Ultra high resolution

Hi folks, I suppose this is a question none could answer appropriately. How come that some (there are to my knowledge only two of them) amplifier brands are building such ultra high resolution solid state amplifiers without having a treble that sounds shrill or piercing or artificial? It is of course proprietary info if you ask those manufacturers.
Is it because of very tight selection of matched transistors? Is it because lack of global but high level of local feedback? Is it because of the use of very expensive military grade parts? Is it because of the power supply? Is it because of the application of special circuit design? Is it because all of the above?

Is, uh,...these amps you know. Is, uh, ...your amp a goer, eh? Know whatahmean, know whatahmean, nudge nudge, know whatahmean, say no more?

Tight selection of matched local feedback military grade transistors in special circuits with global power supplies.

That's good, that's good!
A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat!

lack of global but high level of local feedback with ultra high resolution without sounding shrill

Very good, very good! Ay? Ay? Ay?
Oooh! Ya wicked Ay! Wicked Ay! Snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!

Good one Chris!
Hi Thuis, have you tried a power cord upgrade for your stats yet? I remember that thread in early April. Just wondering.
Yeah, I know this is becoming a bit boring. Just skip this one. Unquestionably not one of my most original threads...

not a bad question at all, I think.
Seems with one amp I have which I think fits the bill to a degree, lack of internal wiring i.e. very short distance between things, only 1 board with input/output and power jacks mounted directly on board, point to point soldering, a real mother of a transformer and output caps, minimal protection circuits, no fuses.
The opposite you talk about, lack of detailed resolved etc. harsh sound, I have heard from units with lots of boards/devises/controls/wire/ inside.
I love Monty Python, and know of the "Nudge Nudge" sketch, but am unsure of how that fits....
Xie: Can you tell us which power amplifier you have in mind?

Joey: It should be the "World's Most Deadly Joke" sketch. Heheh.

Joey- Don't worry, It really doesn't. Actually: Some mil-spec suppliers(Vishay, Caddock, etc) are used extensively in the best audio gear for their low noise resistors (http://www.ecircuitcenter.com/Circuits/Noise/Noise_Analysis/res_noise.htm), BUT: the key to resolution without glare is passives in the signal path that are designed for audio circuitry(IE: caps by MIT, RELcap, RTI, V-cap, Jensen)(http://www.reliablecapacitors.com/pickcap.htm), and well designed power supplies. The less that's in the circuit/signal path(input to output), the better. And YES- point to point wiring(which is rare in SS designs)instead of PCB traces. The better companies have improved upon PCBs to great degree, and again that takes research, time and money. (http://www.ultracad.com/articles/pcbtemp.pdf) There are many other factors involved, and they all add up to a more transparent amp, but(of course)- those don't exist(AY?).
Joey: It should be the "World's Most Deadly Joke" sketch. Heheh

Nah - the most deadly "dead" joke sketch is this one.

...and now back to regular programming! (Sorry Chris I just found your initial question that does not even mention which amps you refer to ... a bit too vague - "know what I mean, Ay, Ay" )
Thank you for clarification Rodman. So when the passive parts in the signal path are essential for getting the highest level of resolution, why do even the big boys in the business, like Krell and Mark Levinson are including cheap parts in the signal path? They know this will compromise the final sound significantly. Otoh some manufacturers say: Nah, it's not the quality of the passive parts that counts but the circuit design and the appropriate implementation of the parts. What is your opinion?

To get resolution without glare getting rid of global negative feedback is going to be a good first step. But- to do that and insure low distortion, the amp will have to be class A as well. A simple signal path helps; without feedback you don't need as much gain.

Passive components have to be chosen carefully, not for synergy within the circuit, but neutrality overall. Hookup wiring and layout is also critical as well as the power supplies already mentioned.

IOW there is no cheap answer and no one panacea. You just have to do everything right with an eye not to bench specs which have little or no meaning, but to the rules of human hearing. Tubes, being more linear devices (triodes in particular) are a bit better at obeying those rules. That is not to say that it can't be done in the solid state realm, but it is a lot harder. I can count the solid state amps that seem to be built with this sort of philosophy on one hand and have fingers left over...

In my opinion there are numerous factors that influence the sonic signature of an amplifier. All of the factors you mentioned as well as other factors will effectively alter the sound of an amplifier. The power supply, the amount of negative feedback used and where it is applied, the passive components (resistors, capacitors, chokes), the active components (transistors, tubes) and the circuit design all play a part in how the amplifier will sound. FYI - just because a component is the more expensive than a lesser priced component does not automatically mean it will sound better than the lower priced component. In the best amplifier designs, a designer will spend hours trying different components (resistors, caps, transistors or tubes)and listening to them as well as measuring specifications of these components in order to get a result that both sounds pleasing and measures within specifications. What two amplifier brands/models are your referring to that you like.

I bed that Chris is talking about FM acoustics, those amplifiers has indeed the highest resolution possible, with a lovely sweet livelike musical treble
If I remember Chris did hear the FM acoustics professional series FM-800 and the FM-801(not the FM-801A) yes I have to agree that those are unbelievable good !
Chris- All I can add to what Atmasphere said is, "AMEN". This is an excerpt from the Mark Levinson site: "Another factor in Mark Levinson excellence is the array of the ultra-high performance parts that populate our balanced circuits. Even the circuit board itself is of prime importance as it allows these parts to perform ideally under a wide range of temperatures and humidity. Here, the advanced material ArlonĀ® provides a physically inert and sonically neutral base." If you were to open up a Krell amplifier, you would see an awful lot of these:(http://www.ibselectronics.com/passive/wima_capacitors_p_1.htm) Wima has been around for a really long time, and has "high quality" film caps down pretty good. I really don't think either of those companies are skimping on their signal path parts or materials. The Krells also sport Class A, and fully complimentary(balanced) circuitry which doen't hurt the formula. BUT- If I had the money for either, I'd own an OTL tubed system!
It's good design, good parts and careful assembly. Jeff Rowland Design Group has it all together.

Chris, you picked one of my faves (Deadly Joke Sketch). Thanks.
there is no free lunch in audio. "enhanced" resolution implies that one is at the mercy of recording quality.
in addition, "high resolution" does not match the experience of listening to live unamplified music.

solid state amps which are exemplars of this property probably are not fun to audition. i see nothing desirable about owning such a component.

the brain and nervous system have an optimal level of intensity and complexity. too much resolution which exceeds one's limits is a recipe for an unpleasant experience.

beware of what you wish for., for you may achieve it and then sell the component responsible for attaining such a state. less resolution and some veiling may be more pleasant, for long term listening.
Dazzdax, as things stand today I seriously doubt that even one manufacturer is making a truly 'ultra high resolution' amplifier.

I don't expect anybody here to agree with me but believe it or not at the extreme or ultra high resolution levels you may be thinking of, I speculate that the innards though important should become somewhat less important at the extreme performance levels and areas that we greatly underestimate or completely overlook today must start to take precedence or it simply ain't happening.

Those areas I'm thinking of include but are not limited to extreme line conditioning, extreme vibration management, and extreme chassis construction (both internal and external).

Again I speculate the day will come when at least some of the internals will matter less and certain associated externals will matter far more. Obviously the industry is not there today but I anticipate this may soon change.

I think the important point here is no component (nor collection of components) is an island. For example, no 'ultra high resolution amp' would be very tolerable if it is not connected to a superior line conditioner (and every other component must be connected to a superior line conditioner as well because the AC grunge from the other components get amplified too) to cleanse the dirty AC coming from the street because of ensuing ear fatigue and even ear bleed.

On second thought I'll clarify my initial statement. There may well be several ultra high resolution amps already on the market but because of the external shortcomings mentioned above I'll bet dollars to doughnuts neither the mfg'er, nor their customers, nor their reviewers are aware.

Joey, you're welcome.

04-23-08: Mrtennis said:
"... "high resolution" does not match the experience of listening to live unamplified music."

By definition, the higher the resolution, the closer to the live experience. You're saying the opposite. High resolution is superior to low resolution.

I think your desire for euphonic coloration is being confused for accuracy. Those colorations are not desireable for many of us (most?). I hear and make live music almost every day and also want the highest resolution possible in my system. High resolution does NOT include harshness, but is as close to the actual performance as possible.

I think it is all of the above and talent and experience of the designer. It helps a lot if he has extensive live music listening experience. Every parts is and should be 'costed' not soley parts quality/price but how it works in his current design as a whole.

I don't think there are only two amplifier brands out there w/ UHR. There are several or could be many (Small brands are sometime overlooked)

Once you have UHR amp, it comes down to how good is your source and preamp. Otherwise, garbage in UHRed garbage out!

With that said I agree w/ Mr Tennis's take on UHR. I like my music to sound natural and 'simple' (no exaggerated harmonics and details- which many well touted UHR system produces). Live music is not complicated- sound characteristics wise)
I have another stupid question: do some amplifier designers introduce deliberately some kind of noise (some kind of analog dither) so there is an apparent enhanced resolution?

hi dave:

many stereo systems seem more focused and have more clarity than live unamplified music.

consider the concert hall.

unless you sit very near the stage, there is a blending affect occuring with greater distance from the stage.

that is, sitting near the rear of a concert hall, with many bodies in fron of you changes the perception of treble frequencies. one is likely to hear an ensemble of violins rather than be able to pick out or count a number of individual violinists. there will be an attenuation of high frequencies. such a situation is not consistent with "high resolution". i have never heard anyone use the term "high resolution" to describe an orchestral performance.

unless you are performing in an orchestra, the term "high resolution" is not representative of what an audience member experiences at a concert hall.

rather,"medium resolution" is probably more appropriate.
hi chris:

more noise reduces focus and the level of resolution, it may mask low level musical information.

dither is sometimes used as a technique in the design of digital hardware.
I believe everyone in here will probably have a different idea/perspective/angle/semantic use for the term, "resolution". I get to hear live music twice a week, both amplified and acoustic as a sound tech. That requires me to hear the instruments/room/system from every listening point in the venue. What I'm hearing in my listening room(IF I'm not recording at home) is at the mercy of the engineer that recorded the performance, and the one that duplicated it at the CD plant. In MY perfect world all the genres of music I enjoy would be engineered by Doug Sax, direct to disc(vinyl). BUT- To quote Tom Jung(Digital Music Products), "You can't just send a master tape to a CD plant and expect to get back what you sent them", and he deals with some of the best in the industry. I have some personal recordings that I can use for reference to determine if what I'm hearing at home is accurate, but that's not my point here. My idea of "resolution" is getting whatever information(instrumental timbre and separation, full frequency response, venue ambience, etc.) that's recorded, from my source device to my ears, with the greatest possible degree of faithfulness. I'm big on truth, whether it's comfortable to me or not, and- I greatly appreciate transparency, whether in the people around me or from my sound system. I'm VERY greatful that this goal IS largely attainable.
Rodman99999, that is very good position to be in- exposed to live music on a regular basis as compared 'typical' audiophile who goes to live event once in a while- to make some kind of statement reg the def of resolution.

Could you post some of the titles that you think are accurate- available on CD or Vinyl? Thanks.
Mrtennis has a problem with hearing how instruments actually sound. For some reason this makes him uncomfortable, but I can understand that. What I find disturbing is his insinuation that striving to hear those details results in an inferior system.

I sit right next to the tuba and double basses in orchestra and the woodwinds are just a spit ball's distance away. I like hearing them on recordings like they sound in real life. Yes, I have a few homogenized orchestral recordings that sound distant and smeared all together, but I prefer those where I hear the brrr of the brass, ring of the cymbals and every nuance of the woodwinds and strings.

If someone wants a recording made from the perspective of the back of the hall, then buy recordings made from a distant perspective, OR sit further away from you speakers. I think that's a better alternative to building a system that defaults to that sound, no matter how high the quality (resolution) of the source material.

Details are definitely good to have and absolutely essential. It is the exaggerated details and thin, ill defined and scratchy 'tonal balance' of this details that I don't appreciate. Same goes w/ harmonics. Proper ' tonal' balance of these details and harmonics is the key ingredient of music to sound life like.
04-24-08: Nilthepill said:
"Details are definitely good to have and absolutely essential. It is the exaggerated details and thin, ill defined and scratchy 'tonal balance' of this details that I don't appreciate. Same goes w/ harmonics. Proper ' tonal' balance of these details and harmonics is the key ingredient of music to sound life like."

I agree, 100%.

dither is sometimes used as a technique in the design of digital hardware

Indeed it is ....but our ears behave in a classic digital pattern. Tiny hair movements trigger nerve bundles that send "digital" signals to the brain. Once a nerve bundle fires off - it takes time to "reset" so it can fire again. Certain forms of dither may indeed have an impact on what we hear....our ability to hear beat frequencies that are not actually there is perhaps a product of this strange digital ear phenomenon. I think part of the way reverb works so well is that the multiple later arrivals give our ears/brain more time to analyze each instrument/sound.
Nilthepil- For vinyl: Crystal Clear, MFSL, Telarc Digital, Sheffield Labs, Audioquest, Groove Note, just about anyone that bothered/bothers to press on virgin, or extra thick vinyl from original master tapes, and a lot of the Columbia Masterworks pressings are my favorites. CD: MFSL(some), Audioquest, Sony Mastersound Gold, Chesky, Sheffield Labs, Stax, Verve, Epic, GRP, Warner Bros. Mostly my tastes run to Jazz, Blues, R+B, with some rock and classical thrown in(I LOVE pipe organs) Those labels seem to be fairly consistant in their quality with those formats(some take extras pains to eliminate the variables and use minimum mics, special venues, no compression, etc. for the best possible sound). If you'd enjoy something entirely different/decidedly strange that will give your system a guaranteed workout: Find a copy of 'Dead Can Dance- Into the Labyrinth'. The dynamics, hall acoustics, drums(huge to bongos), animal sounds, instrument/voice placement(some acapella), recording quality, etc. are all killer.
hi dave:

i have a problem listening to an instrument 5 feet away. when i played in my high school band, as a percussionist, i heard instruments within 10 feet from my performing position. however, an audience member is not in such a proximity to an instrument.

a recording does not represent your "listening" position, nor does it represent mine.

my philosophy is do no harm. if a stereo system is so focused and clear as to sound unpleasant, i don't want to hear it.

it is a matter of preference as to how much or how little focus is acceptable.

since the sound of an instrument is a function of the distance between listener and musicican, what is accurate timbre at 5 feet differs from accurate timbre at 100 feet. i think the issue is distance. we will agree to disagree. case closed.
Oh, a percussionist, no wonder... ;-)

(Sorry, but I couldn't resist. I play trumpet and guitar, so you're welcome to come back with an appropriate rebuttal).

It takes two to agree to disagree, but I do agree to disagree, for now.

The case isn't closed however, because you'll constantly find disagreement with your position.

To me ultra resolution doesn't mean a sharp, piercing treble. It is the antithesis of that, but without a rolled off treble. With ultra resolution is as if you hear music breathing in front of and around you.

Chris, exactly.


Yes, It does clarify what kind of treble and tonal balance we are all talking about. Sometime there is music content that is embedded in recording that just pops out either from way back or side with such a realistic tonal balance that you just say out loud wow and for a moment you wonder whether it came from somewhere around the house or outside or what?

Also other aspect of the disagreements here is as to how much details one prefers relates to which seating position (5th or 10th row- actual seating position near field or far field at home) perspective he or she prefers (like Mr T). Once you get HR system, I think it does not matter if you are 5 ft away. 10 ft away or up and around the house or how loud the system plays, you should get in general similar palatable and believable tonal balance and right details amount.
My preference (or have right now) is to have this (right tonal balance, harmonics and detail combo) at the level tad (extremely small) below what should be right in real life. I would rather have my mind fill-in/ make up for rest of the tiny amount. Weird reasoning I agree, but for me it works and thus more records/material becomes listen-able. I have 2 digital and 2 anaIog sources and this set up works great for large % of perm and combination. Although I have optimized my system for one Digital and one analog source in particular. I think it does not take very long (different recordings have different balance) to tilt the balance the other way so quick that it gets unrealistic so quick more often.

Okay I will get off my soapbox now.

I do ( and I think others) recognize what Chris is talking about.

Rodman99999, Thanks for the software recommendations.
Not an unreasonable question, but can I have some fun and give answers in three groups; System, Listening position and then Vinyl software no silver discs.

This is one system I can suggest; Wilson Maxx2, ASR Emitter II with battery option or Dartzeel electronics, Acustic Raven 3 motors, Dynavector DV 507II arm or others, Dynavector DV DRT XV1s or Clearaudio Goldfinger cartridge, 2nd arm Graham Phantom with Lyra Titian Mono or Dynavector DRT XV1s mono, Nordost Valhalla cables.

Listening position: 4-5 feet centered

You can delete amp and speakers and go to Stax Omega Series II Earspeakers

Software: Shefield Labs, M&K Direct Disc; Telarc; Many of these new 45's; Nonesuch percussion
Dave- If you play a lot of gigs, you can probably tell the difference between Zildjians and Sabians when listening to a good system. Likewise- Can probably appreciate a soundman that knows what a Les Paul(or Strat, etc.) are supposed to sound like(w/o effects) when fed direct, so he can EQ the channel. It takes a love/desire for, a dedication to, and a familiarity with, the real thing to train oneself to recognize the nuances of individual instruments(not to mention- years). The venues are another story altogether. The bottom line is this though: What makes us happy and what makes someone else happy are never going to be about "right" and "wrong". It's all subjective. Some people like Chef Boy-R-Dee pizza(which I'll NEVER understand). But- If we all had the same tastes this would be a really boring world. NOW- It's different if you hire me to do your group's sound, or correct the acoutics in your concert hall. If I don't know what I'm doing/can't hear: Your group will sound lousy, the venue may be an acoustic nightmare. That's wrong and there are a bunch of those out there that need their fingernails extracted with.... Oh never mind! But- I'll never tell someone what pleases him in the privacy of his listening room is wrong, even though I find some notions really bizarre.
Yeah, as you know, us trumpeters have a love/hate relationship with our soundmen. I actually worked a funk/rock/soul band for several years in Dallas that had TWO world class soundmen. One won and Emmy for sound and the other owns the original Jam studio that jingles for the likes of Dick Clark, BBC, WABC, etc. UNFORTUNATELY, they played 2d trumpet and keyboards and our full time guy was a carpenter by trade. With their help and a couple of years of seasoning he actually got decent. (I could tell stories, but we'd need a new thread).

I DO appreciate how hard your job can be and love it when I hear it done correctly. It's doubly nice to be in a band and have the stage sound wonderful and the house sound so good that people are talking about it. I know how hard that is to achieve.

I've got a great new album called "Cannon Reloaded", a tribute to Cannonball Adderley. Unfortunately Terence Blanchard's trumpet has a little hard edge due to mic choice or compression. Oh, I hate that, but I know that a big blower like Terence can drive the sound men wild.

Anyway, we're on the same page. I'm amazed that someone could hear the richness of the real thing and then want something watered down. Oh well...

Dave- I'll bet you'd enjoy 'A Twist of Motown' on GRP(if you don't already have it). Lee Ritenour produced it(a lot of contemporary jazz greats doing a collection of motown standards). On a couple cuts the bass can get a tad heavy, but other than that it's engineered really well. Chris Botti's kickin' it on Papa Was a Rollin' Stone.
I've got several GRPs and all are well recorded. I'll order "A Twist..." next time I order CDs. I like Rit and Botti and GRP, so how can I go wrong.

One caveat Dave: If you listen at realistic SPLs, and have woofers with output in the bottom octave(20 to 40hz on CDs anyway):turn the volume down a bit for cuts #4 and #8. If the CD doesn't generate some serious toe-tappin': check your pulse!! Happy listening:)
Oh man, you made the sale for sure.

Have I mentioned "Cannon Reloaded", an all star tribute to Cannonball Adderley on ConcordJazz? It's got Tom Scott and Terence Blanchard among others, but most impressive for me is Marcus Miller on electric bass. The bass is slammin' good.

I'll find one today Dave! Nathan East plays on 5 of the 11 cuts on "Twist"- need I say more? I do believe we've hijacked a thread Dave. Sorry y'all!! Then again- Your bottom has to be resolved as well to hear everything that's going on down there, and avoid(what I call), "one note bass". That's when you can't tell one note(pitch) from another on the bass instruments, or: the kick-drummer from the bass player when they're following the same bass lines(the sounds just blend together). A good test of your amps/systems bass resolution is the HDCD(RCA Victor) soundtrack of 'The Thin Red Line'. See if you can tell the two bass drums apart on track 3(one played with soft mallets, the other with hard), or hear the ambient air around the bass instruments in tracks 6 & 7. I'm not excited about the music, but it's a great test along with the Sheffield Labs Drum Record. All of the above are realities in live listening(from any perspective in any decent venue), and will be "there" with a resolving system as well.
Ok, I just brought home my "hi rez" Rowland Continuum amp yesterday. (No wimpy tubes for me, but 1000 watts of pure sound filled the bill). The "Drum Record" will be coming off the shelf again this afternoon. (Also, that kick drum is a great way to be certain that phase is correct).

Thanks for the leads.

Hmm, I have to dig up my old GRP discs. Have not heard them in a while. Even on my low rez system years ago i remember the disc having 'good' dynamic and punchy sound...
Dave- I ordered the Tom Scott/Concord from Amazon this morning. 1000 watts/wimpy tubes? I guess I'm spoiled by the pro-practice of active bi-amping. GOTTA have tubes on top though! My room's not big enough to justify that much power($$) for my bottom. I suppose my slightly modded TransNova 9505(pretty fast slew rate/excellent damping factor: OOPS, not supposed to mention that) is putting out a little over 400wpc into the 6 ohm(nominal)Nestorovic 10"s I've got in my T.L.s(I just know the combo's flat, fast and accurate-for the sake of the thread: RESOLVED).
Nilthepill- Spiro Gyra, Acoustic Alchemy, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub, Al Jarreau, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, George Benson, Luther Vandross, and David Benoit are all in my collection on GRP(either MCA or Verve). Like any other label: some titles are more listenable than others, but- I've yet to be disappointed by any produced in the last few years. Dave Grusin started the label, and 'Mountain Dance' was the first album ever to be recorded fully digitally(outside of the classical genre). Did I resist? WHOOF!! But hey!! Digital technology has come a LONNNG way baby.
Hah, I ordered "Twist of Motown" this morning, plus another Grusin album and a Ritenour.

I agree with your bi-amping, but think it's guilding the lilly in many cases. My speaker crossover doesn't allow either bi-amp or bi-wire, so it's a mute point for me.

I don't really need the watts for loudness, but to control the woofers in my floorstanding speakers. I've found that the combination of high wattage and high damping factor are really needed to control the physical ringing in larger speakers and keep that all-important bass under control.

Rodman99999, I also have many artists you mentioned above - some in both CD and Vinyl. bought and collected when I was heavily in to smooth jazz and New age music. Here in LA another collection was available on Wave Aid series of CDs released by KWAV 94.7 FM.- A very good well matched (volume and tempo wise) compilation also.