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Amplifier class and sound characteristics

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
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Hi Nopiano, I appreciate your point about stereotypes. But was wondering about specific experiences. I'm yet to experience a slow Class D amp for example. Coincidence? Perhaps...

I've heard valves and it's not something I'd like for a main system, second system perhaps like Infiniteloop has.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
559
337
19,270
Hello, insider!

I think there are more stereotypes than certainties. You know, valves are smooth and warm, class B is scratchy, class D thin, etc.

The vast majority will be used to class A/B in domestic Hi-Fi, and class D in their cars or mini systems, though there are notable exceptions.

I think Cno had a thread like this a few years ago. Maybe it was amps in order of smooth to bright, or a similar scale.

The best sounds I’ve ever heard have been from every type. The very current d’Agostino Progression monster amps, with multiple devices and not the lowest measured distortion nor best damping factor. The earlier Devialet, which I think is a type of class A and D hybrid, but beyond easy labelling. And then various Audio Research valves, Krell solid state and Mark Levinson pairings that have never been less than superb. I’ve never cared for many Linn or Naim amps generally, though there have been a couple of occasions where each has been terrific.

My Primare was a massive hit when launched about six years ago, winning multiple awards, and being liked for neutrality and transparency. I think of it like a budget Devialet in that sense. No added euphony! My previous Krell integrated was perhaps a bit more characterful, but it paired brilliantly with the Sonus faber speakers I chose at the same time.

Can you try some tube/valve gear next!?
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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insider9 said:
I've heard valves and it's not something I'd like for a main system, second system perhaps like Infiniteloop has.
What did you hear?

There is a big variety of sound signatures, just like SS....from say Jadis at one end, to VTL at the other. You would be staggered how well your system would sound, with some big Icon Audio Monoblocs bossing your speakers.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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To try and answer your question, means a level of generalisation...and there is certainly a fair amount of subjective evaluation and preference involved. IMO (in a well implemented design):

Class A has a clarity, euphony, sweetness and naturalness that is unmatched in other topologies....but at the expense of power, heat and power usage.

Class D is very clean, controlled, detailed and neutral...but for my taste, lacks involvement and can sound slightly unnatural with certain instruments, like Piano.

Class AB can work well....and increasingly sounds better as it becomes ever more biased into A...but then suffers from Class A shortfall.

Class G. Arcam have put this on the map (along with Creek). In the case of Arcam, it seems to deliver many of the benefits of Class A, without so many of the downsides (I haven't heard Creek).

Other factors:

- Valves give an even more glorious midrange than SS Class A...but don't have the same bass control, or are as good into low impedance (unless very big and expensive).
- A Hybrid design such as Pathos is a nice way of combining the strengths of both Vaalves and SS.
- The importance of synergy with the amp cannot be underestimated....eg. Mixing Class D with the like of Harbeth, should overcome many of the so called sonic weaknesses of that topology.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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insider9 said:
Have you any thoughts on dynamics, speed?
I have not heard a well implemented amp in any class that sounded slow.

What I can tell you, is that the Transient Response of my AMS 35i is one of the best I have heard. I (maybe wrongly), put that down to the huge Power Supply, where the Output Transistors are always on and ready to "fire" instantly. My amp also has a fairly high damping factor, which keeps control over the Bass Woofer.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
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CnoEvil said:
insider9 said:
I've heard valves and it's not something I'd like for a main system, second system perhaps like Infiniteloop has.
What did you hear?

There is a big variety of sound signatures, just like SS....from say Jadis at one end, to VTL at the other. You would be staggered how well your system would sound, with some big Icon Audio Monoblocs bossing your speakers.
EAR integrated at home, can't quite remember which one it was. Plus quite a few different ones at short listening sessions. Also sources with valve buffer.

See, the reason I use ribbon tweeters is their higher (than domes) 3rd harmonic distortion. This makes horns, cymbals and a number of instruments sound more natural to me. They may measure not as good but sound like actual instruments which I've spent a lot of my youth around. Valves have stronger even harmonics which makes everything sound nicer but it isn't natural sounding to me. They make a nice illusion but that's not something that appeals to me for everyday listening. Also I've not once heard any valves that did bass properly. And if I'm honest I'd rather go Class D with good bass than valves with wooly bass but great mids.

For me good class AB is where I'm happiest at. Preferably highly biased and preferably with no feedback. All based on my experiences. That's why I'm trying to understand what others noticed and like about other topologies.

I can appreciate different ways of doing things but have my likes and dislikes. It doesn't make it better or worse, just personal.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
823
375
5,270
CnoEvil said:
insider9 said:
Have you any thoughts on dynamics, speed?
I have not heard a well implemented amp in any class that sounded slow.

What I can tell you, is that the Transient Response of my AMS 35i is one of the best I have heard. I (maybe wrongly), put that down to the huge Power Supply, where the Output Transistors are always on and ready to "fire" instantly. My amp also has a fairly high damping factor, which keeps control over the Bass Woofer.
Excellent, thanks.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
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0
insider9 said:
CnoEvil said:
insider9 said:
I've heard valves and it's not something I'd like for a main system, second system perhaps like Infiniteloop has.
What did you hear?

There is a big variety of sound signatures, just like SS....from say Jadis at one end, to VTL at the other. You would be staggered how well your system would sound, with some big Icon Audio Monoblocs bossing your speakers.
EAR integrated at home, can't quite remember which one it was. Plus quite a few different ones at short listening sessions. Also sources with valve buffer.

See, the reason I use ribbon tweeters is their higher (than domes) 3rd harmonic distortion. This makes horns, cymbals and a number of instruments sound more natural to me. They may measure not as good but sound like actual instruments which I've spent a lot of my youth around. Valves have stronger even harmonics which makes everything sound nicer but it isn't natural sounding to me. They make a nice illusion but that's not something that appeals to me for everyday listening. Also I've not once heard any valves that did bass properly. And if I'm honest I'd rather go Class D with good bass than valves with wooly bass but great mids.

For me good class AB is where I'm happiest at. Preferably highly biased and preferably with no feedback. All based on my experiences. That's why I'm trying to understand what others noticed and like about other topologies.

I can appreciate different ways of doing things but have my likes and dislikes. It doesn't make it better or worse, just personal.
Thx.

I think VTL might shatter your reasonably held view that Valves don't control Bass. I heard them in a system with DCS Scarlatti at one end and Focal Utopia Mystro at the other. This was a system worth about 110k....and I can tell you, Bass was not a problem.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
823
375
5,270
CnoEvil said:
Thx.

I think VTL might shatter your reasonably held view that Valves don't control Bass. I heard them in a system with DCS Scarlatti at one end and Focal Utopia Mystro at the other. This was a system worth about 110k....and I can tell you, Bass was not a problem.
Haha, as we said it is a generalisation but £110k *shok*

That would be an interesting conversation with wife and kids. Holidays - cancelled, universities - cancelled, we walk everywhere from now and only eated canned food; Daddy is getting an amp *ROFL*
 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
360
25
18,895
Good thread.

I've owned two class D amplifiers: One was Pioneers first class D attempt and the other is last years Yamaha A3060 and they could not be more different.

The Pioneer had some good traits, but it just lsounded very digital. The Yamaha on the other hand sounds like a warm(ish) A/B amplifier. I think on balanace I prefer A/B over D, but I can forsee a time in the not so distant future where class D will surpas A/B as it's getting closer in character to A/B plus with the benefit of it's power handling.

Very curious about class G.

I think class D has come a long way.
 

Al ears

Moderator
nopiano said:
Hello, insider!

I think there are more stereotypes than certainties. You know, valves are smooth and warm, class B is scratchy, class D thin, etc.

The vast majority will be used to class A/B in domestic Hi-Fi, and class D in their cars or mini systems, though there are notable exceptions.

I think Cno had a thread like this a few years ago. Maybe it was amps in order of smooth to bright, or a similar scale.

The best sounds I’ve ever heard have been from every type. The very current d’Agostino Progression monster amps, with multiple devices and not the lowest measured distortion nor best damping factor. The earlier Devialet, which I think is a type of class A and D hybrid, but beyond easy labelling. And then various Audio Research valves, Krell solid state and Mark Levinson pairings that have never been less than superb. I’ve never cared for many Linn or Naim amps generally, though there have been a couple of occasions where each has been terrific.

My Primare was a massive hit when launched about six years ago, winning multiple awards, and being liked for neutrality and transparency. I think of it like a budget Devialet in that sense. No added euphony! My previous Krell integrated was perhaps a bit more characterful, but it paired brilliantly with the Sonus faber speakers I chose at the same time.

Can you try some tube/valve gear next!?
I can verify the Krell / Sonos Faber pairing being very good.
 

Macspur

Well-known member
May 3, 2010
77
0
18,540
I've owned a variety of amp classes over the years, Cyrus, Naim, Rotel, Creek, Linn, Sugden and now Accuphase and enjoyed them all on their own merits, except the Linn which I couldn't waid to get rid of... At times I do miss the Class A of Sugden, but feel I get the best of both Worlds, musicality with better base control with the A/B of Accuphase.

Mac

www.realmusicnet.wordpress.com
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
insider9 said:
CnoEvil said:
insider9 said:
I've heard valves and it's not something I'd like for a main system, second system perhaps like Infiniteloop has.
What did you hear?

There is a big variety of sound signatures, just like SS....from say Jadis at one end, to VTL at the other. You would be staggered how well your system would sound, with some big Icon Audio Monoblocs bossing your speakers.
EAR integrated at home, can't quite remember which one it was. Plus quite a few different ones at short listening sessions. Also sources with valve buffer.

See, the reason I use ribbon tweeters is their higher (than domes) 3rd harmonic distortion. This makes horns, cymbals and a number of instruments sound more natural to me. They may measure not as good but sound like actual instruments which I've spent a lot of my youth around. Valves have stronger even harmonics which makes everything sound nicer but it isn't natural sounding to me. They make a nice illusion but that's not something that appeals to me for everyday listening. Also I've not once heard any valves that did bass properly. And if I'm honest I'd rather go Class D with good bass than valves with wooly bass but great mids.

For me good class AB is where I'm happiest at. Preferably highly biased and preferably with no feedback. All based on my experiences. That's why I'm trying to understand what others noticed and like about other topologies.

I can appreciate different ways of doing things but have my likes and dislikes. It doesn't make it better or worse, just personal.
Devialet is probably right up your street.
 

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