Different amplifier class for different music genres?

I was reading a review of the Gryphon Antileon Evo in another forum and one user was saying that in the High bias mode the amplifier was excellent for classical music but not so good for metal or hard rock, perhaps softening the transients. For metal or hard rock he preferred the Low bias mode and he suggested that the Gryphon Diablo will be more suitable for this type of music (of course one is a final amp, the other an integrated one).

So the question is: does the class of the amplifier matter or better suit the type of music you are listening to? 

I have never owned a class A amplifier and I am itching to try some. I am currently using Hypex based diy monos driving Vienna Acoustics Mahler speakers.

I'm from the camp that believes that a well designed piece of equipment sounds good with music. I have no technical experience with testing audio equipment,so here's my question; is the signal from a Metallica song,different from the signal from a classical song? Sorry for answering your question with another question. 
I don't think so---it would be extremely challenging to someone like me who listens to everything (classical, house, trance, classic rock....)
The bigger issue IMO is the relationship between the amplifier and the speakers, the specifics of which can favor certain types of music that have different requirements for dynamics, drive, detail, and tone.  The resulting sound will be influenced by impedance relationships, current/power, and the characteristics of the individual speaker and amplifier designs, which go beyond the class of operation.  In my situation, with moderately difficult to drive speakers, higher power was better and my current Class A/B amplifiers sound better and more dynamic than several SS and hybrid Class A amplifiers I owned - YMMV.  
is the signal from a Metallica song,different from the signal from a classical song?

No of course not, the same signal passes from the source all the way to the speakers, but my thinking is that the emphasis may be different for classical music than Metallica. For example for metal is important to have fast transients, leading edges of electronic instruments to be well reproduced, as well as fast paced and deep bass, while for classical reproduction of the accuracy of the acoustic instruments and super low noise are one the important factors. What do you think?
one amp for all music genres is the best. amps that do well with one genre and poor with the others, are not great amps at all. 
Don't listen to these guys. They just don't want to spend the money to do it right. Class D are for dining rooms, but only for dinner, unless of course you are playing disco. Class A/B are the best, they can be use almost anywhere, bedrooms, bathrooms. But only for Acid Rock, and Bach. 

Please note, Acid Rock AND Bach, not one or the other. Class A/B switches back and forth. Without Bach there to pick up the slack on the rare times the Acid Rock level drops you could blow the whole amp. Still, it is so totally worth it, nothing does Acid Bach like Class A/B. 
I had a demo of some Thiel speakers some years back using an Accuphase integrated. Tool was a waste of time  with this combo but the same speakers with a Rega amp were fine. It may have been more of a matching issue that just the amp as some Opera Secondas didn’t have any problem with the same track and the Accuphase.

I’ve been using two cartridges recently, an SPU Royal N and a Dynavector 17D3
The Dynavector makes the music sound fast paced, the SPU has a more measured pace but it swings, I missed it when I switched to the Dynavector but there are some discs that are better with the Dynavector. Same turntable, arm and everything else.
@yeti42  Thanks, that is exactly what I want to avoid, a total mismatch of amp with the speaker for the type of music that I listen to. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be to ask for amp recommendations for my speakers, if anyone still uses them... 
I use my Benchmark AHB2 and neutral  HPA4 preamp and DAC3B for hard rock such as, Zeppelin, Maiden (especially the album with "Running Free").

I have Thiel CS3.7 and the AHB2 are not ideal power wise so I have occasionally switched it up with a powerful Class D amp, D-Sonic M3a  800s. I am getting the CODA #8 to alternate with my AHB2 monos.

For most other music I use my warmer gear such as the CODA 07x preamp and Gustard X26 Pro DAC. 

It is a breeze to flip the amps the way I have it setup.
I have a Cambridge Audio Azul 851 A Intergrated it’s there own type I guess. A/b technically. I like it fine. Best amp I owned. However I been infacturated lately with Jeff Rowland but I’d only be able to afford one of his type D like a 525. ( Dream would be a 625- A/b) My question is would I’d be downgrading going to the JR-525 even though it’s considered high end?
OP, ask a sincere question, this forum will often give you lame dismissals from glib fools.  
Class of amp is not particularly relevant, in my experience. Lots of other variables that are more specific, but also resist easy generalization.  But I just found a heavy metal match made in heaven.  For example, I put silver interconnects in on Friday for the first time, and combined with my ultra-fast and clean nagra psa solid state amp, I reconnected with TOOLs latest album with crazy fast transients and precise treble in a new way.  Some of the warmth I like with my piano trio jazz music is missing, though.  

@redwoodaudio That sounds like what happened to me with Iron Maiden’s self titled album from 1980. I could not believe how fast that was on my RAAL SR1a headphones (with silver headphone cable) and a new combination of 2 channel gear.

I will give TOOL latest a spin tonight. I have not heard it for long time and especially with the new combo of gear I used.

OP, ask a sincere question, this forum will often give you lame dismissals from glib fools.

Lincoln had a good quote for these characters.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

The way it works is this, and it’s written in stone by the world’s most renowned amplifier designers:

Mixed music genres: Class AB (mixed class amp)

Single music genre: Class A (it’s pure)

Digital sources, syntho-pop, rap/hip-hop, computer generated artificial music: 
Class D (keep it all digital)

All genres pre-1965: Tube amps (keep tube sources in the tube house)

Its all very simple. So many in here have it all so screwed up!
Different amps for different music would be a real waste. One appropriate amp is all that should ever be required.

But it is probably useful to look at this a level higher. You can pretty easily accidentally put your system together which favors certain kinds of music. If you use say three CDs when auditioning equipment (or streamed tunes). Optimizing on those can send you in a direction to sub optimize others. It’s a system, so the speakers, amp, preamp, all effect the outcome. I loved the ethereal sound of some electronics CDs and had used them as test disks about 30 years ago and it had taken me off in a planar direction. Made several decisions that optimized these, but really sub optimized classical and rock. Which made me buy massive ss amps to power them. I started attending all acoustic classical music concerts regularly. I immediately, although completely unconsciously changed course and over ten years completely revamped my systems. Now all music types sound simply spectacular. 

So you need compatible components that support each other… so you don’t have to swap out a component for particular music types. You could easily end up with two or three separate systems. But you also have to tune the whole system to the sound you value. I think the safest bet is true fidelity. I realized the importance for this when I started attending the symphony. I found that the symphony provides an actual empirical ruler to judge actual system fidelity. The symphony provides sound levels from the very quietest to the maximum volume, every variety of instrument, in solo and en mass, un-amplified, unmastered. Live acoustic jazz also helps. But amplified electronic, rock, etc. are subject to amplification live so are not good for a reference. With this as a reference you have a target… and all music types will rise in quality as your system improves. You will still have cuts to audition, but if behind it all you have a real absolute ruler, you have a guiding light.

Just some thoughts about how to aim at system design.
@redwoodaudio, thank you. I did ask a genuine question, there are people in here who think they know it all and are frankly rude. Anyway, I agree with you about system synergy and a small change can alter the overall system sound. While I would like to upgrade my amps, I am concerned about getting something which does not fit with the rest of my system. Unfortunately where I live currently there is little to no chance of home auditioning. I will be buying second hand.

I think a new thread is needed to ask for amp recommendations for my speakers.

High bias mode the amplifier was excellent for classical music but not so good for metal or hard rock, perhaps softening the transients.

If that were the case, then the amp or it’s power supply is not up to scratch for the current draw of the high Class-A bias mode, and is being starved/overloaded somewhere.
As more Class-A in my experience should if done right, only makes everything even bigger, more transparent, less hard and 3D, as well as the bass not being 2 dimensional. And the sound should sound like it’s coming from everywhere in the image but not from the speaker drivers themselves.

Cheers George
Classical recordings generally disappoint me in terms of quality. In the same room I have 2 systems - one for digital and one for analogue - as the requirements sound wise are quite different
@georgehifi, I generally agree but the reviewer was talking about the Gryphon Antileon which has a massive PSU and provides tons of current. Of course it could be that he was talking lots of rubbish...
I was wondering not about different amps for different styles of music, but different speakers? Maybe I should start a different thread but are different speakers for different genres something people do? 
I remember reading a thread a while back where the person was trying to make an argument that Richard Vandersteen engineers his crossovers so hard rock guitar does not sound good on his speakers! I thought that was way out of line unless he had a statement from Richard to back up his claim. Yes all amps can have a different signature sound and that might sound different with the type of music being played. Note I said might and what might sound good to you might not for someone else. To me it is “kinda” like tube rolling. You can effect the sound profile where one will sound better but I don’t think any would sound bad. Enjoy the music.
that's just nuts.  Higher classes of operation reduce distortion ( and generate heat).  While, as it goes from Class B through various shades of AB to A, you have a major league diminishing return - its always GOOD.  Absolute utter nonsense.
I've designed more than i can count.  I rarely go for pure A because its so inefficient and can be hot, but is always at least marginally better.

To see how different settings on amps influence sound, read my review of the Gold Note PA-1175 at Dagogo.com

To see how class D is usurping the other classes of amps, classes A, A/B and tube amps - in fact, already has with some brands/models of class D - read my review of the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifier at the same site. 

Seeking any equipment for purported superior performance with any particular genre of music is a great way to build a mediocre rig. I suggest the OP search for an amp that will drive any genre of speakers in a superior fashion, as this will more likely ensure superior performance. As explicated in the review.   :) 

For example for metal is important to have fast transients, leading edges of electronic instruments to be well reproduced, as well as fast paced and deep bass, while for classical reproduction of the accuracy of the acoustic instruments and super low noise are one the important factors.
Nonsense. The transient on a bass drum, rim shot or cymbal crash is the same in any musical genre.

A system that can make you hold onto your hat in "Another Brick in the Wall" will make you jump behind the divan for 1812 cannon.

A system without super low noise will degrade ALL genre. There must be ZERO HUM and only the slightest thermal rush with an ear on the grill. If you can hear ANY NOISE AT ALL more than a foot from the driver, IT IS WAY TOO MUCH!!!

Most home users would be astounded at how poorly their systems perform compared to good recording studio monitors, typically tri-amped and often with a KW+ per channel. Systems so quiet that you will jump when the music starts!

Here we have Class D subs and woofers, tube mids and tweets for a pikers 615WPC.

"Joe Pass is sitting right THERE!"
So the question is: does the class of the amplifier matter or better suit the type of music you are listening to?
Not at all. The quality of reproduction is what matters and that has a lot to do with execution. No-one has yet sorted out a way to make any kind of audio circuit that favors one genre of music over another; anything you may have heard to the contrary is myth, maybe the most common myth in audio.
NO, a good amplifier will play all music well. My favorite amps are Class A, but run warmer and use more power than Class AB or Class D. In my opinion, Class D sound a bit harsh.
IMHO: At a price point, maybe. If you need a lot of power at a good price, Class D does that. Class A does not. I think matching the amp to the speakers matters more than what you listen to. I had a Class A ARC Classic 60 that was glorious but I missed the oomph of my Moscode 600 Maxi, and I've finally decided (after 50+ years of this hobby) that having enough power matters a whole lot. (At the moment, I have an ARC VT100 driving Vandersteen 5s, but they have built-in powered subwoofers.)
And I think all amplifiers sound the same... until you connect them to speakers.
Good luck, and have fun!
@atmasphere, the most common myth? That might be a tiny stretch. Lets just say one of many:-) 

There is no difference in the power needed to reproduce an orchestral crescendo as there is needed to reproduce Slipknot. A good amplifier speaker match will play anything. You can not talk about the amplifier without talking about the speaker. The two must match. There are amps that will drive anything. They tend to be big expensive bruits. While a SET amp may sound OK on certain very efficient loudspeakers it will die trying to drive Wilsons. An amp is going to sound different depending on the speaker it is driving and a speaker is going to sound different depending on which amp is driving it although there will be some basic characteristics that won't change such as dispersion and imaging. 
The most common myth? That might be a tiny stretch. Lets just say one of many:-)
The reason I say that is because of how many times I've heard that JBL L-100s are one of the best rock speakers out there. This where there really isn't anything a speaker manufacturer can do to make the speaker favor a certain genre.

Greg_f, I am a class A fan. I also like big powerful amps. However, class A/B has come a long way. I have not yet heard a class D amp that thrills me but there are many available I have not heard and from a technical standpoint I see no reason why they should not be capable of first class sound. I have not used a Jeff Rowland amp and he has many fans. 
Your Mahlers are very intelligently designed speakers. Suspending the tweeter is a novel thing to do. They are 6 ohm, 90 dB/watt/meter speakers. A Pass XA160.8 would be wonderful as would Parasound JC 1+s or Atma-Sphere MA1's. At the less expensive end are the Parasound A21+, a killer amp for the money. The Anthem STR is another relatively  inexpensive powerhouse. It is always better to overpower a speaker than underpower one.
Thank you all. You learn every day. It has been a long time I was wondering if my amps have synergy with my speakers. I am not prepared to change my speakers at this point so I would like to try different amps.

@mijostyn. Thanks! It sounds like you know my speakers. Yes, they are well designed but could be difficult to drive, they are nominally 6 Ohm load but they do drop below 4 Ohms at some low frequencies. 
Now I need to decide if I want to 'just' change the power amps or go the integrated route.
Not really but I had some Quad speakers once, and chucked some EL34s into my monoblocks, just to play with that setup.

Absolutely wonderful for any chick singer, or anything like that, fell right over when asked for dynamics and slam.

Sold the Quads and put the 6550s back, my stuff has to play Zappa well. ;)
Have any of you wondered about some of the comments I see about amplifiers and speakers when you consider what a real live band (especially rock) is using to create their sound.  They are using a guitar amplifier and speaker combo, PA quality speakers and amplifiers, various quality uncalibrated microphones, a sound mixing board, lots of cables no self respecting audiophile would allow near their gear and then I see all of this talk about transient response, tube amp or solid state, Class A, A/B or D etc. with no thought about what the original source was capable of producing or how it compares to an actual live performance. 

Maybe for purely acoustical instruments with excellent mics and recording equipment one could capture something that would warrant these distinctions but somehow I doubt it.  When most of the instruments are electronic and being mic'ed and amplified and played through PA quality speakers you can reproduce the sound best with the same type of equipment.  No matter what you do you can't get better than the original source.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about some of these aspects. One of the reasons I reduced my attendance of rock and most electric jazz concerts about twenty years ago… I have been exposed to them and typically go running out during the first tune with my hands clasped over my ears (slight exaggeration). I can’t take the background high frequency distortion, frequently the tonal balance and often the sheer volume when a sound engineer sitting all the way in the back decides cranking it up makes it sound better. I no longer subject my precious hearing to them. I listen to my system at home. No crowds either.

Creating music and reproducing music are completely different things. Driving tubes to distort for a concert is a creative and not a precise process. Reproducing that one guitar sound plus all the other ones simultaneously and accurately is a Herculean task. Since each electronic concert or studio recording is unreproducible the audiophile cannot have access to the original or something that very close to it as a standard. But acoustic symphony orchestras and acoustic jazz can be a standard. Symphonic has near zero volume to the maximum your hearing is capable of interpreting, dozens of different instruments in solo and some/ all en mass. Acoustic jazz also affords a subset of these things. So, this affords us a ruler to tune our system correctly to recreate music. If we optimize these we can be relatively sure we have done as good a job of optimizing the other forms of music as well.
greg_f OP1 Of course it could be that he was talking lots of rubbish...

No I believe something else was going on.
My friend has that same amp, top Total Dac feeding it direct and it’s more magnificent the more the Class-A is switched up, into his Wilson Alexia’s with all genre’s of music.
The only way the Antillion amp in high Class-A could sound too laid back with rock, is if the speakers were very laid back like I've heard with Sonus Faber Amati, they could be a problem with rock.

Cheers George
Ralph (Atmosphere) is correct.  An amplifier is designed to amplify the input signal with expected 100% accuracy.  It is designed to operate with a flat frequency response over the stated frequency range into a designed for load.

There are other criteria, such as input sensitivity, gain, input/output impedance, etc.  But that is it.  

Some amps are designed for specific loads or specific speakers.  Lots of speakers have  some sort of wave shaping circuitry in their crossovers to  compensate for the peaks/valleys in the speaker's response.  This is why buying an after market electronic crossover that wasn't specifically designed for that speaker may not be a good idea.  Because the specific wave shaping circuitry isn't present.

An  amp designed specifically for a certain speaker, may have that circuity internal to the amp.  But, this is very rare.

So, basically, the amp shouldn't care one lick  what the signal is as long as it is within the frequency range for that amp.  The amp's output is suppose to be flat.  Basically, the input signal amplified.  That is it. Doesn't matter the genre of music.

Of course, "tuning" an amp to sound a particular way is another matter. The designer is actually adding circuitry into the amp to force the amp to reproduce the signal in a matter different that just amplifying the input signal.  Some add way too much lower end response (bass) or mid range or high end boost.  But if you graph the signal/frequency response of that type of amp, you will see over the frequency range that it is most definitely not flat.  Basically, they cheated.

An amp's output should be as flat as possible over the expected frequency range.

Again, it doesn't matter what  type of music is being played.

@minorl If your conclusion is correct then only amps like the Benchmark AHB2 should be used (I have 2 of them). However, I also have 3 others,


that sound different with the same music. I wonder which one of those cheated?
However, I also have 3 others,


that sound different with the same music. I wonder which one of those cheated?
They probably sound different with different music too. Whatever coloration they have with one genre, it will be the same coloration with any other.

The amps should indeed sound different anyway. Different design and circuitry.  However are we comparing apples to apples.

Are we swapping one amp for another in the exact same system (changing absolutely nothing else) and listening to the same music?  Also, did you match levels?  are the amps rated exactly the same?  etc.

The first error that I've encountered is that most don't treat this scientifically in experimenting. 

Listen to some music on the system.  Get a test cd/album.  play at exactly the same volume (in other words, don't change anything).  now get a DB level meter and measure the level.
now swap out the amp (or other equipment) (changing nothing else).  play the same test cd.  say 1 mHz signal or white noise.  measure the level.  now adjust the level so that it absolutely matches the level of the first test.

Now listen to the new piece.  People have a tendency to listen and interpret volume level differences as a good or bad thing when actually the levels weren't matched in the first place.  So the test is actually not equal.

Same is true for amplifier comparisons.  Are we comparing a 100 wpc amp with a 250 wpc amp?  if so, did you match levels first before the test?
Now compare the amps and listen carefully.  yes, different amps will sound differently in the same system (changing nothing else).  
I've noticed that people test on different day and swap not only the amp, but cables, etc. and even sources and then have the nerve to say that amp A is better than amp B.  

Also, I was referring to designers that place wave shaping circuitry into their designs to boost bass or other things.  You can tell easily enough by simply looking at the frequency response graph of the piece.  if it isn't flat, then yes, they cheated.

An amplifier is supposed to be absolutely flat in the frequency response.  It is only intended to amplify the input signal and produce and exact replica at the output without distortion, and it is suppose to be flat in the stated frequency range.  Say 20 hz to 20 kHz.  Should be flat.

Some are very bright.  Older Krells were bright to me.  They boosted the upper ranges too much.  Some amps had too much bass response.  People would listen initially and say wow!  that sounds great.  excellent bass.  But actually, it wasn't accurate at all.

But two 100 wpc amps of different designs will not sound the same even if played in the exact same system.  The circuit design will ensure they sound different.  Better?  depends on if they were level matched in the system first, nothing else was changed and then listen.

make the test fair.

An amplifier is designed to amplify the input signal with expected 100% accuracy. It is designed to operate with a flat frequency response over the stated frequency range into a designed for load.

The key word here is ' expected '. I am not suggesting that an amplifier designer doesn't aim to design the perfect straight wire amplifier (some don't) but we all know the perfect amplifier is impossible to achieve. There are so many design decisions that need to be taken into account, choice of topology, cost, component quality used, etc Then there is the 'flair', experience and expertise of the design team. There are so many factors that can change the sound of an amplifier. Therefore an amplifier may have to be designed to perform perfectly in some areas but not so great in than others.

However, I also have 3 others,
that sound different with the same music. I wonder which one of those cheated?
Correction. You have 4 systems consisting of:
  • source
  • interconnects
  • speaker cables
  • speakers
Multiply number of systems by 2 for each of the lower case items that are changed with the power amps.
Class D really excels for home theatre and electronica type music with the speed, bass grip, and clarity. Tubes not so good with that.

Acoustic music, jazz or folk...slower music with less bass impact is where tubes tend to excel. The tone or timbre is better as well compared to that leaner cooler Class D tone.

A hybrid system can overcome these weaknesses with a tube input in front of a Class D output. Great synergy if done right.