Can you hear a difference in Sound between Audio Amplifiers?

Do Amplifiers Sound Different?

  • Yes

    Votes: 101 62.3%
  • No

    Votes: 45 27.8%
  • crikets crickets....What?

    Votes: 16 9.9%

  • Total voters
    162
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I look at a DBT more as a way to prove a theory, substantiate claims or confirm biases. I'd say they're largely useless for discerning personal preferences.
They may be useful if enough, say a dozen or more devices in a wide enough price range, say $1,000 to $15,000 that includes receivers, integrated amps, preamp/power amp pairs could be compared in DBTs to prove that in fact would "sound" the same when using the same accurate monitors, media source of excellent recording quality, media players that measured well, and most important compared under the same conditions.

Useful because then the individuals may then be convinced by such DBTs that they could stop chasing preamp/amps based on their previously perceived kind of "sound" quality, but on other factors that actually matter, such as build quality, features and reliability.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
By the way, I have watched that video more than once and read quite a few of Dr. Toole and Dr. Olive's articles/papers but they always talked about speakers and rooms. How come they never seemed to have any interest talking about the seemingly most asked/interested topic on AH, that is, will I hear a difference if I add an external amp, upgrade to an integrated amp, receivers and/or do amps sound the same etc.etc.??

I think I know the answer but what's yours?
 
M Code

M Code

Audioholic General
By the way, I have watched that video more than once and read quite a few of Dr. Toole and Dr. Olive's articles/papers but they always talked about speakers and rooms. How come they never seemed to have any interest talking about the seemingly most asked/interested topic on AH, that is, will I hear a difference if I add an external amp, upgrade to an integrated amp, receivers and/or do amps sound the same etc.etc.??

I think I know the answer but what's yours?
We know Dr.Toole & Dr.Olive very well, having worked with them closely on multiple Harman projects. Their research and testing have always focused on loudspeakers, room interaction, room EQ systems, headphones but not specific electronics such as preamplifiers and/or amplifiers. I think this is because they report to Harmans' corporate staff, for which JBL is their dominant brand largely based on acoustics and loudspeakers. Additionally for the most part has outsourced their consumer, life-style and pro-audio electronics such as Arcam, Crown... But they do employ, dedicated development teams for electronics primarily to support their efforts in 12V OE info-tainment so that they can deliver total integrated systems for their automotive brands which deliver 75% of Harman' profit $.


Just my $0.02... ;)
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
We know Dr.Toole & Dr.Olive very well, having worked with them closely on multiple Harman projects. Their research and testing have always focused on loudspeakers, room interaction, room EQ systems, headphones but not specific electronics such as preamplifiers and/or amplifiers. I think this is because they report to Harmans' corporate staff, for which JBL is their dominant brand largely based on acoustics and loudspeakers. Additionally for the most part has outsourced their consumer, life-style and pro-audio electronics such as Arcam, Crown... But they do employ, dedicated development teams for electronics primarily to support their efforts in 12V OE info-tainment so that they can deliver total integrated systems for their automotive brands which deliver 75% of Harman' profit $.


Just my $0.02... ;)
Is it also possible (at least partly) that they don't test amps and preamps because they've concluded any differences aren't significant enough to bother with? Hence the focus on the things do make significant differences, like speakers, EQ and room acoustics?
 
Auditor55

Auditor55

Audioholic Chief
We know Dr.Toole & Dr.Olive very well, having worked with them closely on multiple Harman projects. Their research and testing have always focused on loudspeakers, room interaction, room EQ systems, headphones but not specific electronics such as preamplifiers and/or amplifiers. I think this is because they report to Harmans' corporate staff, for which JBL is their dominant brand largely based on acoustics and loudspeakers. Additionally for the most part has outsourced their consumer, life-style and pro-audio electronics such as Arcam, Crown... But they do employ, dedicated development teams for electronics primarily to support their efforts in 12V OE info-tainment so that they can deliver total integrated systems for their automotive brands which deliver 75% of Harman' profit $.


Just my $0.02... ;)
The point is, he absolutely applies DBT and then he demonstrates why they are important. It really doesn't matter if you are testing speakers, cable, DAC's or amps. Sighted listening test are colored with bias, that's what he is showing in his test.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Is it also possible (at least partly) that they don't test amps and preamps because they've concluded any differences aren't significant enough to bother with? Hence the focus on the things do make significant differences, like speakers, EQ and room acoustics?
That was my hidden point.:D Obviously M Code is right about speakers/rooms have always been their thing, but in the video, at one point he did mention electronics and below were some of the tell tale points I noted:

Not in exact wording, but imo close enough:

".....you would never ever buy an electronic components...and nobody would ever design an electronic component that didn't have a frequency response that were flat from 10 Hz to 100 kHz,..flat and smooth... (guess he exaggerated there somewhat to make his point), it's not hard to do, and everybody does it...so why why would we think that when it comes to loudspeakers we can throw that rule away.................

"... people at home are doing pretty well, cars..are getting better, even little bluthooth wireless speakers don't sound that bad, good sound is coming, better than 10 years ago, certainly better than 20 years ago,......good sound is coming... Again, Floyd knew full well most home users weren't using expensive separates. So while I think audio electronics have not been their focus, if they felt it was a real common bottleneck for home users, they would have at least mentioned it, as they have on recording/mixing/mastering..."
 
Last edited:
M Code

M Code

Audioholic General
1 thing I can say about Floyd Toole he is an absolute, incredible gentleman, loaded with knowledge and experience about acoustics and loudspeakers. :):) He has the great knack of simplifying a complex question into an easier to understand response. I have known/worked with Dr.Toole for >20 years and without a doubt 1 highly respected mega authority on acoustics and loudspeakers. Also note that he is very knowledgeable about electronics and their interaction within a HT system but prefers to stay within his primary subject of expertise for acoustics and loudspeakers... Also being a scientist he leans heavily on objective, statistical data as well rather than off-the-wall BS opinions. For interested parties, Dr.Toole often does various seminars with CEDIA, and I recommend to anyone to attend if possible...

Just my $0.02... ;)
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
The point is, he absolutely applies DBT and then he demonstrates why they are important. It really doesn't matter if you are testing speakers, cable, DAC's or amps. Sighted listening test are colored with bias, that's what he is showing in his test.
At 56:39, he said, "if you know what you are listening to, I don't care what you are thinking..."
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
1 thing I can say about Floyd Toole he is an absolute, incredible gentleman, loaded with knowledge and experience about acoustics and loudspeakers. :):)
If I'm not remembering wrong, Floyd Toole got his degree in electrical engineering. But he spent most of his career at the Canadian NRC, and later at Harmon, developing new methods of measuring loudspeakers by human listening tests. He was the first to do that.
He has the great knack of simplifying a complex question into an easier to understand response.
In my own experience, that is a trait shared by nearly all truly outstanding scientists.
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
Stable into load is not the same as linear into load.

Here are two amps recently measured at Stereophile:


That was my hidden point.:D Obviously M Code is right about speakers/rooms have always been their thing, but in the video, at one point he did mention electronics and below were some of the tell tale points I noted:

Not in exact wording, but imo close enough:

".....you would never ever buy an electronic components...and nobody would ever design an electronic component that didn't have a frequency response that were flat from 10 Hz to 100 kHz,..flat and smooth... (guess he exaggerated there somewhat to make his point), it's not hard to do, and everybody does it...so why why would we think that when it comes to loudspeakers we can throw that rule away.................

"... people at home are doing pretty well, cars..are getting better, even little bluthooth wireless speakers don't sound that bad, good sound is coming, better than 10 years ago, certainly better than 20 years ago,......good sound is coming... Again, Floyd knew full well most home users weren't using expensive separates. So while I think audio electronics have not been their focus, if they felt it was a real common bottleneck for home users, they would have at least mentioned it, as they have on recording/mixing/mastering..."
Most amps are not flat into 100 kHz and don't need to be, so I don't think that is the point. The point is that folks can buy very high-performance electronics but poor performing speakers, regardless of the cost.

Here is a link to Dr. Toole's system:

For some reason, he chose 400 WPC Mark Levinson No.536 mono-block power amplifiers. These mono-blocks list for a measly $15,000 each :p
Obviously, he pays some attention to the amplifier.

- Rich
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Stable into load is not the same as linear into load.

Here are two amps recently measured at Stereophile:




Most amps are not flat into 100 kHz and don't need to be, so I don't think that is the point. The point is that folks can buy very high-performance electronics but poor performing speakers, regardless of the cost.

Here is a link to Dr. Toole's system:

For some reason, he chose 400 WPC Mark Levinson No.536 mono-block power amplifiers. These mono-blocks list for a measly $15,000 each :p
Obviously, he pays some attention to the amplifier.

- Rich
Or just takes advantage of Harman's various brands at employee discount (or if he had to pay at all), including the Lexicon LX-7 and JBL SDA-7200 amps....but not a word of explanation of why compared to the choice and placement of speakers or the explanation of noise of the projector.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Field Marshall
Stable into load is not the same as linear into load.

Here are two amps recently measured at Stereophile:




Most amps are not flat into 100 kHz and don't need to be, so I don't think that is the point. The point is that folks can buy very high-performance electronics but poor performing speakers, regardless of the cost.

Here is a link to Dr. Toole's system:

For some reason, he chose 400 WPC Mark Levinson No.536 mono-block power amplifiers. These mono-blocks list for a measly $15,000 each :p
Obviously, he pays some attention to the amplifier.

- Rich
Dr T's system looks mighty nice but for 2ch bliss I'll take Mike's ..............

 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
Stable into load is not the same as linear into load.

Here are two amps recently measured at Stereophile:




Most amps are not flat into 100 kHz and don't need to be, so I don't think that is the point. The point is that folks can buy very high-performance electronics but poor performing speakers, regardless of the cost.

Here is a link to Dr. Toole's system:

For some reason, he chose 400 WPC Mark Levinson No.536 mono-block power amplifiers. These mono-blocks list for a measly $15,000 each :p
Obviously, he pays some attention to the amplifier.

- Rich
Gene uses Kimber* cables in his system and I think we all know how he feels about magic cables.

I'd love to own a pair of 400w ML mono-blocks too, if I could get them for one hell of a discount and could afford it! I have a feeling Dr Toole didn't pay full retail (if anything) for those or a lot of his other gear. Hard to say tho since he doesn't say why he chose those amps particularly and really doesn't seem to give the subject much consideration at all in his conclusions. You'd think if it were a big factor he'd at least mention something about it. What I would guess is that he feels it's just not significant enough to be a major factor.

*Edited for accuracy
 
Last edited:
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Gene uses Audio quest cables in his system and I think we all know how he feels about magic cables.

I'd love to own a pair of 400w ML mono-blocks too, if I could get them for one hell of a discount and could afford it! I have a feeling Dr Toole didn't pay full retail (if anything) for those or a lot of his other gear. Hard to say tho since he doesn't say why he chose those amps particularly and really doesn't seem to give the subject much consideration at all in his conclusions. You'd think if it were a factor he'd at least mention something about it. What I would guess is that he feels it's just not significant enough to be a major factor.
Thought it was Kimber speaker cables, he has AQ as well?
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
Gene uses Kimber* cables in his system and I think we all know how he feels about magic cables.

I'd love to own a pair of 400w ML mono-blocks too, if I could get them for one hell of a discount and could afford it! I have a feeling Dr Toole didn't pay full retail (if anything) for those or a lot of his other gear. Hard to say tho since he doesn't say why he chose those amps particularly and really doesn't seem to give the subject much consideration at all in his conclusions. You'd think if it were a big factor he'd at least mention something about it. What I would guess is that he feels it's just not significant enough to be a major factor.

*Edited for accuracy
Those amps are particularly good for the first watt and very powerful.
Amplification can be solved far easier than building great speakers and making them perform well in a room.

Wall mounting speakers should be easier, but Revel supplies no mechanical diagrams.
I suspect he got a good deal on those amps, put it in the done pile, they tackled the difficult problems associated with setting up his room and making it perform well.

- Rich
 
Auditor55

Auditor55

Audioholic Chief
Stable into load is not the same as linear into load.

Here are two amps recently measured at Stereophile:




Most amps are not flat into 100 kHz and don't need to be, so I don't think that is the point. The point is that folks can buy very high-performance electronics but poor performing speakers, regardless of the cost.

Here is a link to Dr. Toole's system:

For some reason, he chose 400 WPC Mark Levinson No.536 mono-block power amplifiers. These mono-blocks list for a measly $15,000 each :p
Obviously, he pays some attention to the amplifier.

- Rich
He might just like how they looks of them.

If you conducted a DBT of, for example, a 2-channel $900 Emotiva amp vs $9000 ML and you couldn't tell the difference using your own choice of speakers, why other would you purchase the 9K ML amp? It would have to be for a purpose other than audio. Over the decades we have find out that the aforementioned is usually the outcome.
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
He might just like how they looks of them.

If you conducted a DBT of, for example, a 2-channel $900 Emotiva amp vs $9000 ML and you couldn't tell the difference using your own choice of speakers, why other would you purchase the 9K ML amp? It would have to be for a purpose other than audio. Over the decades we have find out that the aforementioned is usually the outcome.
"we" does not include "me" :p

- Rich
 
Auditor55

Auditor55

Audioholic Chief
I would like to reiterate, just because Dr. Toole's focus is primarily on speakers, when it comes to blind and DBT the same principle applied to any audio component.
 
killdozzer

killdozzer

Audioholic Field Marshall
Wow... Well, so much for having a decent discussion. Reading your posts clearly shows you are more on a mission to stroke your ego than anything else.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
You've seen right through him! :-D
 

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