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What makes a great amplifier?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Allaboutmusic, May 21, 2021.

  1. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley Agnostic

    But what if the amplifier in the active speaker isn't very good?
    torstoi and mega lord like this.
  2. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    If it is properly designed & matched to the driver then this is irrelevant. They pretty much all are, probably harder to find one that isn’t.
  3. Dougie2404

    Dougie2404 cranky old git

    Totally agree with this but not only with amps. The very first time I went to a dealer, after asking what I was looking for and approximately at what price, he said, and it was loudspeakers, I've got three I will offer my advice is to buy the one you don't like. 1. If you take the ont that looks to be the best value, or 2. You take the one that impresses you you'll soon grow tired of it, take 3. It doesn't immediately impress but you'll start to hear what it'll do and it'll last you longer and give more pleasure in the long run. Did I listen, did I fff, the ones I bought lasted me 3 months, the ones I turned down were LS3/5a s.

    My advice, don't buy on impulse, it's the expensive way to go.
    torstoi, mega lord and Snufkin like this.
  4. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    IME the difference can be quite significant.

    As it was already said, one should not evaluate amps alone but the result of an amp driving a specific pair of speakers (in your own room whenever possible).

    Your conclusions also depend on how you listen to music and what you value most.

    I love Colin's post as it clearly shows, IMO, that it's quite difficult to build a great amp.
  5. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    And there should be no cables of any sort.
    Tigerjones and darrenyeats like this.
  6. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Everyone wants something different from their amps, I want invariant load driving ability and distortion well below accepted audible limits, I couldn't care less about how its achieved, parts, topology etc.
    Durmbo likes this.
  7. flatpopely

    flatpopely Prog Rock/Moderator

    I want to 'want' to turn it on to listen to music, it's that simple. If it does that, then to me, it's a great amp.
    eastone, Darren L, fegs and 1 other person like this.
  8. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    What does it mean to match an amp to a driver?
  9. trick cyclist

    trick cyclist pfm Member

    Choose the colouration you prefer, in line with your speakers - these come first. They are the pepper, add salt to taste!
    Fretbuzz and eastone like this.
  10. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley Agnostic

    So are you saying that as long as an amplifier is capable of driving the speakers to their maximum SPL without audible distortion, then they all sound the same?
    mega lord likes this.
  11. The Bish

    The Bish pfm Member

    And the rug. Don’t forget the rug.
    torstoi and Tigerjones like this.
  12. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    According to Peter Walker (Quad) "the perfect amplifier is a straight wire with gain"

    That means as little distortion as possible added to the signal.
    Durmbo likes this.
  13. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    To interject my comment, "capable" may mean different things to different people. If it means that two different but capable amplifiers driving the same loudspeaker produce exactly the same voltage vs time curve then I would like to understand why the sound might differ. Of course achieving that definition of "capable" may not be easy. Is that what "capable" means?
  14. gavreid

    gavreid pfm Member

    200 series boards from Les? ;)
  15. Joe Hutch

    Joe Hutch Mate of the bloke

    My thoughts are that speakers and room are far more important, unless the amplifier is a really bad design (and, yes, I've owned one of those). But as with everything audio, it's largely a matter of personal taste. I (briefly) owned a highly regarded, well-reviewed, British integrated amp. To me, it sounded awful, but that doesn't mean that it would have sounded awful in a different room, with different speakers, and a different pair of ears.
    lexi, torstoi and hifinutt like this.
  16. Dozey

    Dozey Air guitar member

    Tony nailed it - you need synergy with the speakers. Look feel and build quality are also what makes an amp a pleasure to use.
  17. S-Man

    S-Man Kinkless Tetrode Admirer

    IME of designing and buiding amps good sound does not neccessarily follow from good measurements. Although amps with poor measurements usually have audible flaws, even if they can sound "interesting" for a while.
    Contrary to logic, irrespective of the PSRR of the circuit I find that the mains transformer is one of the most important components with respect to sound quality.
    Good industrial qualilty parts usually provide the best sound. Boutique components generally add "interesting" flavours.
    quickie likes this.
  18. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    I'd start by accepting that it's about creating an illusion in your specific environment (and maximum enjoyment), not 'perfect' reproduction. Peter Walker's famous definition can lead you down the measurement rabbit hole to endless upgrades, and (worse) to hearing the equipment rather than the music. Listen, at home, to as wide a variety as possible, and trust your ears.
    torstoi, trick cyclist and Colin L like this.
  19. Colin L

    Colin L High-tech low-life

    An amplifier that drives your speakers well (ideally most other speakers too), with no obvious flavour or flaws, that you like the sound of, and most of all, is reliable.
    Ideally one that isn't a flavour of the month and the manufacturer replaces every year for marketing reasons. Also, from a manufacturer who will support their products forever.
    Last edited: May 22, 2021
    Discopants and Darren L like this.
  20. trick cyclist

    trick cyclist pfm Member

    This is a more sensible explanation of what I was trying to say. There is a movement in hifi circles that seems to chase a sound that is as 'neutral' and little coloured by the equipment as possible, calling this something like 'accuracy to the artist's original intentions' or some such similar fanciful ideal. I've had some 'neutral' equipment, didn't enjoy it as much as my 'less accurate' stuff.

    Just pick a colour you like, enjoy the music
    w00fer likes this.

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