The Richard Clark "all amps sounds the same" test



Okay, I know there has been tons of commentary on this issue, but I have a specific question. And it will make it clear why I'm posting this amp question in the speaker threads.

I'm curious if anyone knows if Maggie 20.1s or something equally hard to drive and equally transparent has been tested? I know planars have been used on his test, but I don't know any details.

Oh - for those who don't have any idea what I'm talking about see:

http://www.tom-morrow-land.com/tests/ampchall/rcrules.htm
and
http://www.tom-morrow-land.com/tests/ampchall/index.htm

and if you google it there is almost endless commentary on it.

Okay - but I want to test the following:

Magnepan 20.1s
Pass Labs X350.5 or XA160.5
Pass Labs Pre? (Don't care as much)
EmmLabs CD Player

Then, we need a low-cost amp. Now, the trouble is, he has a reasonable request in his test, each amp has to be used within its thresholds, so no using them at 300 watts when one is rated at 30 watts. Obviously with one clipping and the other one not clipping you will hear a difference.

This also applies to a 4-ohm speaker. So, assuming someone hasn't done an extremely similar test and can just tell us the difference, the next question is what is the worst amplifier that is rated at 4 ohms? While the X350.5 is high-power, the test could be done at 85 db, so you don't need too many watts to make that work.

This would effectively answer all the "maggies need high power to by dynamic" and lots of other similar questions. Because the test is at one db level, does one amp really push more bass out of them than another?

Hey - actually wouldn't Tympani IVs be harder to drive? Maybe we should use Tympani's :).

What do people think, is this issue still alive or has someone resolved these issues? I have to think I could hear the difference and may have my wife run some singly-blind tests for me - I don't have any of the equipment above, but do have 3.6s and an Aleph 5. See how that Aleph sounds compared to some sort of $100 amp rated at 4 ohms.

Might there be a 4-ohm rated amp in a boombox or bookshelf system? I'll poke around. Sure a single op-amp chip in a bookshelf system (often what $100 system amps consist of, just a few chips) would sound worse than a Pass Labs Aleph, which Stereophile said compared to the Levinson 300 lb amps?

Oh - and the essence of my idea with this test is that perhaps the sound is 'more similar' on speakers that are easier to drive, but with 20.1s - and this is just as important - with a highly resolving ribbon speaker - the difference might become more apparent.

Oh - also, I'm not sure if he allows me to choose the music, but I have found over the years certain parts of certain passages that show the differences of components more than others. I think that would also be important - what passages are played, as on some I would believe the differences would be impossible/difficult to detect.

If I'm just repeating stuff that can be found elsewhere let me know... Just seems like we should be able to bust this test.
lightminer
Why would anyone care?
Well, 2 reasons. I don't know if the offer still stands, but he offers $10,000 to anyone who can pass his test.

If you win you can buy an amp with that money :).

Second reason, to add to the body of knowledge that exists in the public domain. People use references to his information to suggest that amp A vs amp B - there is no difference as long as they fit certain basic criteria. And he does acknowledge certain features, like if it makes a big thud on starting that is less desireable than otherwise.

If he is right, great, lets spread that knowledge. If he is wrong, well, then lets figure that out and put the issue to bed!

Also - here is a long thread (you can waste maybe a whole 2 hours on this! :) ) - lets no rehash what has already been discussed. There are lots of these.

http://www.audiogroupforum.com/csforum//showthread.php?t=2759

So - bottom line - can we differentiate an X350.5 vs a $20 amp from radio shack using Magnepan 20.1s? (or whatever is cheapest 4 ohm amp).
I have a Denon AVR and a Manley Stingray. Every once in awhile, I listen to the Denon. It sucks compared to the Manley. The difference is not subtle.
Cool - so do a 'home test' if you have the couple hours. (btw, that is a *very* cool looking amp.) Have someone get 12 tracks (I think that is what he suggests) put a sheet up over your stuff and have someone do the switching. Do the full abx test as he describes. He is picky about getting all 12 right.

I'm going to try it in next few days out of personal interest. One problem, though, is that reading enough info about this - a few people have gotten all 12 right, then he does level adjusting to within 1/10 of a db and then they don't pass the 2nd time. He doesn't like to start with all that level matching just because it takes a while. So keep that in mind - and this isn't in question - mild increases in volume can make piece A sound better than B whether it is CD player or whatever.

If you get it right, maybe you can make 10k. Or maybe its just bunk. I'll know more when I do the tests in a few days, maybe this weekend.
As much as i hate the idea he could be right, it does beg the question.....why hasnt anyone won yet!