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  1. #1

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    Default Carver amps - can someone explain this?

    I don't get it. Why do I see so many SDA and SRS owners with Carver amps? Don't get me wrong I've owned my share: m400, m400t, 1.5t, 4.0t, tfm-35, tfm-55 (borrowed for 8 months). But seriously, I don't get what people see in these. Is it the wattage sticker? their lean, uncontrolled, and sometimes down-right flabby bass? I know Polk SDA's and SRS's arent the definition of transparent speakers, but still, they're transparent enough to let me know these are amps meant for lesser speakers. I get that this is all subjective, but I see the money people are spending on these things and I can't help but think, "you have to be joking." I will say, I've heard the Silver 7's (tubes) and I think they sound great. better than any other tube amp i've heard, including the Marantz 9's (another amp I don't get). Additionally, these comments do not apply to Sunfire kit. Thats like a whole other league above. But anyways, if these amps were selling for 160-200 bones, fine. That seems like a fair second hand price. But when someone is paying $500-$1k for these things... i dont get it. For 500-1k you're in reach of some mighty fine amps.

    But this question isn't a passive aggressive attack on Carver, I really want to know. What am I missing here?
    design is where science and art break even.

  2. #2

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    yawn
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    can someone explain this?
    Folks see the big wattage numbers and think that's the answer. It's not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lasareath View Post
    yawn
    my sentiments exactly. well it's yawn when I hear the Carver amps, dry heave when I see what people pay for them.

    I know people like them, I just want to hear some thoughtful articulation of why.
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Cheap alternative to raw power I guess. I've had some carver amps I thought were pretty good and some not so good, like everything else out there. People mistake current for watts all the time. Can't speak for everyone, but I never had a problem with bloated bass from a carver. Sometimes it's a synergy thing too, who knows, but as far as bang for your buck, just starting out, Carvers can get it done. Not the last word in SQ but not the worst either.

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    I agree with you to a point. Every company in the audio world, including the heavyweights, have made some real stinkers from both a sound and a quality standpoint. Bob's work is no different. There are many amps he designed that I will never own (at 15k plus for the set, the Silver 7's are among them) Some of his best stuff, like the M 4.0t, M500 and the like are truly great amps, but you must also remember that they are now 20+ years old and in need of being completely gone through so that they perform as they were intended.

    Also, I will not own the Cinema 200 watt amps as I feel these sound muddy and lack any kind of impact, emotional or otherwise. The Signature amps are, for what they offer, are truly special amps that deserve all of the accolades they have been given over the years. The Classic Tube Pre is another example of a great preamp.

    I will soon have my tube monoblocks up and running. These will be my last foray into a Carver designed product, and may well be the last amps I will ever own. For some reason, after all of the transistor work Carver has done, his tube designs are the ones a Carver fan dreams of.

    There is also more than a bit of a Carverite embracing the rebel side of the audio coin. Bob did things(and still does) on his own terms. When everybody was making black-faced gear, Bob did silver and he did anthracite when others did silver. Lets not forget things like DTL, which was among the first attempts at smoothing over the harsh sound of CD's, or Sonic Holography, which has been discussed and debated here several times. He took a coffee can and made an amp out of it that developed more power than the Mcintosh testers could believe and made a company out of it(Phase Linear).

    To me, Bob represented the little guy in the snobby world of audio, and he still does. Name one other former head of a major audio company that 4 decades later, still is there for those that love his gear, and will travel across the country to break some bread and spend time with them. He takes my calls on a regular basis to help me build my amps. He is as classy a man as you will ever want to know.


    He has given a lot to the audio world, and I feel lucky to call him a friend and a mentor of sorts. Thanks for asking newrival... There is so much more but I hope this helps a bit.
    Last edited by nooshinjohn; 12-21-2010 at 01:53 AM.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
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  7. #7

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    The only carver amp i have owned was a 35x that i sold.

    I am glad you put the sunfire statement in LOL i agree it is a different league then the carver amps.

    I did hear a m500T though that sounded verry musical especially against the 35x I had.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    I don't get it. Why do I see so many SDA and SRS owners with Carver amps? Don't get me wrong I've owned my share: m400, m400t, 1.5t, 4.0t, tfm-35, tfm-55 (borrowed for 8 months). But seriously, I don't get what people see in these. Is it the wattage sticker? their lean, uncontrolled, and sometimes down-right flabby bass? I know Polk SDA's and SRS's arent the definition of transparent speakers, but still, they're transparent enough to let me know these are amps meant for lesser speakers. I get that this is all subjective, but I see the money people are spending on these things and I can't help but think, "you have to be joking." I will say, I've heard the Silver 7's (tubes) and I think they sound great. better than any other tube amp i've heard, including the Marantz 9's (another amp I don't get). Additionally, these comments do not apply to Sunfire kit. Thats like a whole other league above. But anyways, if these amps were selling for 160-200 bones, fine. That seems like a fair second hand price. But when someone is paying $500-$1k for these things... i dont get it. For 500-1k you're in reach of some mighty fine amps.

    But this question isn't a passive aggressive attack on Carver, I really want to know. What am I missing here?
    $500-1K for mighty Fine amps, you say? I am all ears. Wanna know where to get them.
    Trying out Different Audio Cables is a Religious Affair. You don't discuss it with anyone.

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    I'm right with you there, Tony. synergy is key. I thought the Carver M400's were fantastic mono's until I hooked them up to my DCM TF600's I had a few years back. They fell flat on their face. I tried running it stereo. yuck. out of all those carvers mentioned, the tfm sounded about the best with DCM's. not the my TimeWindow^2's, however. The carver's were unwieldy.

    People rag on Adcom GFA-555's in bridged mono, but it's likely because of poor application. Theyre meant to run high impedence loads, like my TW^2's which are 12ohm, nominal. More observable around 14ohms. The original Nelson Pass GFA-555 is seriously a gorgeous amp if given the chance to shine.

    My point is, I understand how a great amp can just not match up and perform poorly. So that's the reason for my thread. Show me the light! tell me how to experience the Carver glory, if it exists. I'm not saying it does or doesn't, just that I'm willing to try.

    My impression is just as you stated, Tony, "People mistake current for watts all the time." And I fear that this is the heart of the issue.
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Somewhat related to the topic...

    This still cracks me up and it was not intentional on my part. At CF '08, the best sounding rig (my rig) did not have a single piece of Carver gear or speakers in it. I do have to say though that Bob's custom mono block tube amps did sound very, very good.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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    My system with a Carver TFM-45 sounds better than many mega-buck rigs I've heard in some very expensive show rooms. I agree it's about synergy. I've tried the Carver with a NAD pre, an Apt-Holman and a Carver C-1 (caps and op-amps upgraded) and the C-1 wins hands down. Almost every time I put on a good sounding record I'm stunned by just how good the Carver/SDA-1C's sound. Same with CD or music server/dac.

    Now my question to the OP is this; if you don't "get it" as you say, then why have you owned so many Carver pieces? Maybe this is just a fishing trip.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fongolio View Post

    Now my question to the OP is this; if you don't "get it" as you say, then why have you owned so many Carver pieces? Maybe this is just a fishing trip.
    Give that man a cigar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    I'm right with you there, Tony. synergy is key. I thought the Carver M400's were fantastic mono's until I hooked them up to my DCM TF600's I had a few years back.
    Your talking about the Carver Cube right? I couldn't get rid of the P.O.S quick enough. That was my third amp purchase around 91 I believe. My Crown DC300A kicked the snot out of it in any metric I could think of.

    I had both AR7's and some rock'em sock'em Cerwin Vega's 12's and going Vinyl or CDP to IC 150 to amp to speakers and that M400 never did impress.

    I wouldn't mind owning one of his Coffee Can amps just for historical value.

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    Somewhat related to the topic...

    This still cracks me up and it was not intentional on my part. At CF '08, the best sounding rig (my rig) did not have a single piece of Carver gear or speakers in it. I do have to say though that Bob's custom mono block tube amps did sound very, very good.
    Well F1, do you think the reason your system sounded better is that your cables cost more than most of the amps or speakers you're compairing them to?
    Lots of Carver stuff and a pair of LSi9's

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    I don't get it. Why do I see so many SDA and SRS owners with Carver amps?
    I think the answer to that lies within the question.

    Obviously many SDA owners own Carver gear because to their ears it sounds better than anything else in the same price range.

    You speak of many other amps that sound great within this price range, please name a handfull I want to try them.



    REGARDS SNOW
    Last edited by snow; 12-21-2010 at 08:43 AM.
    Well, I just pulled off the impossible by doing a double-blind comparison all by myself, purely by virtue of the fact that I completely and stupidly forgot what I did last. I guess that getting old does have its advantages after all :D

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    Quote Originally Posted by snow View Post
    I think the answer to that lies witin the question.

    Obviously many SDA owners own Carver gear because to their ears it sounds better than anything else in the same price range.

    You speak of many other amps that sound great within this price range, please name a handfull I want to try them.



    REGARDS SNOW
    well said +1

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    I also noticed that you mentioned in your opening statement that it wasnt meant as an attack on Carver amps but yet again you say that every Carver amp you have owned or listened to has lean uncontrolled even flabby bass, not sure how that can be construed as anything other than a blatant attack.

    I have owned several Carver amps and Sunfire gear as well and have never encountered what you mention, perhaps the gear that you had needed new caps virtually all of the gear mentioned is due for a refurb if it hasnt been done yet. Do you even own any SDA's to try carver gear on? or is what you said just an assumption based on your experience with your time windows?

    Carver gear is known to have both high current and high voltage so it is interesting to read your denial of this.

    I suggest you see how poorly a pair of TFM-35's perform in Sal's/Laserath's video with his SDA's

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHHLK...er_profilepage



    REGARDS SNOW
    Last edited by snow; 12-21-2010 at 09:18 AM.
    Well, I just pulled off the impossible by doing a double-blind comparison all by myself, purely by virtue of the fact that I completely and stupidly forgot what I did last. I guess that getting old does have its advantages after all :D

  18. #18

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    I have owned a TFM-35x and while it was an *adequate* entry level amp, it can't compare to the stuff I have now. I would not go back to Carver's TFM series. Ever. Once I heard what tubes sound like, I was ruined.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jinjuku View Post
    I wouldn't mind owning one of his Coffee Can amps just for historical value.
    Go and buy another cube....
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
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    I have owned 3 of the TFM series, 25, 45 and 55. I liked all 3 in my rig.

    Set up right and in good working order they are a lot of amp for the money IMO.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
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  21. #21

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    I have a Carver 4.0 (recently refreshed by Carveraudiorepair) and a tfm42 (same amp internally)

    love them to death. thin? flabby bass? uh, sure man, why not?

    the 4.0 plus AR9's = magic
    the TFM42 plus LSi's 15's = magic


    Don't sgree? don't take this the wrong way, but i trust my ears over your opinion.

    some people think the Emo XPA2 is the best thing since sliced bread, I think my 4.0 was significantly better on the Carver Amazings I had at the time (Polkfest 2010), and that was before the refresh....which significantly improved it.

    buy what ya like.
    Theater - Polk LSi15, LSiC, LSi9 speaks, DIY Sub (142.5L box, SVS plus driver, 500 Watt plate amp)...Outlaw 990 pre/pro, Carver TFM45, 2 X Outlaw M200 . Rotel RB980 . PS3, Monster 3600 power center

    2 Channel -
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  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post

    But this question isn't a passive aggressive attack on Carver, though I certainly worded my inquiry to specifically bash peoples gear

    fixed that for ya by the way
    Theater - Polk LSi15, LSiC, LSi9 speaks, DIY Sub (142.5L box, SVS plus driver, 500 Watt plate amp)...Outlaw 990 pre/pro, Carver TFM45, 2 X Outlaw M200 . Rotel RB980 . PS3, Monster 3600 power center

    2 Channel -
    Anthem Pre 2l, Jolida JD100 CD player, CAL Sigma DAC, Carver m4.0, Polk LSi9 w external modified Crossovers (thanks Trey!)

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    I have two Carver a753x's, 250 x three channels, and love them. One in the ht running the front three with Paradigm's, and one in the two channel rig running modded 1.2 tl's (only using two channels, obviously). Love them both, nothing bad to say except for some reliability issues, but the sound is...
    Two Channel-SDA SRS 1.2tl's,modded. Carver a-753x, Technics 1200mk2, Nad 515bee,Soundstage vacuum two pre
    HT-Denon avr3808ci,Carver a-753x,Panasonic ae4000 projector,120" screen,ps3,wii console w/full rockband,Panamax conditioner,dbx120 subharmonic synthesizer,jvc dvd-a player, Polk RTi12 mains,Polk CSiA6 centre, Energy ES-18xl sub,two custom 10" powered subs, Def Tech bp2x surrounds(4),Paradigm monitors-rear(2)

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    Ya know I forgot I did have a cube and I did not care for it either.


    Again I have not owned too many carver amps but from friends that have, when put on my amazings sounded very good. I have found they do shine on ribbons. I almost got a 4.0T but I passed. One of the things that got me interested in hearing the 4.0t or a bigger carver amp on my SDA's was because of the reviews here and the carver board on how well they match. I have not heard a carver amp on a set of polks only my Sunfire Sig II 625x2. When I had the 35X I had JBL L150's ( bass monsters LOL ) but I preferred my Integra amp on L150's so I sold the 35X. ( it had better control on the bass and just a very pleasing sounding amp.If you have not had a chance to hear an integra amp the ones with the big vu meters, go listen!! Very nice for the $)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    Go and buy another cube....
    I don't want a cube. I want one of his original Amps in a Can... that would be cool just for a conversation piece.
    Last edited by jinjuku; 12-21-2010 at 10:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erniejade View Post
    Ya know I forgot I did have a cube and I did not care for it either.

    .........If you have not had a chance to hear an integra amp the ones with the big vu meters, go listen!! Very nice for the $)


    True, about the cube (never had one, but most people say they didnt like it)

    an the Onkyo Integra amps from back in the day............love those amps (though the big caps in the 508 can go and be pricey to replace I hear)

    the 504's dont break the bank last I checked but sound great. is on my "I'll snag it if it is close and at a good price" listed amps
    Theater - Polk LSi15, LSiC, LSi9 speaks, DIY Sub (142.5L box, SVS plus driver, 500 Watt plate amp)...Outlaw 990 pre/pro, Carver TFM45, 2 X Outlaw M200 . Rotel RB980 . PS3, Monster 3600 power center

    2 Channel -
    Anthem Pre 2l, Jolida JD100 CD player, CAL Sigma DAC, Carver m4.0, Polk LSi9 w external modified Crossovers (thanks Trey!)

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    Never cared for the Carver sound or Sunfire for that matter, but there seems to be a lot that do. I'm speaking of the SS stuff mostly as I have limited experience with the Carver/Sunfire tube stuff.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

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    I haven't particularly liked the Carver amps i've had through my rig, either. But then again, that's my rig, my ears, and my opinion may have changed if i had a different rig, or different ears.
    I don't read the newsssspaperssss because dey aaaallllllllll...... have ugly print.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fongolio View Post
    My system with a Carver TFM-45 sounds better than many mega-buck rigs I've heard in some very expensive show rooms. I agree it's about synergy. I've tried the Carver with a NAD pre, an Apt-Holman and a Carver C-1 (caps and op-amps upgraded) and the C-1 wins hands down. Almost every time I put on a good sounding record I'm stunned by just how good the Carver/SDA-1C's sound. Same with CD or music server/dac.

    Now my question to the OP is this; if you don't "get it" as you say, then why have you owned so many Carver pieces? Maybe this is just a fishing trip.
    I am remiss to mention that I love Carver preamps. I've only had one that worked, but my friend has one as well as a 2ch receiver which I find sounds pretty nice.

    the reason I owned so many was because they, all but the tfm-35 and m-400t, were my great uncle's. When he passed I was to test them, clean them up, and sell the ones I didn't want. As I originally stated, I really liked them at first. That was until I hooked them up to less forgiving speakers. As far as this being a fishing trip, in a way it is. I just want responses. Good, bad, or indifferent. Thats why we're here. Some people may choose to take this personally because that's what they use or for some other reason, but that is unavoidable. I'm merely stating my opinion in a somewhat jovial fashion in hopes of starting conversation. Which it appears has happened.

    As all can see, I have stated that many people like Carver amps. I concede that point. So there must be reasoning to it. And that is what I am after. I just want people to let me know what I'm missing. I feel this is a much better approach than just posting on peoples threads and saying "Carver blows, get a REAL amp!" Because I don't feel that way. To each their own, and to their own, good music. That's what it's all about, right?
    design is where science and art break even.

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    I have used many Carver amps in the past. I still own a pair of Silver 7t mono blocks. Now these were driving Martin Logan CLS, which are a difficult load at best.

    I started with a m1.5t but I could clip it at will. Next up was a TFM-35. It was better but still couldn't handle the CLS at higher volumes. Then a A500x did a really good job but still worked a little harder than I wanted. Which rolled into an A760x that was awesome. Handled the CLS like a charm. I would have stayed with it if not for a great deal on the Silver 7t.

    What I found was the current capabilities of the large amps was what the CLS needed. The ability to handle one ohm loads and play without getting past ambient temperatures.

    Your mileage may vary.

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