Class D amplifiers. What's the future look like?

I have a number of amplifiers: Luxman C900U, Bryston 4BSST2, Audio Research VSI 60 Integrated, NAD C298 and some other less noteworthy units. As I swap them in and out of my main system, I've come to the conclusion my very modest NAD C298 is about all I really need. Granted if I had extremely hard to drive speakers, I might be better with the Bryston or Luxman, but driving my Harbeth 40.2 speakers, the NAD is just fine. 

I thought a while ago that class D would quickly overtake amplifier design type mainly due to profit margin which I think would be much greater than A/B and tube. I'm not saying the other design styles would go away, just that D would be the most common style. 

Clearly my prediction is not panning out, at least in the mid and high-end audio world and I'm wondering why? It seems companies such as Bryston, Luxman, McIntosh, Hegel and so many others are sticking by A/B. I'm no "golden ears" guy, but is the perceived sound issue(weather real or imaginary) still holding D back? Maybe my assumption of profit margin is not correct? Maybe the amplifier manufacturers are experimenting with D, but keeping tight lipped until release? Perhaps brand loyalists don't want change similar to what happened with "new coke". What else am I missing?



The company’s you mentioned have so much of their current value wrapped up in the glory of their house sound and history of famous amps I doubt it makes sense to try and market the newest thing(class d) unless it is obviously superior sounding.  That said what do I know I have only really heard consumer class a/b amps.



I thought a while ago that class D would quickly overtake amplifier design type mainly due to profit margin which I think would be much greater than A/B and tube. I'm not saying the other design styles would go away, just that D would be the most common style.  Clearly my prediction is not panning out

I think not.  Sounds like you’re missing the newer generation of amps employing the likes of GaN and Purify technology and are garnering huge praises.  When Ralph at @atmasphere introduces a GaN amp and in some ways prefers it to his incredible OTL tube amps, well, that’s about as big of a statement I could think to hear about how far the newer technology has progressed.  To me, the handwriting seems to be on the wall where this is going as designers better learn to “tune” the latest digital components as they wish.  I think your prediction is absolutely panning out and in the next few years will come to fruition. 

  1. Sound Quality Perception: Audiophiles are often very discerning about sound quality. While Class D amplifiers have improved significantly, some enthusiasts may still perceive differences in sound quality compared to traditional amplifiers. These differences may be real or perceived, and audiophile preferences often lean towards the warmth and character that tubes or Class A/B amplifiers can provide.

  2. Brand Reputation and Loyalty: Established high-end audio manufacturers, such as Bryston, Luxman, McIntosh, and others, have built strong reputations based on their Class A/B and tube amplifier designs. Brand loyalists may resist change and prefer to stick with what they know and trust, even if Class D technology has advantages.

  3. Market Segmentation: High-end audio is a niche market, and the demands and expectations of audiophiles can be different from mainstream consumers. Some audiophiles appreciate the traditional craftsmanship and aesthetics of tube or Class A/B amplifiers, which may not be achievable with Class D designs.

  4. R&D and Innovation: Manufacturers may indeed be experimenting with Class D technology, but the development cycle for high-end audio equipment can be lengthy. It takes time to perfect new designs, ensure they meet audiophile standards, and maintain the desired sonic characteristics. Manufacturers may also want to preserve the mystique and allure of traditional amplifiers.

  5. Profit Margins: While Class D amplifiers can be cost-effective and offer good efficiency, profit margins in the high-end audio market may not be the primary driving factor for manufacturers. These companies often prioritize craftsmanship, high-quality components, and sound performance over cost-cutting measures.

  6. Speaker Compatibility: As you mentioned, the choice of amplifier can also depend on the type of speakers used. Some speakers may benefit more from the characteristics of Class A/B or tube amplifiers, especially if they are less efficient or have unique impedance curves.

It's important to note that Class D amplifiers are widely used in professional audio and consumer electronics, where efficiency and power output are crucial. They have made significant inroads in these markets.

While Class D technology may continue to advance and gain acceptance in the high-end audio world, it's likely that traditional amplifier designs will coexist for the foreseeable future, catering to different preferences and market segments. Manufacturers may continue to offer a variety of amplifier options to meet the diverse demands of audiophiles.

They will go the way of cd players, in ten years no one will need them. Ralph and others perhaps have some time to cash in. He does not prefer his class D to his and many others tube amps. He won't fool me.


He does not prefer his class D to his and many others tube amps. He won’t fool me.

You may be wrong with that comment. I believe Ralph has stated that he is using his new GaN class D amplifiers as his main/primary choice. Also if I am not mistaken, his primary speakers are very high efficient/sensitivity Classic Audio  horn speakers.


Granted if I had extremely hard to drive speakers

Some Class D manufacturers claim 2 Ohm stable. Besides, how many folks have speakers that dip to 2 or 1 Ohm for considerably amounts of time. I want to try one with my ears, and mind open.

If he really prefers his class D amps to tube amps then he fools himself.

In any case, he is on this forum for business purposes, whatever he says - remember that.


If he really prefers his class D amps to tube amps then he fools himself.

In any case, he is on this forum for business purposes, whatever he says - remember that

For my listening needs high quality tube amplification (Low-moderate power genre) is my best option. Simply my individual conclusion, we all differ in preferences. I won’t question another’s motives. Which ever amplifiers Ralph prefers he’s certainly capable of explaining a particular preference. One can accept his rationale or not.



Ralph certainly needs no advocate to ’defend’ him, but could not stay silent after post that is written above.Whatever Ralphs ’purpouse’ might be, I have learned a lot reading his posts. He even found the time to answer my private msg.about hi fi gear that was not produced by his company. On the other hand, I am quite certain that nobody will find the ’purpose’ of the posts written by ’author’above...

After years of reading posts we can distinguish easily honesty and stupidity...

Atmasphere is under the label "honesty" for me...

it does not means that he is right in all he said but that he put his name on what he said...

I believe him , anyway i had no competence in amplifier design...but he is not alone in a desert , others experienced this new types of amplification...

Then listening  to atmasphere explanation and thinking about it is better than accusing him with no competence to sustain the accusation ..

My 2 cent....

Well, 40 years ago, Bob Carver's Cube was Class D wasn't it?

My friend Wayne at Harvey's let me know one was coming out of the shop to the used shelf. Like many purchases from that shelf, I didn't need it, bought it just because. Ended up using some inefficient speakers in my office, put that cube in a tight space on a shelf near my head, on for hours, the heat was nearly non-existent,

I also has a Carver AM/FM Tuner with his unique features, and ended up with nothing but respect for his mind.

Point is, here we are 40 years later talking about Class D.

They have been all around us for years, current uses listed on wiki are interesting. Scroll down to uses

I imagine my self powered home theater sub with 1000 watt amp is class D, I sit very near it, no apparent heat.

Yet, I am skeptical regarding using Class D in my primary listening setup. I've never heard Class D in a main music system.

In any case, I prefer tubes since inheriting (in 1973) a tube unit made in 1958. I only sold those mono blocks (to Steve at VAS) because they didn't have remote volume and I liked the new to me Cayin's sound as much as them.

If he really prefers his class D amps to tube amps then he fools himself. In any case, he is on this forum for business purposes, whatever he says - remember that

I think this post is off base. Ralph can use any amp he wants in his system but chooses to use his GaN amp — not really sure why he’d be fooling himself. And unlike some others here he never tries to “sell” his stuff here and mainly just provides very knowledgeable and helpful info to folks on the site and most of the time on topics that have nothing to do with his products. Not sure where all this cynicism is coming from.

@elliottbnewcombjr - The Carver amp is not class D. It uses a class G output stage. This is essentially class A/B with multiple supply rails which are switched in based on the signal level, so in most situations, the amp is using relatively low 25v rails. 

It also employs an unusual power supply design where the primary (connected to the mains) is switched using a triac (similar to a dimmer switch) to minimize magnetic core saturation allowing a much smaller transformer to be used. 

This design produced prodigious power for it's size, but was not a particularly good sounding amp (in my opinion). 


Be it class D or similar switching technology, it is the future.  Linear amps of all kinds will become a niche market. The only good thing about that is the great progress that has been made in both quality of the amps, and in understanding what kinds of DSP can be used to provide the euphonic distortions some prefer.  First generation ICE modules were screamingly horrible. Newest Purify very clean. Not to my liking but I can accept the progress. 

Speaking of Carver. I remember when someone said he could not make a SS amp sound like a tube, so to prove it, he made a very good tube amp, and then tuned a SS to be very close.  Not as close as some wanted, but he did make a marvelous tube amp. Silver Seven if I remember. Manley showed us how changing the grid resistor changes the tube sound to be almost SS.  The relevant point is that it is the transfer function, not how you get it. 




thanks for the clarification. the patent must have run out, and that technology has not taken the industry by storm.

It did it’s job with essentially no heat in my office, but you are right, I never thought ’this thing sounds great’, just gave me music.

Class D must be low heat, do some of them sound 'great'?


I know it’s off topic, apologies to OP

a bit more about Carver for anyone who cares:

The Carver tuner got amazing reception and sounded darn good as I remember.

I’m using the tuner in my vintage McIntosh mx110z tube tuner/preamp. It needs a good signal which I have. Sounds terrific. Most people, past and present have never heard terrific FM.

Richard Modaferri said "there is nothing I could do to make that tuner better". He designed this McIntosh Tuner


Many thanks for coming out in strong defence of Ralph, who is a humble and careful commentator who compared to many on this forum is a master of his chosen subject

We are all lucky to have an expert of this caliber swimming in this little pond...

Any attack on his moral standing as a member of audiogon must be counter with vigor...

We can loose many other members without loosing much, beginning with me, but no serious audio site can deal with an helpful adviser lost of this caliber... Those thinking the opposite are idiots.. I dont mince always my words... Nor am i always diplomatic,..Sorry... I know you think the same as me ... 😁

Anybody reading his very informed posts think  the same... I know nothing about amplification design but i am able to read articles and tech information...


Many thanks for coming out in strong defence of Ralph, who is a humble and careful commentator who compared to many on this forum is a master of his chosen subject

If they renamed it "Class AA," it would sell a lot better. IMO, it's not the sound quality holding back wider adoption. Manufacturers and audiophiles are somewhat conservative as a group.

It's current, but the future I can see PURE primitive lo-fi made of old scraps 

To give you more details, I've just installed near-new old-stock 198x dishwasher. Planning to do same with rest of appliances. 

“Class D” as a category is likely to be diffused across newer hybrid topologies ( Class G, Class H) and “digital” amplification in active powered speakers that will obviate the need for standalone amplifiers altogether while adding utilities like room correction. Class D may not displace retro technologies such as tubes, but it is likely to displace A/B topology as performance and combined A/D and GaN FET designs improve.

From the Design Group that did the LSA Warp-1 and the new Emerald Physics EP-600.2SE… we think these $99.50 Wireless, Streaming Mono Blocks are pretty cool.


We like Class D :)


Built for Music and loads of Fun!

There are class D designs using Gan transistors and custom analog and digital sections with top power supplies some $20-$30k 

Avik, Merrill audio   I think even  Mark Levenson , Roland Research 

all have very good products ,these are a cut above at a much higher $ cost.

It depends on what you are looking for in sound quality.  I would love to design a Class D amplifier that outperforms our Class A mono blocs but so far we cannot.  No even close.  BUT sound quality depends on the design, implementation and parts quality for the component.  We have a listening room in Northern New Jersey and everyone is welcome to come and bring their gear in to hear in our systems.  We do enjoy the company and meeting new people and are always willing to learn.

Happy Listening.

I remember, not all that long ago....

"Class D? Not worth a sh*t...."

My, how that’s changed...*s*

I’d like to see an amp designed along the lines of my distribution amp, but laid out on the ’style’ of adding a card in a puter....

Want another channel? A pair? More power?

'Dial-able' power?  4 linked as a monoblock?!

Buss line switchable to discrete inputs....Independent or mated line level....2>16 ohm outputs...dial up the ’response characteristic’ you’d prefer with the mating pre....

Start from there and dream up the next class... ;)

Complain about that for awhile, Then....😏 ...begin to stop ’dissing’ that....


They will go the way of cd players, in ten years no one will need them. Ralph and others perhaps have some time to cash in. He does not prefer his class D to his and many others tube amps. He won't fool me.

@inna I don't think if I was trying to fool people that I would last very long- things like that have a way of being found out. There's a very simple way to tell if I've been straight up 😉


I believe direct digital amps are the future. With regular class D you need a DAC and maybe a preamp. Direct digital amps are not only simpler but purer sounding. The modified Peachtree GaN 1 is incredible. Best sound I have heard.....and cheap. Modified streamer into this $1800 (with mods) thing and you are in for serious sound. The Mark Levinson (Daniel Hertz is his new complany) direct digital integrated amp (Maria 50...$10K) is probably even better. He has written software that improves the sound of any digital source......and according to Steve’s the real deal....He likes the Maria amp better than any Class A or other Class D amps he has EVER heard. .please check out these links:

and for bi-amping and or making your own speakers.......well, this is incredible:

I think that Levinson will license this technology so other companies can join in the fun.........come on know you want to try it!  NO analog amplifier preamps.... no analog cables....this is way cool!





The non- modified Peachtree GaN 400 is a beautiful , lush, full sounding amp that is smooth and detailed at  same time....BUT....use a Tube Preamp....Thinking about Ric Shultz's modding this amp but it's soooo sweet as it is..When you win the Lottery, get an Aavik with the Pascal module.....That's another world.

Dropping back and punting. Just the basics. Why is there this "push" to Class-D in the first place? What do you gain? In what way would they ever be sonically better than a good Class A or AB amp?

I love new technology as well as the next guy. But other than offering good "slam" in a powered subwoofer (and the limited frequency range needed in one) why is there this "push"?

Is someone going to tell me that say 5 years from now, you’ll be able to buy a $1000 Class-D amp that sounds BETTER than a $4000 Class AB amp or a $4000 tube amp?

I mean, where are we going with this? And why?

And no, it isn't about "saving the planet". The amount of electricity used by all audiophiles is paltry compared to that used by far more mundane tasks such as drying your hair in the morning with a blow dryer. Those things are 1500 watts - continuous. 

Why is there this "push" to Class-D in the first place? What do you gain? In what way would they ever be sonically better than a good Class A or AB amp?

@moonwatcher Because it keeps getting better and better especially with the latest GaN and Purify amps that are being compared very favorably to top solid state and even tube amps.  When Ralph at Atmasphere not only designs a GaN amp but chooses to use it in his own system over his very highly-regarded OTL tube amps and that avoids all the expense and heat of tubes in a much lighter and more compact design it’s hard to deny the technology’s merit and future potential.  Plus, at least in the case of the Atmasphere and AGD amps, they’re upgradeable as the technology continues to improve.  The times they are a changin’ and ignore it at your own risk. 

@soix thanks. I'm glad it is improving if this is the "future" of what sonics we will have. I'm 65 and likely won't have to worry about it, but I hope it will get better and better - at least as good as the best Class AB amps are, and if the transfer function can be attained that gives them a touch of "tubiness", then all the better. 

I'd hope that 10 to 25 years from now, audiophiles will have access to great sound using these continually improved Class-D amps. That is after all why we all got into this, regardless of what technology we use to get there.  Figure Class A, Class AB solid state, and SET or push-pull tube amps will be around for a long time, just because there will be some who will want them. 

Love the idea that you can upgrade the amp along the way with better modules without having to trash it, sort of like Schiit does with their Bitfrost 2/64 DAC. 

I’d hope that 10 to 25 years from now, audiophiles will have access to great sound using these continually improved Class-D amps. That is after all why we all got into this, regardless of what technology we use to get there. Figure Class A, Class AB solid state, and SET or push-pull tube amps will be around for a long time, just because there will be some who will want them.

@moonwatcher Yup. My sentiments exactly. BTW I recently spent $$$ doing full upgrades of my McCormack amp (Class A/B) but came very close to going with a GaN amp. Came down to that I really liked the sound of my amp and the prospect of significantly improving upon that with SMcAudio upgrades just seemed like a low-risk option sound wise while switching to a different amp/technology might just end up being trade offs instead of a total upgrade. The devil you know…plus the upgrade was considerably cheaper than the GaN amps I was considering, so there’s that. It’s a journey fer sure.

Why is there this "push" to Class-D in the first place? What do you gain? In what way would they ever be sonically better than a good Class A or AB amp?

@moonwatcher Class D offers something that is very hard to achieve with A and AB amplifiers: a very high value of Gain Bandwidth Product. Most solid state amps use feedback, but as you might know, feedback has gotten a bad reputation in high end audio, not because it doesn’t work, but because it usually gets poorly applied- and so causes distortion of its own, adding many higher ordered harmonics (to which the ear is keenly sensitive and interprets as harshness and brightness).

So the answer is pretty technical. One reason feedback has this bad rap is because when the GBP limit is reached, feedback decreases on a 6dB slope and perhaps faster with succeeding octaves. This can and does happen as low as 1KHz, so distortion will begin to rise- putting higher ordered harmonics in the most sensitive region of human hearing. What I’m talking about here is easily measured: distortion vs frequency.

When you have enough GBP, distortion vs frequency can be a ruler flat line across the audio band. This allows the amplifier to be smoother in its presentation, with greater detail at higher frequencies (since distortion obscures detail) without harshness. Smoother and more detailed at the same time is a good thing IME.

Class D makes an enormous value of GBP available to the designer. So you can run very high amounts of feedback without getting into trouble; we’re running 10x more than conventional A or AB amplifiers. This makes possible an amp that is smoother and more detailed than conventional A or AB designs (even in tube embodiments), eliminating the benefit that class A used to offer.

The reduced heat, reduced size, weight and cost are all nice side benefits.

@atmasphere THANK YOU for that explanation. Now it finally makes sense.  We are not "doing" Class-D "just to be doing it" for the fun of new technology - there is logic behind the "why" of doing it - which is to achieve lower distortions in the audible range, to make music sound more like music.  That answers my question perfectly.  I visited your website. Beautiful amps. Good luck going forward. 

Reduced size, weight and cost are not benefits at all - they make the amps look less substantial. Kind of toys.

Reduced heat is a plus, though, especially from ecological point of view.

I’ve been wanting to try Class D amps for a very long time - for energy efficiency and heat management (I don’t have AC). I put it off for years because I was concerned about some of the criticisms. I was convinced after Ralph said his Class D was as good as his tube amps, and also after reading some of the AGD reviews and reading about Alberto’s history.


I just got the new AGD Duet monoblocks - I went with AGD because I wanted the extra power, 300 watts at 4 ohms, and because of the possibility of upgrades as the technology improves. I’m still breaking them in but they already sound great. My other SS amps are the Pass INT-25 and the Boulder 866. I’m in the process of putting together my "retirement" system and I’ve made a LOT of recent changes, so I don’t want to try to compare the AGD Duets to the Boulder 866 yet, but my initial impression is that, in my system, the AGD Duets are certainly as good as and possibly better in some aspects. I’m using the Playback Designs MPS-8 CDP/DAC with balanced interconnects connected to the Duets and using the PBD volume control, driving YG Hailey 2.2 speakers.

At some point I’ll put the Boulder 866 back in for a comparison, but my plan is to keep using the AGD Duets with the YG speakers and moved the Boulder to a second system. Alberto has been great to work with and I highly recommend checking out his web page that has info on his designs and his test results.

At some point I also want to try Ralph’s Class D amps, and it would be fun to compare them to the AGD. If anyone in the Denver/Boulder area has the Atma-sphere amps, I’d be willing to get together to compare them. I’m glad I waited this long, but I do think now is a great time to try the AGD and Atma-sphere Class D amps.

Bob Carver
"I built many of them right here in my own laboratory with the thought they could and would fulfill that final promise.... I was never able to build a Class D amplifier that sounded as good as a linear one."

Cyrill Hammer (Soulution Audio)
"If you want to have your product performing at the cutting edge it is not possible with today's known switching technologies. In order to come close to the performance of the best linear design we would need high-current semiconductors that provide switching frequencies of several MHz or even GHz."

Lew Johnson (Conrad Johnson)
"I tend to think that Class D circuit design is an approach best relegated to producing low-cost, physically manageable multichannel amplifiers where one might accept some compromise in sound quality for the sake of squeezing five, six, or seven 100 watt channels into one moderate-sized package for a budget home-theater installation."

Vladimir Shushurin (Lamm Industries)
"No, it is not. And I would like to respond to the second part of this question with an allegory. Any field of human activity defines a number of requirements which, when properly implemented, guarantee a positive outcome. For example, the basic requirement in the army and sports is an able-bodied individual. So, it would be quite natural to concentrate on searching for such an individual (especially as we know where to find him). However, out of the blue we decide to choose a feeble-bodied person who, on top of that, is encumbered by various diseases. Having made this decision (which is a priori improper) we start justifying it to ourselves and others by citing the great state of our medicine, which is capable of curing many ailments."

Fumio Ohashi (BAlabo)
"No. Class D can't really be considered for super-high-end performance in its present stage of development, although it can be fine for mid-market products."

Nelson Pass (Pass Labs)
"Does a $10 bottle of wine compete with a $100 bottle? Of course it does, and it often wins based on price. Right at the moment Class D designers seem to be still focusing on the objectively measured performance of their amplifiers. I expect that at some point the economics of the marketplace will encourage them to pay more attention to the subjective qualities, and then they will probably play a greater role in the high end."

Jürgen Reis (MBL)
"I have worked a lot lately with Class D. Ninety-nine percent of Class D circuits are not competitive with linear circuits. Most Class D sounds sterile. It's tricky to figure out what to do to compensate for that."

Thorsten Loesch (iFi - AMR)
"I have yet to hear a pure class D Amp I’d rate above "below average for solid state" (which is not very high performance). In a little update of my classic 'Valve Analogue Stages for DACs' I wrote: "Perhaps more crucially, so called Class D Amplifiers, which have in recent times sprouted up like mushrooms after a warm rain, continue to use the straight two or three level modulation scheme described above. And thus they still require the use of heavy handed noise shaping to attain anything like acceptable 16 Bit Audio performance.The clock frequencies for these amplifiers are usually at 300 KHz to 1MHz in the best cases. That is 3,000 to 10,000 times lower than what is required to attain 16 Bit / 44.1 KHz performance without noise shaping and other forms of signal manipulation! And again, one is baffled and perplexed by the rave reviews many Class D amplifiers receive, as baffled as one was about the late 90s reviews of timeslicing DACs. The best of breed I have auditioned were certainly not bad; however in direct comparison to the best available valve and solid state amplifiers they do not produce a very good sound. Well, at least they offer novelty and the reviewers something to write about other than another (however good sounding) 8 Watt valve amp. Incidentally, the best sounding Class D amps tend to be really low power single chip devices (putting out little more than the 8 watt valve amps), presumably because they are faster AND because they always work near what one might call a full scale, if they would be DACs. On second thought, they of COURSE are DA Converters and where a Class D amplifier accepts analogue input directly it is an A2D converter followed by a power D2A converter! What an insight!?"

Mark Levinson
"Interleaving of multiple Class D Amplifiers is potentially a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough.Personally I think that the best option would be something that combines a Class D Amplifier for the heavy lifting with something Class A for fine detail. Probably implemented in the style I did for AMR’s AM-77 "Jikoda" Style. In this case both of the circuits involved can operate fully open loop. In many ways the problems in Class D Amplifiers are analogous (but not identical to) those in Class B Amplifiers (but without an option to implement Class AB or Class A) so similar solutions apply. All Class D amplifiers are essentially delta-sigma DAC’s. If the input is not digital PWM signals (aka "DSD") but analogue audio then it is also a Delta Sigma Analogue to digital converter...Now DSD (aka SACD) which to my ears fails to come close, never mind equal true PCM CD Replay in most aspects of sound quality, operates at 2.8MHz switching, or around 10 times as fast as common Class D Amplifiers...Why anyone would want to listen through an A2D followed by an D2A Converter that are around 10 times worse than single speed DSD is beyond me. But with enough hype and snazzy naming it cannot help but sell high and wide."


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Impressive list of opinions...Thanks...

But i know nothing in amplifier design...

As many here...

It will had been interesting to know the date and year of these designers opinions about class D ...



Those quotes have little value with out a date.  In my opinion any criticism is welcome, but it would be more helpful if it were based on listening to actual, specific components, not a google search.   And did you have to make fun of the Special Olympics and athletes with disabilities as a way to criticize class D?  Not cool.   Many of those athletes are more more fit and better athletes than 99% of the general population. 

@inna were you referring to the comment I made about Lyngdorf,

In regards to the comment you made about reduced size weight and cost?

The "Law" of diminishing return which is not a law but an observation had two faces: a subjective side and an objective side...

The subjective side is related to our own acoustic history and learnings and limits in qualitative discerning power and abilities...

The objective side of this observation reflect the ALWAYS NECESSARY optimal trade-off choices or the non optimal one , introduced in the audio gear system by any components design limits when embedded in a room optimally or not and coupled with other design reflecting other trade-off choices too ...

Most people confuse this two correlated side of a problem with a "law" which anyway is not a law but an observation about the psycho-acoustic subjective factors and the objective audio design factors, they reduce or simplify it for everyone with a negation of the alleged claim that " improving" or "upgrading"  ONLY the gear will NECESSARILY improve the acoustic and psycho-acoustic experience, most people reduce and simplify this observation even more when they say that the hypothetical claim about a direct linear link between price and acoustic quality experience is false ...

This observation , called improperly a "law" , is a very astute and true observation of a complex psycho-acoustic problem coupled to acoustic and physical material electronic design ... ...

GAN is the 1 eared clown who has suddenly become the king of special olympics deaf clowns (Class lousy D). For anyone with 2 ears/normal hearing, King GAN is still very much a 1 eared clown.

Dogma run amok.  Anyone who values and respects the opinion, experience, and knowledge of @deep_333 over @atmasphere please raise their hand.  Joke.

So, if I understand you correctly @mahgister then the idea that the old school separate pre amp and amp approach being "better" would sort of fall under the bigger is better type of logic, as well?

I've only had my tdai 2170 for a little less than 2 weeks but so far the biggest trade off I've been able to observe is something I read about in nearly all of the reviews is what I can now confirm as the blackest background ever. I'm sure someone's gonna show up  lately to dispute the virus of the approach, which I understand very little about b/c I have zero interest around the subject matter, But plenty of our members do!

And I know not everyone around here is into the high end cable thing but I'm a Nordost kind of guy, which is a very freaking expensive habit so how nice is it to be able to cut out some of that cost ... as another true trade off of the approach.

so far, the trade offs are sounding pretty sweet!