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Question Yamaha's "Pure Direct"

BarKohba

Active Member
Hello,

My question is rather simple - does the Pure Direct from Yamaha's amps/receivers make any difference?

From what I've read, it's basically something that can be found under other names on different brands, and all it does is turn off the amp screeen almost all the time, and bypass the tone and loudness controls. How this is supposed to make the sound better?

I'm very intrigued, however, by one thing. On my Yamaha 803d Receiver, the amplification frequency range is 20hz-20khz standard. However, the manual specifies that when Pure Direct is ON, the frequency range expands to 10hz-100khz.

So what's the best thing to do here ? Keep it on? Anyone else has experience with it? Does it REALLY make a difference?
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Whether it's better or not will be purely a personal opinion, try it
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
Pure Direct is just a complete bypass of the tone/loudness control section, theory being that eliminates any noise/non-linearity from that section. Whether that extra 10hz of bass in Pure Direct mode will be "better" depends on what you have for sub(s) and what sources you are listening/watching. Music doesn't have much content down that low, and few subs get there without distortion or significant roll-off.

WARNING: If you are using the Loudness Control, DO NOT switch to Pure Direct at high volumes with a significant Loudness dB cut setting. There's a longer explanation of the Loudness that any owner of Yamaha gear with these features needs to know. Don't want to repeat/paste posts, here's the link to an old thread:
Yamaha "Loudness" Feature
A couple years ago Steve/Blue Wizard did some testing and I added what I found with my new A-S501, obviously at the bottom of the thread.

Not sure why Yamaha didn't include a relay lockout to prevent switching to Pure Direct while at high volumes and Loudness Control is engaged.

Enjoy!
 

3rdignis

Active Member
If you look inside many quality amps you will see the boards are very simple.
8200mb-1-audiolab.jpg

The less you do with the original signal the better.
It is said the best amp is no amp.
e.g people are using chord Hugo tt2 which is a dac/preamp straight to speakers.
 

BarKohba

Active Member
Pure Direct is just a complete bypass of the tone/loudness control section, theory being that eliminates any noise/non-linearity from that section. Whether that extra 10hz of bass in Pure Direct mode will be "better" depends on what you have for sub(s) and what sources you are listening/watching. Music doesn't have much content down that low, and few subs get there without distortion or significant roll-off.

WARNING: If you are using the Loudness Control, DO NOT switch to Pure Direct at high volumes with a significant Loudness dB cut setting. There's a longer explanation of the Loudness that any owner of Yamaha gear with these features needs to know. Don't want to repeat/paste posts, here's the link to an old thread:
Yamaha "Loudness" Feature
A couple years ago Steve/Blue Wizard did some testing and I added what I found with my new A-S501, obviously at the bottom of the thread.

Not sure why Yamaha didn't include a relay lockout to prevent switching to Pure Direct while at high volumes and Loudness Control is engaged.

Enjoy!
And I assume the extra inaudible frequencies from 20 to 100khz wouldnt be much benefit either (cinsidering my speakers go up to 50khz +/-3db)
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
I started playing with stereo on a VERY tight budget in my teen years in the mid 1960's, have a background in electronics and mechanical technology. The usual story, go to post secondary, get married, jobs, houses, kids, other hobbies all got higher time/$$ priorities. But now we are both retired, kids grown and self-sustaining... now time/cash for music. Fortunately SWMBO is onboard for modest investments, but the purpose-built room and the gear to outfit it "properly" is not happening. Pareto rules. Good, and how good is good enough, is in the ear/wallet of the beholder.

Ah, the endless controversy over what those "inaudible" frequencies contribute at both extremes. Given even the recording/editing/mastering industry can't quantify/specify "correct" reproduction in purely objective terms, how are listeners/owners to know what is "best"?

One of the major authorities on all this is Floyd Toole of NRC/Harmon Kardon fame (or infamy), and if you haven't read his book (be sure to get the latest edition) I highly recommend it. Spending on Toole's book may save an audiophile many $thousands. The info about your ears/brain "learning to listen past the room" is particularly interesting.
https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reproduction-Psychoacoustics-Loudspeakers-Engineering/dp/113892136X/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Enjoy!
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Oldcoot.. you are lucky if your adult children are "self sustaining", its i trick many of us have not yet mastered.. It might make a more profitable book than Tooles one on audio.. and pay you to have your home studio built.
I don't think the problem is that audio engineers cannot agree ,it is that they won't. Many will see the manipulation of sound as a creative experience ..hence the loudness wars.
But getting back to the bandwidth question.. a wider bandwidth is always an improvement, as it increases the linearity within the passband,so that clicks and the attack on notes are sharper and less muffled . Unfortunately it puts greater demands on the noise floor and makes it more possible for interference to enter.
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
To 3rdignis: After reading Toole, I am even less concerned than I ever was with having a technologically "perfect" system, and now focus building a system that is enjoyable to listen to at a reasonable price. We listen to everything except rap and opera, all via digital source.

The signal-to-noise specs on any competent electronics is so tiny these days as to be inaudible to most people. Again, Pareto rules. It will take 90% of the cost to gain that extra 10% benefit. Deep pockets? Go for it. Those of us on a budget have to make compromises, just depends where an audiophile decides which compromises suit their own agenda.

Toole deals extensively with what that "original signal" actually entails, and it ain't pretty. Start with the recording engineer's ears and see how many ways that "original signal" may or may not be faithfully reproduced in its journey through the tech/skinware maze.

Perhaps it is possible to build a system and a room that handles a full range of source material without needing any EQ/tone compensation, but it will be far above most people's price or patience point.

ABSOLUTELY buy components with better than average objective specs, and eliminate the major room/speaker sonic/positioning flaws, but the idea that zero EQ/tonal adjustments is somehow "better" than a setup which appropriately compensates for electronic/speaker/room AND LISTENER preferences/deficiencies is a pricey, fussy venture.

I just want a system that works well and doesn't take over my life.
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
dannielll, It would be a short book. We began telling the kids when they were in their early teens that our job as parents was to try to get then to be fully functional, self-reliant human beings. Want to be treated like an adult, then act like one... besides, neither they nor we want to live in the same house anymore.

The subjective nature of hearing/listening is the main source of audio controversy. Nothing in life is ever 100% perfect, and sound recording/reproduction is much less perfect than fussier audiophiles would like. But why can't audiophiles opining and the industry that supplies our gear and source material gracefully accept such compromises as increase the individual's enjoyment of reproduced music. Starbucks and your local best espresso bar demonstrate how varied "coffee" can be. Listening/hearing is as individual as how we like our coffee to taste. Once tasted or heard, better quality is evident, but how to derive "better" taste or sound based on pure objective standards/specs is fraught with pitfalls. Potentially expensive pitfalls in the case of sound reproduction.

Gotta run, will check back later.
 

BarKohba

Active Member
I asked about yamaha's "pure direct" benefits and if its worth keeping it on.

Yet people answering on this topic are veering waaaay into offtopic land.

So to get back on topic, and please, if it aint about what i asked, start your own thread, is pure direct beneficial? Or is it just marketing.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Pure direct sends an unmolested signal from amp to speakers. If you have run the room correction on your 803 then it will bypass. If you have played with any tone controls (if any) it will bypass all of those. It essentially shuts down part of the amp to give as clean a signal as possible (including the LCD display).

Pure direct has it's benefits and it's draw backs.

Pure Direct isn't a Yamaha feature. Any modern AVR has this. Your 803 has it because it has room correction built in.
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
muljar gave you the most "correct" answer any expert could give, even if he didn't elucidate the potential pitfalls.

Sorry for diverging a bit, but bear in mind there may be other Yamaha owners reading this thread.

Whether the Pure Direct feature is "better" than using the tone/Loudness features is in your ears and system, there is no "right" answer for or against. The debate between the "flat" system purists and pragmatic listeners won't be resolved any time soon. Tone section bypasses are ancient tech, Yamaha just gave it a fancy name. I doubt anyone here with the requisite equipment and experience to do such technical testing of Yamaha's claims would bother.
Ergo, to discern the extreme subtleties of using Pure Direct vs not, a blind A/B comparison is required.

But unless you (and other readers) understand how the Pure Direct and Loudness features interact with each other, significant damage to your speakers and perhaps ears is a real possibility in indiscriminately switching Pure Direct in and out at higher volume/Loudness-cut levels. That's why Yamaha put that big CAUTION note above the Loudness instructions. Unfortunately the rest of the manual does not explain this clearly enough.

If you leave the Loudness set to Flat, blind A/B Pure Direct in and out to your heart's content... sit in the listening chair with eyes closed and get someone to push the PD button on the remote randomly so you can hear the difference... Assuming Yamaha was diligent enough to ensure the output level is EXACTLY the same with PD in or out. Toole explains how a slightly louder output inherently sounds "better".

Not so simple a question after all it seems.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
I asked about yamaha's "pure direct" benefits and if its worth keeping it on.

Yet people answering on this topic are veering waaaay into offtopic land.....
I had an amp years ago that had TONE DEFEAT, which today is the equivalent of Pure Direct. Switching it On and Off with the Tone set to neutral, I could hear a slight difference, but not sufficient to convince me to give up my Tone Controls. That Amp also had the older style Loudness Switch that boosted the bass and treble. Allegedly it was a variable boost so that as the volume got louder, the boost was reduced. So, I simply played with the Loudness switched On all the time.

Here is what Yamaha says -

Maximum sound purity


Pure Direct mode enables the music signals to travel the shortest possible circuit route, bypassing the buffer amp and the tone, loudness and balance controls to virtually eliminate any signal degradation, for the purest sound quality.




Instead of seeking some ideal of perfection of sound, rather seek to suit yourself and what you like. It doesn't matter what the experts say, what matters is what you hear and whether you like it.

Which you choose to do, will depend solely on your personal preferences. For myself, while I might use the Pure Direct on occasion, I'm not, on a regular basis, willing to give up what I lose to gain what I gain.

As to the Loudness Control, the older style that gave a true bass and treble boost were fantastic. The new Yamaha Loudness Knob is useless. It seems to be a very narrow notch filter centered on 1khz. If it were more like a midrange control that could only be turned down, it might have some hope, but as it is ...in my opinion... it is worthless. Set it at the neutral/flat position and forget that it is there.

The Pure Direct is a Bypass, it bypasses the Tone, Balance, Loudness circuits, and reduces the amount of electronics between Input and Output. Compare the sound with it ON and with it OFF, and see if you feel it is worth what you gain at the sacrifice of what you lose.

It really is that simple - listen and decide.

Steve/bluewizard
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
As to the Bandwidth, the qualifying specs on these are not the same.

Frequency Response -

CD, etc.. = 20hz to 20khz @ ±0.5db
CD, etc... Pure Direct = 10hz to 100hz @ ±1db


The difference is in the qualifiers - ±0.5db vs ±1db - unlike speakers, which are mechanical devices, a pure electronic device does not deviate much from flat across the bandwidth, so the difference is most likely the qualifier, and not the presents or absents of Pure Direct.

And by the way, 10hz to 100khz is fairly common.

Next, despite what you have heard, you really can not hear from 20hz to 20khz. In theory - yes, if you cheat - maybe, but under normal circumstances - NO.

Especially on the high end, those who claim to hear 20khz have done so by turning the volume higher and higher until they heard something. But at a constant volume across the spectrum, your hearing falls short on both ends.

So relative to the Frequency Response shown above, or the Bandwidth, Yamaha has created the difference by simply fudging the numbers ... for the most part.

I suspect if there is a difference between standard and Pure Direct, it has to do with Signal to Noise Ratio. The circuits will be microscopically quieter in Pure Direct.

In my opinion ...

Steve/bluewizad
 
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vatir

Standard Member
I spent a whole week with pure sound on and another week with it off.
Gotta admit didn’t hear any noticeable difference so went back to tone control and I’m happy with it and enjoy listening to music rather than make music unenjoyable by thinking too much about It.
At the end it all comes down to what you enjoy the most. Yes in theory pure direct is better as it’s a more direct path but as I said i couldn’t tell any difference in details.
 

meduk1

Active Member
I've recently moved away from Yamaha, but have had them for a good 8+ years, all of the models having pure direct.

I found it a noticeable improvement for stereo listening for the reasons stated above, it bypasses all of the other controls, including room correction and sends the full signal to the speakers as intended for stereo listing.
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
sends the full signal to the speakers as intended for stereo listing.
"intended"... by whom? The artist? The recording engineer? The editor or mastering engineer? The listener?

All I can say is to read Toole regarding the recording/editing/mastering chain (Sound Reproduction edition3, Ch7.5 Professional Listening vs. Recreational Listening). He may not be 100% right on everything, but he sure saved me a LOT of cash by avoiding the "how things SHOULD sound" trap.

Toole quotes Augsperger (1994): "any study of real world stereo reproduction involves a strong element of subjective bias."
AES Los Angeles 2016 » Presenters: George Augspurger

So there are two renowned experts in the field saying the ultimate test of "good sound" is in the ears/brain of the particular listener (including all the engineers in the recording chain). Notice neither specify "tone bypass" as a prerequisite to good sound.

The simplest formula? Flat frequency, low distortion response from the amp/speakers/source electronics as can be afforded or found is the first step. Speaker placement to minimize inevitable resonances and nulls, avoid crossover dips/peaks, set EQ/tone to further reduce anomalies (get a pink noise digital signal, free on the internet and a frequency analyzer app for your smart phone) and adjust further to suit listening preferences.

We modern "audiophiles" have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
"intended"... by whom? The artist? The recording engineer? The editor or mastering engineer? The listener?

All I can say is to read Toole regarding the recording/editing/mastering chain (Sound Reproduction edition3, Ch7.5 Professional Listening vs. Recreational Listening). He may not be 100% right on everything, but he sure saved me a LOT of cash by avoiding the "how things SHOULD sound" trap.

Toole quotes Augsperger (1994): "any study of real world stereo reproduction involves a strong element of subjective bias."
AES Los Angeles 2016 » Presenters: George Augspurger

So there are two renowned experts in the field saying the ultimate test of "good sound" is in the ears/brain of the particular listener (including all the engineers in the recording chain). Notice neither specify "tone bypass" as a prerequisite to good sound.

The simplest formula? Flat frequency, low distortion response from the amp/speakers/source electronics as can be afforded or found is the first step. Speaker placement to minimize inevitable resonances and nulls, avoid crossover dips/peaks, set EQ/tone to further reduce anomalies (get a pink noise digital signal, free on the internet and a frequency analyzer app for your smart phone) and adjust further to suit listening preferences.

We modern "audiophiles" have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants.
Such a shame then that the majority of modern recordings, both vinyl and CD, are compressed flatter than hammered s***, to allow the artist to sound lounder than those around them.
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
Since shifting to using iTunes/iMac and a bit of internet/radio-station streaming as our main music sources, the worst recordings are those the kids downloaded from Limewire and the like way-back when. Kinda like comparing a K-Tel recording to a Deutsche Grammophon pressing. The iTunes or even Spotify versions of those crappy/compressed audio files are much better, but I am not jumping on the latest digital ultra-hi-quality systems. I doubt the endless "audiophile" standards/codecs wrestling match will end soon, until as happened with Quad sound, Videodisc, Beta, DVD vs. BluRay and Elcassettes, one standard becomes the defacto last one standing. So probably not in my lifetime...

I am not getting back on the vinyl scene, even though I still have my Thorens TD150 with TP16 arm, a V15 TypeIII and a Micro Acoustics 2002. Digital is just too convenient. No, my vinyl stuff is not for sale.

Compression issues aside, iTunes allows listeners to adjust/store both volume and eq for each song or album (click on the ... song/album info, then Options). I am in the process of doing this for the few songs/albums in our library which REALLY stick out as too loud or quiet compared to most (even with the Sound Check selected which is supposed to ensure all songs give even output), but the time to tailor each song/album for recording process idiosyncrasies is more than I wish to spend.

At nearly 66 years old, my ears are well past prime, so the best iTunes level of quality is sufficient for my purposes. Decades of factory work, motorcycle riding and loud music have taken their toll, despite being an early adopter of hearing protection.
 

rollon1980

Standard Member
I hope it’s ok to chime in here after the initial conversation.

My understanding is that Yamaha would also bypass the AD and DA converters in pure direct mode? At least that’s my expectation? if so, it would have other effects as multiple AD to DA conversions will iteratively distort their original signal no matter the resolution you use for those conversions.

HENCE, when I’m using a Yamaha amp as purely an amp to drive extra surround speakers, I turn on pure direct with my other Yamaha amp doing all the digital correction without pure direct on. This provides the cleanest signal and not yet another AD to DA cycle. :)
 

toon10

Active Member
I can't tell the difference using pure direct on my Yamaha RN 602. In fact, I prefer more bass so I turn it off so I can set the bass and treble control levels myself to tune the sound to my ears.
 
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oldcootstereo

Active Member
Pure Direct or any tone-control-bypass circuit will give a minor change to the overall sound. Mostly in improving Signal to Noise, as it eliminates at least one amplification (even if zero gain) stage. If the rest of the gear (from source to speaker) in a particular audio chain are of sufficient quality, this slight change POTENTIALLY may be heard by the listener. Great idea, better sound for the price of an additional switch.

Toole advocates giving listeners access to tone/volume controls to alter the sound to suit their particular taste. The Circle of Confusion is always present, each hifi hobbyist gets to decide for themselves what is "correct" sound. Also depends on how deep pockets are and how much fiddling the listeners are prepared to devote to getting the best sound possible for the money. But simply spending large is not always the easiest path the audio industry might make it seem.

A friendly warning, BE CAREFUL switching Yamaha's Pure Direct in and out if also using the Loudness Control. Pure Direct cuts out the tone circuitry which includes the Loudness Control. The Yamaha Loudness is actually a mid/high CUT circuit, and if a lot of Loudness is applied, switching into Pure Direct immediately restores maximum volume (at the particular settings).

Extreme example: If the Loudness Control is fully engaged to -30dB, this will mean the Main Volume has to be adjusted upward to compensate to maintain the original maximum-desired volume. If Pure Direct is then engaged at the same Loudness/Volume setting, that up to -30dB is instantly removed... meaning +30dB. At lower Loudness and/or Volume settings, switching in/out Pure Direct may be speaker-safe, but all it takes is someone forgetting to turn the Main Volume down from a high setting before switching to Pure Direct.

Look at the Yamaha remote and see the Pure Direct button is positioned directly below the Power Button. A slip of a finger and Pure Direct can be engaged... OOPS!
 

rollon1980

Standard Member
I have confirmed and at least on the rx line, of fed an analogue signal, the AD and DA conversion is bypassed completely with the signal going to the amplifier stage directly. This would in itself be very desirable if you only wanted to use the Yamaha as an amp without any of the digital circuitry. I do this to supplement my other Yamaha amp without having to spring up to an MX5200 or something expensive.

I have an RX-A3080 doing decoding and an RX-A3020 helping out as an amp to drive some of the channels in pure direct mode.
Cheers!
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
This should clear up some confusion:

1575481460514.png

Scroll down to post #11.

Here's the schematic of the A-S501 on page 37, digital input signals get converted to analog before being fed into the rest of the pre/amp circuits. Nothing like the RX-series diagram above.
Block Diagram - Yamaha A-S501 Service Manual [Page 37]

Yamaha may be using the same Pure Direct label across product lines, but how it is implemented regarding the particular tone/loudness circuits is quite different.
 

daddy999

Active Member
Hmm, I tried it on my A S2100 and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference....but them I am in my 50’s and have been in steelwork all my life, so the hearing isn’t what it used to be! 😂
 

oldcootstereo

Active Member
Hmm, I tried it on my A S2100 and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference....but them I am in my 50’s and have been in steelwork all my life, so the hearing isn’t what it used to be! 😂
As stated up thread, the difference is subtle at best, and depends greatly on the ability of the rest of the system to deliver the potential improvement. And of course the listener's ears/brain and room.

I am in my mid-60's and can hear a slight improvement when PD is engaged. Plus I use only digital source, via iMac/iTunes/Airplay to deliver lossless signal.
 

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