List : Components with high dynamics

I have to admit that I like high dynamics among other things when it comes to my components. For all of you who like me like to try new components every so often and have come across a highly touted component that is rather sluggish and dissapointing, could you name some of the highly dynamic component out there you know of.

I'll start with the following:

Symphonic Line
Eastern Electric Minimax
PrimaLuna Dialogue II
No names, but feeding kilowatts to 90+ dB line sources seems pretty dynamic, when needed.
NuForce Ref 9 series amps
VMPS speakers, RM30 and up... to hear the dynamic capabilities of electronic components, you need to start with speakers that are capable of reproducing wide range dynamics. Yes, there are many more than the ones I named. :)
ATC Speakers are world reknown for dynamics. Bryston amps also (but can be
harsh in the highs) - however there are great many power amps that are
dynamic (hundreds last time I loooked - so the power amp is rarely the
limiting factor in most systems). Benchmark DAC1 is also recognized by
nearly everyone as being extremely dynamic while still sounding smooth in
the highs. I can't say for TT but my limited experience (from years ago) is that
you need to buy 12" 45 rpm if you want the best dynamics on Vinyl.

The trick with dynamics is to start with a good recording then a system with a
clear background (no distortion or noise from harmonic, IMD, driver ringing/
resonance and jitter) and a great transient response (best transients today are
in active speaker designs where phase response is near perfection as amp is
matched to driver and phase can be adjusted precisely). Most people think
you need high slew rates but to me this is a misnomer. Typically sealed boxes
work best in speakers and apart from ATC in dynamic speakers you need to
look into high quality TAD horn designs, which have long been reknown for
dynamics (JBL, Lansing, Aubsperger, Westlake's, Tannoys horns are all
dynamic etc. and I would add in particular with extra emphasis Meyer). Of
crucial importance are drivers specifically designed for low thermal
compression (vented and with huge massive drive motors with seriously large
4 inch voice coils and huge excursion => the complete opposite of north
european mass produced most popular drivers on the market today) Another
factor is the room - you need a fair amount of absorption to create that dry
"punchy" feel with a black background and depth - in a bright
room everything will simply sound muddy and cluttered and without proper

Two cents.....I expect you will get answers all over the map as everyone
probably thinks they have a dynamic setup...but a visit to most any high end
studio would part most people's hair and blow them away in terms of
High efficiency horn loaded speakers like Klipsch, Avantgarde, and others.
- appropriately amplified high efficiency loudspeakers: such as Duke's and Johnk's designs as well as horns and line arrays in general (I own arrays)

- noncompressed recordings: Metallica's new album being the antithesis of such (from what I've read). For a nice example of a noncompressed rock recording, try Richard Thompson's "Ducknapped" circa 2004.
Great dynamics can be achieved with many different amp/speaker combinations provided the match is good. I don't believe it's limited to any particular brand.

The recording is extremely important. If dynamics are not in the recording, then they won't be in the reproduction.
Tvad. Well said.
Moderate dynamics is indeed achievable with any particular good match but horns and pro-design big box speakers are definitely more highly dynamic than most other speaker types. I would have thought this was self evident to anyone who has been to a concert? Soundstage do not perform test measurements on home audio speakers above 100 db SPL because, according to them, most would be destroyed....a simple fact like this pretty much says it all.
How many of us are going to require concert level SPL in our listening rooms,
or have rooms that will even support concert level SPLs (I know...yours does,
I'm sure).

I don't need to blow out my windows to enjoy dynamics that fool me into
believing I'm enjoying my listening experience. My $8000, inadequately mid-fi,
moderately dynamic speakers do just fine, thank you. I'll wager 99% of the
readers of this thread have the same criteria, and have no use for pro-design
big box, or professional sound reinforcement horn loudspeakers in their living
rooms or dens.

But, for those who do, it's really good to know the options are out there.

Hey no worries - I wasn't keeping score - although you seem to be! I expect most will agree with you that 99% of audiophiles have no use for high dynamic components that can reproduce music realistically, as if it were live. So FWIW you scored the winning blow. I ignominiously admit that my zeal for horns and pro gear got the better of me and you burst my bubble ;-)
When I get the farmhouse with the barn, I'll build the pro PA stack and put the easy chair right smack in the middle where the sheep pen used to be.
I'll build the pro PA stack and put the easy chair right smack in the middle where the sheep pen used to be.

Watch out. A huge heard of audiophile sheep was seen heading towards your barn this afternoon! I guess they heard about your concert?
CAT amps and preamps are the most dynamic electronics I have heard. Of course, how dynamic they will sound will depend on the speakers they are matched with, but they'll be very dynamic with most.
You can get reasonable dynamics by selecting upstream products that overcome the inherent limitations of conventional speakers or you can choose horn speakers with compression drivers and use pretty much any amplification that suits your ear.
High quality horns are large and expensive but for dynamic reproduction they have no competition whatsoever. This is true even at normal listening levels.
With digital sources, it is possible to maximize source dynamics with various devices in the digital domain.

In the analog domain, a 3 band DBX device like a 3BX can be had for just a few hundred and can help correct for dynamics challenged source material.

I am also increasingly of the opinion that a tube or two in the source or amplification stage can help flush out micro-dynamics in particular better.

Proper matching of amps to speakers is another key factor for good dynamics. High efficiency speakers like the aforementioned horn designs provide an inherent advantage over less efficient speakers as well. all other things aside. Throwing lots of good clean power at less efficient speaker designs can be a practical solution these days as well, in particular with the maturation of good quality and highly efficient Class D amplifiers.
McIntosh MC-402 and Mc-501 amps, dynamic chamos IMO.
High effiecency speakers, of course.
Tube preamps in general.
Sorry, I meant dynamic champs regarding the amps.
To these ears, good dynamics don't translate into high sound pressure levels. I primarily listen to classical music and excellent dynamics were a major quest for my particular system. Dynamics come in all stripes, the proper presentation of which is a major factor on the enjoyment of music. I've been to pop concerts that was ear-bleeding loud but had no or very little contrasts dynamically. Drum whacks were the same loudness as screaming guitar. I have listened to many amps, but I never thought that Krell - although high powered, did very much in the dynamics department. I discovered that a change in power cord greatly increased my amp to deliver wide and subtle dynamic swings.
In order to understand what is happening with dynamics in audio, it is useful to understand some of the rules of human hearing, in this case, the ear's use of odd ordered harmonic content as loudness cues and the masking principle.

Dynamic contrasts are thus artificially manipulated by amplifier and preamplifiers that employ loop negative feedback, but also those without. Amplifiers that have no loop feedback nor any method of reducing distortion (especially at higher power) will actually **appear** to demonstrate a lot more dynamic qualities than the amplifier would otherwise seem capable of. A good example of this is a 300b SET, that appears to be very dynamic for the amount of power it makes.

The issue here is that the ear uses odd-ordered harmonics as loudness cues.

In the case of the 300b amp above, the power and consequently the distortion is much higher on the transient peaks than the in-between areas. Most of the distortion is even-ordered as it exists in higher quantities than the odd-orders, but the odd-orders are there too, masked by the presence of the even orders. Despite the ear's masking aspect, the odd orders still trigger the loudness cue response, so the result is that the loudness cues are tied directly to the dynamic peaks in the music. The result is the **appearance** of a dynamic amplifier. But what is really happening is that in this case, the word 'dynamics' can be safely replaced by the word 'distortion' without changing the description of the amp's sound.

This phenomena is far too common in high end audio and IMO/IME is not by any means limited to SETs, although SETs do exploit this phenomena more than others. Oddly enough, amps with loop negative feedback will display a similar quality, but unlike SETs will lack the lush quality offered by the even-ordered harmonic content.

Consequently, I am always suspicious when audiophiles talk about 'dynamics'; I find that nine times out of ten they really mean 'distortion'.

One way to ascertain whether or not this is an issue is your system is to turn up the volume until you have to yell at someone sitting right beside you in order to be heard. The question then is: did it surprise you that the system was playing that loud? or was it unpleasant to play it that loud? Latter=distortion (plenty of loudness cues) Former=lack of distortion (very few added loudness cues)

Once this issue is settled then it is possible to delve into the issues of real dynamics; to avoid confusion I use the word 'impact'.
Jeff Rowland Design Group
Atmas said:

"One way to ascertain whether or not this is an issue is your system is to turn up the volume until you have to yell at someone sitting right beside you in order to be heard. The question then is: did it surprise you that the system was playing that loud? or was it unpleasant to play it that loud? Latter=distortion (plenty of loudness cues) Former=lack of distortion (very few added loudness cues)"

I think this is a very good test!
There's macro dynamics (big booms) and micro dynamics (the pluck on a guitar string). I get good dynamics (of both kinds) with my McCormack amp and relatively efficient speakers (@90db efficient).

But I have never heard dynamics (of both types) done better than with highly efficient speakers e.g. Klipshorns (105db efficiency). These are driven with 2 watt SET amps, which nobody would consider dynamic on anything less than Klipshorns. Of course they have other drawbacks that are not particularly suited to my tastes, but you can't fault them in the dynamics department.

So, my gut says that dynamcis are more of a function of the speaker efficiency than anything else, as long as there is an amp with sufficient headroom to drive them. However I don't think you would get the same result with a 1000 watt amp and 87db efficient speakers.

"So, my gut says that dynamcis are more of a function of the speaker efficiency than anything else"

You will not get good overall dynamics out of a speaker that is not capable of it no matter what, that's for sure!
The VAC 140's fit the bill....real immediacy and dynamics.
"The VAC 140's fit the bill....real immediacy and dynamics."

One would hope so for that kind of money.

I am a big VAC fan and think their pieces are simply gorgeous and also great sounding to my ears.

But seriously, shouldn't any piece of equipment in this price range have great dynamics?

Sorry to rant. I'm actually probably quite jealous that I probably cannot afford or at least justify the cost of the really good VAC stuff at this point in my life.
Mapman....if you keep yours eyes open there are extreme deals on the larger VAC Ren series....I don't think people want to spend the money to retube these amps....but take it from me their foolish not too....but somebody else's good fortune.