Amp stands- Do they work?

I recently purchased a Pass Aleph 3 and loved it so much that I "had to buy" a pair of the Aleph 2 monoblocks. I have been A/B-ing them at my home for the last 3 weeks for most of my free time. The 2s have a lot more presence, but lack the for lack of better words "musical reality" the 3 has. Forgive me for the term, but if you've heard the 3, then you probably understand. Anyway, I have asked most of the guys at Pass Labs and they essentially tell me I am hearing things- that the 2s "have all the sonic characteristics of the 3, just more of it" I have eliminated all other variables except that the 3 is on the bottom of my rack (Salamander Archetype), and the 2's are on the carpet in front of my system. I am interested in anyone's input as to the impact a reasonable stand might have on the sonics of my amps. I currently am acting on this hypothesis and have put the 3 on the floor next to the 2's. If it is of any help the components are in order- my source is a Muse Model 5 transport, Illuminati D-60 digital, EAD 7000 MkIII D/A, Kimber KCAG, Muse Model 3 preamp, WBT 5151 -great cable!!!!!, Pass Amps, Nordost Red Dawn speaker cable, B&W 804s. Counterpoint PAC-5 conditioner, API Power Wedge 4A conditioner. Marigo RMX ref power cables. Amps are using stock power cables- Nelson Pass's recommendation. Thanks for listening and I look forward to any input.
As an outsider to the US market, I have the impression that the US audio community seems to under-rate the importance of equipment stands. Equally, while the UK audio community has grasped the importance of very rigid equipment stands, they have not done so with using room treatments. While these are necessarily generalisations, I find it quite odd that someone would buy an amp as good as the Aleph 2s or 3 and not put it on a decent stand. What is more I do not think the Salamander stands are in the same league as your amps either. From experience, putting a power amp on a decent stand will tend to; increase instrument separation (particularly depth), provide much better timbral balance, and most noticeably improve treble purity.... but the list can go on endlessly - the sound just gets better. However - it is not uncommon for a good small 'un to beat a good big 'un when it comes to solid state amps - particularly bipolar designs, regardless of what Pass have to say. Go with what makes the music most enjoyable.
I don't have any experience with Pass amps but I recently put my Aragon 4004 on a Lovan stand and WOW. Everything was better-I should have did this a long time ago. Take a stand and do it.
Putting your amps on a set of stands may help by increasing air flow and may provide some protection from dropped beer bottles. Other than this I don's see how they can make a difference in how the amps 'sound'. It may be that you are over driving your speakers with the bigger amps. Note: this is a voice coil thermal issue and not a clipping issue.
Do they work? Probably not as well as advertised. From an engineering concept and point of view a benefit can be had buy carefully controlling vibrations and draining them properly. First approximations by good intuition could yield good results. I think that my Sound Anchor stands under my Audio Note Ankuro's are better than the tip toes I they replaced. The thick Berber carpeting was better penetrated with the longer spikes supplied on the stands and made they made better coupling to the concrete slab floor. The stands cost were a huge $ investment over the tip toes way beyond any true cost benefit, but I am very happy. I did it when it was a detail I could afford. I never invested in partial answers between the tip toes and the Sound Anchors because I had an idea where I wanted to get to in the end. More cost effective elements can be found in stone yards, scrap yards, junk stores. The benefits of better air flow of raising the amps nine inches above the floor is clearly a tube life win. It also looks cooler. Go with your intuition, I do and it will be generally correct to a point. Good luck.
A common reality check on most audiophiles is that their habit has made retirement a more distant reality. Often I find tax time a prime time to benefit from this phenomenon. The tweaks are like a drug addiction a habit out of control. Lets get real, explain using physics how a solid state amp is going to sound different on a stand or floor, that is, enough to pass a double blind test. No offense to those who use syrupy terms like sound stage, lushness etc. I was once caught in that cat racing after its tail. Do your self and wallet a favor, invite a impartial neighbor or friend over to double blind test you. I bet that you will end up saving tons of cash by not buying things common sense would tell you not to. Good luck, life is a big picture, don't burn all your beans in one pot.
A common reality check on most audiophiles is that their habit has made retirement a more distant reality. Often I find tax time a prime time to benefit from this phenomenon. The tweaks are like a drug addiction a habit out of control. Lets get real, explain using physics how a solid state amp is going to sound different on a stand or floor, that is, enough to pass a double blind test. No offense to those who use syrupy terms like sound stage, lushness etc. I was once caught in that cat racing after its tail. Do your self and wallet a favor, invite a impartial neighbor or friend over to double blind test you. I bet that you will end up saving tons of cash by not buying things common sense would tell you not to. Good luck, life is a big picture, don't burn all your beans in one pot.
While I do believe that amp stands offer some improvements, I do not buy some of the hype I hear posted all over the web. I cconsidered buying a pair of the Aleph 2 units, but I agree with you that the Aleph 3 sounds better. The 2 sounded a little cool (lean if you will) even after warming up for over 2 hours. This was store demo on loan to me so it was fully broken in. The Plinius and even the monarchy SE100 Delux sounded much better than the Aleph 2. It should be noted that the Aleph 2 did seem to have more dynamic range than the Monarchy. Trust your own ears, prestige and cost don't always mean better audio. Mike
I recently did just what you did and upgraded from the 3 to the 2s. I had my 3 on a sandbox and added a second when I switched to the monoblocks. I personally found that the 2s sounded better that the 3. The extreme highs maybe sounded a little better with the 3, but the imprvement in bass slam and dynamics was clearly better with the 2s, plus if you can you will be able to run them balanced which you can't do with the 3. I have a friend who is heavily into this hobby and he recently quantified all of his tweaks (cords cones stands racks cd player upgrade you name it) and he came away whith the conclution that the vibraplane makes the most significant diffrence of all. I had a similar experience with a custom made stand for a mixing console in a recording studio. So yes amp stands do work. Don't listen to the guy who says you should have your neighbor come over and decide for you, thats the stupidest suggestion I've yet to hear
also try, if you have your amps plugged into the powerwedge, plugging them directly to the wall outlet. I had a powerwedge 116 and was amazed to find that the 3 sounded better straight into the wall. I got a more dynamic less veiled sound.
Just a quick follow up, Ejlif must have misunderstood me. I said have a neighbor switch stands for amp around or no stand at all with you not looking and see if you can tell the difference. We call hear what we want to hear and that can be a very costly mistake in many ways.
I don't think it really work for Amp, especially Solid State Amp. Speakers, may be. I rather spend more into component rather stands. But if you really want to try it, you can buy a heavy concrete block and a bottle of spray paint, color your choices, and put the amp on top to isolate unwanted vibration from floor and resonance from wall. If this improve sound for you, then go shop for a good stand. But I doubted.
I don't see a how the stand could make much of a difference except for digital gear. I had my classe amp on a cheap wood rack for awhile and it sounded great. When I bought my metal rack it didn't sound any better. I am glad I bought it though it really finishes off my whole system. And really the music is more involving because everything around where the soundstage is is more pleasing to the eye................................I sure hope your not running those amps through all that line conditioning either. They really restict an amps power flow and can really dull the sound. Especially with the higher watt aleph 2's. The 3 has such a low watt output that it is probably not effected as much. After a lot of experimenting I plug my amp straight into the wall and only use two MIT Z cord 2's for my front end. Thats it. I have a passive preamp so there can be no power corruption for that.
I agree with Nanderson's suggestion about evaluating the stands affect on the amp's sound with a double blind test. Also, Vxphan's suggestion to use concrete blocks during the test phase is a good idea. Don't be surprised if there is no improvement in sound. As Nanderson said once a person has spent a lot of money on something then he naturally wants to hear an improvement instead of realizing that there is no improvement and that he would have been better off stuffing the cash into a g-string. If you decide to use stands for heat disapation or cosmetic reasons then you will probably find that a well constructed set is all that you need. I.e.; you won't waste money on stands with tweako options such as gold plated audio grade feet. Good luck.
of course they make a difference.better bass definition and clarity.every frequency will sound clearer more refined.i've experimented with [nad-b&k-aragon-levinson-audio research-vtl] all of these components and the difference was substancial on all. the type of stand used is critical to the amount of benifit achieved.double mdf with good polycrystal spikes works better than most of the stands mentioned above.the polycrystal amp stand is excellent 300.00 and the zoethecus is a little better 600.00 .i can't beleive people state they don't hear any difference[blind-standing on their head or any other way] maybe they can't perceive a change,so they won't even try one.if you have these amps on the carpet,put them on stands and you'll truly see for yourself.
*my* amp stands work - i have yet to have one of my amps fall off the stands! ;~) of course, i *also* have 20-lb lead bricks sitting on top of 'em, so i'm sure that helps keep 'em in place! seriously, eliminate *all* variables when doing comparisons, but the power conditioner *mite* effect the high-power amp more than the lo-power one, so try both amps w/untreated power.
I think that member Mikela doesn't understand what a blind test is. In this case you would have a friend set up the system in one of two configurations 1) with stands and 2) without stands. The person evaluating the sound is not told what configuration he is listening to. If he cannot determine when the stands are in place more than 50% of the time (the value he would get by guessing) then there is no evidence that he can hear the difference. For the test to be valid it should be repeated as many times as possible and all other system variables should be held constant.
Statistical significance is not determind if the person testing is able to tell the difference more than 50%. It has been a while since I took statistics but there are a number of variables involved including how many trials were involve. Sometimes it has to occur 90% or more of the time, depending upon the trials. I'm sure those that use statistical analysis can refresh our memory, or I could dust off my 20 year old stats book. Anyhow, I don't fully buy a/b or blind testing. What I do buy is my ear. I don't care what my neighbor hears. I don't have them eat a meal or taste a wine to validate or develop my opinion. I trust my senses. Therefore, If I hear a diffence, then there is a difference. Also, quick testing doesn't always reveil what is happening. That can take time. And, yes I know you can do statistical analysis over time. As to the advantages to a stand, or an isolation device, one item that has been over-looked is resonation. If the item you are using decreases the vibration of the product, both air born and direct, it can have an affect on the sound. Note, I said can. Ultimately, I believe each indivdual should make their own conclusion about the worth of any item. That being whether or not it makes a difference or if it is worth the difference. I use an amp stand. Does it make a difference? Some, but not as much as a change in componet, source, speaker or room treatment. By the way, I made my own for $12.00.
I find interesting the comments by those who "do not see how an amp stand can make a difference with a solid state amp". These comments rank alongside those from people that could not see how competent amplifiers could sound different, or how cables with suitable electrical qualities could sound different, or how CD players could sound different. Further, the suggestions to use a concrete block, or some other stone, do not seem to be backed up by any comparisons between this and using a welded steel rack. Having tried these myself, I say get a welded steel rack. Concrete blocks and stones all "ping" to some degree and you hear it. You may not pick it up in a double-blind test but it is mighty irritating over time. The suggestion above concerning using a Vibraplane is spot on. I have tried a lot of different approaches to vibration control with my amps (and with several different amps), and have settled on using a welded steel rack, a shelf made of thick perspex bonded to thin MDF, and then a bladder product between shelf and amp. The use of a bladder product with my amp has a larger impact than using a bladder product anywhere else in my system.
I was wondering if Redkiwi could elaborate on the air bladder shelf combo. I have heard that these can make an enourmous diffrence and being a skilled craftsman want to make my own, and would like to know what materials work best.
Yes, agree with Mazort and others. My stands are several types of construction, depending on the component. 6061 Aircraft alloy, tig welded (non Magnetic), filled with silica for the phono. Steel, Sound Anchors, with Simply Physics feet under stand, and McCormack and/or Walker spikes between the amp and top of stand (for amps). Hard rock maple butcher block platforms for the turntable, DVD player and power supplies for phono and preamp. Is it worth doing on your system? Depends on how high end you are at this point in the evolution. It can matter very little, or make the difference between "just good" and "excellent." As a friend of mine once said "It only costs 100% more to go first class." Sometime that is not a joke. If you need the "excellent" and you have done most of the other things right, it can be incredible what benefit a stand will provide.
Hi Ejlif. I only have time for a quick response on the bladder stuff at present, but here goes. Obviously you can buy a Vibraplane or Townshend etc. But to make your own you need a minimum of a top plate, a bottom plate, a bladder of some kind in between, and some kind of footer. The rules for the top and bottom plates are pretty much the same as for shelves - ie a trade-off between light, rigid, and acoustically inert. MDF is OK but I find thick perspex is good. The plates can be less acoustically inert than for a shelf since bonding the bladder to it reduces resonance. The Townshend products use steel plates, but use constrained layer damping inside to deaden the steel. The "best footer" question depends on what they sit between. Rubber or polymer is perhaps best when they sit between rigid but noisy plates, and cones are perhaps best when they sit between floppy/dead plates. The bladder is where it can get very tricky. The easy DIY methods are to use; squash balls sitting in O-rings - ie. the o-rings are to stop the whole thing rolling off onto the floor; a 12" or 14" bicycle inner tube (but it needs to have the valve refitted to the outside so you can get at it); one of those air cushions that haemorrhoid sufferers use; maybe even a whoopee cushion... you get the idea. But the squash balls do not provide much isolation, and the others (have not tried the whoopee cushion) suffer from a tendency for the component to pitch and roll rather than bounce up and down. So the commercial products attempt to overcome this by having complex bladders like you might find in a car with hydraulic or pneumatic suspension ie. some way of providing independent suspension. The cheapest and easiest way of doing this is to have three or four separate small bladders (if it was four then you would have one at each corner), but you may need to construct these by cutting down and resealing an inner tube. This is how the top-of-line Arcici rack achieves independent suspension (ie. it has separate bladders), and it has the benefit of providing a means of levelling components that have uneven weight distribution. Note that Arcici decided to move from four to three bladders some time ago - hopefully because they figured it worked better, so that might be a clue. I hope this is enough to get you started. I recommend you start by putting a 12" bicycle inner tube between your rack's shelf and lay another shelf on top of it, and then put the component on top and inflate the tube only so much that the top plate just floats. Then listen to what this does to the sound - it will free the sound from a lot of mud and grit and the music will breath. If the result is in the right direction for you, then you will have a better idea as to whether you want to go ahead and make a proper one. The result is not always beneficial. An already bright system can become too lively, or you may like the particular cacophony of your existing rack - but these problems are not born of the bladder. Otherwise the only downside I have found with bladder products is that sometimes, if you get the wrong amount of compliance in the system, you can get a "suck-out" effect in the audio band.
The only thing "amp stands" work on is your delusional imagination ! Try a properly set-up ABX double blind listening test- if you dare ! your Pass amps ( or whatever ) will sound NO different from, say, a current model receiver ( you pick the brand !! )
This is for Nanderson & others who need a scientific explanation. Every 'stand or "non-stand" your precious gears are resting on are governed by the same fundamental physics; and those who are in engineering would agree to that. Basically our intention is to ensure that all vibrations real or perceived/predicted should be kept out or attenuated sufficiently of the audio range of frequencies. Check out for some basic physics. You don't have to agree to all the principles explained but rjm's theories made some sense to an engineer. Buy or diy, but understand first!Phil.
If you are on a wooden floor with a basement or crawl space, bracing with jacks and wooden pillars individually under the equipment and the speakers works wonders. I also find that lead shot "sand platforms" and flat bags of lead shot as equipment dampers work very well and aren't too expensive. Just make sure they are sealed and don't try is if you have kids.
Iceraven, excellent pointer you gave! Solid advice and a good starting point for anyone.
My PhD work is in the field of prob testing. I suggest anyone that is willing to be humilated try a double blind test. A wordy explanation does nothing but convince the less sophisticated that you must be right since you devoted such good grammer and time to your explanation. I have sent every audiophile home with their tail between their legs on things they think they hear. I find this fun helping people save money for retirement and time with their family. Good luck but lets get back to reality.
Nanderson, perhaps you live close enough to me to listen at my place. I can assure you that if you have not ever heard benefit from stands or other forms of isolation under amps, then you have an interesting experience ahead of you. In fact if you really believe your statement, and it is the result of testing on a sound system, then you have never heard a high quality system. In my system (and I believe, most other posters at this site) it is absolutely no problem to hear the difference between various materials, such as spikes, and in addition, there are several layers that can be inserted, I.E.: (Starting top to bottom) (1) Amp, (2) feet, (3) stand, (4) feet, (5) floor. In the text where I have inserted "feet" the material can be any one or multiples of the following: wood, carbon fiber, Sorbothane (Audioquest) Soft Shoes (McCormack), Delrin (Simply Physics), Valid Points (Walker), stainless steel spikes (various), air bladders (various), sand bags and/or sand trays, etc. ALL of these products sound different. Mind you, I would not argue about the outcome of testing these individual pieces in a system, because depending on the equipment involved, the construction of the floor, personal taste, etc., arguments would break out about which one is the winner. In any case, there is indeed a HUGE difference in stands and other coupling/ decoupling devices. The question is NOT whether these devices work or not, this is not an issue! The question is, which device works in the particular system that is being improved upon.
Albertporter send me an e-mail and we can discuss a double blind test. Please understand I don't have an axe to grind except to blow the smoke from the obvious nonsense. I have been involved with hi-end audio for 3 decades. My equipment I listen to and when I visit others starts in the Levinson, Krell, Audio Research, Magnan etc league. I don't want to get emotional (defensive) about this so I won't add more to that. I always love the double blind test with those who scream out, insist that they are right. We'll see. It is most important in all things in life to be honest to ones self and others. Double blind testing does that.
I bet Nanderson and all doubters are listening in dirty living rooms. All the junk laying around is enough to distract their attention form the improvement that the amp stand is giving to them
Nanderson; I don't believe that double blind testing can take the place of long term (days, weeks, months), relaxed, listening to music that the listener is intimately familiar with. I would rather trust my ears (and eyes) and make my own informed judgments and choices. As far as I'm concerned, aesthetics and common sense alone dictate that a hot running amplifier(s) should not sit directly on carpet, and if music quality is improved so much the better. Aside from that, when I spiked my speakers and weighted the bases, bass tightened up distinctly and mid-range detail improved noticeably. Vibration control certainly can produce noticeable results-- or maybe not; depends on circumstances. But in any event, why would you get pleasure from "sending audiophiles home with their tails between their legs"-- sounds perverse to me. I also believe in the "Placebo effect", as do many doctors. If people enjoy this sort of thing (tweaking etc.) why do you feel the need to ridicule them? I say again-- blind testing is NOT the same as LONG TERM, RELAXED LISTENING.
Thank you Garfish, your response was excellent, I wish I had written it. The blind testing itself can become the object of the session, especially if the goal is to prove ones intellectual superiority. I personally am interested in learning from music, and that requires knowing exactly what is happening with all the components in the system, right down to the last piece of wire. If a tested component does not work, those of us who truly care about our systems ability to produce music do not need a double blind test to add to our problems. I for one admit that I have failed literally hundreds of times with changes in my system. However, I would not want to be in any doubt as to which of my actions were responsible for the failure. Additionally, blind tests put pressure on the listener to perform correctly in front of an audience. In fact, the listener literally becomes the object of the test, rather than listening to the quality of the music. To add to this misery, as simple a procedure as swapping a set of isolation feet under an amp will cause the interconnect and/or the speaker wire to be moved sufficiently to require additional break in time before the system returns to its original level of performance. The confusion of having to listen past this type of two fold obstacle is another factor that only long term, relaxed listening will cure, just as Garfish has already suggested we do. I agree, it's the only way I listen to music and the only way to decide on a change.
I also thought that long term listening was the trick. But that is what it is "a trick". Listen long enough and you can hear what you want. My point behind the "tail between the legs" is about setting priorities based on logic and what is obvious and about saving income for the times when the stock market is not going through the roof (nothing more, I have seen to many audiophiles go belly up financially not to care about this addiction). Many people in this country are on the consumerism binge and have to spend to be happy. Reflect on this: When you hear a truely great, engineered recording it is drop dead obvious in the first few minutes or seconds that it is, or substantially moving the position of your speakers. These are immediate, double blind 100% positive hits most of the time. But these other tweaks are largely a sad commentary on how emotion can make a audiophile become a sucker. Years ago I avoided the "sucker" trap and am much richer for it and can give to others rather than indulge myself because times are good in the very short term. Besides I think software, speakers, and room make the biggest differences in your listening pleasure save one: Your hearing! Retire early and experience life and not nickle and time your future to death. This is no small matter, next tax season watch for the number of people who must sell quick. Or do a search under the word "baby" and you will see many people throughout the year who let their budgets get out of wack even when a baby was due and must sell at a huge loss. If you must listen for weeks to decide I would hate to see how other decisions are made? Most of all, let me assure I want to help people make common sense of their purchases and better use of their finances after seeing many get into serious financial trouble. No amount of cash is enough when you have a life style that burns it up faster than you can save for the future. Good luck in all things and take care!
Long term listening isn't a trick - it is the objective! If blind testing improves your ability to predict what will work over the long term, then fine. For me it is a pointer only. I am currently going through a choice between two DACs. I have a bias towards one rather than the other - since the latter means I will probably need to have a new equipment rack built. I am in about the sixth week of evaluations and feel I am only just getting to the point that I fully understand the trade-offs I am facing in making the decision. Needless to say (as per sod's law) the new rack is likely to be purchased. My retirement fund will be richer for ensuring I make decisions I can live with.
Redkiwi, your point is well made. And your comments about the trade off's in equipment is exactly what long term listening is about. There is no perfect sound, no perfect equipment and certainly no perfect system. The whole point is to find a combination of pieces that work, and make you happy in the LONG TERM. Sometimes that means purchasing something expensive, sometime it is extremely inexpensive. Whatever the choice, common sense in selection will keep the decisions balanced between performance and investment. People that Nanderson describe that go overboard by getting themselves in trouble over the purchase of Hi Fi, "only to have to sell at tax time," would most likely fall prey to another addiction if not for this one. Perhaps it would be the next new hot car, that wonderful speed boat, or beautiful motorcycle. I would love to acquire some of those things myself. However, my only hobby is music, and the equipment required to reproduce it. I share it with my teen age son and my wife, and my investment is not only good from a financial point of view, it rewards our family with entertainment that keeps us at home, together, often with friends. If this is bad, then I wish I had more of the same, and had discovered it sooner.
this a question for nanderson. since your saying stands don,t make a difference; how are your amp[s] set up? and why did you prefer this setup? just curious. thanks
This has become something of a cult posting. Kind of amusing actually, thanks for the intense interest. I would agree with most of the comments above in the past. I think you can convince yourself of a "better" sound. Heck, witness Stereophile doing it: Conrad Johnson 11a going from a Class C to Class A (that was probably due to president of Conrad Johnson writing in), MSB Link DAC going from Class C to Class B, B&W Nautilus 805 going from Class A to Class B and so forth. The point being that there are no clear cut winners in many cases. Often I prefer one speaker over another depending on my mood for certain music and the qualities of a speaker. That synergy thing. Yet in the end I realise that there is that realization that it is better to not trick one's self into an never ending pursuit of components and focus on improving one's software collection. No where have I heard bigger differences, assuming a certain mimimum level of audio component quality (see an early response of mine), than in poor and well engineered recordings. Regarding, the emotional defensive reactions I will not indulge those folks. There has been some careful thought given by many here. But here are some responses to some of the more thoughtful. Double blind testing can tell what will work over the long term if you set the correct criteria and keep it standard. When tuning a piano or a violin there are standard procedures that enable someone to get the job done that day not in weeks of trial and error. In fact, the longer the trial period on subjective calibrations will actually result in increased errors from a reproducible perspective. Hence you are actually testing small incremental changes in your perception, each one convincing you that the previous perception was invalid and the new one is correct. But the pathway is not linear since what you listen for one day is not the same the next and so forth. It is more like a road network with a series of dead ends, you are constantly traveling but never really getting any where. At one of those deadends, perceived sonic bliss, you take out your perceptual map only to find that you not where you want to be so get on the road again and travel to a place you will not likely reach by using these nonstandard, purely subjective measures over protracted periods of time. Pull in the dead end, stay a while, back out, go a different direction so on and so forth.
nanderson-about 10 responces ago you sated that all of this writing techno explaining did nothing to prove the here we are with you doing all of the above. i asked a simple question and expected a grade school simple answer.please don't take offence,but i think a few of us would like to know how are your amps set up. thanks
...Well said Mikela. Also, I'm sure that Nan... should be aware, as most audio enthusiasts are; "it's the journey not the destination" that is important. Personally, I don't EVER want to reach the "destination"--- but when I do I'm hoping for the purest harp music imaginable. And as for the financial and family concerns of others; well, I don't think those are any business Nanderson or this chatroom.
I rather suspect Nanderson will quit while he/she is yet to go around far enough to disappear up where the light does not shine. I too am interested in the way his amp is set up. But I am even more interested to discover the "correct criteria" that we should all be using so that "double blind testing can tell what will work over the long term". Unlike Garfish, I am quite happy to shorten the journey and just groove to the music. Enlighten me Nanderson.
Heh? Redkiwi, While the light does not shine? A strong intellectual argument does not wwf approaches to being heard. Be calm....state your reproducible case. I will respond then.
This is most intriguing. I’m a Zen man with live music experience both performing and composing. In my house, we have a Piano, a Flute, a Clarinet and two Guitars. I’ve had audiophile hobby/decease for about five years and just about coming out of it. Here are some of my own observations: 1) Definition for “Musical” is different for every person and time. I enjoy 2-am music and have a twenty-four years old son. 2) In order to evaluate amp and up stream gear, I needed to get rid of speakers and speaker cables (evaluation time only). I have a Stax Headphone, which connects to amp’s output post that you can borrow. 3) I have ten LPs on one particular music and I enjoy them all in different time. But only one has all the right stuff. 4) I can enjoy good CD and LP on mid-fi or low-fi gear, but I can’t enjoy bad CD and LP on hi-fi gear. 5) A lot of my favorite LPs are older than my son and they helped me a lot to evaluate audio gears. 6) Pass Aleph 3 took only one audition where Mesa Tigris took two years of audition. 7) As strong bass note hit my body it hits my audio gears too. 8) If it is not on the CD/LP/TAPE it will not come out of the speakers. However, I could add my own imagination (distortion) at will. 9) Most of great composers were lousy singers. To me, software and speakers are most important part of audio system. 9) It is a hobby after all and was part of my journey and gave me a lot of joy along with frustration. 10) I’m now using tube amp in the winter and class D SS amp in the summer to save trees. In LA, we only have winter and summer. 11) Every small change to the system makes difference. Same system, different time or company (change), different sound (emotional impact). 12) We are uniquely individual and different. It is your way that counts. 13) The experience makes knowledge real. SK
Hi Nanderson. I did not mean to offend you and was merely agreeing with Mikela's observation that your arguments were contradictory. But I must admit my language reflected the fact that I was just a bit ticked by the condescention in your post "kind of amusing really". Your attempted put-down offends me and, I suspect, everyone who posts here. What is interesting is you continue to deflect direct questions that are very germane to your argument. You are confirming my suspicion that these "correct criteria" you claim to use will not be revealed.
Here are some suggestions: Step 1 of the reproducible criteria would be to see how individual pulse tones throughout the freq spec and pink and white noise are affected by change in system from various positions in listening room. Low freq pulse tones below 60 hz at relatively loud to check for inference with vibrations. (Dunlevy states that accuracy can be easily measured and that a lot of this critical listening for extended periods does exactly what I say it does. Of course Dunlevy uses wave form analysis to do this rather than just relying on the human ear). Step 2: use a common set of reference software LP/CD/SACD etc to evaluate what you consider to be the dominate types of music you listen to and what elements of musicality you find the most desirable. It is important that you are made unaware of when the system change has been made (changes made while you are out of the room. You listen blind folded with lights out.) As important to all of this is get a hearing test and find out where you are at. I have long suggested that Stereophile post the hearing tests of its reviewers (e.g., if they are 20 db down in a critical areas of the freq spectrum they should state this. Think about how this could weigh you thoughts on some ones evaluation. Anyone can insist they are hearing or not hearing things but this would help put a quantitative light on the subject and likely help you take some critiques with a grain of salt. Hint: Check the age of the reviewers. This is not to say you can not get musical enjoyment with dimenished hearing but that your perspection will change as your hearing fades and fades away. We should know this information!!)
Thanks Nanderson. But, with respect, I find your criteria underwhelming. I suspect the reason why we differ here can be sourced to your view that software, speakers and room make the biggest difference. This leads me to the view that our perspectives on reproduced music are very different. To simplify what I mean (and therefore shorten this post) let's just consider the relative importance of speakers versus a power amp. The very common view appears to be that speakers make more of a difference than power amps. This is true if you believe that the distortions in a stereo are completely measured by measuring frequency response anomolies and that bigger anomolies are always worse than smaller anomolies. Amplifiers tend to measure ruler-flat, but no speaker ever does, therefore speakers make more of a difference? I disagree. Differences between speakers are always very obvious in the short term (such as in a double-blind test). Differences in power amps are much less obvious in the short term (hence why people get confused during double-blind tests). But I still do not agree that speakers make more difference. Why? Whether you are listening to live music or a stereo, the sound that reaches your ears includes distortions that your brain attempts to resolve in order to make coherent sense out of what it hears. What I and many others have found is that certain, seemingly small distortions, which the brain appears to resolve in the short term become irritating distractions from enjoying the music over the long term. Perhaps the nature of the distortion is such that the brain can resolve it with some effort, but over the long term the effort is fatiguing, and therefore not conducive to musical enjoyment. This can come down to small things like whether you use brass spikes or steel spikes under your amplifier stand. While these things can be insignificant in a brief demonstration, the relief when they are removed after prolonged listening can be enormous. A good example of this is the way many sigh with relief when they replace their solid state amp with a tubed one - yet in a brief listen or with measurements the solid state amp may be objectively more accurate. So, back to speakers versus amps. For me, the distortions that are important are the ones that detract most from long term musical enjoyment - since that is my goal in this endeavour. In the case of speakers, I find there are very few that cannot be made to sound musical by appropriate set-up, room treatment and partnering electronics. On the other hand, I cannot say the same about power amplifiers. It is almost impossible to make an unmusical power amplifier sound good. Hence, for me, both your steps are flawed. I can well imagine that these steps work for you. No doubt we all have different musical values and different distortions irritate us differently. Perhaps those distortions that are obvious at a short listen are the only ones that irritate you. Perhaps you very rarely listen to your stereo and so short term listening is relevant to your listening habits. Perhaps you have lousy hearing and the effects of bad electronics are lost on you (lucky you). Perhaps you have such good hearing that distortions that only reveal themselves slowly to me are immediately obvious to you. Any one of these explanations makes us both right. Who knows?
Redkiwi--- I enjoyed your well stated post (above) and agree heartily. It really is about the psychology of hearing, and of course an important element of this psychology is time.
Thanks so much Garfish. I have been a little ungracious in my replies to Nanderson, and hereby apologise (again). But years of hearing from the measurement clones trotting out the same or similar stuff has led to me getting worked up about this topic. I do not expect them to accept my opinions about how something sounds, but when someone asks for opinions on such a thing (as occurred here), you get these flat earthers insisting your opinion is deluded and demanding proof. It might even be tolerable if it wasn't so repetitive. Even if our opinions are deluded, at least there is some variety to them.
Redkiwi, I agree with your thoughts concerning the importance of speakers versus amps. And with Garfish's comments about the psychology of hearing. Although I have strong feelings about my personal choice in a speaker, your statement about the effect of a non musical amp are absolutely true in my experience. All of the variables in a complex system have to be addressed, and impossible to assess in a momentary blind comparison. In addition, Nanderson appears to have motives totally unrelated to enjoying music. Several of his postings contain comments that sound like the views of an investment broker. Perhaps with a eye toward the spending on music and equipment, when those dollars could be directed toward goals of financial freedom he speaks of. Would there be a commission involved?
Thanks Albert Porter. There are some questions I have been meaning to ask you (and anyone else, of course), since we seem to have some things in common. I note that you have clearly spent a good deal of time and money on the issue of vibration control. Although I have spent a lot of time on this too, I feel I am at best only half-way there to understanding how to use this variable wisely. Any insights would be very much appreciated. The other question I had concerns your thoughts on an appropriate strategy for putting a total system together. I raise this with you because of my whole-hearted agreement with your comment that all of the variables in a complex system have to be addressed. For example it is probably obvious to all that one should spend more on your amp than your amp stand. But it is equally wrong in my mind to state that you should never spend money on an amp stand because that money will always have been better spent on the amp. In building my most recent system, it was only when I had dealt with everything from the power lead into the house, through each and every cable, each and every component, and each and every support or isolation device, and each and every room treatment issue, that I really felt I had eliminated all significant unmusical artefacts. It sounds to me like you have come to the same conclusions. But what this means is that the number of variables we are dealing with is very long indeed, and our opinions on individual components will be clouded by the deficiencies of our existing system. Therefore it would seem that some simplifying rules would be of considerable benefit if we are to get good results. In another post I had a wee spat on this point. I was advocating attempting to select each component with neutrality in mind rather than using components to balance colourations in other components. This is because the apparent lack of neutrality of a component is not always due to it acting like a pure filter. For example, a CD player may smear some high frequencies and therefore sound peaky in the highs, despite appearing to be ruler-flat when measured. Balancing this with a warm and soft preamp is trying to turn two wrongs make a right. I have heard some advocate getting good quality components and then use cables (as filters) to get a neutral balance. Personally I see this as being similar to the "soggy preamp with etched CD player" idea. When playing with isolation I at first thought that this was a better place to do the final voicing of the system. But I found that warming things up with different isolation devices tended to destroy pace and rhythm, and that sharpening things up with different isolation devices tended to do so by smearing higher frequencies. I am very interested in any insights on the appropriate strategy for compiling a total system, given the very large number of variables at play.
Redkiwi, I cannot really add to your comments, because you have stated it perfectly already. I can only relate my experience from my side. I have developed a knack of hearing a component, and then mentally being able to place it into a category of sound, and then when I hear a problem in a system, I attack the problem with a solution that I know will help. I realize this is not a very clear answer, but I originally got into the HI Fi business in 1966, when I was a kid. I have never lost interest since that day, and along with 13 years in retail high end sales, I served as a factory technical rep. for a time after that. All the experiences over the years has taught me that your hearing is much more important than any specification. I know you mentioned that fact in your posting, so I guess basically I am agreeing with you again. I know that every single piece of equipment has a sonic signature, so the trick is to isolate what that signature is, so that the next time you see or hear that piece, you know what it is doing. I am part of a group of about a dozen people, often when we test, we hear the same Hi Fi item in several places. Owing to the differences in the rooms and equipment at the other peoples homes, we all get a "snapshot" of the results in each situation. I know it's not very scientific, but I swear, I can almost tell what a system is going to sound like in advance, by looking at the room and the individual pieces. In the end, the only way to find out for sure what will work is by doing what is already posted. Spend long term listening to the music, enjoy it, try to understand what is irritating and what is good about each item in the system. And as far as isolation, it cannot "cure" a bad product, it can only improve upon it. As you say, a great amp stand can be a big asset if everything else is "ready" for that level of change. On the other hand, there are systems and rooms, where literally improving the isolation of the amp could actually result in worse sound. This happens when you uncover a flaw that was hiding a worse problem upstream, and then the amp stand gets the blame for the problem (Kind of like kicking the tires on a car because the engine won't run, when the problem is no fuel). Add to this problem, the room literally dictates what isolation pieces work. I have a pier and beam foundation with a VERY heavy granite floor. It is live, dense, and has a specific ring to it. Not a ring that is audible, but a ring that shows if the equipment is allowed to react with it. So, depending on the room, the isolation should?/could? be anything we have posted earlier on this site, from butcher block Maple shelves, to Sound Anchor stands to air platforms. Unfortunately, they all sound different, and some of these solve problems in one area, only to add a different anomaly in a different area. So, even with all the experience I have with equipment, my experience with rooms is much less. I have been in my home a long time, so I have a limited experience with isolation control in other situations, except for the friends homes I already mentioned. The other issue is understanding what is important to the listener. Often, what is annoying to you or I, may be the best sound someone else has ever heard. On that subject you can guess and fill in blanks forever and never know what or why we all hear differently, or perhaps it is only choices, because they prefer a different paths to their own ultimate sound. I can and will attempt to describe why I like certain products (there are actually quite a lot) that are all good. I have simply chosen the ones that suit me in particular and then I have "honed" them into position with tube choices, isolation and extremely tight electrical work on the listening room. Not to get off on that whole thing, but just a hint of what I mean, I have a dedicated transformer on the pole outside, I run 220 3 phase (commercial power in residential neighborhood) and have a 750 Amp drop, using triple double zero copper. Then I have 14 dedicated runs to the equipment with star grounding, and the (small amount) of digital is on one side of the power grid and the analog is on the other. All of this matters, how much depends on where the system is in its evolution.