Class D is affordable and sounds as good or better the SS/Valve why buy anything else ?


I have spent a fair amount of my hard earned money on big ticket brand new SS and VT/Valve amplifiers over the years without hesitation, with state of the art 2019 class D amplifiers becoming cheaper and sounding better, i wouldn't join in again.

For older technology amplifiers SS VT/Valve to compete with State of the art class D, Their prices are going up and up.

One example is Pilium Audio from Greece or Bulgaria their Divine Line the prices are all over £100,000 for their pre amps and power amps, I know the UK importer he said they sound OK,

Another example FM Acoustics again up to and over £100,000 for pre and power amps. i have owned FM Acoustics pre and power again their OK,

I am not saying they do not sound good, i am saying why spend this much when state of the art class D probably sounds as good now and can only improve with the GaN capacitors and is nearly up to 100 times cheaper.

Is there still a market for multi thousand £$s SS or VT/Valve amplifiers ?

When class D finally overtakes SS VT/Valves what will people do with their multi thousand £$ amplifiers, keep them knowing there is something better ? Or will we see the market flood with exotic used amplifiers ?

Digital technology is rapidly growing pace and becoming cheaper, with GaN capacitors being introduced the sound is going to get better and better and will slowly or quickly become even more affordable.

If you had 50,000 to spend on an Amplifier, would you buy a high ticket SS amplifier and hope for the best ?

Would you stay safe and go with high ticket valve amp, class D can never match good valves right ?

Or would you sit tight and see how the GaN capacitors can further improve the performance of state of the art class D ?

Please feel free to join in, everybody is welcome, i think its a very delicate/touchy discussion for some people with big bucks invested in older type amplifiers.
select-hifi
I have never owned and never will own any of th0se super high $$$ amplifiers, so I can't comment on them.  In my price range (< $10k), I have owned all class D, all SS, SS/tube, and hybrid class D/SS.  First off, it is all a compromise.  Even at the very top end where cost is no object, there are still subjective choices to be made.  SS and Tubes can never have the efficiency of class D.  Those that prefer tubes will never go SS or class D.  Tubes just have not worked well in any of my systems (altho for my electric guitar amplifiers tubes are the ONLY way to go). Personally I think class D sounds very good, but is bested by good SS designs.  For powered subs, class D is the best option.  I plan on dabbling in class D again in the very near future (disclosure, my employer is very active in that technology, but not me personally, although I do have access to it).  I doubt that class D will end up in my main system except as it is, powering the bass in my ESL/hybrid speakers.
HI,
Have a listen to the Nord Acoustic One SE NC1200 Stereo and see if that makes your main system, i own a pair of One UP SE NC500MB with REV D upgrade boards and Sonic Imagery OP-AMPS the sound is incredible at £2200, before hearing the Nords i had no interest in class D but so glad i heard them now.
Approx 10 years ago I owned a pair of Edge NL Reference driving the Nola Grand Reference and will state what im hearing now with a much more modest system including Nord Acoustic class D sounds better.  
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No tech is inherently better.  
 
The Benchmark AHB2 is Class A/B but the Hypex NC400 is Class D. And besides their output impedance (which is why they sound warm on ported speakers), a tube amp can also be just as good.
HI Guys i have no financial interest in any of the products mentioned, just genuine curiosity,

What do you think i am advertising ?

Smack id rather Crack or Neil Young/Lowell George RIP.

I hope some genuine members offer some sensible opinions, GaN Devices are meant to be very special when used correctly,

I believe a well designed amplifier in the future promises to be very special and could be offered at reasonable prices.

That is what we want right ?
I didnt find any GaN class D amps affordable, may be prices comes down in next couple of years. How good they sound, that’s very subjective and system dependent. Well designed class D (not using off the shelf parts) amps with good power supply still cost pretty penny.

Last time i checked GaN mono were retailing at $16K. And IMO,  there are much better alternatives in Class A, A/B and Tube amplification under $16K. 

Well your digital class amp will blow its caps and probably go up in flames where the old tube and ss will still be running for your kids one day..HI
Guys, it's not GaN capacitors, it's GaN transistors.
select-hifi, whatever floats your boat. There's no accounting for taste :)
three_easy_payments

What do you think i advertising ?

I am offering opinions regarding class D amplifiers using 

http://www.ti.com/power-management/gallium-nitride/overview.html 

Do you not want better sound at hopefully cheaper prices ?

I know i do,

I have no financial gain from any class D amplifiers,my only hope is the amps using GaN Devices improve the amplifiers performance,

And become more affordable which is a good thing right ?

I just want to chime in here that I don't believe amplifier class bigotry helps us.

I mean, if the goal is to get sound we are in love with for the least amount of cash outlay, talking in absolutes about any class of amp is not really useful.

I've heard terrible Class A I really really disliked, and great Class D, and vice versa.

The most important thing in my mind is for consumers to listen with their own ears and buy for their own pleasure.


Best,

E
@stevecham +1, for the GaN device correction. 

@erik_squires +1, for the general statement against class design bigotry.

A lot of designers are doing wonderful designs with all of these topologies. It’s a cause for celebration. 
If you think there is no difference fine.  If you think there should be a difference a hearing test will allow you to discover why you can't tell the difference.  If you have great hearing and prefer one over for any reason awesome.  To try to stake a claim that one is better is futile unless you are just trying to up your post count and her yourself think. 
bjesien

HI I am struggling to understand what you mean.
When class D finally overtakes SS VT/Valves
Will only ever happen once those who know better die off, and the majority of the audiophile population is comprised of millennials weaned on MP3s.

What’s really amusing is that anyone would pay thousands for a class D amp. The modules are cheap. Anyone with a soldering iron can construct a class D kit amp that competes with the best of what that topology has to offer - which isn’t much outside of small size and efficiency. Those claiming it has surpassed competent A/AB designs should make an appointment for an audiogram.
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Clickbait post seriously?? 
If Class D sounds the end all be all to you buy it. 
You completely made a position not factoring in any other gear.  
There are many amps better than class d such as Auda Flight Stremento #4 mk 2 or Pass 350.8. These are just 2 examples.More body more weight and better detail than any class d.
I am talking about not just current class D but the future possinilitys with GaN devices being used.

How much is the 350.8 please ?

The Nords are approx 2k and sound sublime.

Who is Icelander ?
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A good digital amp such as the Gato Audio I use from Denmark 
is very good and uses modified Pascal amplifier modules ,then their own custom analog input,output sections. A Vacuum Tube 
preamp is a great complement to a good digital amp.  you get the best of both worlds. Even in digital  dacs and players hybrid tube ,
Solid state sound excellent.
First off, price does not equal performance. Since I build components and upgrade them, I have yet to see the quality of capacitors, resistors, transformers that I use in any typical manufactured product past or present. Have you seen Caddock or V-Caps in any product built? I have heard a few Class-D amps over the years, not many but a few, and those did not sound better than my old Lafayette KT-550 tube amp, not even close. But I am open to try anything. So if you are saying the cost does not justify the means (sound) maybe you are correct. Even the Counterpoint products that I upgrade sound better than most of the components I have compared them to today. Go Figure! It comes down to the implementation of the design. For example, not all R2R DACs sound great. Not all Class-D amps sound great. Not all conventional components sound great. I also don’t like circuit boards with surface mounted parts. To my ears, they do not sound good!

Happy Listening.
I have a Nuforce Ref 9 V3 Se mono amps w/ TDSS level 3 upgrades. They are class D.  The standard Nuforce Ref 9 V3 SE amps already sounded very good.  It is why I Iooked into the many Nuforce and Nuprime owners that were having their amps upgraded by Bob Smith at TDSS and were very excited by the results.  For well under $4000 including the cost of the Nuforce amps originally, I ended up having them done and the result was now like having a pair of super amps for sound.  It also made them more reliable than stock.  I've used them in friend's houses with very different systems and speakers.  In every case, the TDSS Nuforce amps made the best sounds compared to expensive and well reviewed amps they were using prior.  The 2 mono amps are so small and light I can carry both under one arm easily.  I happen to have a very good TRL DUDE preamp that is 75 lbs. of great sound.  I was using VMPS RM40 BCSE ribbon speakers and they sounded great.  Now, I have an awesome pair of Vapor Joule Black speakers and the sound is just off the charts fantastic in every way.  I also upgraded my cables after hearing the potential of the Vapors.  This was the last touch the made a very nice difference.  At this point, following a 5-6 year plan I had, there is nothing to want in any way from my system.  I will just kick back and enjoy the music.  I had Edge and Bryston amps prior.  They were both good amps but these with the TDSS upgrades are many rungs higher on the ladder of sound.  

Bob
The simple answer is that some people don't agree with your hypothesis, me included.  Maybe we are wrong, but that's the answer. If we all start with the assumption that class D is perfect, the discussion becomes entirely meaningless, except to a marketing manager trying to decide when old habits will die. IMNSHO we are not near that point, although Class D has certainly overcome many of its early teething issues. The NAD 3020D is pretty darn good - and that's actually a more meaningful accomplishment.


For the record, i know a fair amount about GaN, and am friends with some designer and fabrication engineers involved in it. Yes, its speed is useful in class-D, but the fundamental challenge remains the perceived sound of the reconstruction filter, which is very complex since the speaker is essentially an unknown to the designer.

I also do not feel that ANY design requires even $10k, unless one has some very special performance needs. The funny thing is that in my own designs, the device selected is one of the least contributing choices. I have used ICs, solid state and (to a lesser degree) tubes and achieved sonically very similar results - again with obvious caveats for tubes and tough loads.
G
The world is not flat, it’s round. Digital is the now and the future. It’s a very hard to change a paradigm when everyone’s background and context is SS and or tubes. But I switched from tubes and will never go back. 

there will be a time when all smart designers will start making class d amps. I think it’s already is starting. In Five years we will have a huge shift. In another 5 the old amps will just be collector items.  progress....
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If I mention a certain brand does that mean I am advertising it and must  be promiting it. There is a lot of guilty posts on here if that is the case.

It's as good a topic as anything else here so don't get your knickers in a knot some of you. Technology  advances. If you think something wont surpass tubes and SS at some point you are sadley mistaken. IMHO

Discuss on
I had the Red Dragon 500 mono amps and thought they were very good. 
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Mike,

Simply not true about you having anything to do with the price of 1200AS2 amps being sold today.  No manufacturer can sell an amp that costs them way less in parts and sell it for more than another amp they sell that has way more money in the parts......especially, when they are showing the insides of their amps and all can see.  The 1200AS2 is a stereo module with built in power supply.  The NC500 is a separate mono output stage that needs a separate custom input stage board and a separate power supply board.  So, a stereo NC500 amp requires 6 boards that cost way, way more than one single 1200AS2 module.  The companies that sell the 1200AS2 are just pricing them according to parts cost.  You had nothing to do with it.....you just want a pat on your back....well, I applaud you for first telling everyone how good they sound.  They are really great amps and especially when tweaked and run mono.  They are not state of the art, no matter what you do to them.  I am pretty sure a pair of AudioNet Heisenberg amps ($105K) would be preferred by most.  However, for $2K....they are mighty fine.

Mike,

Your all in one DAC/amps are only as good as the weakest link.  The stock 1200AS1 or 2 is not state of the art.  And many would prefer a tube sound or whatever sound pleases them.  Having an all in one gives up the whole idea of tweaking fun.  Even if your DAC part is state of the art......your amp is not. Because you have one less interconnect does not mean much at all.  I run a 2 foot hardwired balanced cable from the discrete output stage of my modded Oppo directly to my custom input circuit on my mono 1200AS1 modules.  No preamp, no connectors....pretty darn nice.  Your DAC looks fantastic, but I would not want to be limited to todays stock amp modules. 

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Hello guys
Im not an expert on the field and only had 4 amps in my system:

-Marantz PM7005 SS integrated
-Yaqin MC13S EL34 tube integrated
-Line Magnetic LM-508IA class A 300B tube integrated that could also be used as power amp. A nice and very rewarded amp among audiophiles. 
-Nord NC500DM class D stereo amp with Rev D boards and Sparkos Op Amps. 

Well, I have to say that even the Nord is not yet fully burned, it betters all of my previous amps on every field, including the LM508, wich costs more than twice the Nord, weights 6 times more, consumes much more power, produces much more heat and needs valve replacement ($) from time to time. 

I havent heard multi thousands amps or systems, only once and sounded pretty bad (Bang and Olufsen), but then sound I get now from the Nord is great, and not harsh or lean at all. May be the LM508 sounded a tinny little bit more fulled bodied, but Im sure it was mostly noise as I did some test a few days ago because I founded hard to let the LM508 go, as it cost me pretty expensive for my budget and it was a real nightmare to importe it to my country (Argentina), but, after that test, it was clear to me that the sound was much cleaner, dynamic, holographic and toneful with the Nord. 

A tip to consider. Hulgich Audio, a small speaker factory from Australia, won the best sounding stand on 2017 Melbourne Hifi Show using Nord amps with Rev C boards, wich are worse than Rev D boards, and competing with multi thousand systems. 

Im not saying Nord amps are the best, only that good class D amps can be very good and may be more afordable than similar quality sound class A or AB amps. 

Pedro 

Did you compare it to his cheaper 1200AS based amp first? Or did you just assume it was better because of the higher cost? On Audioshark there’s a guy name Marty who has both the Nord NC-500 amp with new rev D buffer along with the Nord 1200AS based amp. He prefers his Nord 1200AS based amp. But he’s probably the only one who’s heard both in the same system.

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=162114.msg1727311#msg1727311
This thread reminds me of every time someone told me that soccer would take over American sports because all the kids played soccer.

Class D has a place, a small place, and it is not over taking the other forms of amplification.

I am not speaking of mega bucks amps, I am looking at the entire hobby.

Show me exactly one dealer who uses Class D amps in conjunction with selling Magenapan speakers as the primary amplification.  I could have chosen another line, but that is the one I know best and follow.

Metric is also coming to America, LOL
Hey,  I just trust my ears. 
Seems like the OP is talking about gear thay doesn't actually exist yet. It's all speculation. 
The real small place is the land of the old school audiophile. And this market is getting smaller and smaller by the year. In the real world class D amps are almost in everything already today. And moving forward, everyone is going to need to go to class D if they want to stay in business. We are very close to the point where the average music lover is going to have better sounding gear than the old school audiophile. Because the old school audiophile won't let their separates go due to nostalgic reasons. 
When I was at the bar a few months ago with the head engineer from the ESS Sabre DAC division, he told me they are getting out of desktop DAC chips, and going all in on digital input class D amps. The only DAC chips they will continue to build are for mobile devices. Currently under 5% of revenue comes from their desktop DAC chips. 95% comes from their mobile device chips. Once folks hear well implemented digital input class D amps, they will not go back to anything else. I can assure you of this. 
Ihasaguy

Soccer is now football, 

State of the art amplifiers is now class D.

Miveraaudio,
Well, honestly I havent heard any Nord 1200AS amp. I have no idea how do they sound compared to the NC500 amps.
Nevertheless, on Audioshark forum, if I remember correctly, some users have and prefered the NC500.
What I read on that forum, and mostly the advice of Nicolás Hulgich, the owner of Hulgich Audio, the australian speaker brand I mentioned, an argentinian like me, helped me decide to buy the NC500. At first I bought the Rev C boards as the Rev D were not offered that time, but then Colin Nord offered us, the owners of recently bought NC500DM, a cheap upgrade to Rev D version, and I took the chance and I bought it. Im glad I did as I liked very much the Rev C boards, but the new ones are better.

I dont want to sound like a Nord seller. I only think that Class D Amps should be take into account when you are in this hobby, mostly if you are on a budget or, like me, you live in a country where importing audio is expensive due to taxes. Another brands (Mola Mola, Nuprime, Wyred4sound, etc) also have very good reviews among audiophiles everywhere.

It is also true that Ive heard a very expensive system (about 100.000k), Bang and Olufsen, wich used class D amplification, and sounded very bad. It had an incredible bass (fast, deep, Power ful, etc), may be the best Ive heard, but it also had barely no image, sounded harsh, terrible.


“State of the art amplifiers is now class D.”

 @select-hifi

Kindly list the manufacturers that are currently building SOTA class D amps.
@ PLGA:

The guy you were referring to on the Audioshark thread was Marty. He thought he preferred the NC-500 with REV D buffers at first, but after more critical listening, he changed his mind. But he didn’t post that part on the same thread. But he did on others, one of which I shared a link to.

The NC-500’s with a good buffer is a great amp, but myself along with a dozen or so Nord NC-500 owners, who are now my 1200AS based amp clients, prefer the Icepower 1200AS. If anyone is looking for a Nord NC-500 amp cheap, one of my Purepower clients has been trying to sell his Nord NC-500 monoblocks for months here:

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=161211.0
Hypex has also released their NC-2.5K for all OEM's, along with the NC1200. But keep in mind these modules came out in 2011. They are not new technology. Bruno Putzeys, the brains behind those amps has moved on from Hypex, and is now working on digital input class D amps, DSP, and active speakers. He's one guy who knows where the future lies. His latest project is with a team of some of the best brains in audio:
https://www.purifi-audio.com

I can assure you that they won't be releasing any tube amps or preamps. 
Well, I didnt know that and I guess its kind of late for the change! Im very sorry hearing it now! 

Honestly, Im a little bit tired of tweaking and upgrading my system. I will run and burn all of my new gear, including my new Gustard U16, then I will voice again my system with Dirac and I will just enjoy music as I never heard it like I do today. 

As it is said on another threads, sometimes we, the audiophiles, spend so much time and money on this hobbie that we forget to enjoy music and we spend all of our time just listening and tweaking our system. IMHO, its not too smart. 
I wouldn't worry about it. They are both great amps. Colin contacted me about rebranding my DAC under the Nord brand recently. I counter-offered to build him a digital input amp instead, but he declined. Probably a decision he will regret. 
I have had no enjoyment from sub-$2K class D amps (Red Dragon and Nuforce) -- too bright and ultimately something was missing in the sound.  My pal had a pair of Nuforce Ref 9 V3 Se mono amps, which he at first preferred to his reference Krell KSA 200S class A amp, but tired of the Nuforce amps quickly and sold them, very disappointed in the upgrade.  He recently got a pair of Merrill Audio Thor class D mono's and had this to say about them:  

"I just listened to my Merrill Audio Thor mono amps. They are amazing. They sound better than my Krell KSA 200S amp. They’re more articulate, sweet, better bass, Better imaging, soundstage etc. etc."  

In spite of my experience with Class D amp, the Merrill's and a few others might be game changers.  Me, I have a Don Sachs KT88-based tube amp being delivered on Tuesday so I am going the opposite direction!  I do think class D is gonna be the standard in the future, more or less.  I thought the same thing about digital music, yet more and more folks seem to gravitate to analogue so what do I know?