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Went a bit crazy on ebay

stitch123

Active Member
Well after a couple of weeks bender, mixed in with reading lots of hifi reviews and getting totally confused with amplifier adjectives such as 'warm' 'clinical' and 'bright' I went a bit crazy on eBay for my small office set up.

I've ended up with;

Another airport express
Dali zensor 1
Cambridge audio A5
Arcam Alpha 7
Cyrus 6vs

Bought quite carefully, pick up only etc and paid just under £300 for the lot.

I also already own dali zensor 5 and nad d3020.

I intend to spend sometime listening to the differences in these amps.

Any thoughts or advice? I will sell on the amps I choose not to keep.

Stu
 

Doomlord_uk

Well-known Member
All amps working properly within their power range will sound identical, with distortion inaudibly low. This has been the case for almost all since at least the 80s, although there are some great amplifiers that date from the 70s and earlier that would sound just as good today. If you try for any kind of sensible - ie double-blind - testing regimen you are going to go crazy trying to pick out differences. I suggest you make sure the amp you keep can drive your speakers cleanly to the SPL you desire in-room (match amp power to speaker power handling as a first measure), then make sure it has the features you want and finally the design (size, materials, looks, etc) you like. There's a lot to be said for a system that works off a single remote control, too.

That's my advice. :)
 

Gaspode_TWD

Active Member
Conversely I'd say that the amps will have different presentations. But only your ears can tell you which you prefer in combination with your speakers. We don't all like the same music nor listen for the same elements equally (e.g. rhythm, timbre, dynamics, detail, etc.). All hifi has its limitations, its your choice which ones matter most to you.
 

rorackowe

Well-known Member
I'd be amazed if they sounded exactly the same. That was my previous hypothesis before I did A/B comparison. Any chance you can borrow an amp selector?
 

Alan Mac

Well-known Member
Any thoughts or advice?

Stu


To stand any realistic chance of detecting a genuine difference between amplifiers, the switch-over between them must take place near instantaneously. Also, the sound levels produced by the two amplifiers at the listening position must be matched to better than about 0.2 dB.


Alan
 

stitch123

Active Member
I've read loads around a/b testing, level matching etc I'm a med student so I understand blind testing etc.

To be honest a) I haven't got the right kit and time to do a 'scientific' test

B) what I really want to know is if there's a night and day difference between amps that u can EASILY identify. I've read so much about amps should sound the same before clipping and I've read so much about amps sounding different. I've read reviews of people having arcam then listening to cyrus and describing it as a 'rug being lifted from in front of their speakers'
 

BarnDoor

Active Member
You could set up one of the amps and use it for a couple of weeks before swapping over. I think that you will know which you prefer at the end, be it sound or features of the preferred amp.
 
They won't sound the same at all!!

Trust me I've been through numerous amps over the years! They won't give you night and day difference like swapping to a different pair of speakers would but something like an Arcam amp will sound totally different to a Cyrus amp.
 

Alan Mac

Well-known Member
I hope so, that's the point in my own little test. I'll be starting my tests on Tuesday.

Amplifiers (working within their specified limits) will sound the same if you take the trouble to eliminate the misleading influence of effects such as expectation bias and level differences. In other words, the test has to be a “scientific” one.

A “scientific” test is the only type of test that can be relied on to have the potential to yield valid results. The “science” is not an optional extra!

Alan
 

Nick1881

Well-known Member
Can't believe some people are saying all amps sound the same. I have tested different amplifiers and noticed fairly big differences, the kind of things that someone could blind test me and I could tell 2 or 3 amps apart.

The differences can very in the high end detail, the amount of bass and the bass control. Of course the differences aren't quite as big as it can be with speakers, or different rooms but it can still be easy to tell them apart. Of course 2 amps are also capable of sounding the same.

I could easily blindly tell you the difference between a Musical Fidelity M6i and an ATC SIA2 150.
 

stitch123

Active Member
I must admit (hence attempting to make my own mind up) that I'm not sure either way. Part of me thinks that if all amps running within their proper operating environment sound the same then why would people choose one brand over another - surely all 40w amps would sound the same and then why don't we just use 40w amps from 20 years ago? Surely we would be buying amps based on features as opposed to sound. Does this mean that all reviews which include things like 'bass sounds wooly' or 'clinical' or warm' are all rejected as they all sound the same. On the other hand I think it's possible that amps do sound ever so slightly different but the difference is so insignificant that it's not worth (to me) the price difference, but to some people it obviously is worth the difference.

I'm going to try and make up my own mind. I know there's SPL matching problems and humans prefer a louder sound, there's also evidence that humans prefer a piece of music the second time round. I can't work round these but I'm happy to have them as a limitation in my test as long as I'm happy I made the right decision at the end of the day.
 

Alan Mac

Well-known Member
It would be very surprising indeed if high fidelity amplifiers (working within their specified limits) sounded different, the one from the other.


High fIdelity amplifiers are specifically designed, using servo feedback, to minimise any error between the output signal and the input signal. It should come as no surprise therefore that if we actually derive the difference between input and output (allowing for the level difference) it will be found to be inaudible or at least completely masked by the main signal.


It would be very useful to be able to sidestep the complexities and potential pitfalls of subjective testing and instead compare the two amplifier electrical outputs objectively while they individually drive the same loudspeaker in the same room.


Such a comparison is possible using the (free) “Audio DiffMaker” software (QV).


Audio DiffMaker


You can in principle use this to compare your own amplifiers but if that initially seems too difficult you can download some example files:


Audio DiffMaker example files


The reference above (see Power Amplifiers) gives (among other things) examples of the “error” signals produced by three high fidelity amplifiers of different types, driving a relatively “difficult” loudspeaker load. If you listen to the difference signals (on headphones?) you will appreciate just how tiny and insignificant the differences really are.


Alan
 
It baffles me that people bother to write several paragraphs and quote scientific references.

Get out the house, go to a hi fi shop and sit and listen to a few different amps in the same room with the same speakers/music/source and it'll be very clear to hear the difference between certain amp manufactures.

There are thousands up on thousands of people with hi fi systems, surely they'd of twigged on by now if all amps sounded the same and everyone would own pretty much the same amp? There's a reason people choose a stereo amp and its because they like the sound!
 

Applenoob

Banned
Be interesting to see what the OP comes back with

For me Arcam amps are smooth and rich and can be fairly mellow (not as mellow as MF amps though)!

The CA amps to me are awful, clinical and dry and too bright at times

The Cyrus amp, wasn't the best they did, but still good and this will sit somewhere in between but with a good, open and powerful sound but again can be bright if partnered with the wrong speakers/source etc...

Personally I'd get rid of them all and go for an Arcam Alpha 9 or Cyrus 6VS2 if they can be found at a sensible price

Exciting times though; getting bits in that like and that many to choose from could make for a few interesting weeks of listening :D
 

stitch123

Active Member
Be interesting to see what the OP comes back with

For me Arcam amps are smooth and rich and can be fairly mellow (not as mellow as MF amps though)!

The CA amps to me are awful, clinical and dry and too bright at times

The Cyrus amp, wasn't the best they did, but still good and this will sit somewhere in between but with a good, open and powerful sound but again can be bright if partnered with the wrong speakers/source etc...

Personally I'd get rid of them all and go for an Arcam Alpha 9 or Cyrus 6VS2 if they can be found at a sensible price

Exciting times though; getting bits in that like and that many to choose from could make for a few interesting weeks of listening :D

Thank you. I think even though there's been lots of science spouted at me that you see my point. I'm doing this because I like messing about with kit, and also because I want to know if I can tell a difference in sound in very average conditions I.e. Spl not exactly the same between tests, room acoustics not ideal etc I don't like listening in shops as my room acoustics are completely different and I don't like to feel like I'm wasting someone's time as I can't really afford to buy new and it's hard to find shops that actually sell all the brands I'm interested in to listen to back to back. I've had home demos before but the only place that would let me is sevenoaks hifi but they are quite a way from me and they'll only lend out for 2 days max which just isn't long enough for me to get decent listening time in.

What I plan to do is find the one I like best and then compare it to some of the newer offerings that are in shops today. I was originally planning on buying stuff higher up the range such as arcam 9/10, cyrus 8vs or similar, even a nad 35X but the total outlay would have been too much. My original plan was to have every component under £100 (CA cost me £20, Arcam cost me £60, the cyrus a bit more over my budget but I always used to look at them as a kid and i felt a bit of nostalgia plus now I can afford that older kit) and I tried to choose kit that I thought might sound different.
 
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zenza

Well-known Member
Amps definitely make a difference.

I was listening to some Dali Zensor 5s with a Marantz PM6004 and was not impressed. The guy then switched to an Audiolab 8200 and it was such a difference straight away. Like night and day. The speakers sounded like they had just been brought up from bottom of the ocean.
 

stitch123

Active Member
Amps definitely make a difference.

I was listening to some Dali Zensor 5s with a Marantz PM6004 and was not impressed. The guy then switched to an Audiolab 8200 and it was such a difference straight away. Like night and day. The speakers sounded like they had just been brought up from bottom of the ocean.

This is exactly what I want to know. I want to know if I'm going to plug one of these amps in and immediately tell a difference and notice improvement. If I really have to sit down and listen so carefully to hear a tiny difference then it's not worth mega bucks to me!
 

Applenoob

Banned
See... This is what I like to see... I'm a messer-abouter too; the wife hates it ;)

I've so much hifi stuff in the loft but can't stop buying more :D

What I buy I usually sell on and at a profit but that's only because I've bought it at silly prices as either timing has been wrong or they were just desperate to sell (maybe unethical I know but I do it for fun, not for profit (that's just handy)!

You've got some good stuff at great prices so enjoy it and see what conclusions you come to!

I'm slightly jealous as I've not got time to do this currently but will do soon enough...

Watching a few bits currently on various forums and the Bay of Evil! ;)
 

MIFF INFIDELIUS

Active Member
I am a believer that amps do sound different but I think what Alan is on about is that two amps with the exact same gain, the exact same wattage and capacitor reserves ( forgive my noobish technical vocabulary ) should theoretically sound the same whether they come from different manufacturers or not.

If the high current ( as wattage is not the ultimate guide to go by ) provided is also the same but come from two different manufacturers than I'd remain sceptical that it's the pcb layout that makes the sonic difference

I think the main sonical difference is not manufacturers signature but the quality of the power supply than?
 

Alan Mac

Well-known Member
Get out the house, go to a hi fi shop and sit and listen to a few different amps in the same room with the same speakers/music/source and it'll be very clear to hear the difference between certain amp manufactures.



Not if the time taken to switch between amplifiers is less than about 5 milli-seconds and the amplifier drive levels to the loudspeaker match to within about 0.2 dB.

Under these conditions the switch-over point will be undetectable.


Alan
 

Applenoob

Banned
^^^

So true!

This threads going completely away from the OP's point of posting his thread.

There's no science needed; just ideas and input! :censored:
 

stitch123

Active Member
Well i've been listening to the 3 amps for a few days now and here are some initial thoughts.

  • In my opinion there is no night and day difference between them, however there do appear to be some subtle differences, especially at higher volume levels
  • The differences I may be hearing may be due to the fact I can't level match particularly well using just my ears. Many people have commented that in order to hear differences the levels must be matched. This leads me on to the question of why don't hifi shops level match, or use an AB switch if timing is a factor in changing cables. Plenty of people say they hear differences in demos - are they just hearing what they want to hear
  • My initial thoughts of the Cyrus (due to reading about it) before it got delivered is that it would sound 'bright' or 'clinical', with little bass.
  • My initial thoughts of the Arcam (again due to reading before it got delivered) are that it would sound 'warm'
  • To my ears the differences are very very subtle. Listening to With or without you by U2, I would say the arcam has a touch more bass, the Cyrus appears to have less bass however the bass it has seems to be more controlled. I hear the bass note doesn't last as long so seems more punchy, which may come across to my untrained ears as a lack of bass.
  • In some other songs there does appear to be a bit more 'sibilance' (if thats the right word? treble, especially female singers have that piercing sound) with the Cyrus, however that might be due to me just having it slightly louder.
  • I did try the CA 5, but after a listen at higher volume levels it didn't seem as controlled, it had both sibilant high and 'woolly' bass. This will def. be sold soon.
  • On a separate note I used my Dali Zensor 5s for these comparisons. I did try my Zensor 1s to see what they would be like and I'm glad I've got the 5s! The 1s seem so bright without the extra cabinet depth and woofer.
  • Conclusion - spend some more time with the Cyrus and Arcam. Is it best to play one for a week then the next or have shorter comparisons? I also want to compare whatever I decide I prefer to my NAD D3020.
 

Applenoob

Banned
Yup

One week with each will be good

However for me; neither are up to par with your NAD! You'd have to look at the likes of the Arcam Alpha 9/10 and Cyrus 8vs2 to get close :)
 

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