Art's Saturday Morning at CAF

Pros: Tactile, clear, colorful, and remarkably spacious sound; beautifully made gear
Cons: Audiophile music, audiophile demonstration protocol.

The sound in the room that featured the Daedalus Apollo 11 speaker ($22,800/pair), a selection of tubed electronics from ModWright, and cabling by WyWires was superb: detailed without sounding etched, and pleasantly liquid and warm, with good texture and a really great, spacious sense of scale. On top of all that, the gear from both brands is gorgeous: as rich and colorful in appearance as in sound.

Mon, 11/06/2017

Jackie Shane on LP

Obscure Sixties Soul Singer Rediscovered...
Sun, 11/05/2017

More CAF Coverage from Herb

Fyssion? That rhymes with "fishin'," right? Every year I pop in the Fyssion room and every year I start thinking of fishin' before I even sit down, because these Fine Southern Gentlemen remind me of how good the bass fishing must be in their home state of North Carolina. I always cause a little friction 'cause I try to get them to have a room sheet with info about the gear they are playing and they always say, "Why should I do that?" I grin and explain that, "No words from you gets no words from me." They all laugh.
Sun, 11/05/2017

Art’s Second Report from CAF

I began the second half of my Friday in the room sponsored by Tone Imports and Connecticut dealer Old Forge Studio, enjoying a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. In the former category was the enduringly recommendable PTP Solid 12 turntable (2950 Euros, available direct) from the Netherlands—a cleverly refurbished idler-drive Lenco with a smart Corian plinth...
Sun, 11/05/2017

Herb's First Report from CAF

I like the word tenacious. I consider myself tenacious. I admire tenacity. But I have to ask, what is Tenacious Sound? It is an audio dealer in Syracuse, New York, that is about to "tenaciously" open a new store in Nashville, TN. Tenacious had two rooms at the 2017 Capital Audio fest. The first was upscale and featured John Bevier demonstrating the hottest speaker of the moment, one I think sounds fast and lucid in a sometimes-thrilling way, the TAD ME-1K ($14,290/pair).
Sat, 11/04/2017

Vintage Vinyl Meets the USPS

Unbreakable? Although Halloween has just passed, I've just experienced a vinyl horror courtesy of the US Mail.
Sat, 11/04/2017

Art’s First Report from CAF

Perhaps you've heard this before, but it bears repeating: Veteran exhibitors and attendees alike have a great deal of loyalty and affection for this seven-year-old show and its busy founder, Gary Gill. I was reminded of that during my very first stop on day one of Capital AudioFest 2017, when Kevin Hayes of VAC described the reasoning behind the decision to assemble such a large, expensive, and distinctly ambitious playback system: "In light of the move to this time of year, we wanted to help Gary and the show by doing something exceptional." The result: a system built around the mighty Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 11 loudspeaker ($295,000/pair), powered by two pairs of VAC's Statement 450 iQ monoblock power amplifiers ($120,000/pair).
Sat, 11/04/2017

On the Road to the 2017 CAF

That is me you see hanging out the car window like an old hound dog—ears flappin' in the slipstream—a big smile on my face. I am happy in the wind 'cause I am heading down to Rockville, Maryland to Capital Audio fest (starting today, November 3, and running though Sunday November 5) where I will see at least 60 fine audio rooms and I'll chatter on a panel about "The Virtues of Vintage" with old pals, Art Dudley, Joe Roberts, and Blackie Pagano. I'll be cruising the Rockville Hilton Hotel halls meeting new people and visiting the rooms of some old and (hopefully) some new friends. Tickets for entry are only $20 a day or $30 for the whole weekend.
Fri, 11/03/2017

Margules Audio U280-SC Black power amplifier Manufacturers' Comment

Thu, 11/02/2017

COMMENTS
NeilS's picture

I'm not an engineer, so please excuse if this is a dumb question or I'm misusing terms. This amplifier's total harmonic distortion is stated as 0.08% at 7V RMS. Can the level of THD in an amplifier be converted to an effective bit depth resolution capabilty?

Ortofan's picture

... S/N ratio of 62dB which is equivalent to a resolution of 10 bits.
https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/design/tools/calculators/product-desi...

NeilS's picture

So if you play a 24/192 flac decoded by a 64 bit computer chip and converted by a DAC with 16+ bits of resolution and then sent to an amp with a 62dB S/N ratio (10 bit resolution), what gets sent to the speakers is 62dB (10 bit) resolution?

Ortofan's picture

... a random uncorrelated signal, THD is the sum of signals which are harmonically related to the fundamental tone. If you look at Fig. 16, note that the second harmonic is at about -40dB, the third harmonic at about -55dB, and all higher harmonics are at or below about -70dB.

Compare this with Fig. 9 from the test of the Benchmark AHB2, where all harmonics are below the level of -110dB:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/benchmark-media-systems-ahb2-power-a...

You could argue that the higher level of THD - especially the level of second harmonic distortion - effectively limits or reduces the resolution of the playback system, yet some listeners may find the resultant sound quality preferable:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/listening-146-page-2

NeilS's picture

Thank you very much for the explanation. It makes sense that the resolving capability of the system can't exceed its 'lowest-res' component. Another way of looking at the THD in component measurements that I hadn't realized before.

Ortofan's picture

... the Harbeth Monitor 40.2 speakers and a pair of the Audio Research Reference 250 SE amplifiers.

Anton's picture

You know those follow ups where another reviewer compares experiences?

This would seem great to continue to try to wrap my head around this product.

Even the manufacturer is fascinating.

tonykaz's picture

what did the Wilson people have to say?

Wow, the Amp has beautiful engraving, I bet they'll start a trend of using a CNC machine to do this gorgeous chassis decoration. It's kinda like one of those artistic Tattoos we occasionally see.

It's a Beautiful Amp, I'd like it to be a success.

Some of this Company's other offerings are also beautiful.

Tony in Michigan

pma's picture

This amp has high output impedance and the frequency response will be strongly modulated by speaker impedance plot, as we can see in
https://www.stereophile.com/images/1117M280fig02.jpg

This will be audible with most speaker, so we have an example of another effect box here, rather than an amplifier.

Anton's picture

I hadn't thought of the term 'effect box,' you said it well.

johnnythunder's picture

Obviously, something that deviates from absolute clinical technical perfection with no horrifying overtones or those terrible euphonic colorations. Definition of euphony:
1 :pleasing or sweet sound; especially :the acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear
2 :a harmonious succession of words having a pleasing sound

Terrible things those amplifiers or source components that make pleasing sounds. Oh wait we cant call them truly amplifiers because they may make music sound pleasing to the ear. That's not what music is supposed to do.

pma's picture

Is the SET distorted sound still 'pleasing' when playing complex philharmonic orchestra, Beethoven, Mahler? Do we want a modified sound or true reproduction of the recorded sound?

Ortofan's picture

... was asking the very same question 30 years ago.
"Should an amplifier be pleasant sounding, or should it be accurate even if accuracy is not as pleasant?"
See the next to last paragraph:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/manufacturers-comment-0

pma's picture

Well, the question put this way is no good. Well designed and engineered amplifier is never "unpleasant sounding", in case you have good speakers, good listening room, good recordings and good signal source. If someone listens to commercial music only, I agree it is a pain since pocket audio started with iPod in 2001 (thank you, Steve) and huge dynamic compression took place almost everywhere (sounds good in subway for millions, right?). But with good classical recordings, good speakers and listening room, good DAC, the accurate amp never sounds boring or unpleasant. Please find a real fault in other parts of the audio chain.

Ortofan's picture

"Not as pleasant" is not the same as "unpleasant."
Also read the op-ed piece from AD linked above.

Pages

Margules Audio U280-SC Black power amplifier Measurements

Thu, 11/02/2017

COMMENTS
NeilS's picture

I'm not an engineer, so please excuse if this is a dumb question or I'm misusing terms. This amplifier's total harmonic distortion is stated as 0.08% at 7V RMS. Can the level of THD in an amplifier be converted to an effective bit depth resolution capabilty?

Ortofan's picture

... S/N ratio of 62dB which is equivalent to a resolution of 10 bits.
https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/design/tools/calculators/product-desi...

NeilS's picture

So if you play a 24/192 flac decoded by a 64 bit computer chip and converted by a DAC with 16+ bits of resolution and then sent to an amp with a 62dB S/N ratio (10 bit resolution), what gets sent to the speakers is 62dB (10 bit) resolution?

Ortofan's picture

... a random uncorrelated signal, THD is the sum of signals which are harmonically related to the fundamental tone. If you look at Fig. 16, note that the second harmonic is at about -40dB, the third harmonic at about -55dB, and all higher harmonics are at or below about -70dB.

Compare this with Fig. 9 from the test of the Benchmark AHB2, where all harmonics are below the level of -110dB:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/benchmark-media-systems-ahb2-power-a...

You could argue that the higher level of THD - especially the level of second harmonic distortion - effectively limits or reduces the resolution of the playback system, yet some listeners may find the resultant sound quality preferable:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/listening-146-page-2

NeilS's picture

Thank you very much for the explanation. It makes sense that the resolving capability of the system can't exceed its 'lowest-res' component. Another way of looking at the THD in component measurements that I hadn't realized before.

Ortofan's picture

... the Harbeth Monitor 40.2 speakers and a pair of the Audio Research Reference 250 SE amplifiers.

Anton's picture

You know those follow ups where another reviewer compares experiences?

This would seem great to continue to try to wrap my head around this product.

Even the manufacturer is fascinating.

tonykaz's picture

what did the Wilson people have to say?

Wow, the Amp has beautiful engraving, I bet they'll start a trend of using a CNC machine to do this gorgeous chassis decoration. It's kinda like one of those artistic Tattoos we occasionally see.

It's a Beautiful Amp, I'd like it to be a success.

Some of this Company's other offerings are also beautiful.

Tony in Michigan

pma's picture

This amp has high output impedance and the frequency response will be strongly modulated by speaker impedance plot, as we can see in
https://www.stereophile.com/images/1117M280fig02.jpg

This will be audible with most speaker, so we have an example of another effect box here, rather than an amplifier.

Anton's picture

I hadn't thought of the term 'effect box,' you said it well.

johnnythunder's picture

Obviously, something that deviates from absolute clinical technical perfection with no horrifying overtones or those terrible euphonic colorations. Definition of euphony:
1 :pleasing or sweet sound; especially :the acoustic effect produced by words so formed or combined as to please the ear
2 :a harmonious succession of words having a pleasing sound

Terrible things those amplifiers or source components that make pleasing sounds. Oh wait we cant call them truly amplifiers because they may make music sound pleasing to the ear. That's not what music is supposed to do.

pma's picture

Is the SET distorted sound still 'pleasing' when playing complex philharmonic orchestra, Beethoven, Mahler? Do we want a modified sound or true reproduction of the recorded sound?

Ortofan's picture

... was asking the very same question 30 years ago.
"Should an amplifier be pleasant sounding, or should it be accurate even if accuracy is not as pleasant?"
See the next to last paragraph:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/manufacturers-comment-0

pma's picture

Well, the question put this way is no good. Well designed and engineered amplifier is never "unpleasant sounding", in case you have good speakers, good listening room, good recordings and good signal source. If someone listens to commercial music only, I agree it is a pain since pocket audio started with iPod in 2001 (thank you, Steve) and huge dynamic compression took place almost everywhere (sounds good in subway for millions, right?). But with good classical recordings, good speakers and listening room, good DAC, the accurate amp never sounds boring or unpleasant. Please find a real fault in other parts of the audio chain.

Ortofan's picture

"Not as pleasant" is not the same as "unpleasant."
Also read the op-ed piece from AD linked above.

Pages

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