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  1. #1

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    Post The future of Audio

    Okay, lets get a good discussion on the state of listening to music/music going. There have been arguments between tubes vs. solid state, two channel vs multi channel, and now, digital vs analog amps/receivers.
    Anyone who has heard the Sony DA9000ES set up correctly can tell you that it is a most excellent sounding receiver. It was demoed with Wilson speakers when it was first released. The technical advancements of this topology include use of the I link interface, which then goes through an anti –jitter circuit, converted to direct stream digital, and sent to the output stage. The analog output has no negative feedback whatsoever, a trait which is highly touted by the high end.
    I think this approach is the future of audio, as the ability to shape the signal, lower the noise floor, provide the best possible resolution, and provide a truly deep and expansive soundstage for both two channel and multi channel, is hard to beat. All areas of frequency are reproduced very accurately. Treble in particular is some of the best you will hear, especially with the LSI series. There are several digital amps of recent vintage that have all been highly regarded.
    So let the arguments begin!

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    Some people will argue that vinyl will beat all that technology hands down.

    Let the arguments continue :)
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  3. #3
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    Frreo,

    I am going to change my direction from my first response. It takes zero effort to get me off the beaten path when it comes to audio discussions. Your post seems to focus more on class D and the goals of current circuit design, vice the grand scheme of Hi-Fi’s future.

    Class D, or “chip” amplifiers is not a new concept. This technology has been used in the professional world for around 20+ years. Home Audio, as usual – is late to the game and only recently began to discover what this could do for hi-fi in the home. I dipped my feet into the class D waters when waves began to make their rounds across the forums about power-house receivers that were rumored to sound as good as the mega-buck systems – most notably the Panasonic SAX45 and the venerable battery powered T-amp.

    The market was abuzz with sheer excitement that you could obtain exceptional performance from something as un-assuming, common, and as affordable as $400 – that could drive some of the baddest speakers out there. Even in the year 2000, you would have to spend at least $500 (new) on a mediocre amp from the likes of Adcom, Rotel, Parasound, Audiosource, that could drive a 4 ohm speaker well. Class D has changed that.

    The market is now aplenty with class D amplification. It can be found in the best-buy market just as it can be found in the esoteric market. Subjectivity aside, it is a topology that is here to stay. Most of these chip-sets run cool by nature – allowing the designer to use small and inexpensive chassis’s, saving money by needing small, or no heat-sinks at all for safe operation. The transistors themselves can be had for very cheap prices when bought in bulk, and most of them just so happen to sound pretty good and have the capacity to drive some very difficult loads.

    So is there where the market is heading? Well, since I can’t predict the future (which explains why I lack a villa in Spain) – its impossible to say. Your guess is as good as mine. However, a little inkling of common sense suggests that you will one day find large heat generating boxes to be a thing of the past – replaced by slim and feather weight machines.

    So what does this mean for Hi-Fi? So long as it exists, there will always be a demand for big, beastly amplifiers that can run double duty as a space heater in the frigid winter months. There will always be variations of tube and solid state. Sources may change.. but unless something revolutionary comes to audio – the basic topologies will remain the same. The only differences are that parts often become less inexpensive, our knowledge of circuits grow and we have quality sounding products offered to us at lower, and lower prices.

    I can bet your next paycheck that you will in no way see a large push from manufacturers to focus on providing true and clean signals. The facts are that many people love limitations purposely introduced by circuit design, they love distortion and would gladly take that over something designed to “tell it like it is”. So long as there is Hi Fi, there will be a yin and yang.
    Last edited by Zero; 09-12-2006 at 08:39 PM.

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    everyone's ears are differant....thats why there are so many ways to go in audio.Will agree with the rookie,vinyl does sound pretty damn good,just trying to get those albums to play in my car is a pain in the arse.:)
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  5. #5

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    A discussion or a plug for a Sony??

    High end audio has always been a niche market. Always will be.

    BDT
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    It's a discussion thread. Sony was the first to combine I -link with a digital amp, but I'm sure they will not be the only one. In the never ending battle to outdo, there will be improvements from a whole host of companies.

    By the Way,
    I have always liked the sound of vinyl myself. There is a certain warmth to it. However, compareed to a DTS 96/24 source, it simply cannot compete.

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    The debate always seems to be about what & who is declared High end.

    The preference being if you spend massive amounts on your system than you MUST be high end & it MUST be better because you spent massive amounts of money, all else should be scoffed at.

    I personally think that it is debatable & all you are really paying for is a name.

    Monster Cable immediately comes to mind.

    I pretty much outgrew the Brand Name gimmick, & simply look for the best made whatever in my price range.

    For me that is Polk speakers. So called Audiophiles put them down since they sell in big common man stores. But the quality & longevity of the products speaks for itself.

    So as far as I'm concerned, the audiophile snobs can take a long walk off of a short pier!
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    Digital will continue to evolve. Players, processors, amps whatever. Development money is there for other applications that can spin off into audio. PCs, cell phones, super computers, software development, satellites, wave and digital transmission etc. is all digital based. Therefore the development of high temperature chips, smaller devices, faster and cheaper processing all have applications to audio equipment.
    Carl

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    Well, here is my .02.....

    Only time will tell...the technology holds promise but put me in the camp that history has shown us that the likelyhood of getting it 'right' the first time is unlikely. Solid state and digital media are prime examples.

    We'll see. I doubt that we are 'there' yet.

    BDT
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    Good call, cfrizz. Besides, some high end folks recognize the value of Polk. There are very favorable reviews of the Polk LSI series in the absolute sound, and it does not get more wank (snobby) than that rag. In the end, always trust your ears, not the price tag.

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    Nothing in life comes out right the first time around Troy. It is always a learning, growing, constant improvement process. That's just life! I would say that both solid state & digital will continue to evolve & improve to make our lives easier, lighter & better!:)

    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD
    Well, here is my .02.....

    Only time will tell...the technology holds promise but put me in the camp that history has shown us that the likelyhood of getting it 'right' the first time is unlikely. Solid state and digital media are prime examples.

    We'll see. I doubt that we are 'there' yet.

    BDT
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  12. #12

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    Sony has yet to make anything I would call "excellent sounding" and I've owned a number of their products over the years. Now, TV's are a different story.

    The future of audio? For some, it will remain pretty much the same. For others, I'm afraid it's a slippery slope.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut
    Sony has yet to make anything I would call "excellent sounding" and I've owned a number of their products over the years. Now, TV's are a different story.
    I wonder if you've heard:
    * Sony SCD-1 SACD/CD player - The first reference quality SACD player. I replaced my Meridian G08 with this unit.
    * Sony MDR-R10 headphones - Far superior to the vast majority of speakers in tonality and resolution. I would put these up against Thiel CS 7.2's, which are the best speakers I've heard.
    * Sony Qualia 010 headphones - Ditto the above in resolution and speed
    * The X5000 CD player was also a great unit for its day
    * There's also an R10 reference CD player but I forget the full model number

    The vast majority of Sony's audio products are low-fi, but they've defined the cutting edge in the instances noted above. The know-how is there. Unfortunately the distribution and production of these products was very limited, pricing often prohibitive, and it seems very little (if any) of this trickles down to the affordable products. Still, I could't just let you get by with a blanket statement like that :p :D
    Last edited by mulveling; 09-13-2006 at 03:04 AM.
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    Yes, I have listened to the SCD-1 on a few occasions (almost bought one) and owned the XA777ES for a brief time. While the SACD playback was very good, it and the redbook still have that Sony house sound, kinda dry and analytical to my ears. I'm not a "can" man, so no comment there. :)

    I didn't mean to say they haven't made very good products, just none that I consider excellent. No offense meant.
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    Frreo1, If you do an indepth analysis of the so called chip amps, D-class, or Digital amps (whatever the company wants to classify them as) you'll see they have just as many short commings only perhaps in slightly different areas of performance as conventional class amplifiers. As Zero suggests these types of designs are nothing new, perhaps they are a bit more refined than they used to be and certainly some technology has made them even more cost effective.

    The thing to remember in audio is the end product is the sum of the manufactureres intention. Sure there can be some really well designed and executed "digital" amps just like there can be soem really stellar class "A" and "AB" amps. Each have trade offs in different areas and IMO, a conventional class amp is better than the other as a whole, it depends on the manufacturers intended target market the end users intended use.

    Anyone who has read my posts knows I'm a bit old school when it comes to electronics. I believe in discrete circuits rather than IC chip sets and really am not a fan of things like opamps and digital circuits. I believe seperates should be used at every stage possible...blah..blah..blah.

    That being said IMO, chip amps are good for a few things. They are extremely inexpensive (most designs) to get decent sound, they are great for small tight compact placement and they generate little to no heat because they are a most effecient design.

    Do your homework, they aren't perfect by any stretch and unless they are very well designed (ie; expensive) they have some serious short comings when it comes to true audiophile performance. They are not for me, but as usual get your learn and listen on and see what you and your ears prefer.

    I would take a Nelson Pass design or a John Curl design over a digital amp anytime. There probably is a reason heavy weights like these aren't designing a digital amp. Digital amps certainly have their place on the audio continuum and will continue to be popular. Also remember there is no such thing as a digital amp. In the end it has to be analog and that where controversy starts.

    H9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cfrizz
    Nothing in life comes out right the first time around Troy. It is always a learning, growing, constant improvement process. That's just life! I would say that both solid state & digital will continue to evolve & improve to make our lives easier, lighter & better!:)
    Exactly Cathy, and that's why I am generally reticent to be an 'early-adopter' because actual performance generally doesn't meet expectation for awhile.

    BDT
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  17. #17

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    Where the chip amps have the ability to really shine is after some refinement and using battery power. I've heard REALLY good sounding chip amps, and unlistenable ones. There is no inbetween, and the latter is the most common right now.

    The power supply makes such a HUGE difference in the chip amps.

    I don't doubt they will evolve, look at solid state. The sand amps of the 60's and early 70's were HORRIBLE for the most part, compared to what is being produced today. Tubes on the other hand, it's almost comical that some of the best sounding iron is 40 something years old and still holding it's own today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frreo1
    The analog output has no negative feedback whatsoever, a trait which is highly touted by the high end.
    Negative feedback is actually a design issue and has little to do with being "touted" by the high end. Depending on the design, negative feedback can be a good thing.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai
    Negative feedback is actually a design issue and has little to do with being "touted" by the high end. Depending on the design, negative feedback can be a good thing.
    Exactly. There are many negative feedback designs that are excellent. Some even feel it's an essential part of maintaining signal linearity. There are many ways to use negative feedback. I'll say it again it's never a good idea to generalize when it comes to audio. I try not too, but can be quilty of it also.

    I do agree somewhat with RuSs that there will come a day when "chip" style designs will hold there own against even the best sand amps. That's just a matter of evolution and IMO it's a ways off. There will always be a particular unit or two or three that will shine, but it won't be the cheapies. Please no comments on the T-amp.

    As far the state of audio for the future. Manufacturers as a whole will continue to market to the masses and many of the products offered will be very homogeneous. As is the trend now it will be heavily feature driven with audio quality taking a back seat to convenience and state of the art features that are for the most part useless.

    You will see more and more products than ever before designed to do everything in one box and the move to downloading music in a lossy format will continue to grow because the next generation (for the most part) won't know what good hi fidelity reproduction sounds like. Products will continue to be bland boxes with pretty lights. Hard core designers will be relegated to the fringe of the hobby that only old farts like me will continue to seek out.

    Sounds like the end of the world to me :D

    H9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RuSsMaN
    The power supply makes such a HUGE difference in the chip amps.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Exactly! and the power suppy and associated circuits are THE most expensive part of the equation. This is true for sand amps as well.

    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

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  21. #21

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    http://www.polkaudio.com/homeaudio/products/lc265i-ip/

    This is the future of home audio. European companies may be taking a lead position in this market though. Class D amplification (low weight, power consumption, heat output) built into speakers that are optimised for it, and room correction systems run out of an entertainment server is where the market is likely to go for most people.
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    My take is a bit different. I don't have a SACD player, but do have a DTS-Audio capable HK DVD25. I just bought the Police: Every Breath You Take in DTS Audio: my one and only DTS music disc. I'm not a big Police fan, but thought I would give it a spin. It sounded good - different - but good. But I'm not so sure I am willing to up the ante to buy more expensive media: CDs are already expensive.

    As technology moves forward, it seems everyone is caught up in the video resolution race. 720p....1080i...now 1080p. DVI...now HDMI. People are more than willing to sink big money into HD, and they have good reason to. In the near future, it will be the standard. It seems many are on the fence for Blu-Ray and HD DVD. I myself might not go to these formats for another 4 or 5 years, since it would necessitate an upgrade to my TV.

    Audio seems to be a different story. I could be wrong, but SACD seems to be all but discontinued by Sony, and both SACD and DVD Audio is available in extremely limited quantities. In fact, the dirrection audio is going is the OTHER way - less resolution in favor of portablility.

    My take is that we will see little change in the audio market (where speakers, amps, music format, and overall sound quality are concerned. I think most changes will involve portablility and availability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Jam
    Audio seems to be a different story. I could be wrong, but SACD seems to be all but discontinued by Sony, and both SACD and DVD Audio is available in extremely limited quantities. In fact, the dirrection audio is going is the OTHER way - less resolution in favor of portablility.
    SACD and DVD-A were introduced at the wrong time, when the market changed direction and aimed more at the portable aspect instead of sound quality. I think those who still think SACD or DVD-A will replace CD as the leading physical music medium better wake up and smell the coffee....that dream has been dashed for a number of years. Instead, both SACD and DVD-A have became audiophile niche formats. Especially SACD....and Sony is still involved in both hardware and software. DVD-A will soon see a major release with the Doors boxset. I think both formats will continue for the next couple of years. On the other hand, I seriously doubt either Blu-ray or HD-DVD will become a threat to CD as the leading music format. As for downloading, it depends. Check out what the San Francisco Symphony reported....

    "We're always looking toward the future here. We recognize the growing online market the San Francisco Symphony is enjoying," John Keiser, the SFS's director of operations and electronic media, told Stereophile magazine. He added, however, that digital sales are nowhere near hard copy sales. For example, since 2002, Symphony No. 6 has sold 18,100 hybrid SACDs, compared to 1,640 total downloads of all SFS Mahler symphonies available (album downloads plus single tracks) since the orchestra's iTunes launch last year, according to Stereophile.
    I think digital components will continue to improve. I believe the biggest advancement will come in advanced DSP being implemented in loudspeakers, such as that NHT 2.1 system with room-correction. Analog components such as turntables will continue, but they will increasingly be interfacing with digital components such as Class-D amps, where there will be an analog to digital conversion. Many, including myself, are wary of such conversion, but I think that stage of conversion will get better and better....eventually becoming sonically transparent.
    Last edited by Danny Tse; 09-13-2006 at 05:37 PM.

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    The way I see it is that if my needle vibrates properly in a clean groove, gets amplified by a high voltage field causing the electrons to move inside the tube and in turn gets turned back into air movement, all without going through thousands of components, I have pretty much all there is to be offered present or future. The audio signal going through thousands of silicon switches and tons of altering circuits after being eletronically replicated in an IC just has too many limitations.
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    Good comments from everyone. It is mind bending that SACD/DVD sound has not taken off more. I do not mean to offend anyone, but a mid pried DVD player that plays SACD/DVD will perform MUCH better than a high end CD only player. It does not take an engineering degree to hear the higher quality resolution. The abiliity to adjust the signal in the digital domain is a signifigant advancement in the ability to reproduce high quality audio. The SOURCE is a most important key to getting quality sound. That is one of the big reasons that componets like the DA 9000 ES sound so good. It accepts the SACD/DVD signal (less DVD audio) bitstream via I-Link, and takes out the jitter via the HATS circutry. What is sent to the output stage is the highest possible quality digital bitstream. The point about the power supplly is well taken. The DA 9000 ES has a large transformer, as that is the only way to get 200WPC to 7 channels at a acceptably low noise level and current requirements.

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    The only reason why those 2 formats haven't taken off is because they haven't been releasing the right music! If they came out & said that they were making Beatles, Eagles, Kiss, The Who, etc... entire music catalogs into SACD & DVD-A, sales would go through the roof.

    Instead they focused on putting out all the classical stuff & had 2 competing formats to boot!

    It's like they purposely tried to kill the 2 formats with thier greed. Same thing will happen with the new Blue Ray & HD-DVD.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frreo1
    Good comments from everyone. It is mind bending that SACD/DVD sound has not taken off more. I do not mean to offend anyone, but a mid pried DVD player that plays SACD/DVD will perform MUCH better than a high end CD only player. It does not take an engineering degree to hear the higher quality resolution. The abiliity to adjust the signal in the digital domain is a signifigant advancement in the ability to reproduce high quality audio. The SOURCE is a most important key to getting quality sound. That is one of the big reasons that componets like the DA 9000 ES sound so good. It accepts the SACD/DVD signal (less DVD audio) bitstream via I-Link, and takes out the jitter via the HATS circutry. What is sent to the output stage is the highest possible quality digital bitstream. The point about the power supplly is well taken. The DA 9000 ES has a large transformer, as that is the only way to get 200WPC to 7 channels at a acceptably low noise level and current requirements.
    Boy you do have a rosey outlook don't you. You haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what real audiophile components can do in reproducing audio. I'm glad you like your current set of gear, absolutely nothing wrong with that or what your ears hear. But let's not draw such narrow conclusions about the gear in question compared to much more out there. I can guarantee I could build a 20 bit redbook system for a modest amount of money that would blow the doors clean off of what you describe above. As always different strokes for different folks, but your statements are a bit shall we say optimistic and green. Just because it's ALL digital doesn't mean sqwat.

    Digital, DVD-A, SACD is not the end all of audio reproduction.

    Cheers

    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!

  28. #28

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    It reads more like an advertisment than anything based on an actual opinion.

  29. #29

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    It's been awhile since I've seen this statement

    "Those that don't know, don't know they don't know"
    "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!

  30. #30

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    The bussiness is a mess right now. Things going in all kinds of directions. Upgrading is actually not desirable for me as both HD DVD and Blu Ray kinda don't have much going for them. HDMI 1.3 isn't out completely yet and there are many problems with HDMI switching.

    HDTV is the biggest thing with Ipod. Everything wraps around these 2 things today. I see more HDTV's going in and Ipods then anything else. I Install at least 1 to 2 plasmas everyday. Hell today I did 4 of them in one house.

    Digital amps are exciting. Rotel has a few I'm dieing to go demo. It would be very nice to own amps that generate no heat, are very small and light weight yet perfrom as good or better then solid state amps. I heard that the sound quality from these new Rotel amps are excellent and in alot of ways better then there Solid state amps.

    SACD and DVD AUDIO are basically dead.For awhile we where getting customers looking for it, now no one cares. We don't sell it as a feature, most of the time you get one or the other(both) with your DVD player yet most people don't use it. I loved both of them but own under 15 disc's total. Shame.

    Dan
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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