Like cars, amps correlate by price per pound. I looked at this some years ago and was surprised how close price per pound was, not price by watt. It also work for cars.
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The answer is yes, and it has to do with an amplifier's power supply.
Nelson Pass goes into detail in this article
He concludes by stating, "What if you don't want to go through the trouble but still want your money's worth? Get at least 15 pounds of amplifier for each thousand dollars spent."
Now, you may or may not agree with him, but he knows a fair amount about building high quality amplifiers.
I am assuming the Rowland Amp is Class D, which means it uses a totally different technology.
While this is a bad analogy, a PC power supply based on the typical big transformer with analog regulators would be much bigger, hotter and heavier than the far more efficient switching supplies used in PCs and many other devices these days.
I myself have the learned condition that power amps should be big, heavy and hot to sound best. But, I feel with modern high quality Class D amps from folks like Rowland, it would be unwise to put to much "weight" in making a determination on sound quality based on the weight of the amplifier.
Having said that, I have no doubt that if I were comparing a modern class D amp with a modern meat-and-potatoes amp, with identical power specifications, I would be prone to discriminate against the little teeny class D amp, even though in reality, it may in fact be superior sounding to the big-hot amp
I've been quiet on this front as I felt I might be nuts believeing weight matters in SS amps.... but it kept showing itself as being pretty evident.
my own exp with SS amps says Yes. There is a definite coorelation, more often than not. Indeed it is due to the power supplies in recent history, and this might change down the road with new power reserve technologies being nvestigated today.
I think though, the deal is however to make likewise comparisons.
comparing digital amps to non digital amps is not what I'd say is a likewise run off. Same for hollow state vs SS or switching amps.
Until or unless I get back into the 'lot's o' watts' camp, or rather if I do, I'd still want to stay with amp (s) under the 150 lb range. unless they've got their own wheels and are being set onto their own platform/stands. Getting something that heavy into a rack is a real chore. not to mention doing 'steps' with 'em on your shoulder or chest.
In class A or class A/B the weight corresponded mostly to the size of the power supply transformer, where bigger is usually better at any output rating, particularly for bass. However, in all things audio, there are more exceptions than rules.
Class D, or switching amps, like the JR 102, are much more efficient for the amount of power consumed and don't require such massive transformers.
I'm an old-timer and still prefer the heavyweights.
John, in general the answer is no, weight is not a factor in amplifier performance. High performance can be achieved in amplifiers that weigh a lot, and in amplifiers that weigh relatively little. In dividual designers make certain technological choices that end up leading down particular technologies, topologies. . . and weights. In the end, there are excellent amplifiers at all weights, and horrible amplifiers at all weights.
In the particular case of the JRDG 102, the designer wanted to achieve a high degree of performance for a chosen constraint. . . it was not weight. . . but an entry level target price of $1500. He used class D amplification and regulated switch mode power supplies that are extremely energy efficient, hence the very low weight. Whether Rowland achieved his price/performance goal on this particular product or not can be decided only by using one's ears. Unfortunately a scale won't help.
Will JRDG 102 outperform a Levinson 331? Perhaps possibly, but I truly doubt it. The 331 was designed with more ambitious goals. and it is priced 3 times higher than JRDG 102. While price alone is not a particularly good gage of performance, it is somewhat a better indication than weight.
On the other hand, if your budget can go as high as the $2K for the 331 currently offered on Audiogon, I suggest you also have a look at some of the bel canto Ref 1000 monoblocks available on Agon. I have reviewed one of these little wonders. . . and they are quite wonderful. . . and yes, very powerful as well. .. . and won't turn your living room into an oven. . . 331 runs in class A, which means it dissipates a huge amount of heat. . . not great for Houston Summers. G.
Ngjockey - Efficiency of class D plays a role but the most important difference is Switching Power Supply. Toroid in switching supply has diameter of 1-2" and can carry as much power at 50kHz as huge 10" dia toroid at 60Hz. In addition linear power supply is not regulated and requires big amount of capacitors to hold the voltage at loud passages (and filter out 120Hz) while SMPS is regulated (line and load)and easy to filter (small capacitors).
Bad rap SMPS have is caused by some manufacturers who use them to lower the cost only(inexpensive implementations).
Yes and no. You have to know what the weight difference means.
If someone shows me a 100Wx2 class A amp but it weights only 30lb. I know it can't be good because he must be cutting corners on heat-sink and power supply, two critical components which weight a lot.
On the other hand, if someone build an amp with extra thick panels which added 10lb to its weight, that extra weight has nothing to do to how it sounds.
Very fair comment. . . that's why I stated earlier that perfectly legitimate but differing technology decisions lead to differing paths toward sonic excellence. . . and differing weights.
I do confess that even I used to give the beefiness of a device major importance in my component choices. . . yet I experiencemore and more that the reassurance that a hefty component can give me can be misleading about its actual sonic capabilities. G.
11-07-09: VandermeulenThen, are you calling Nelson Pass a liar when he discusses power supply build, including but not limited to the size of the transformer, and how weight translates to performance and price?
He's just a jewelry salesman?