of the shady things that audio manufactures do in speccing out their products. Many amp manufacturers only rate their THD and SNR at 1Khz. Many speaker manufacturers do the same for the SPL tests, as well. They wouldn't get as friendly of numbers, if they tested at the full bandwidth they claim to perform at.

Just as a layman will not understand that those tests were doctored by limited parameters (that do not mimic real world applications) to achieve specific desired results.

In general, I'm not implying that by and large certain people here don't know their stuff. The only thing I am accusing the OP of is not thoroughly vetting a couple of his so called "evidence" links of ABX testing debunking "myths". Mostly because they didn't test what they professed that they proved.
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:15 PM
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Actually, you show even more lack of knowledge when you claim that what I had said creates an argument AGAINST equalization. I'm a known EQ fanatic. You're reading and "assuming",...and you just gave more proof that your logic is flawed. You, human, shall never a Vulcan be.

If quality amps sound the same, it's all ABOUT the EQ and tailoring the sound to your liking afterwards. It has nothing to do with the EQ until I decide I want it to. All "quality" hardware, with EQ off, is supposed to sound the same. Neutral, flat, etc. if it doesn't, the equipment is flawed.

But, you're STILL taking the supplied information and altering it for arguments sake. A clip+ can sound as good as a $5000 amp. It's just TRUTH,... And, a cable will make no discern able difference (look for the "coat hanger as audio cable" experiment).

FYI: I own numorous devices: Apple, Sony, Sansa, Creative, etc. All sound the same with the EQ off. Simple as that,... Now, when I engage the EQ, it's a whole 'nother ball game. Personal heaven.
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:25 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Essentially what I was saying previously... It sounds like you want to be condescending here, without really arguing with what I said.

There are also other issues to consider (such as inductance and capacitance)... Which are impacted by the separation of the conductors and the length of the wire. Thicker wire (lower gauge) has larger capacitance per unit length. Inductance is determined by how far apart the wires are, in relation to their gauge.
It is not what you were saying. You brought up voltage, it is current that matters. You are now talking about capacitance, when it is conductance that matters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Why is this important?
Its not important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
I'm not sure where you are going here. I would concede that most things audio related are overpriced, and as you go further into the realm of "high end", you get vastly diminished returns on logarithmically increasingly priced items... But, there are some instances where standard 16/18 gauge wire will not suffice.
This is what you have misunderstood. The point is that you need to pick a wire of sufficient gauge, not that you need to pick "good" or "expensive" wire. Gauge is basically the only property of a wire of any relevance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
I think you probably missed the point I was trying to make with the headphones. It is an absurd test analogous to the absurd tests and subsequent statements that standard 16/18 gauge wire is suitable for all speaker wire applications and that stereo amplifiers are all created equal (which the cited ABX tests misrepresented themselves as proving).
Please don't waste my time playing dumb then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
I don't recall mention of equalizing for the room in his tests, only to correct for differences in response curves for the specific tests. He made sure each of the two amplifiers simply had an identical sonic signature.
What matters it the performance of the amplifier in a given application. Amps will always be equalized for the response of a room. Therefore complaining that the test is conducted in such a way that is relevant to actual use is foolish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
It randomly tests your ability to correctly identify either A or B, by randomly assigning A or B to X (and attempting to determine which was assigned to X blindly).
Which means that this statement:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
It's not a true ABX test, if you are not actually comparing the actual "A" and the actual "B".
Is false. Hence, it doesn't make sense to me whatever you are trying to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
The problem with the Amplifier test, is that it was bogus. It was presented to indicate that people could not objectively tell the difference between two amplifiers qualitively.

The problem with that, is that it limited the amps to the weakest link, either way. It ignores that some amplifiers can drive a four or even a two ohm load comfortably, while others cannot.
The claim is not that all amplifiers can drive the same load. Clearly this is false. The claim is that they sound the same when properly speced for a given load.

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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
It also ignores that some amplifiers are more linear than others.
This is false.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
If not all amps can function well under all conditions equally, then there are obviously performance differences. If you limit the premium product to only being tested within the parameters of the non-premium product, you are most definitely NOT demonstrating that they are equal quality products. You are only demonstrating that the premium product doesn't do what the non-premium product does any better than it, in that instance.
Who said anything about "performance differences"? Certainly not the article in question, nor anyone else in this thread. This is your problem, you haven't actually addressed the substance of the tests. Instead, you've just invented your own argument and pretended its somehow related.

Which is fine, if you want to go argue that different amplifiers have different capacities, go start a thread proclaiming it. I think no one will disagree with you, so you'll probably be posting alone. But if you want, you can do it.

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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
I have. The problem is that the ABX tests do not test what they were stated to have proven at the end.
I don't think you have. At least its not even clear to me that you understand what was being testing and what conclusions were drawn. Or if you do, you certainly haven't bothered to show some sign of it in this thread.
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  #15  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:43 PM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Originally Posted by The DarkSide View Post
Actually, you show even more lack of knowledge when you claim that what I had said creates an argument AGAINST equalization. I'm a known EQ fanatic.
Precisely (you are a known EQ fanatic). Which is why I am pointing out that you are over reaching your area of knowledge in this discussion. You were contradicting a well established position you have consistently held.

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You're reading and "assuming",...and you just gave more proof that your logic is flawed. You, human, shall never a Vulcan be.
Neither would you. A Vulcan would never engage into a debate where he had less knowledge than his opponent.

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If quality amps sound the same, it's all ABOUT the EQ and tailoring the sound to your liking afterwards.
That forms a presupposition that isn't always true. Not all quality amps sound the same (are equal in linearity, load handling ability, or even SNR), and linearity is only one of the factors to take into consideration when determining if an amp is both of quality and suitable for a specific application.

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It has nothing to do with the EQ until I decide I want it to. All "quality" hardware, with EQ off, is supposed to sound the same. Neutral, flat, etc. if it doesn't, the equipment is flawed.
Now you are entering into the realm of the snake oil audio myths.

You enter into this discussion here in a vacuum, ignoring that most rooms are NOT acoustically dead. Were that not the case, then EQ would only be about coloring the sound (read undoing all of that vaunted linearity you paid so much for), and never about correcting for acoustical differences.

So, what may appear as "flawed" in an acoustically dead room, may very well be "equalized" by the room it is in, and with the right speakers in that room provide a signal that if measured would have greater fidelity than an amplifier that was linear to begin with (in comparison to the input signal), in response to the room's acoustics.

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But, you're STILL taking the supplied information and altering it for arguments sake. A clip+ can sound as good as a $5000 amp. It's just TRUTH,... And, a cable will make no discern able difference (look for the "coat hanger as audio cable" experiment).
The problem is that these tests both take generalizations, and broadly apply their results beyond the parameters of what they actually tested.

It's like stereotyping people; generalizations apply well enough, when you look at large sample sizes. They also tend to fail when they are applied to more specific situations.

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FYI: I own numorous devices: Apple, Sony, Sansa, Creative, etc. All sound the same with the EQ off. Simple as that,... Now, when I engage the EQ, it's a whole 'nother ball game. Personal heaven.
Do they all drive the all headphones without an external amplifier equally well?
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  #16  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:08 PM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Originally Posted by saratoga View Post
It is not what you were saying. You brought up voltage, it is current that matters. You are now talking about capacitance, when it is conductance that matters.
Reread, I bought up BOTH current and voltage. Voltage matters, because it relates to how much heat will be generated on the wire (and impact the resistance of the wire overall). Capacitance and inductance both impact total Z, if you want to get right down to it (which impact a conductor's ability to carry a signal).

Capacitance and inductance vary based on the signal being transmitted through them, so in the case of an varying frequency analog signal being transmitted through them, they become VERY relevant.

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This is what you have misunderstood. The point is that you need to pick a wire of sufficient gauge, not that you need to pick "good" or "expensive" wire. Gauge is basically the only property of a wire of any relevance.
This is where you misunderstood me. I was attacking that the test in question indicated that 16/18gau wire was suitable for all applications. The only reason "good" or "expensive" wire may be more suitable for some applications relates more to longer runs of wire, where inductance and capacitance become relevant.

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Please don't waste my time playing dumb then.
That was not my intent. My intent was to illustrate how stupid (and subsequently deceptive) the ABX tests themselves were, in that they did not test broadly enough to establish what they were trying to claim they proved.

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What matters it the performance of the amplifier in a given application. Amps will always be equalized for the response of a room. Therefore complaining that the test is conducted in such a way that is relevant to actual use is foolish.
These were NOT just equalized to match room response. Read the test again. They were equalized to match for linearity differences. That was not a "real world test", and even the person that created the test acknowledged that this was the case.
Richard Clark is very careful to say that amps usually do not sound the same in the real world. The gain setting of an amplifier can make huge differences in how an amplifier sounds, as can details like how crossovers or other filters are set.
Quote:
The claim is not that all amplifiers can drive the same load. Clearly this is false. The claim is that they sound the same when properly speced for a given load.
Reread the test...
Richard Clark is an audio professional. Like many audiophiles, he originally believed the magazines and marketing materials that different amplifier topologies and components colored the sound in unique, clearly audible ways. He later did experiments to quantify and qualify these effects, and was surprised to find them inaudible when volume and other factors were matched.
It's pretty absurd, when you think about it... He was testing to see if amps "colored the sound in unique ways," and then went about testing the validity of that, by correcting against those colorations before comparing them.

The test is then used to indicate that all "high quality amps are equal", which is false, as not all amps (even of high quality) are equally suited to all applications.

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This is false.
Are you really saying that all amplifier topologies are equally linear? lol

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Who said anything about "performance differences"? Certainly not the article in question, nor anyone else in this thread. This is your problem, you haven't actually addressed the substance of the tests. Instead, you've just invented your own argument and pretended its somehow related.
Take a look at what the test was supposed to do, and then how it was conducted. Take a look at the link provided by the OP, "Expensive amplifiers sound better than ordinary amplifiers debunked." Unfortunately, that is dependent on the situation itself.

Performance differences are VERY relevant, if you are going to argue that expensive amps do not sound any better than "ordinary" amplifiers.

Quote:
I don't think you have. At least its not even clear to me that you understand what was being testing and what conclusions were drawn. Or if you do, you certainly haven't bothered to show some sign of it in this thread.
See above.

Last edited by mutescream; 05-07-2012 at 02:22 PM.
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  #17  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:39 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Reread, I bought up BOTH current and voltage. Voltage matters, because it relates to how much heat will be generated on the wire (and impact the resistance of the wire overall).
Voltage determines the heat that will be generated in the wire? Voltage across what? Can you give the equation here?

I think you've misunderstood how this works . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Capacitance and inductance both impact total Z, if you want to get right down to it (which impact a conductor's ability to carry a signal).
Yes, but contribution from everything but conductance is negligible, so its silly to worry about the others.

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Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
This is where you misunderstood me. I was attacking that the test in question indicated that 16/18gau wire was suitable for all applications.
Does a test indicating that even exist? I get the feeling you're attacking some test the rest of us haven't seen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
The only reason "good" or "expensive" wire may be more suitable for some applications relates more to longer runs of wire, where inductance and capacitance become relevant.
How long of a run are you talking about exactly that you think this is going to matter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
These were NOT just equalized to match room response. Read the test again.
Heh, I never said that.

Lets try again:
Quote:
Originally Posted by saratoga
What matters it the performance of the amplifier in a given application. Amps will always be equalized for the response of a room. Therefore complaining that the test is conducted in such a way that is relevant to actual use is foolish.
So basically, in the real world EQ will always be needed. Therefore a realistic test should include it to equalize each device.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Reread the test...
Richard Clark is an audio professional. Like many audiophiles, he originally believed the magazines and marketing materials that different amplifier topologies and components colored the sound in unique, clearly audible ways. He later did experiments to quantify and qualify these effects, and was surprised to find them inaudible when volume and other factors were matched.
To be honest, I have no idea what you think that means. He is saying that there is no difference once they're properly volume matched and equalized, which is exactly what I said and everyone else said in this thread. Which is also exactly true. Do you understand that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
It's pretty absurd, when you think about it... He was testing to see if amps "colored the sound in unique ways," and then went about testing the validity of that, by correcting against those colorations before comparing them.
Ah, so we're getting to the heart of your confusion. You think an EQ can correct for anything. But it can't. An EQ is a linear correction. It can correct for linear errors and linear errors only. Nonlinear effects ("coloration") cannot be corrected by an EQ. EQing an amp is standard operating procedure necessarily to ensure its correct operation in any room or driving any pair of headphones. It absolutely does not make a bad amp good nor remove any colorations added.

For instance, you cannot EQ a tube amp into a transistor amp. Do you understand this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Are you really saying that all amplifier topologies are equally linear? lol
No, I'm saying this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
It also ignores that some amplifiers are more linear than others.
Is false. It ignores no such thing.

edit: In light of the confusion above about what an EQ actually does, I'd like to remind you that an EQ can never correct for nonlinearity. Therefore, the listening test above does not ignore the extent to which individual amps are linear, in fact nonlinearity is one of the main things that would be expected to turn up a positive ABX result.

/end edit

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
Performance differences are VERY relevant, if you are going to argue that expensive amps do not sound any better than "ordinary" amplifiers.
No they're not! Again, you're confusing two very different questions. Performance != audibility. They're literally different things. You can confuse them all you like but you are simply wrong.
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Last edited by saratoga; 05-07-2012 at 03:06 PM. Reason: clarified linearity of amplifiers
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  #18  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:46 PM
saratoga saratoga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The DarkSide
If quality amps sound the same, it's all ABOUT the EQ and tailoring the sound to your liking afterwards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
That forms a presupposition that isn't always true. Not all quality amps sound the same (are equal in linearity, load handling ability, or even SNR), and linearity is only one of the factors to take into consideration when determining if an amp is both of quality and suitable for a specific application.
There you've done it again. You've ignored his point about audibility, that is if things sound the same, and changed it to an argument about linearity, load handing, etc. Do not do this. If someone says audibility, then they mean audibility, not something else that you feel like talking about.

Stripping out the parts where you've ignored his argument, this is what your post says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutescream View Post
That forms a presupposition that isn't always true. Not all quality amps sound the same
Which is a good start, provided you follow it up with listening tests backing up what you are claiming.
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  #19  
Old 05-07-2012, 03:08 PM
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Regardless, no matter what you may claim, technobabble is technobabble. I know quite enough to understand that your full of bs. Simple as that,... Wordplay to seem superior, overly intelligent as it may, shows a lack of the ability to actually learn from the conversation. I refuse to delve into all the technical aspects for a REASON. It's totally unnecessary. Simple as that. For information's sake I do research certain things - FLAC vs LAME, the quality of the components & devices I'm interested in, etc. But I'm confident in the knowledge that I've learned enough here, and on the sites linked in some ppl's sig's, to make an educated decision about what's good and bad in the audio world. I do need to over qualify every aspect of it. You do, and that's quite sad.

I guess, when it comes down to it, you consider yourself an "audiophile"? I guess I have another reason I don't further my studies in the area,...I refuse to be cursed with that hideous moniker. I'se likes being dumb!!!
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  #20  
Old 05-07-2012, 03:30 PM
mutescream mutescream is offline
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Originally Posted by saratoga View Post
Voltage determines the heat that will be generated in the wire? Voltage across what? Can you give the equation here?

I think you've misunderstood how this works . . .
The resistive load of the wire itself. Are you ignoring the first law of thermodynamics? What is happening to the energy impeded by the resistive load? It turns into heat. The hotter the wire is, the greater its resistance is.

I think you misunderstood what I was discussing.

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Yes, but contribution from everything but conductance is negligible, so its silly to worry about the others.
As previously stipulated, the relevance of inductance and capacitance is directly proportional to the length of the wire run.

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Does a test indicating that even exist? I get the feeling you're attacking some test the rest of us haven't seen.
Reread the wire challenge again. The problem with it, is that it never acknowledges there are situations where it is NOT applicable.

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How long of a run are you talking about exactly that you think this is going to matter?
Does this matter? I am simply arguing that a blanket statement is not universally true.

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So basically, in the real world EQ will always be needed. Therefore a realistic test should include it to linearize each device.
We are arguing apples and oranges here. Had he gone the full route of equalizing both of the amplifiers to the rooms, instead of simply equalizing them to be identical sonically, I would have less of an issue.

In that case, there would be greater overall levels of equalization involved, and there would have been more apparent differences between the A and B amps (which is probably why he didn't do it).

Quote:
To be honest, I have no idea what you think that means. He is saying that there is no difference once they're properly volume matched and equalized, which is exactly what I said and everyone else said in this thread. Which is also exactly true. Do you understand that?
So, what exactly was the point of his test? If you counter everything that makes an amplifier different from its contemporaries, and give it the same sonic signature, it's pretty self evident that it will provide indistinguishable results.

I would hope that the goal (in a "real world test") would be to achieve the best response within a given room, with the least amount of equalization required.

Quote:
Ah, so we're getting to the heart of your confusion. You think an EQ can correct for anything. But it can't. An EQ is a linear correction. It can correct for linear errors and linear errors only. Nonlinear effects ("coloration") cannot be corrected by an EQ. EQing an amp is standard operating procedure necessarily to ensure its correct operation in any room or driving any pair of headphones. It absolutely does not make a bad amp good nor remove any colorations added.
Were that not the case (that equalization can compensate for colorization), it would have been much easier to distinguish between tube amps and solid state. We are also talking about human perception here, not lab test equipment (for measuring results).

Were that not the case, we wouldn't have people believing that "loud is always better", we wouldn't subsequently have the poorly mastered recordings we do today (with minimal dynamic headroom) or the need to normalize these tests for volume (for SQ measurements within relative listening levels).

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For instance, you cannot EQ a tube amp into a transistor amp. Do you understand this?
Yes, but his test apparently proves that you can eq either a solid state amp or a tube amp to be indistinguishable from one another (to a listener), under his testing criteria.

This alone should bring into question the validity of his chosen parameters.

Quote:
No they're not! Again, you're confusing two very different questions. Performance != audibility. They're literally different things. You can confuse them all you like but you are simply wrong.
Only if you ignore that audio performance is dependent on your expectation. Were performance not related to audibility, then impedance mismatches would be a non-issue, and available power in relation to efficiency would be a non issue.

Performance is a prerequisite for audibility. That is why in these tests, the parameters are always determined by the weakest link.
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