System Building 101

Below I have included some posts to a thread titled " mo' better base : any substitute for watts " .

That thread took somewhat of a turn to a very informative discussion explaining how an amplifier makes power and how that power relates to speakers .

It dispells some common misconceptions and misinformation and goes a long way to explaining why some combinations of amp and speaker don't work well together while others do .

The original "Instructor" is Atmasphere who speaks mainly of the compatibility of amp to speaker .
There are , of course , more components involved in a system .

I hope that other knowledgable people will join in with their expertise to make this thread sort of a one stop source for learning about system component compatibility .

Come here for questions and answers .
Refer others to this thread who may be having problems that are explained here .

Good luck .
I hope that other knowledgable people will join in with their expertise to make this thread sort of a one stop source for learning about system component compatibility

The most important ingredient is common sense. Unfortunately, newcomers to the hobby mostly choose gear to impress themselves and others - an item must distinguish itself first and foremost based on aesthetics, testimonials, and sticker price (especially important is that an uninitiated should utter "wow" upon simply seeing the item). Typical manifestation is the music loving wealthy medical doctor whose kids have just finished college and now finds his/herself with disposable income and who one day walks into a high end store and is bowled over by the sound.

The false assumption is that price/aesthetics will indeed overcome all other common sense factors such as speaker placement, room acoustics, equipment design and equipment compatibility. Typical manifestation of this logic is an emphasis on precious metals such as gold or silver or speakers with $10,000 of woodwork and veneer and $500 worth of drivers/parts.

The end result is disatisfaction and propagation of more audio myths about the performance of certain equipment, often the wrong piece of gear is singled out and blamed for the inevitably inadequate sound, or worse, the use of one poorly performing piece of equipment may result in the anecodotal extoling of the virtues of another poorly performing piece of equipment that together compensate for one another or for room/placement issues....and the merry-go-round begins. Of course, for some there is intense enjoyment from the merry-go-round itself and the thought of ever getting off would take all the fun out of the hobby.
Bob_reynolds, we *do* have some control over that 'configuration' of voltage vs. current. It has to do with the output impedance of the amp.

A higher output impedance can deliver excellent bass if properly matched with the speaker; conversely an amplifier with very low output impedance will deliver poor bass if poorly matched with the speaker.

However it is more than just a conversation about equipment matching; there are two different paradigms that are in common use in high end audio:

IOW, getting bass out of the speaker is not a function of the amplifier **or** the speaker, it is a function of how well they work together. This comes about out of intention- for example, the ability to double power as impedance is halved is not the same thing as saying that the amp will play bass.

Furthermore, amps that are direct-coupled from input to output (and in a very non-intuitive way) are often at a disadvantage in playing bass as they have the ability to modulate their power supplies. As soon as they do this the bass dries up. This is due to the fact that the amplifier LF pole is lower than that of the power supply, when it should be the other way around (something that you can't do with direct-coupled amplifiers unless you use a battery).
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

05-29-08: Saki70
"Bob_reynolds, we *do* have some control over that 'configuration' of voltage vs. current. It has to do with the output impedance of the amp."

The rest of the story !
Ya , that is the part that I was eluding to but missing in my feable attempt !
Thanks Atmaspere .
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

05-29-08: Inpepinnovations
Still, Atmasphere is not saying that one can get more or better bass by simply having more watts, which was the original question. And certainly not, if the speaker can't do Bass!

Bob P.
Inpepinnovations (Answers)

05-29-08: Atmasphere
Correct. In the old days, some amplifiers had a 'Damping' control, which was a potentiometer that allowed you to adjust current feedback (not voltage feedback). Essentially, this allowed you to get a better match between the amp and speaker.

This was at the time that the Voltage Paradigm was evolving. Once the ground rules were laid out, the 'Damping' controls disappeared- everybody just used a lot of feedback and called it good. The problem is that feedback itself functions at low frequencies (bass region) as a dynamic compression device. You simply aren't going to get good bass (or **as good** bass) if you are running a lot of feedback, even if your system is matched within the Voltage Paradigm.

This is why a smaller amplifier that has little or no feedback can often seem to play better bass (more impact, more definition, more articulation) than larger 'powerhouse' amplifiers that would seem to have it all over the said smaller amplifier. Of course, such an amplifier itself has to be able to operate properly with the speaker in order to revel these traits, but its not that hard to find speakers that are compatible and capable of delineating the differences between amplifiers that I defined above- the speaker *does not* have to be full range.

I find that class of operation plays a role too- class A amplifiers will have more authority; as you move more towards class B (AB1 and AB2) the authority (especially at low volume levels) goes away.

So- to play bass well, power output is irrelevant, instead the amplifier ideally is low or zero loop feedback and class A, given that such an amplifier also works well with the speaker being used. This of course assumes that the amplifier does not have a low frequency cutoff that interferes with bass reproduction.
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

05-29-08: Saki70
Atmaspere ;
Do these characteristics ,

"the amplifier ideally is low or zero loop feedback and class A"

apply to all types of amplification ie. tubes , SS and digital ?
What gives tubes the "punch and body" at lower volumes ?
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Atmasphere
Yes, tubes and transistors; the jury is out on Class D as it inherently is not Class A.

Tubes generally are usually operated closer to Class A than transistors usually are; most transistor amplifiers are biased at such low idle currents that its driver transistors (not the output transistors) are actually what is driving the speaker at low volumes. Tubes are inherently more linear than transistors, especially triodes, so tube circuits tend to be simpler and operating with less feedback, in fact I think its safe to say that the majority of triode amplifiers don't run loop feedback at all.

So your "punch and body" is coming from the reduced levels of negative feedback and the additional authority gained by operating at or near class A.
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Bob_reynolds
Atmasphere, please provide a couple examples that demonstrate how a higher output impedance alters the proportion of voltage and current that comprise the same power dissipation into the same load.
Bob_reynolds (Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Bob_reynolds
Atmasphere, please correct me in any of the following...

An amp with a low output impedance (a fraction of an ohm) approximates a voltage source when used with conventional speakers whose impedance is several ohms. The reason for this is that the output impedance of the amp is a very small percentage of the total impedance of the amp/speaker circuit. Thus, the impedance of the speaker approximates the total impedance and determines the amount of current drawn from the amp. The voltage drop across the output impedance of the amp will be small and the voltage applied to the speaker will effectively be constant regardless of the speaker's impedance curve. This implies that there is less concern of choosing speakers for this type of amp.

An amp with a highish output impedance (several ohms) makes a rather poor voltage source because its impedance is a significant proportion of the total impedance of the amp/speaker circuit. As the impedance of the speaker changes, the voltage drop across the output impedance can become significant so that the voltage applied to the speaker is not constant, but is in fact determined by the impedance curve of the speaker. This implies that choosing speakers for this type of amp is more difficult.

It seems to be well accepted that when matching source components to preamps and preamps to power amps that the input impedance of the load be at least 10 times that of the output impedance of the source. Why is this not the rule for matching power amps to speakers?
Bob_reynolds (Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Bob_reynolds
A question... I have it in my head that a speaker converts electrical energy into acoustic energy. Power, Voltage, Current and Resistance are all algebraically related.

So let's say that my speaker has to dissipate 20 watts to produce a desired SP level and that my speaker is effectively an 8 ohm load. As Saki70 pointed out, those 20 watts can be comprised of 2 volts and 10 amps or 4 volts and 5 amps or an infinite number of combinations such that the product equals 20. Well, which combination is the "right" one?

Since P = I^2 * R, I = SQRT(P / R). Thus, I = SQRT(20 / 8) = SQRT(2.5) = 1.58 amps. The voltage is then, V = 20 / 1.58 = 12.66 volts.

It doesn't appear to have anything to do with the amp, high impedance or not. What's wrong with this picture?
Bob_reynolds (Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Shadorne

It doesn't appear to have anything to do with the amp, high impedance or not. What's wrong with this picture?

If you think of the amp output impedance and the speaker load as a very simplistic set of resistors in series then you will see that the output impedance has a big influence on the power ultimately reaching the speaker.

Imagine if you were to increase the output impedance to infinity, then the voltage across the resistor representing the speaker would be close to zero - so almost no power reaches the speaker. Conversely, if you assume the output impedance of the amplifier is Zero, then the voltage across the resistor representing the speaker will be a maximum and it will see maximum power.

In practice, there is no such thing as infinity or zero - typically a rule of thumb is 1 to 10 => if the amp output impedance is a tenth of that of the speaker minimum resistive load then to a first order approximation amp ouput impedance can be ignored and the speaker sees all the intended drive voltage (based on the source signal and your volume setting).

What gives tubes the "punch and body" at lower volumes ?

If you understand the above and you think about a typical woofer with a resonance peak at the low end of the bass response (where the impedance may rise from 4 Ohms to 20 Ohms) then it is obvious why a high output impedance amplifier such as one with an 8 ohm output transformer) will sound punchy in the bass, as more voltage/power will reach the woofer at the resonance frequency than in the lower impedance midrange. So in a relative sense the high impedance points get more juice...
Shadorne (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Mapman
Probably the most straightforward and effective solution to get better bass to your hearts content at low volumes is to add a carefully matched, adjustable sub. ACI and REL are the ones I would consider personally. OR if you are comfortable going used, a second hand M&K might do the job for lower cost.

I cannot live without a full and extended low end and I use a vintage M&K sub for this exact reason with a pair of otherwise fairly bass challenged Triangle Titus monitors positioned way high up in cabinets (~6 feet off the floor) in my 2nd music/A/V system with excellent results. Your system appears much less bass challenged than mine, so I think its a pretty easy, slam dunk solution for you.
Mapman (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Atmasphere
Hi Bob, If you've not looked at
maybe now would be a good time.

Of course it is quite true that if you make 100 watts into a given impedance, it doesn't matter what made the power, the current and voltage will be the same.

Where things get interesting is when you have an amplifier that makes constant power, as opposed to constant voltage. What happens here is that as the load varies, the current and voltage both change with it to that effect. This is what I was referring to in my posts above.

It is **not** true that all speakers are "voltage" driven, in fact before the Voltage Paradigm was developed, tubes (and often zero feedback tubes) were the only game in town. Designers had to accommodate constant power so to get flat response; they had to be a little more careful.

Some examples of where constant voltage is not so helpful:
ESLs- Constant Voltage amplifiers have trouble making bass while too bright for comfortable listening due to the impedance curves typical of ESLs: high impedance in the bass, almost none in the highs. You need constant power to make that sound right.

Full-range drivers/horns- Most high efficiency speakers have tighter voice coil gaps (hence their cost) which creates higher reactivity. The reverse EMF thus generated can wreck havoc upon an amplifier with lots of negative feedback. The result is excess harshness (ringing) at high frequencies; the main source of many listeners opinion that horns are brash, honky and the like.

Its not difficult to choose a speaker for such an amplifier with a high output impedance (also known as a 'current source' amplifier to use Voltage Paradigm vernacular). All you have to do is look at the intention of the designer. Some examples: Merlins, Sound Lab, most horns (except Avantgardes), Lowthers, Fostex, PHY and the like, The original AR-1, Audiokinesis, Coincident Technology, Rogers LS3/5A, headphones, Magnepan, Reference 3A Loudspeakers, to name a few.

If the impedance curve operates independently of resonance, you can count on the speaker being a Power Paradigm device rather than Voltage Paradigm. Nearly all planars are Power Paradigm devices. Of course, a smooth impedance curve makes the speaker available to both camps- Avalon is a good example of that.

The two paradigms are responsible for a lot of debate in audio- tubes vs transistors, objectivist vs subjectivist...
What is really going on is that the Power Paradigm nowadays operates around the idea of the rules of human hearing, where the Voltage Paradigm operates around the concept of bench measurement. I hope it is obvious that understanding the rules of these two paradigms creates also a means for using transistors in a musical way- Pass 1st Watt amps and Ridley Audio are good but rare examples.

I am of the opinion that when it is possible to quantify the right measurements on the bench, such as the amount of odd-ordered content generated with a dynamically changing waveform, then a new and encompassing paradigm will emerge. Until then, we are stuck with two schools in competition- and the continuing need to match equipment properly and audition it at home.
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

05-30-08: Mapman

is it accurate to say that a higher current amp with wattage X will generally produce as good as or better bass than a lower current amp also of wattage X, depending on load, and all other factors aside?

In my case, I can vouch for the fact that a 100 w/ch Musical Fidelity A3CR (higher current) produced better bass at all comparable volumes than a 350 w/ch Carver m4.0t (lower current) with my notoriously power and current hungry Ohm Walsh 5s, which also have a reputation, similar to electrostats, as having a harder load to handle than many designs.

With my other speakers, Dynaudio Contour 1.4mkII, Triangle Titus Ohm Ls, and smaller Ohm Walshes, all of which I believe provide less difficult loads to drive, the difference in bass levels between the same two amps at same volume levels was not nearly as noticeable.
Mapman (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

06-02-08: Saki70
Atmaspere ;
One more answer , please , to Mapman's last response !

Thank you .
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-02-08: Atmasphere
Mapman, no, however the match between the speaker and amplifier is paramount. If the speaker has a low impedance at low frequencies, you are going to have to provide the current that making power into that load demands by law (Ohm's Law- no pun intended). The Ohms were always a difficult load! As you have seen, with less difficult loads the requirement for high power at low impedance is less important.

The flip side of the coin has a question- why go where angels fear to tread? IOW **if** the best sound is your goal, it has been shown that higher impedances favor transistors as well as tubes. A transistor amp driving a 16 ohm speaker will sound better (smoother, more detailed, more impact) than it will driving 4 ohms, all other things being equal. So the argument of current, insofar as the goal of 'best sound' is concerned, would seem to be moot.

Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-02-08: Saki70
Atmaspere ;
In your statement above...

"If the speaker has a low impedance at low frequencies, you are going to have to provide the current that making power into that load demands by law (Ohm's Law- no pun intended)."

Is this opposed to providing voltage , which will also increase the power ?

Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-02-08: Rja
I went from a 300wpc amp to a 225wpc. The 225wpc had better bass than the "more" powerful amp. So I guess to answer your question, in my experience, watts is not the only game in town!
Rja (Threads | Answers)

06-02-08: Atmasphere
Saki70, as Bob pointed out above, it takes both voltage and current to make power. The issue is that if we are to make 200 watts into a set of Ohms which might be 3 ohms, the voltage and current can be easily calculated (assuming for the moment that there is no phase angle which there always is in inductive devices).

So you can also look at it as being able to make the Voltage into a load like that- which will only be possible if you can also make the current.

The use of the term 'voltage source' I think can be dangerous without the understanding of the accompanying engineering principles for which the term is a sort of shorthand. You have to keep in mind, IOW, that regardless of the amount of current or voltage that you are making, that the end result is power which is composed of both.

Low impedance amplifiers (Voltage source) *can* make constant voltage with respect to the load. Not all do.

Higher impedance amplifiers (Current source) *can* make constant power with respect to the load. Not all do.

You **must** match such amplifiers with speakers that are designed with intention to work with that particular kind of amplifier that you are using. If you do not tonal aberrations will occur.

It is true that some constant voltage amplifiers can deliver lots of current. It is not true to say that that is the same thing as having lots of bass authority. IOW any kind of amplifier can be perceived as being wimpy in the bass if not set up properly. OTOH, some amps will not play good bass no matter what you do.

In my personal case, because I like amplifiers to be relaxed at all volume levels, I will not use one that has negative feedback, as that design element adds loudness (harshness) cues. So I work with speakers that are designed for amps that have a higher output impedance. So on my speakers there are no 'voltage source' amps that will play the speaker with the authority that my 60 watt triode amps will. But that could be very different on other speakers- my bone of contention is that because the use feedback, as far as I am concerned they will never sound like real music, so who cares :)
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-02-08: Bob_reynolds
Atmasphere, I've read your paper on more than one occasion and I probably didn't appreciate most of it. I've been tied up with other things the last few days, but I intend on reading it and I have a couple of questions I hope you'll address.

BTW, I really appreciate your contributions and patience to this forum.
Bob_reynolds (Threads | Answers)

06-03-08: Saki70
Atmaspere ;
First off...I would like echo Bob's accolades and offer our thanks to you for your patience and diligence in this thread ! You are one of a very few gentlemen that would not only offer some input but also stick it out for a myriad of questions as we try to learn a thing or two . A true industry leader !!!

I understand that it takes both voltage and amperage to make watts (E x I = W). And that you can have different kinds of watts ie. "voltage source" and "current source" depending on the impedence of the amp .

Can you tell us if the 'ratio' of volts to amps is the same for both types ? IOW do the watts from a "voltage source" amp generally contain more volts , than the watts from a "current source" amp ? And conversely do the watts from a "current source" amp generally contain more amps , than the watts from a "voltage source" amp ?


As you stated , "It is true that some constant voltage amplifiers can deliver lots of current." Would this be an example of a ratio difference ?

Thank you .
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-03-08: Undertow
I will one up you.. I have gone from a Class A solid state power up to a percentage then it would switch to clas A/B in Mono block which was 300 watt peak with VEry high damping factor to a
20 watt S.E.T. Class A amp and it stomped the crap out of the 300 watt in bass! Go figure :-)
Undertow (Threads | Answers)

06-03-08: Atmasphere
Saki70, thanks for your comments.

What we are talking about is 2 things: 1) output impedance as an actual raw impedance, not complicated by negative feedback (IOW 'open loop') and 2) servo gain- the amount of negative loop feedback employed.

A lot of designers see these two as the same, but they are not. A variety of Voltage Paradigm speakers *require* that the amp have some sort of feedback to accommodate the otherwise improbable impedance curves that have resulted. The feedback is part of mechanism that allows the amplifier to accommodate peaks as well as dips in the curve. You can do this with raw impedance alone, but feedback makes it easier- your amp does not have to have such a low open loop impedance.

With higher impedance amplifiers, in order to get flat frequency response on such speakers, the role of feedback becomes more prodigious. However, many of these amplifiers are probably tubes, and often tube designers will eschew large amounts of feedback as the amplifier will often exhibit some linearity without, something that is rare in the transistor world. Their hope is that you will do the right thing and use these amps on a speaker that has a higher impedance. FWIW the thinking here revolves entirely around sonic performance rather than the ram ability to simply drive a low impedance, something that usually has little to do with overall sound quality.

So we are talking about a spectrum- as output impedance is increased and servo gain decreased, the voltage/current ratio that describes the output of the amplifier changes with it. So there is not a hard and fast rule.

In the past I've seen a lot of DIY hobbyists try to add loop feedback to a 'current source' amplifier with the hopes of getting it to play a four ohm load better- with more power. It does not work. That is because the open loop impedance of the amplifier is too high to be adequate for four ohms. You can reduce distortion and flatten the frequency response using servo gain, but you can't change the power. That is why I say that open loop output impedance and servo gain are different phenomena.

The pity of this whole thing is the idea that the ability to drive 4 ohm loads is a sign of being 'beefy' or 'gutsy' (somehow better anyway) in the amp. The fact of the matter is no transistor amplifier sounds right on 4 ohms, nor does any tube amp. If you want to really see what either one is really capable of, you need a higher impedance -16 ohms is nice- to do that.

At higher impedances speaker cables are far less critical in the overall sound and all amplifiers will exhibit less colorations due to reduced distortion. Transistor coloration BTW is the harshness caused by odd-ordered harmonics at very low levels. Tube coloration is the added 'warmth' or 'bloom' that is a product of even-ordered harmonics that are at a more pronounced level. So transistors will sound smoother with more detail and tubes will sound more neutral with more detail. Win win.

Sorry there was not a simple answer to your question!
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-03-08: Saki70
"The fact of the matter is no transistor amplifier sounds right on 4 ohms, nor does any tube amp. If you want to really see what either one is really capable of, you need a higher impedance -16 ohms is nice- to do that."

Given this , why don't we see many 16 ohm speakers ?
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-04-08: Atmasphere
Saki70, in the old days you did. Then transistors came along, and the industry figured out that it could charge almost the same money for the transistor amps, while in fact they were costing only about 1/10th as much. Suddenly power was cheap.

It was not long before the speaker manufacturers realized that they could take advantage of this, because they could make lower efficiency speakers that also cost about 1/10th as much to make. To make them seem more efficient, 4 ohm speakers began to appear.

Its all about money IOW. But- if sound quality is your goal, then 4 ohms is right out.
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-04-08: Saki70
Atmasphere ;
So synergy is the only constant and wattage takes a backseat to circuit design for both amp and speaker . Is this a correct summation ?

Up for some more questions ?

Are global feedback , negative feedback , loop feedback , and zonal feedback all names for the same thing ?

How close to zero should we get ? I noticed that you offer up to 2? of feedback adjustability on your amps .

And what is your opinion of the use of 'autoformers' to achieve the higher speaker resistance that the amplifier will see ?

Thank you .
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-04-08: Atmasphere
Saki70, I don't like the word 'synergy' as it suggests that we are going to balance one defect against another, and I think that in the case that we are talking about, the word is 'compatible' and the answer is 'yes'.

Loop and global feedback are the same thing. Zonal is usually the same as 'local' and may or may not be loop feedback, it could also be degenerative feedback. They are all forms of negative feedback, and there is a lot of verbal shorthand around, so you have to be careful.

I think what is important if you use feedback is that a) the amplifier must be fast and low distortion to begin with and b) the feedback be low enough that the odd-ordered harmonic enhancement is kept out-of-band. That really does not allow for very much feedback in practice.

The ZERO is the only autoformer I know of (we used to make a similar product called the Z-Music autoformer years ago). The concept is all about problem solving- this or that amp can't drive a speaker load that low so here's a solution to that problem. Given that that is the case, they work very well indeed. But if you had a 16 ohm speaker to start with that would be better :)
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-05-08: Saki70
Yes , compatible may be a better term to use .

Not necessarily using the autoformer for problem solving ...

"The fact of the matter is no transistor amplifier sounds right on 4 ohms, nor does any tube amp. If you want to really see what either one is really capable of, you need a higher impedance -16 ohms is nice- to do that."

but trying to achieve maximum potential within a present 4 or 8 ohm setup , inexspensivly..."Its all about money". Could we hear an improvement with this usage ? And how would a 16ohm speaker operate on an amp that has 4 & 8 ohm speaker taps ?

We all have read where a higher db. rated speaker is an easier load to drive for lower powered amps such as SET's .
Where does the decibel rating figure into the rest of this discussion ? For instance would the higher resistance of a 16ohm speaker be able to counter the detriment of an 85db. rating ?

One heck of an informative thread here !

Thank you .
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-05-08: Mapman

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your insights in this discussion.

My question is how can I tell by listening to a system whether use of negative feedback is having a noticeable negative effect on what I hear short of an a/b regression test between two comparable amp designs, one with and one without?

Also, as with most technology solutions, aren't some negative feedback implementations done better than others? Are there any that do it right to the extent that the negative effects are minimal or non existent?
Mapman (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)

06-05-08: Atmasphere
Saki70, FWIW Steve McCormick, who has been making solid state amps for years, reports that his amps sound better driving a 4 ohm load though the ZERO, such that the amp is loaded at 16 ohms. His amps easily double power- they have no problem driving 4 ohms. I interviewed several solid state amp manufacturers at CES this year, and independently of each other they all concurred that while their amps easily **drive** 4 ohms, that due to effects withing the transistors themselves (which are exacerbated by more current) the amps **sound** better on 16. So much better, that using a set of ZEROs to do that is effective.

Transformers are inductors and so they ring if improperly loaded. Putting a 16 ohm speaker on an 8 ohm tap will mean that the transformer is going to add some distortion due to ringing, but the tubes otherwise will see a higher impedance load. Quite often, although they will make slightly less power, the distortion will go down too.

Mapman, you bring up a good point- feedback as a design issue can be tricky to sort out. Its the sort of thing that a designer or DIY person might tinker with and compare. There are so many variables that go into an amplifier/preamplifier design that it would be hard to ascribe something you hear in such a product to any one thing. You do have to work with the designs a bit in order to begin to sort out the sonic artifacts that different design considerations bring.

However we do already know that negative loop feedback contributes to odd-ordered harmonics in the regions that the ear uses as loudness cues. The contribution is slight- 100ths of a percent- but human ears are very sensitive to that sort of thing. We perceive this as 'brightness' or 'hardness'.Conversely, even ordered harmonics can be several orders of magnitude higher and our ears don't seem to mind.

I feel we are getting OT. If you wish to continue in this direction, let's start another thread :)
Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-05-08: Saki70
Atmasphere ;
Yes we are off topic but there is sooo much info here I would hate to break it up into two threads !!!

If you would address the db rating issue , that I asked about , I would consider this discussion closed .

I would also consider this thread one of the best primers here for the budding hobbiest ! You have dispelled some myths and misinformation for me and probably others as well . I would like to think of this thread as a "one-stop-shopping" area for those who want to learn how to do it right thus saving a lot of time , aggravation and money !
Sort of "System Building 101" !

I was planning on sending others to this thread when they had questions that were addressed here .

So , please can I coax just a little more out of you here ?

Thank you .
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

06-06-08: Atmasphere
Saki70, with regards to efficiency vs impedance, to me they seem to carry about the same weight. However if the speaker is really low efficiency, you are going to have power issues driving it (BTW 'really low' is 87db or less). Given that that is the case, you are facing compromise- with tubes, 16 ohms would be favored, with transistors I might be tempted with 4, just because of the power issue.

I am a fan of higher efficiency. Good Quality tube power is expensive and I have yet to hear a transistor amp that is better, although being who I am you have to expect that from me :) I **have** heard some excellent transistor amps though (that I liked as much or more that many tube amps), however none of them were what I would call high power. So it seems that the high efficiency/high impedance rule is a good one to follow (so long as those qualities do not interfere with resolution or bandwidth).

Note: Sensitivity and Efficiency are two different ratings. Sensitivity is 2.83V @ 1 meter, Efficiency is 1 watt @ 1 meter. 2.83V into 8 ohms works out to 1 watt, but into 4 ohms its 2 watts. So a 4 ohm speaker can have the same Sensitivity as an 8 ohm speaker but actually be 3db less Efficient.

Atmasphere (Threads | Answers)

06-08-08: Saki70

Thank you so much for your time and expertise !
Saki70 (Threads | Answers)

Shadorne ;
" The end result is disatisfaction and propagation of more audio myths about the performance of certain equipment, often the wrong piece of gear is singled out and blamed for the inevitably inadequate sound, or worse, the use of one poorly performing piece of equipment may result in the anecodotal extoling of the virtues of another poorly performing piece of equipment that together compensate for one another or for room/placement issues....and the merry-go-round begins ."

Precisely the reason that I started this thread !

Lets hope that it becomes even more informative .
Lets hope that it becomes even more informative .

The people who will read a technical thread like the one you allude to are generally those that are probably already on the right path towards 'common sense' great sounding systems already (no matter if they have chosen tubes or SS, Digital or Analog, horns, dynamic speakers or panels...

You are preaching to the choir...but as soon as this thread dies ...ten others will pop up extoling everything from $5K cables to quantum dots to tourmaline crystals. So it is hard for an unsuspecting newcomer to Hi-Fi to see the woods for the trees. An MD might dismiss a witchdoctor's cure based on years of his/her training and knowledge of the "placebo effect" but nothing prepares one for the onslaught of radical ideas that you get in audiophiledom.