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Are bel canto and Emotiva considered 'high-end' ? Peachtree Audio ? - Page 3

post #31 of 98
What's wrong with a '32 Ford man?
post #32 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

 

Take the QSC RMX5050. Find me another amplifier that can universally out-perform it. Let's say you can even spend five times as much (so around $10,000 is your cap). And it must drive either two channels at around 2500W each (2 ohms too, and stable), or BTL/monoblock into 5kW (4 ohms). I'm not aware of any non-pro amps that can do that (EV and Crown probably have solutions though). 

 

Accuphase makes a monoblock that can do 1200W into 4 (if you buy two, and bridge them) - they're $12,000 a piece though (according to AC2). 

 

McIntosh makes a bigger monoblock that can do 2000W into an undetermined load (it may be invariant, I get that sense from it's product page - it has some spelling errors too, ugh), and it takes up half a room and costs something like $60,000 a pair.

 

So which is "high end" and which is "high performance" in this comparison? The QSC absolutely has more output power, is smaller, costs less, and doesn't require dealing with a boutique dealer (which, by itself, is a huge selling point in my opinion). But it also has cooling fans (and I'm sure you get something like ~45-50 dBA when its going full tilt), rack ears, and absolutely is not designed to "fit in" with a home environment. A lot of audiophile types will absolutely cringe at the mere mention of QSC or anything of the sort, but in terms of absolute performance, it's the clear winner (or at least a legitimate contender). A pair of 5050's will put you "on the deck" with either of these amplifiers (ahead of the Accuphase components actually), as long as the fan noise, aesthetics, and non-buzzword compliant specs don't bother you. 

 

So this then, it must be complete trash, right? $5,000, 90lbs. and NINE Watts per channel? Everybody knows MOAR Watts = Moar better! Maximum wattage is a very poor metric to measure amplifier performance or whether an amp is "high-end" or not. ICEpower amps can spit out 1000W per channel in a 20 pound box. Big deal, they still don't sound good. Making an amp really loud is easy, anybody can do that. Making it sound good is another matter entirely. 10,000 watts per channel is useless if the first watt sounds like garbage. Just ask Nelson Pass.

 

sophia300b.jpg

post #33 of 98

Notice that I was talking "high performance" - you're talking about a specific quale.

 

You'd have to find a way to quantify "sound good" in order to substantiate your argument; and it has to be something that we can replicate and test. Perhaps what you've found is better, perhaps it isn't. I can tell you that it likely does not represent a good fiscal value, and depending on the internal topology, it probably isn't very linear (which means inaccurate, which I don't take to mean "high performance" or even "high end" but again, you're talking about a quale). 

 

Also, you have to take price out of the equation entirely - it doesn't tell us anything about anything. Most tube amps have a higher list price because the BOM is higher and the production quantities are lower - they have to make up their money somewhere (compared to something that is mass produced out of commodity parts). Point is, after a given "line" you're simply dumping money into mark-up. I'm not saying that's explicitly a bad thing; there's lots of super duper great stuff that has a super duper mark-up simply because XYZ manufacturer knows they've got the best thing since sliced bread. Or because the super duper thing is a pain to produce and they can only make a couple of them at a time. Or whatever. I think Ferraris were mentioned earlier in this thread - that's a great example. They aren't bad - they're super duper expensive, and don't represent a great value for the performance they offer, but they're super duper great. They also take forever to build, are highly customized, and so on, and that racks the price up. By comparison, there's plenty of high output V8s and V12s that cost a whole lot less, some of them even turn out more power and perform better. There's also all manner of vehicles that are more comfortable, or faster, or whatever - and cheaper. Does that make the Ferrari bad? No. Does it make those other vehicles also good? Yes. There's a disjoint there - it doesn't require a "winner" and a "loser" - they can also both win, or both lose. 

 

So back to your amplifier: unless you can somehow demonstrate that it can do XYZ better than whatever else (like the QSC), it's a moot point (stand and yell at me all you want about how special it is to you; that doesn't play into physics). If it can demonstrably out-spec or out-perform (or equal) the QSC, it simply represents a bad value for the money ($5000 vs $2000), but can still be a good performer. If it cannot demonstrably out-spec or out-perform the QSC (or whatever you want here, it doesn't have to be the QSC, it could be an Accuphase, or a McIntosh, or a Denon, or a CI Audio, or whatever) then it's just bad (because then it's in that realm of being super duper expensive, AND a bad performer - like Jaguar; there's a reason you buy two...).

 

To take this back to headphones (I thought about this a bit more) - let's look at three specific models:

 

Grado GS-1000

Koss ESP/950

Beats Detox

 

The Grado are most expensive (based on street-price, if we pay SRP the Koss cost as much) and measure fairly well; the Koss are about half as much and measure better, but it's really a personal choice as to which one is the right one to take home. The Beats cost about half as much as the Grado too, measure like trash, and sound not much better. They're also very uncomfortable (yes I intentionally picked two very comfortable headphones to pit them against) and heavy. So you've got a highly marked-up performer, a great balance of price/performance, and something that's expensive just to be expensive. Like I said, price doesn't tell us much (at either end), and we really have to know more about what we're talking about to know if it's a good performer in the first place, and then assess it against its peers to figure if it's a good value. If all you care about is value, based on this comparison, take the Koss home. If you have more aesthetic concerns or whatever else, the Grado bare consideration. If you just want to spend money for the sake of having spent money, the Beats are a realistic option. 

 

This isn't just true of headphones though - there's all sorts of equipment that fits into the Beats paradigm, there's also equipment that fits into the Grado paradigm, and still more equipment that fits into the Koss paradigm. I would hope that most people are interested in the Koss paradigm, and assume that probably an equally large number of people would accept the Grado paradigm - but I realize that an overwhelming majority probably settle for the Beats paradigm...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 

So this then, it must be complete trash, right? $5,000, 90lbs. and NINE Watts per channel? Everybody knows MOAR Watts = Moar better! Maximum wattage is a very poor metric to measure amplifier performance or whether an amp is "high-end" or not. ICEpower amps can spit out 1000W per channel in a 20 pound box. Big deal, they still don't sound good. Making an amp really loud is easy, anybody can do that. Making it sound good is another matter entirely. 10,000 watts per channel is useless if the first watt sounds like garbage. Just ask Nelson Pass.

 

sophia300b.jpg

 

 


Edited by obobskivich - 4/27/12 at 6:17pm
post #34 of 98

There are a lot of ways to measure an amplifier. Harmonic distortion, IM distortion, slew rate, signal-to-noise, etc. If I'm looking at an expensive amplifier, I want to see the distortion curve in relation to output, and I want to see square wave results. That's still just being a meter maid though, it can only tell you so much. You still have to listen to the thing.

 

Pro amplifiers and PA speakers that can pump out 10,000 watts are completely irrelevant for the home market, not because they aren't "trendy" or "upmarket" enough, but because their performance - sound quality, not pressure level would be terrible. Watts and SPL are meaningless. I don't need or want a 2500 watt amplifier, especially one that has 40+dB of self noise from its cooling fan. What's the point of high levels of S/Nr when you have cooling fans louder than the quiet parts of the music?

 

Saying that one amp is as good or better as anything in high-end because it can output 2500 watts is like saying a speaker is as good or better as anything in high-end because it has 10Hz-50Khz frequency response. So what?

post #35 of 98

You're missing the point entirely. You're getting too hung up on ripping this QSC amplifier apart and missing the point entirely. 

 

Regarding the first part of your post - yes, you can measure all of that. But you have to know where those things become audible and where they don't; if the distortion products exist below a recording's noise floor, for example, they don't matter (they cannot). If they exist below a system's noise floor, they don't matter either (and just to throw it out there - your listening room does a whole lot more to your experience (in a negative way) than anything else in the entire system, period). If they exist below the JND threshold, they don't matter either (because you can't hear them). Etc. And many amplifiers really can get to that point and it doesn't cost a whole lot to do it. So then what are you left with? A big price tag? Huge specs on paper? Your ears really aren't that accurate to judge this kind of thing. Your brain certainly isn't. 

 

Regarding the second part - you still haven't quantified "sound quality" - we can't have a meaningful discussion if we aren't talking about something that we can agree upon. You can sit and yell at the thing as being "low brow" or "poor quality" all you want - without explaining exactly what's the matter, it's just a tantrum. Same goes the other way - you can sit and yell about how nice the tube amp is, but without something to pin down why, it's still just a tantrum. 

 

And yeah, I mentioned the fan noise. It's a trade-off. I'm not advocating anyone to go out and buy an RMX5050 - I'm not even saying it's a logical choice for home use. It was an example. The point was (and continues to be), that "high end" is a quale, while "high performance" is the result of objective testing. Something can easily be "high performance" without being consecrated. Like the QSC. It's not audiophile approved, and it would be a kludge for a home environment (if you could even run it), but it accomplishes the same thing as the Accuphase or McIntosh for substantially less money and in a smaller package - it uses fans and scale to do it. I think all three of them are hilariously big for home use though (the Accuphase not running BTL is actually less insane, and if memory serves Accuphase's actual "intent" is that you run active multi-amplification, not BTL).

 

Like I said, it'd ruffle some feathers because there's no way something under XYZ price can possibly be worth plugging into a wall, and all the other "high end" arguments that ultimately comeback to a poetic pissing contest. I'm not at all trying to pass a value judgment here, it's just (unfortunately) how a lot of "high end" things go; if it makes logical sense, if it follows modern scientific ideas, if it's not super expensive, or if it's not rare and obscure, it's probably crap - and to hell with anyone who asks otherwise. And sure, if I'd spent $200,000 on a pair of Boulder monoblocks and was shown that, on paper, there's a solution for around $3000 that will get me the same capabilities, won't require a lift truck to move, and can be picked up and serviced at Guitar Center, I'd be furious too. That having been said, the Boulder amps do fit into the "high end" quale (at least in most people's world), and for some people that's all that matters. That's a question of tastes though, and it's worthless to debate it. If you want to talk performance though (which was the original intent) - that's an entirely different story. 

 

Regarding the speaker argument - again, you're setting up this "high end" box that is defined by price, brand identity, and things like that. If you had a speaker that measured ruler flat from 10-50k and it cost $200, it'd be the best speaker in the world. It'd make everything else obsolete. And I'll bet you a delivery pizza that there'd STILL be audiophiles out there claiming it's "trash" and "not high end" and clinging to their open-baffle, single driver setups driven by Class A SETs set-up in un-treated and un-trapped rooms with no equalization. And that really *is* "high end" but it will measure like absolute trash and sound worse (and you can actually go out and spend $60,000 or more and have this setup today!).

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

There are a lot of ways to measure an amplifier. Harmonic distortion, IM distortion, slew rate, signal-to-noise, etc. If I'm looking at an expensive amplifier, I want to see the distortion curve in relation to output, and I want to see square wave results. That's still just being a meter maid though, it can only tell you so much. You still have to listen to the thing.

 

Pro amplifiers and PA speakers that can pump out 10,000 watts are completely irrelevant for the home market, not because they aren't "trendy" or "upmarket" enough, but because their performance - sound quality, not pressure level would be terrible. Watts and SPL are meaningless. I don't need or want a 2500 watt amplifier, especially one that has 40+dB of self noise from its cooling fan. What's the point of high levels of S/Nr when you have cooling fans louder than the quiet parts of the music?

 

Saying that one amp is as good or better as anything in high-end because it can output 2500 watts is like saying a speaker is as good or better as anything in high-end because it has 10Hz-50Khz frequency response. So what?

 

 


Edited by obobskivich - 4/27/12 at 8:42pm
post #36 of 98

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

 

Like the QSC. It's not audiophile approved, and it would be a kludge for a home environment (if you could even run it), but it accomplishes the same thing as the Accuphase or McIntosh for substantially less money and in a smaller package

 

Prove to me that it accomplishes the same thing. Show me the listening tests that conclude that it sounds as good as an Accuphase or McIntosh.

 

You cannot live by objective measurements alone. The Ferrari objectively produces power-to-weight, skidpad, slalom, and race track numbers. A less expensive Porsche may be able to beat those numbers, but that does not automatically make the Porsche the better car. If the Ferrari sounds better, if it has better steering feel, if the chassis feels more nimble - all of those things are subjective and up to the individual. There's no meter you can point at which rates engine noise or steering feedback.

 

Similarly, the nine Watt 300B amp is not automatically disqualified because it loses the meter maid tests to some other amp. You have to actually use it for its intended function. Listen to it, then decide on whether its a value or not.

 

post #37 of 98

Will QSC repair your amp in 10 or 20 years for free like Boulder does?

 

You're right that most of the time you're paying for a TOTL monoblock you're paying for the time it takes for someone to hand-match the transistors, build and thoroughly test the unit, as well as for the fancy casework. Sure it might only translate to marginally lower distortion of questionable benefit, but there are people out there who will want to, say, discern the individual violins in an orchestra that tiny bit better and are willing to pay for that.

post #38 of 98

Nowhere did I say the tube amp was disqualified - I said that unless you can actually provide some demonstrated way to compare them (that isn't a sighted listening evaluation because that doesn't work), it's just a tantrum to go on with it. So far all I've seen is a whole lot of hand waving and science denial. So, I apologize if the meaning of my post was lost on you, and if it upset you that much to see a viewpoint that differs from your own. I'm going to leave all of the OT stuff alone (the car discussion, because I'm sure that could go on forever beerchug.gif). 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 

Prove to me that it accomplishes the same thing. Show me the listening tests that conclude that it sounds as good as an Accuphase or McIntosh.

 

You cannot live by objective measurements alone. The Ferrari objectively produces power-to-weight, skidpad, slalom, and race track numbers. A less expensive Porsche may be able to beat those numbers, but that does not automatically make the Porsche the better car. If the Ferrari sounds better, if it has better steering feel, if the chassis feels more nimble - all of those things are subjective and up to the individual. There's no meter you can point at which rates engine noise or steering feedback.

 

Similarly, the nine Watt 300B amp is not automatically disqualified because it loses the meter maid tests to some other amp. You have to actually use it for its intended function. Listen to it, then decide on whether its a value or not.

 

 

I have no clue, and I don't care. The point wasn't to suggest the QSC, the amplifier mentioned had absolutely nothing at all to do with anything. The same comparison could've been made just between the Accuphase and McIntosh, and carried the same weight. And I'm sure that nobody would've felt slighted in that case...

 

QSC's website claims a six year warranty on the thing, so I'd guess you get six years. If it interests you, their customer service is generally very friendly (this is from experience).

 

Regarding your other point - I agree and disagree. I agree with the premise, I disagree that cost is what translates into the ability you're describing. To use a headphone example, the ESP/950s can absolutely ring that bell - and they're less expensive than a whole mess of "TOTL best ever high end" cans that measure, and sound, like hell (and despite this, they usually have to fight tooth and nail to "earn" a spot in discussions of "high end" - someone joked a few years ago that if the E/90 had a 1/4" aluminum bezel, spiked feet, and tubes sticking out of the top, and if the headset itself used calfskin instead of pleather, and was built out of paduak or aluminum, and they ratcheted the price up to $3500, they'd probably be regarded as some of the best headphones in the history of man, perhaps even more than they would deserve). There's speakers that fit this example as well. If we're going to renounce and deny all science and go back to materialism, that's okay, but at least go all the way and dump cost out of the consideration as well. Performance and price hardly ever correlate; "high end" it would seem is therefore defined by appearance and the price, and performance really doesn't matter. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Will QSC repair your amp in 10 or 20 years for free like Boulder does?

 

You're right that most of the time you're paying for a TOTL monoblock you're paying for the time it takes for someone to hand-match the transistors, build and thoroughly test the unit, as well as for the fancy casework. Sure it might only translate to marginally lower distortion of questionable benefit, but there are people out there who will want to, say, discern the individual violins in an orchestra that tiny bit better and are willing to pay for that.

 

 


Edited by obobskivich - 4/27/12 at 10:31pm
post #39 of 98
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

What's wrong with a '32 Ford man?

 

Absolutely nothing, except for being almost totally invisible on the street each day and virtually everywhere at rod runs. The phrase 'Driven, not hidden' really sinks in when you are surrounded by boringmobiles, even on sunny weekends. A lot of those cars are 'trailer sailors' - they dont even get driven to the show.

 

Apologies to everyone else for taking this completely off topic. Back to tube amps an unwinnable debates.  cool.gif

post #40 of 98
Thread Starter 

I think it might be time I got a clue......

 

http://www.sjofnhifi.com/products.html

 

I've discovered the secret of 'high-end' audio - as long as no-one peeks at the prices - just assemble kit with really obscure names that no-one has ever heard of. wink.gif

 

Their speakers may not be high-end at $999 direct, but their headphone amp is tantalisingly close if price is our determinant:

 

http://www.sjofnhifi.com/servlet/Detail?no=7


Edited by estreeter - 4/28/12 at 1:40am
post #41 of 98

Wow, variable Zout and crossfeed all in one. No specs for drive output (to clarify: I'm too lazy to plug'n'chug the specs they do provide), but that's a neat little bugger.

 

 

post #42 of 98
Thread Starter 

Google the reviews on '(the clue)' ..... if its a viral marketing campaign, its a good one. Some of the established speaker houses would kill for that kind of reception, particularly for a product which, to my eyes, looks as boring as a box speaker can possibly be. 

post #43 of 98

I've enjoyed my time with my UPA-1 Monoblocks from Emotiva, but I'm still curious about Class D (ICEPower stuff) and have been contemplating giving it a shot. I'm trying to decide if I should try ICE from W4S or just go with a heftier set from Emotiva and wait for their balanced pre.

 

I've heard they play well with Maggies (ICE), and considering Maggies are power hungry high power usually comes at a high cost when it comes to 'high end' stuff.

 

I think 'high end' is in the eye of the buyer. Diminishing returns kicked in a long time ago when it comes to Summit-Fi.

post #44 of 98

Not all Class D is ICE, just wanted to throw that out there. The Emo XPA's are probably more cost effective, but will use more power and weigh more. You might also look at Outlaw or Rotel. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post

I've enjoyed my time with my UPA-1 Monoblocks from Emotiva, but I'm still curious about Class D (ICEPower stuff) and have been contemplating giving it a shot. I'm trying to decide if I should try ICE from W4S or just go with a heftier set from Emotiva and wait for their balanced pre.

 

I've heard they play well with Maggies (ICE), and considering Maggies are power hungry high power usually comes at a high cost when it comes to 'high end' stuff.

 

I think 'high end' is in the eye of the buyer. Diminishing returns kicked in a long time ago when it comes to Summit-Fi.

 

 

post #45 of 98

Isn't something "high-end" if it makes you look like a BSD when you add it to your Head-Fi signature? 

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