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 Post subject: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 04 May 2014, 01:12 
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I would be the first to say “forget the measurements and listen to the sound” when it comes to judging amps. Lab tests have their place but they never come close to telling the real story on how good an amp sounds. This is particularly true with tube amps. They never seem to test as well as SS amps but I think, more often than not, sound better.

BUT all hifi gear should test like hifi gear and not Radio Shack pocket transistor radios. There should be an absolute minim level of qualifying passes, under test, which designates piece of gear as hifi gear. If the amp or whatever, can’t meet some sort of minimal testing standard, it should not be considered hifi gear regardless of how it sounds. John Atkins, of Stereophile, was extremely critical of a CD player sometime back, where it test so bad he designated it mifi (mid fi). He could not accept this piece of gear as hifi though the reviewer loved it and thought it exceptional. Good on you John.

A few months back a tube preamp and tube power amp were also under review. Forget the testing the build quality was atrocious. Parts were bent to fit it into the chases, soldering was carried out by a blind dog while his owner slept, power wires were jammed between bare metal parts the thing hummed. If I had produced this item I would have been ashamed. Funny the directors of the firms involved raved about how good the workmanship is and how experienced the techs are. Funny, no sad yes.

In the latest Stereophile two tube power amps are reviewed and tested. The reviewer did find some audible faults with the amps, particularly the lower power one (made in America and designed in Korea) but if you look at the test results they are horrific. Distortion level were not only high but the worse distortion patterns I have ever seen. John comment on the poor test result of the amp. I think John could have or should have been more critical.

Once more I will be the first to say it’s the sound which is the most critical but also the amp must test to some minimum level. We should strive to make gear which should pass minimum imperial tests, looks good and sounds great. Anything less is dumbing down the art and gives non-believers, non-audiophiles, driven by testing and blind test more ammunition to shoot us down. To think this is occurring in the commercial world is a disgrace. Come on guys lift your game as high as you have lifted your prices. Good gear which is well built, sounds great and tests well. Is that too much to ask?

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 04 May 2014, 13:51 
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Stereophile has a "review" process that is common amongst many, MANY magazines since the 50's..... but since it hasn't been proven in court, to state the common practice would be libel.

Think about it ;)

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 05 May 2014, 09:06 
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I like two comments in stereophile lately:

1 - Stop being an audiophile and start listening to the music.
2 - Stop listening to your gear and listen to the music.

A good audio friend of mine is constantly tweaking his gear and of course every tweak produces a far better sound. Really?? His gear is very expensive and he has changed some expensive components many times in a few short years. Strange I made all my sh!t and I don't tweak it at all. Just listen to it.

But he told me today he has stopped tweaking and is starting to listen to and enjoy the music. Maybe he will now start reaping the value of an extremely expensive and time consuming ride. On my estimations, looking at what it has cost him to get to this point, he will have to live to about 100 and listen to a hell of a lot of music to reap any sort of value at all. He is now 72.

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 05 May 2014, 13:42 
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mwhouston wrote:
I like two comments in stereophile lately:

1 - Stop being an audiophile and start listening to the music.
2 - Stop listening to your gear and listen to the music.


They changed! :thumbsup:

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 05 May 2014, 18:28 
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Location: Vancouver Canada
I would think after a while of money and improvements any amp would stop being better and be more just a good amp that sounds different from the #X models before.


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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 05 May 2014, 19:39 
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Hi Everyone, An interesting can of worms. My opinion (YMMV) is this is a twofold issue. In the end it is what the listener hears that is the most significant thing. But in order to hear the source it is necessary to first reproduce it rather accurately. Bear in mind I said source. I have serious doubts that any music system can really reproduce the live event it came from. To reproduce the source well I feel that there really are some minimal requirements that must be met. Others may suggest different values, but these are ones I use in designs. A frequency response of 20HZ to 20KHZ within 1 db is needed. My personal desired values are 15HZ to 30KHZ at -1 db (no +). The signal to noise should be at least 90 dbv (about 93 dbw for power amps). The distortion (plus noise) in power amps should be less than 1% at half power and 2% at full power. Most of mine are under 0.25 at 1 watt. For preamps and such a distortion (plus noise) level of under 1% at full output (usually 5 vrms and they are typically under 0.25% there). Once these values are reached it is really important to see how the device sounds. Great specs do not necessarily indicate great sound. Conversely, poor specs will probably equate to poor sound. A problem with how something sounds is related to what we hear. Often something as simple as a MP3 will sound rather good…..that is until you make a side by side comparison of the same material at high resolution. This goes back to my thoughts on accuracy of reproduction. So in the end I believe that anything worthy of being called hi-fi needs to meet minimal specs to insure that there is minimal loss or alteration of the source material. Equally the end result of the reproduction process must be for want of better terms listenable (without fatigue), provide a suitable, worthwhile experience and in my opinion be enjoyable.

BTW, I personally know the designer of the mentioned amps and have talked with him as recently as two days ago. It is my assessment (he would politely not comment directly) that the end products were altered from what he intended by company desires by non-music enthusiasts. Regardless I believe the company got off easy.

Good listening
Bruce

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 09 May 2014, 19:32 
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I only intended to make the one post but now I've started the thread might-as-well keep it going. I was sent this link from my audiophile mate Dave, the man with a million dollar system. It doesn't sound like a million dollar system, though very good but it has probably cost him that much over the years. Interestingly the link has a crack at tube amps, especially SETs then goes ahead with what appears to be an excellent tutorial tube amps. I feel I have posted these comments somewhere else. If I have forgive me. I haven't read the tutorial but did scan through the pages.

The comment is made that tube amps are not true hifi devices because they alter the original signal coming from the CD player (or whatever source). In a way I suppose they are right. If any component alters the sound then it is not faithful to the original signal. I think that covers every piece of hifi gear ever made. All hifi gear alters the original sound in some way therefore we must start to qualify the term "hifi" by saying just how faithful our reproduction is to the original signal. This is where analytical testing comes in. And we test what we know we can test and make a statement about the degree of fidelity based on those test. Of course this may have little bearing on how a piece of gear or a whole system sounds and that's because or testing is incomplete.

I read the chemical analysis of a glass of wine. It told me nothing of how the wine would taste in my mouth which would taste different in another person's mouth. We look at test charts and graphs of hifi gear and have no idea how it will sound. I'm sure I couldn't pick the difference between 0.5% distortion and 1% but I could tell you whether I liked the sound or not. SET amps, especially highlighted in the link, are suppose to be the least respected of the hifi clan. I love the sound of SET amps, have built a dozen or so and will build more. Not because they are hifi devices or not, just because I like how they sound.

No gear will ever come close to reproducing the original performance but lots and lots of gear will continue to give us the sound we like in our listening environment. This "altering" gear whether SS, tube or electromagnetic will entertain us for years, provide us with an excellent and exciting hobby and rewards us for or endeavors. So please Mr SET amp - Alter my mood and keep giving me pleasure. Hifi or not, how it all sounds to me is what is important, not some test chart of an electrical signal proclaiming my gear is not hifi. And others telling me, based on graphs, my gear is not hifi.

http://lenardaudio.com/education/14_valve_amps.html

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 10 May 2014, 21:12 
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Hi Mark, I agree. If someone likes the sound of an MP3 player then go for it, if something of a tube nature is more appealing great, If only SS stuff will do, also OK. I learned a long time ago to not try to sell Fords (or pick your choice) to a guy who loves Chevrolets (also substitute your own brand). I am fairly well convinced that we all are trying to find a way to enjoy music and equally sure that there are numerous ways to go about it. All are valid as far as I am concerned.

Good listening
Bruce

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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 10 May 2014, 22:28 
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gofar99 wrote:
Hi Mark, I agree. If someone likes the sound of an MP3 player then go for it, if something of a tube nature is more appealing great, If only SS stuff will do, also OK. I learned a long time ago to not try to sell Fords (or pick your choice) to a guy who loves Chevrolets (also substitute your own brand). I am fairly well convinced that we all are trying to find a way to enjoy music and equally sure that there are numerous ways to go about it. All are valid as far as I am concerned.

As the saying goes: "different strokes for different blokes".

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Projects: "Tutu" - 150W Tripath T3 monoblock | "Silver Supreme" - 6L6GC-12AT7 SE UL power amp | "retro-4040" - 40W Chip amp LM3876T
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 Post subject: Re: hifi or mifi
PostPosted: 11 May 2014, 02:24 
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Music and amp components is a culinary adventure for the ears just as foods are for the palette. Thousands of recipies/designs for your delight :D

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* Ratings are for transistors - tubes have guidelines*
Home: GeeK ZonE
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