Primare A35.8 8-channel power amplifier

Back in 1999, while reviewing the Wazoo integrated amplifier from Bow Technologies, I learned that its designer and company founder, Bo Christensen, had previously founded another audio company. That's how I discovered Primare. Over the years, various products from Primare have appeared at audio shows but never grabbed my attention. In a recent EISA press presentation, however, Primare showcased an eight-channel amplifier that did, given my interest in multichannel audio. I was glad to be able to attend.

Expectations were high for the new A35.8 power amplifier. Its stablemate, the A35.2, which Herb Reichert reviewed very favorably in the April 2022 issue, earned Class A status. Stylistically similar to the A35.2, the A35.8 offers more than just additional channels: It supports flexible channel bridging. This allows it to drive anything from a high-powered stereo setup to various multichannel configurations. (Together, these two amplifiers can realize practically every imaginable speaker arrangement.)

Cool power
The A35.2 stereo amplifier is based on Primare's proprietary class-D amplifier module, the UFPD2. Fitting eight of these modules, without major redesign, into a reasonable chassis for the A35.8 and operating them consistently within thermal limits was impracticable. Primare, therefore, opted to use the reliable and powerful Hypex NC500 amplifier module, with some modification. The NC500 has an aluminum plate for thermal coupling with a heatsink, but to maximize thermal transfer and optimize shielding, Primare replaces this plate with a heatsink of its own design. Four of these heatsinks, each carrying two modules, are mounted vertically into cutouts in the main circuit board. They cool by convection as air flows up through the top- and bottom-perforated chassis. The A35.8 is elevated by three large, damped feet that aid this airflow.

1122pri.1

Is the move from the UFPD2 to the modified Hypex a step backward? Primare maintains that "it is not possible to gauge the sound quality of any Primare model based on a single part or circuit component" and notes the company's long experience optimizing class-D power amplifiers based on a variety of modules. "It should not be inferred that the A35.8 is compromised or inferior in any way by using the Ncore output modules." Rather, comparisons of the UFPD2-based A35.2 and Ncore-based A35.8 showed that although the new amp "did not sound better," it was "close."

The A35.8 is powered by a dual-output, switch-mode power supply with power-factor correction, which is said to be about 5% more efficient than passive, linear power supplies. It is rated at 1500W and has soft-clipping circuitry, and each output is wired to one bank of four NC500 modules. Thus, the four channels on the right are supplied independently of those on the left—something to keep in mind when bridging channels.

1122pri.2

Unpacking and configuration
The packaging of the A35.8 was adequate for an amp of this size and weight. Included with the amplifier were a safety-and-warnings booklet, an AC power cord, an AC polarity pen (footnote 1), and a 3.5mm trigger cable. No user manual or quick-start guide is included, but a note tells where to find the user guide on Primare's website; it can also be accessed through the QR code on the box. The guide consists of a few short sections, presented as webpages of different lengths. Saving these pages to PDF and printing them out is tedious and wasteful—I ended up printing two illustrations and kept going back to my computer to look up information I needed, though others would likely read it on a smartphone or tablet.

The A35.8 is sleek, but it's surprisingly heavy. The only front-panel features are Primare's logo and an LED indicator that doubles as a power button. The rear panel is crowded with connectors and switches. On the right is an in/out pair of 12V trigger jacks, an RS232 port to connect the A35.8 to a controller system, a master power switch, and an IEC power socket (footnote 2). The rest of the panel bears the inputs, outputs, and controls for the eight amplifier modules, grouped into four pairs. Each module has an RCA (unbalanced) input and an XLR (balanced) input at the top. Between the XLRs of each pair are two toggle switches: one to choose between the balanced and unbalanced inputs, the other to select among two-channel operation, bridged operation, and bridged operation with 6dB gain.

1122pri.bac

What's that about? Normally, bridging two channels yields a 6dB output gain. Combining bridged and unbridged channels, as I did—three bridged pairs to run my Left-Center-Right speakers and the remaining two channels to run my two surround-channel speakers—results therefore in an output-power imbalance. When the user selects the A35.8's first bridged mode, 6dB of attenuation is applied to avoid this imbalance. But if only bridged outputs are used, the user can select the 6dB bridged mode to avoid attenuation.

The ubiquity of a center channel explains why it's rare to find multichannel amplifiers with an even number of channels. Primare's choice of eight channels in the A35.8 makes perfect sense, as it increases the bridging options.

1122pri.RiesChamberMusic

It's an eight-channel amp!
I connected the A35.8 to my multichannel system using the balanced inputs and turned it on. Two banks of red LEDs inside the amp flashed briefly as the eight Ncore modules activated and a relay clicked. The front-panel LED blinked a few times and then steadied to indicate that the amplifier was ready. I first played Ferdinand Ries's Sextet for harp, piano, clarinet, bassoon, horn, and double bass, with the Franz Ensemble (DSF rip from MDG Scene MDG 903 2136-6), one of my 2022 R2D4 choices. This five-channel recording presented each of the instruments with equal prominence and clarity, summing into a colorful sonic bouquet. The soundstage was broad and deep and was endowed with excellent detail.


Footnote 1: Reversed AC polarity is possible where symmetrical two-prong plugs (or a "cheater plug") are used and can increase noise. This device is used to test whether the polarity is correct.

Footnote 2: Primare advised that "due to the high current draw, the A35.8 features a C20 IEC socket on the back panel, rather than the usual C13/14 IEC socket, so a replacement power cord should be terminated in a C19 IEC plug."

COMPANY INFO
Primare AB
Limstensgatan 7 216 16
Limhamn, Sweden
(+46) 40 654 88 05
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
kai's picture

Hi,

I don‘t get how you are using the unit dBW.

Quote from above:
„Primare specifies the A35.8's maximum power as 150W into 8 ohms and 300W into 4 ohms, both equivalent to 21.76dBW.“

Here both power values are referenced as the power from a voltage into 8 Ohm load, even if the load is different.
This does not make sense for me.

dBW is referenced to 1 Watt of power, and even if measured based on the voltage, the actual load impedance needs to be taken into account, IMO.

The 300 W into 4 Ohm would be 24.77 dBW then.

Best wishes
Kai

John Atkinson's picture
kai wrote:
I don‘t get how you are using the unit dBW...

My dBW ratings follow the convention established by Martin Colloms and the late Peter W. Mitchell in the 1980s: they are referred to 2.83V (1W into 8 ohms). Thus 150W into 8 ohms is 21.76dBW and 300W into 4 ohms is also 21.76dBW. An amplifier that behaves as a perfect voltage source (the ideal) therefore offers the same dBW rating into all loads, an easy paradigm to grasp.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

kai's picture

If you think about it, this definition goes against the idea of dB.
dB always references to the unit that gives the name, like dBV, referenced to 1 V.

dBW is already occupied by the 1 Watt POWER reference.
Using a VOLTAGE based definition like 2.83 V would need to create a different expression / name.

That’s similar to the unit dBu, referenced to the VOLTAGE (ca. 0.775 V) that is needed to produce 1 mW into 600 Ohm.
As you remember, dBu replaced the widespread miss-use of dBm (1mW POWER into 600 Ohm) as VOLTAGE expression.

Furthermore, practically:
A current-capable amp that can drive low impedance loads with full voltage, like the one reviewed, is quasi-punished compared to a weaker amp that delivers the same voltage into 8 Ohm only, but can’t keep up on low impedances and is indeed quieter than the other.

If you want to express the amount voltage stability, why not simply use dBV?

John Atkinson's picture
kai wrote:
If you think about it, this definition goes against the idea of dB. dB always references to the unit that gives the name, like dBV, referenced to 1V.

dBW is already occupied by the 1 Watt POWER reference. Using a VOLTAGE based definition like 2.83V would need to create a different expression/name...

Stereophile is not a scientific journal but a magazine read by regular people, who in the main will not be familiar with the formal definitions you mention. With amplifier power, the problem that was being faced was that power is a linear factor but the effect of that power on the listener is logarithmic. I wrote about this in an 1989 essay www.stereophile.com/content/must-we-test-yes-we-must-page-2.

“I remember becoming enthused back in late 1979 about the idea of rating an amplifier's power in dBW, which would give a number that would indicate directly the subjective difference between amplifier loudnesses. A 100W amplifier, which [mass-market consumers] seem to think is much more powerful than a 50W one, would be rated as 20dBW into 8 ohms. But as a 100W amplifier is actually only slightly louder than a 50W amplifier, the 50W model's dBW rating of 17dBW would more correctly indicate the subjective difference.”

Rather than expect readers to remember to subtract 3dB for dBW figures with a load impedance of 4 ohms compared with 8 ohms and another 3dB with 2 ohms, we adjusted the dBW definition. The point was to make it clear to non-technical readers what is a significant and relevant difference between the amplifiers that the magazine reviews. Again I wrote about this back in 1989 in the essay mentioned above:

“Adding a –3dB correction factor every time the load impedance halved would also indicate the quality of an amplifier's power supply. An amp that, on this basis, delivered 20dBW into 8, 4, and 2 ohms would be clearly superior to one that managed 20, 17, and 14dBW, respectively.”

John Atkinson
Technical Editor Stereophile

direstraitsfan98's picture

this is such a copout response. you and your reviewers use math ALL THE TIME in reviews. just admit that you dont want to change your definition of what dBw really is. i also love how you are always linking your 40 year old white papers lol

John Atkinson's picture
direstraitsfan98 wrote:
this is such a copout response. you and your reviewers use math ALL THE TIME in reviews. just admit that you dont want to change your definition of what dBw really is.

Please don't put words in my mouth. Despite your quote marks, I didn't write "our readers are too stupid to understand math." I wrote "Rather than expect readers to remember to subtract 3dB for dBW figures with a load impedance of 4 ohms compared with 8 ohms and another 3dB with 2 ohms, we adjusted the dBW definition. The point was to make it clear to non-technical readers what is a significant and relevant difference between the amplifiers that the magazine reviews."

"Non-technical" is not the same as "stupid."

direstraitsfan98 wrote:
i also love how you are always linking your 40 year old white papers lol

Glad you appreciate what I have written in the past.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

direstraitsfan98's picture

except your readers are technical. thinking they are not is arrogant of you. as is your steadfast refusal to adjust your testing methodology. StErEoPhiLe PoLiCy

JHL's picture

...you're another driveby objectivist I'm afraid your premise is wholly faulty. Like this:

Popular objectivism in audio presumes that mechanical testing accounts for all audible behaviors. There is absolutely neither the epistemological basis for this belief, nor the technical background for this belief, nor the practical validation for this belief. There is however a foregoing *assumption* that X measurement speaks for sound and for all sound. It does not and it never has.

Objectivism further believes that a phenomenon unidentified is a phenomenon that does not exist. See above: If it's not measured than not only is it invisible, it's inaudible. This is where so-called objectivists adopt a decidedly subjective faith - and a deeply unscientific one - declaring that all is effectively known. This too suffers a complete want of validity, and on the same grounds as above.

On the basis of these two fallacies, Objectivism assumes that its role is gatekeeping the rest of us. It projects these beliefs, unexamined and unfounded as they are, onto all of audio, lecturing and hectoring strangers.

In its own right objectivism has an arbitrary, vaguely-built list of Approved Gear, ranked by subjective misuse of simple metrics, that when exceeded on some variable financial yardstick, creates a fence for the acceptability.

Having taken these unscientific assumptions as gospel, objectivism then fulfills the Internet's highest apparent function. Disciples anonymously harass, demean, and shriek, believing they have stumbled upon a whole industry of charlatans and snake-oilers and that they, typically youngsters and the disenfranchised, must purge of everything unchaste. Almost no method is too extreme.

Objectivism is, generally speaking, the most subjective, biased, hive-like, faith-based movement I've ever seen. What it really is is rank *scientism*, and by declaring the science both closed and its wholly owned subsidiary, it really just defiles what it purports to serve and marginalizes itself.

Stereophile does indeed have technical readers. My technical knowledge alone continually disagrees with the assumptions of the simplistic social movement that wants to destroy technologies it doesn't understand because of a malign insistence that sound is beholden to its inferior standards. Having no capacity and appreciation for better sound itself, objectivism can't disprove its own failure. It doesn't care.

It can't hear it in a field where hearing and appreciating art is the bloody goal. You're gang-rushing an art museum, spray-bombing the works because magazine photography is sufficient graphic realism.

I'm sure that publications such as this one, together with a hundred thousand readers and practitioners once would have accepted you with open arms. But now that we know what you really want, are you really surprised to find pushback?

JanesJr1's picture

I'm a one-year member of ASR, a mostly objectivist audio forum that is often identified as ground-zero for objectivists. I am non-tech by background, but trying to learn the basics and a bit more. I find the above rant to be almost totally a cartoonish characterization of what I actually have encountered at ASR. I'll just pick on the author's first criticism, since all others follow the pattern.

The first assertion is that objectivitsts believe "mechanical testing accounts for all audible behaviors". ASR's message to me as a learner is the opposite, that while DAC's are pretty predictable from measurements, almost all other audio hardware has subjective characteristics that are not (yet) measured. The site performs and endorses subjective listening tests, but looks for the greatest validity with double blind studies performed in controlled conditions. I have read extensively on human perception in my own profession, and anyone who doubts the greater validity of double blind studies is missing some necessary technical knowledge about audio and human nature.

The balance of the rant is an attack on other supposed ideological beliefs of objectivists, similar to the above. I guarantee you, all matters of philosophy, scientific method, and ideological belief are well kicked-around on the site. It IS scientific at heart, which is to say, non-ideological.

(What I do regret sometimes is that its resources are limited mostly to hardware testing and forum discussions, rather than performing fundamental research. But it is after all, not supported by ads or grants or university budgets.)

What I do grant is that, like any public social-media forum, there are sometimes ranters on ASR, that usually get curated off the platform. Kind of like Stereophile seems to have ideologically-biased ranters like the one I am responding to. And some people are simply biased, or less than courteous. They are on the whole, over-balanced mightily by well intentioned and often very well-informed contributors. Finally, I do think some principals at ASR, whose thinking is often more nuanced, do have a poor sense of PR, in the sense that how ideas and info are presented walks into the propeller of stereotyping by accident. A closer experience of the site shows that no important finding or assertion goes without debate and analysis.

The bottom line: on the whole, as a member of ASR, I have had my mind opened, not closed. That's what matters. Demonizing others without firsthand knowledge is a bad habit, whether by Stereophile readers about objectivists, or by objectivists about Stereophile readers.

JHL's picture

...my remarks in this thread applied to the public commentary side of the press trajectory from High Fidelity through The Audio Critic somewhat into the joint AVS forum (where "science" completes the site name and not always the general, overall public thrust and result). As a recent adjunct to this belief system, it applies to ASR and its unexamined misapplication of the letter S.

I replied to the remark above mine with a conditional. I wrote against a subculture of audioists whose yardstick is the chart, and whose audible results rise no higher than average sound. I say this from some years of experience as a fan of better sound than theirs. I responded to their activist aggression, whatever vision you may have had notwithstanding.

Some of that better sound is darn near transcendent, by the way, rare as it is. For reference, in this comments thread I'd listed four names of those who I believe have sought it. That sound has not darkened the doorway of mass merchandisers or sound-by-numbers adherents. It can't. It hasn't been heard there.

I didn't actually spotlight ASR. It's policies and inexpert assumptions, coupled with the binary views of amateur scientist members, however could. It's those shortcomings that leave it in poor position to evaluate and critique fine audio. Apparently its chief scientist hasn't the resource to listen in stereo or while using anything approaching a high end system in a reasonable space for typically superior high end results. ASR's electronics ratings fall into categories dictated by an AP machine. The same goes for one of the surprise entrants to recent high audio races for better sound, namely extreme DACs and their obviously better results.

Generally speaking, objectivism hasn't identified better sound because it denies to grant that it exists. It's that precondition that validates a far more conventional, ears-based, human space method, discipline and outcome as favored by real listeners to very good equipment. The preferences of sensitive listeners of fine audio in their own homes goes back to the dawn of high fidelity. It works. Which so far is fine and good. As it may well be.

Preconditioned, prejudicial audio scientism is an upstart. Whether or not you experienced an epiphany attending sciency outlets matters only if it makes sound that matters. In audio enlightenment has levels, and there the subjectivists with all their blue pens and crystals and tin foil, to hear sciency types tell it, have for decades made more authentic-sounding recreations of music where it matters.

Right now this magazine is publishing brief accounts of those sounds made by great gear. It seems a shame to use its pages to aggregate gainsayer comments in threads aimed to a large degree at bashing it and impugning the good people who strive for excellence. That bomb-run remarking has tried to knock out the high end's lights and luminaries for a long time.

The word you want, incidentally, so as to avoid tainting another sermon with prejudicial bias, is not rant. It's screed. And such screeds, if that's even what they are, are quite fitting as audio wokedom sorties over the audio high end, in this thread and in dozens before it. *That's* where a line is drawn and the passive listener becomes vocal. I hope that doesn't come as a surprise.

I'd said that. Eventually you can expect push-back. Gentler folk in their homes with their stacks of better gear making better sound never needed the constant policing by their inferiors - From Hirsch readers to Internet haters - and I reckon that pattern isn't about to change anytime soon. The high end may yet go down as binary policers reduce all amplification to a race to the third place right of the decimal in a stack of file cards from best to worst, or doom all allowable transduction to this season's all-new shout and clang box with $3 parts ... combined for the fortunate extravagant with a 10" bass boomer with thirty effective watts on the back. But Harrison Bergeron does indeed seem to be the aim of armchair denialist commandos.

They've all but said so.

Music playback is not bettered by that campaign, movement, and faith. It's bettered by the open mindedness that real science relies on for its dictionary definition. And it's that science, contrary to equipment scientisim-ists elsewhere, that's given the high end an insurmountable, verifiable, and audible head start.

I imagine that frustrates binary "scientists" a lot. Next time they should grow some quiet introspection, get off the keyboard, and attend some of these shows. If they're lucky a couple of rooms will pop out and change their lives.

Jack L's picture

Hi

"audibility has not been proven" by what? BY double blind tests ABX or what?

FYI, my skeptical ears have detected substantial difference between standard 1-pair loudspeaker wiring & passive bi-wiring upgrading of the SAME loudspeakers decades back. So obvious no blind tests needed.

Back then, I disliked the overall sound of my vintage KEF 2-way standspeakers in term of, particularly, its bass clarity & hightone resolution. So rather than replacing the tube power amp which would be costly, not warranting better sound. I tried the cheapskate way - by modifying the factory basic single-wiring X-over network to passive bi-wiring.

It's a piece of cake for me. I modified it to discrete bi-wirng & replaced the dirt-cheap tiny bi-polar factory HF electrolytic caps (looked so similar to the tiny caps used in the Rogesr Studio 2 !!) with large over-rated metal-film PP capacitors & rebuilt it on a large fibreglass circuit with custom designed large copper tracings for passing large currents from the power amps. I still kept the factory inductors for retaining the sonic signature of KEF.

To upgrade the bi-wiring sound even better, I relocted the x-over OUTBORAD ! I relocated the L/R channel X-over PCBs in a plastic housing cushion-supported onto the carpetted concrete floor (no metal box please!) just 1 foot away from the back of my tube power amps ! So shortest single-wired cables from the power amps loudspeaker output terminals to the bi-wiring inputs of the upgraded X-over, silver-soldered directly to the large tracings on the PCB. No compromise !!!

The sonic improvement is soooo rewarding: it sound obviously louder with the same amp volume settings & the overall balanced sonic spectrum - bass much much cleaner & soo much well defined, & likewise for the trebe. I am sooo gratifying.

Listening to passive bi-wirng is believing

Jack L

Kal Rubinson's picture
Quote:

FYI, my skeptical ears have detected substantial difference between standard 1-pair loudspeaker wiring & passive bi-wiring upgrading of the SAME loudspeakers decades back. So obvious no blind tests needed.

I accept that you have proven it to yourself but I see your report as anecdotal. Proof, such as can be accepted by others, does demand more and, yes, double-blind testing should be part of it. Surely, if the differences are as stark as you report, that should be easy.

FWIW, I have run experiments similar to what you describe many times over many decades and, so far, have not been able to convince myself that passive bi-wiring, per se, makes any difference (unless the the single-wire cable was inadequate).

I could say almost the same about passive bi-amping. In this case, however, the single-amp (per speaker) may be inadequate simply by dint of its power capability and adding another amp to share the load might have some value.

I remain skeptiKal that a mere change in the circuit topology here makes an audible difference.

Jack L's picture

Hi

How "similar" ?? Have you tried OUTBOARD passive bi-wiring as I've done??? Standard inbox passive bi/tri wiring can't touch the sonic quality of outboard wiring. My ears tell me!

I still recall B&W sold one only DM model standspeakers using outboard cross-over network decades back in similar time as I did my outboard passive biwiring for my KEF. I believe a few brandname loudspeakers also got outboard bi-wiring loudspeakers later.

Great minds think alike?

OUTBoard cross-over network can provide the SHORTEST input single-wiring connection to the power amp & get the most pronounced sonic improvement. The technicality is LF+HF intermodulation along the same cable is reduced to absolute minimum !!! Standard single-wiring loudspeakers just got to 'suffer' such LF/MF/HF intermoduation in sharing the same cable. This is phsyics.

Yes, I did try out passive-biAMP & sonically I was not impressed at all. So I dropped it.

Listening to outboard passive bi-wiring is believing.

Jack L

Jack L's picture

Hi

Why not? So many brandname loudspeakers, bookshelf to floor types, in the marketplace, come with in-box bi-wiring option. Stereophile reviewed quite a few such.

FYI, bi-wiring X-over networks, being some more complex topology, cost more to build for audiophiles who can hear the sonic improvemnet.

Otherwsie, why would those quality loudspeaker manufacturers go through sucn motion for nothing ?????

Jack L

Jim Austin's picture

Kal wrote:

Quote:

I accept that you have proven it to yourself but I see your report as anecdotal. Proof, such as can be accepted by others, does demand more and, yes, double-blind testing should be part of it.

Kal was trained as a scientist (as I was) and spent a career at it (as I did not), so it's hardly surprising that he takes this view; I embraced it myself once, and still do when it comes to science, where certainty is crucial and universality is fundamental. Yet, music listening is "anecdotal," and scientific/statistical "proof" has little relevance to our enjoyment of music. Outside those Measurements boxes in every digital player/DAC, amplifier or loudspeaker review, Stereophile is a subjective journal, which means that, although our writers (including Kal) are free to enforce their own standards, statistical validity is not a criterion that Stereophile employs as a matter of policy.

To be perfectly clear, I disagree with the statement quoted above, in the context of hi-fi: That in order to be accepted by others, double-blind testing--indeed "proof" in any form--is required. Kal's own reviews over all these years, and the many readers who await his verdicts, are evidence to the contrary.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Kal Rubinson's picture

Jim wrote:

Quote:

To be perfectly clear, I disagree with the statement quoted above, in the context of hi-fi: That in order to be accepted by others, double-blind testing--indeed "proof" in any form--is required. Kal's own reviews over all these years, and the many readers who await his verdicts, are evidence to the contrary.

Understood. I think it is consistent with Stereophile's policy to say that a listener's personal assessment is to be respected and I accepted that Jack L clearly described his subjective experience. His experience conflicts with my own described experience and I do not argue that either of us need accept the other's opinion as superior.

However, he begins by ridiculing my statement that bi-wiring's "audibility has not been proven." In saying that, I made a specific reference to scientific/statistical "proof" which is not informed by subjective assessments, neither his nor mine. Disputing it requires evidence.

Jim Austin's picture
Quote:

However, he begins by ridiculing my statement that bi-wiring's "audibility has not been proven." In saying that, I made a specific reference to scientific/statistical "proof" which is not informed by subjective assessments, neither his nor mine. Disputing it requires evidence.

Agreed. I thought, though, that it was important to make it clear that such evidence is not required in the subjective debate--or, directly, to experiencing music. I've got no problem at all with debates about scientific/statistical validity in Stereophile or on its comments page. But regardless of any of that, "tell us what it sounds like" is the Stereophile standard, as it has been since its founding.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

teched58's picture

Jim, you are publicly calling out/disagreeing with a valued freelancer in support of a comment by Jack L.

Wow is all I can say.

Jim Austin's picture

... and it's totally cool. I know Kal and what he thinks and the work he does. And stuff like this doesn't affect in the least the esteem I have for him. I think it's' important in cases like this to make it clear what's the writer's perspective and what's the magazine's perspective. Stereophile is a big tent, with many (or anyway several) distinct opinions reflected. I look forward to many more reviews from Kal and much more commentary in the Comments section. I hope--and trust--that Kal accepts this in the spirit in which it was intended.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Kal Rubinson's picture

Jim wrote:

Quote:

I think it's' important in cases like this to make it clear what's the writer's perspective and what's the magazine's perspective.

I agree completely.

Jack L's picture

....... as it has been since its foundiing." qtd Jim Austin

Hi

BINGO!

I am indeed happy to witness the prime Stereophile standard of SUBJECTIVE evaluation founded 60 years ago by J. Gordon Holt now being
discretely proclaimed.

Listening to music with own ears is believing

Jack L

Sal1950's picture

Not quite right Mr Jack L,
Here's Gordons real opinion,

John Atkinson [edited]
Do you see any signs of future vitality in high-end audio?

J. Gordon Holt
"Vitality? Don't make me laugh. Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel. For the record: I never, ever claimed that measurements don't matter. What I said (and very often, at that) was, they don't always tell the whole story. Not quite the same thing."
https://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/index.html

Jack L's picture

Hi

J. Gordon Holt concluded his above reply to J.A. very clearly per above statement.

So he said very distinctly measurement is "not quite the same thing".

Wrong things have been measured quite irrelevant to what we hear for decades since day one. So why you still worry about "measurement" at all ?

Apple to ornage comparison, pal.

Listening to music is believing

Jack L

Sal1950's picture

You very artfully dodged Gordons reference to the need for blind listening tests and the use of scientific controls in producing repeatable evidence..
So tell me, "believing what" ?

Jack L's picture

Hi

May I ask how much you know about "blind listening tests". Hearsay or you ever studied about it ??

"Blind listening test" has been a huge controversial topic since day one. Most blind tests ended up with null & void verdicts due to the protocol employed, test subjects untrained & unfamiliar with the test environment,.........

The only blind test I know that came up with affirmative verdicts was the test carried jointly by a Japanese university & the Audio Engineering Society New York in 10/2019:-

(1) in an anechoic chamber, not regular 'noisy' rooms !
(2) test tones (white noise & impulse of 3 ultrasonic frequencies), no music !
(3) 7 test subjects (including 2 females) well trained before the test.

You can see with such thorough ideal set-up like above, the test subjects did hear the difference among the test tones of different hi-frequencies. No music !!!!

So what would you expect from those blind tests carried in regular casual conditions? I just don't bother !!!!

Jack L

Jack L's picture

Hi

So let me tell YOU "believe what" :-
I believe in the music I listen with my OWN skeptical ears.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Yanny's picture

Except you're not telling us what it sounds like, you're telling us what the combination of your ears, eyes, brain and all the sighted cognitive biases that entails thinks it sounds like. To tell us what it actually sounds like to your ears without being polluted by these confounding variables of sighted biases, you would have to do a blind listening comparison. Kal understands this.

Jim Austin's picture

... could conceivably used to describe pressure waves in air, although to me it implies perception--and so a perceiver. But here we're talking about music reproduced by electronic equipment--about the experience of music. I suppose you need some background to understand this, but we are not talking about listening to test tones (although that experience has a legitimate part to play in subjective reviewing). It's clear to most, I think--if not to you--that the word "sound" in this context refers to perception, to experience, and not to pressure waves in air. And also that what we're talking about here is listening to music.

That very comment--"tell us what it sounds like"--was a response to an excessive focus decades ago on precisely what you're advocating here, which is, in effect, "tell us how it measures!" There's a long history here. I encourage you to learn about it.

If you want a journal that's about what physical effects electronics (and transducers) have on the air in a room, you can probably find one. But that is not what we do here. Stereophile is about experiencing music.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Jack L's picture

Hi

YES.

My simple question to those naysayers: how much time you guys spend in "experiencing music" in a day, in a week or in a month or in a year?

Which comes first: "experiencing music" or "measurements" ???? Please don't put the cart before the horse.

Listening to music is believing

Jack L

JHL's picture

...reminds me of the fallacy impacted in the butt of so-called objective audio analysis, which is that in the putative pursuit of good sound one soon reaches a plateau above which the *objective opinion* has found lies monsters. And the audio high end is full of monsters.

The fault lies not in the gods of audio, it's asserted, but in ourselves. Well, yourselves, that is.

I'll explain.

Not only may we no longer see our gear for fear of contaminating some sort of superior alternative musical experience never achieved, but we can't even trust our ears, our *confounding* biases, our preconceptions, and our own damned reductionist stews of biological fumes and gasses.

It's an odd formulation when it's simultaneously so proud of its own presumably human superiority. The problem is that superior results never materialize.

Meanwhile we have the Reicherts, the Halberstadt's the Lavorgna's, the Fremer's and others, foregoing experts and masters of the discipline, who apparently having the human component happily matured anyway, reliably derive what surely looks like real musical joy from, well, from the pursuit of real musical joy.

Which is of course prohibited a priori because reasons.

How, why, and to what superior high fidelity sound this objectivism subscribes remains forever shrouded in mystery. It's yet another conundrum, this one balanced on a razor's edge between what-you-are-prohibited-enjoying and what-I-can't-ever-achieve. Because reasons.

I mean, that's exactly where it invariably ends up. The Masters smile and move on to the next sublime piece and the hair shirt gainsayers judge them, missing the sound and the experience.

Because they've never had them.

Jack L's picture

Hi

My question to YOU:-

(1) DO YOU walk upside down with your hands instead of your feet ?

(1) Do YOU dine with your eyes masked, nose & ears plugged ??

(2) dO YOU attend, if you've ever done, a live performance with eye masked ??

So why should we enjoy our music blindfolded ????????

Get real, pal.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Kal Rubinson's picture
Quote:

Otherwsie, why would those quality loudspeaker manufacturers go through sucn motion for nothing ?????

When I asked the VP of Sales of a major manufacturer of high-end/high-quality speakers with global distribution why their new models now offered bi-wire/bi-amp terminals: There's no reason other than that it was demanded by many of our loyal dealers who see it as an opportunity for them to sell more cables.

I put in no quotation marks here since I didn't record the statement and it was made about 20 years ago. It is perfectly logical.

Jack L's picture

Hi

To sell the consumers more loudspeaker cables to make more money, the dealers got to sell the sonic advantage of bi-wiring, right ?

Here you go: dealer make more money & consumers are sold to get better sound with bi-wiring whether they can actually hear better sound or not. So everybody involved is happy !

For yous truly, bi-wiring in-box or out-box sounds better than conventional single-wiring with the same loudspeakers. It is physics. No sales pitch !

Listening is believing.

Jack L

ChrisS's picture

...off, Jack L.

We know you like what you have.

Enjoy yourself.

Jack L's picture

Hi

"Take heed" - if case you don't know you are behaving like a stalker !!!

Jack L

ChrisS's picture

...at your own posts.

This week.

Last week.

Last month.

...etc.

ChrisS's picture

...Jack L.

Look at how you address the authors of these articles, contributors, other readers.

Admonishment

after

admonishment.

I'm not the stalker, Jack L.

You are.

Jack L's picture

Hi

"Admonishment" is defined as (per Merriam-Webster):

1. As in advice:
an opinion suggesting a WISE or PROPER course of action.

2. As in warning:
the act or an instance of telling beforehand of danger or risk.

So how come YOU got yr problem of my doing some WISE & PROPER deeds for Stereophile ??? Your inferiority complex or what ??

Don't assume the editor turns a blind eye to my posts here !!!!!!

Jack L

Jim Austin's picture

Kal wrote:

Quote:

When I asked the VP of Sales of a major manufacturer of high-end/high-quality speakers with global distribution why their new models now offered bi-wire/bi-amp terminals: There's no reason other than that it was demanded by many of our loyal dealers who see it as an opportunity for them to sell more cables.

I don't doubt even for a moment that this exchange occurred or that you've characterized it correctly. It's worth pointing out, though, that it can be stated less cynically. Those biwire/biamp terminals were added due to demand from customers who wanted to biwire or bi-amp their speakers and so to buy those cables, from those or other dealers. That statement is not precisely parallel to the other, but it's close, and it's an equally valid interpretation.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

teched58's picture

...with the Streisand effect?

AudioBang's picture

"It's worth noting that while the Dunlavy is bi-wirable, I found no sonic benefits from attaching extra speaker-cable runs. John Dunlavy admitted to me that there was no sonic need for the extra five-way binding-posts. His tests showed that the Signature didn't have any back-EMF or other anomalies caused by the crossover that would be lessened by a second run of cable. Why not then just have a single set of binding posts? Marketing perhaps?"

https://www.stereophile.com/content/dunlavy-audio-labs-signature-sc-vi-loudspeaker-page-3

Jack L's picture

Hi

What "back-EMF" ? What "other anomalies" ?

It is the complex harmonics intermodulation of the LF/MF/HF music signals sharing the same loudspeaker cables ! We are talking about resaltime music signals comprising high orders of harmonics, not pure sinewaves used in audio bench tests.

May I suggest whoever actually tried out bi/tri-wiring & could not hear the difference to go tune up their ears.

Listening to bi-wiring is believing

Jack L

AudioBang's picture

As a preamble and for the one who proclaims "Listening is Believing" but only when "HE" declares so and then goes into bombastic invalidation of anyone who shares their contrarian experience, I want to be clear that I'm not saying that cables don't make a difference...

One of John Dunlavy's listening experiments with visitors was, after having listened to whatever was set up in his listening room for a period, to suggest to the visitor that "Most people say they can clearly hear a difference with speaker cables. Can you?" The day he did this on my first visit, he said he was going to quickly switch out the demo pair [a recognizable name brand cable] with some lamp cord he purchased at the local hardware store to see if I could hear the difference. John's narrative seemed a bit fishy to me so I was cautious as I got the sense that I was being set up. It turned out that he merely pretended to swap the cables but left what was in place, in place...
He told me that nearly 10 out of 10 listeners said they heard the difference.

Jack L's picture

Hi

First off, what is bi-wiring to do with Donlavy's "fishy" loudspeaker cables demo ??? Apple to orange comparison.

Secondly, you stated above cables do "make a difference".

So why you brought up Dunlavy's "fishy" loudspeaker cables demo by lying to the audience he was comparing 2 different cables though in fact he never switched another cable ????? So he cheated!

So what do you want to tell us: YOU can hear cables sound different or not ???? Or you don't even believe what your own ears hear ????

Listening is believing

Jack L

Kal Rubinson's picture

Whatever.

tenorman's picture

Enjoyable informative review . Unfortunately these Stereophile comment sections are almost always hijacked by ego driven contrarian nit picking technical types eager to show off their technical knowledge. They’re unrelenting - and soooo tiresome and boring .

ChrisS's picture

...back.

hb72's picture

... but often interesting - sure, my opinion might be sorted into the nerd category anyway.

I learned something here, I often do, this time on the dBW / dBU front, as well as on the bi-wiring discussion (though its been decades since I trialed and never went back to single wiring, ah, just once, where I faced very interesting, to me previously unknown levels of sibilance).

Jack L's picture

Hi

ME too. I would never go back to single-wiring after my outboard bi-wiring I installed well over a decade back - subtantial sonic improvement !

Listening is believing

Jack L

David Harper's picture

Imagining is believing

Jack L's picture

Hi

Obviously you have never ever tried out "bi-wirng". So you keep on "imagining" whatsoever about it.

Were I selling coconuts to Eskimos who never know coconuts ??

Listenig to bi-wiring is believing

Jack L

Anton's picture

Why does the wall of exploration stop at bi-wiring?

At least people in the know have tried double-bi-wiring, right?

Where is the curiosity?

Heck, I don't think I've ever seen any speaker measurements looking into the possibility of bi-wiring having a measurable effect. Listening is great, but why does our curiosity preclude measuring this so-called effect?

Has JA-1 ever measured speaker performance single vs. bi-wired? If not, perhaps it's time!

I do remember Dave Wilson mentioning it in the past, as we all know Wilson speakers demand bi-wiring, right?

Seems like he might have had a valid opinion.

Good to remember: the easiest person to fool is yourself!

Jack L's picture

Hi

"Tri-wiring":-

In fact, many years back after auditioning my outboard bi-wired rig at home, an affordable golden-eared friend paid me US$2,500 to upgrade the sound of his system: Meridian CD player Quad 33 + Quad 303 + KLH 3-way floorspeakers. He was not that happy with the sound.

Without second thought, I fixed it by converting the KLH 3-way single-wired speaker to tri-wired using brandnew AWG#10 246-strand 99.99% pure copper speaker cables.

He jaw wide-opened when he first auditioned it. He is a happy man ever since.

My question to YOU & those 'sour grapes', can you afford to own multi-wired loudspeakers, brandname or upgrading ???

If not, back off !

Wilson Audio loudspeakers: Every loudspeakers maker gets its design policy to market its products. The late David Wilson could have installed design/built 2/3/4 wiring terminals behind his expensive series. He chose not to do so. So what ?

Quite a few brandname loudspeakers, from bookshelvers to floorstanders installed bi-wirable terminals. Strictly for music lovers who want better sound !!!! Stereophile reviewed quite a few such, even pretty lately.

Hyperion loudspeakers by Rockport Technologies design/built in modular configuration like Wilson Audio, come with bi-wirable terminals. Many years I audtioned its flagship some 6-ft tall 3-way model in its regional rep studio, bi-wired driven by Tenor 75W all-triode OTL power amps (USD20,000 each @ 2002). Breath-taking !!!

Listening is believing

Jack L

ChrisS's picture

...progressive multi-amping/multi-wiring for years.

Now it's mostly built in.

Johan B's picture

Lots of comments discuss how good tri-wiring and bi-wiring could be or not. I am quite curious why we have wires at all? Brands like Genelec produce near perfect speakers with built in "dedicated" amplifiers and basically have no "speaker" wires at all (bi-amping and wiring is no question at all to them). The shorter the wire the less inductive & capacitive reactanction. And BTW the 99.99% OFC discussion still makes me cringe ... as if anyone can hear the difference between 99.5% purity vs. 99.99%: a laughable proposition. And I don't believe the 0.01% impurity anyway: ask your supplier ... where do they buy their copper! Do they melt and gravity stack the copper?

It is however funny that this discussion arises in a post about an 8 channel amp. So here is another question ... should every speaker component not have a dedicated amplifier with specific dedicated characteristics? We see that a lot with active speakers where bass speakers get a cheaper D-amp. Now that is for cost and because nobody can hear the difference with a class A. Would this 8 channel amp be a "good" solution for bi-wiring and bi-amping? Or would bi-amping really seek specific amplifiers? And here my departure comments, seems to be a thing; Measuring is knowing, Knowing how to measure is an art. Listening is a discipline.

Jack L's picture

Hi

"laughable proposition" is for those with inert ears !!!

During copper metal casting process, the smelted copper metal is oxidized by the oxygen in the atmosphere, forming copper oxides which affect, besides electrical conductivity, the music sound quality as heard by sensitive ears even for very very minute quantities.

That's why special casting process is need to reduce oxidation to minimum to form so called oxygen-'free'-copper' up to 99.9999%.

Unlike silver oxide, the major impurity during silver casting, causes less damage to the sound quality. Oxygen 'free' silver can be up to 99.99% commercially available in the marketplace, which I used in ALL my design/built audio interconnects & power cords.

Right, for inert ears, dirt-cheap home electrical wires from any hardware stores would do the job. Why waste money ??

"Genelec" & the like powered loudspeakers use built-in ACTIVE electronic cross-overs to split the musical signals for internal power amps to drive HF/MF/LF drivers discretely. IMO, such active x-overs cause for more 'damage' to the sound than any passive bi/tri-wiring using even looog-run loudspeaker cables.

Listening is believing

Jack L

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