Let me end the Premp/Amplifier sound debate ...

I'm old enough to remember Julian Hersch from Audio magazine and his very unscientific view that all amplifiers sounded the same once they met a certain threshold.  Now the site Audio Science Review pushes the same.

I call these views unscientific as some one with a little bit of an engineering background as well as data science and epidemiology.  I find both of these approaches limited, both in technology used and applied and by stretching the claims for measurements beyond their intention, design and proof of meaning.

Without getting too much into that, I have a very pragmatic point of view.  Listen to the following three amplifier brands:

  • Pass Labs
  • Luxman
  • Ayre

If you can't hear a difference, buy the cheapest amplifier you can.  You'll be just as happy.  However, if you can, you need to evaluate the value of the pleasure of the gear next to your pocket book and buy accordingly.  I don't think the claim that some gear is pure audio jewelry, like a fancy watch which doesn't tell better time but looks pretty.  I get that, and I've heard that.  However, rather than try to use a method from Socrates to debate an issue to the exact wrong conclusion, listen for yourself.

If you wonder if capacitors sound different, build a two way and experiment for yourself.  Doing this leaves you with a very very different perspective than those who haven't. You'll also, in both cases, learn about yourself.  Are you someone who can't hear a difference?  Are you some one who can? What if you are some one who can hear a difference and doesn't care?  That's fine.  Be true to yourself, but I find very little on earth less worthwhile than having arguments about measurements vs. sound quality and value. 

To your own self and your own ears be true.  And if that leads you to a crystal radio and piezo ear piece so be it.  In my own system, and with my own speakers I've reached these conclusions for myself and I have very little concern for those who want to argue against my experiences and choices. 



I'm sorry, by saying I wanted to end the debate I really meant I wanted to start one.  😈

I'm sorry, by saying I wanted to end the debate I really meant I wanted to start one.  😈


Nothing wrong with that. I chimed in with my two cents but  amps aren't something I really think about much anymore. I mostly listen to active speakers and half the time don't know what amp they are using. 


Because to me, they sound very different, they are popular but I like 2 of them and really don’t like 1 of them.

The Ayre is one I like a lot, but it sounds ... almost surreal, like it sucks noise out of a room. It’s a very unique experience, it’s not unpleasant at all, but I find the experience of listening to it so distinct I think many others should be able to hear it as well.

Pass should actually sound different since he adds measurable euphonic distortion.  Some like it a great deal, and I am not in that camp, but whether I like it or not, that does make it sound like a different amplifier. Pass also seems to work really well with big box/big woofer speakers for many so that’s another reason that I put this brand on the triad.

PS - I am fine with those who love Pass, and if my triad helps you find a Pass amplifier you fall in love with I’ll be happy as can be.

AHOFER.... Wow thanks for the link. Brings back some great memories.

IME over the past 40 + years, particularly this level of Audio. I have witnessed people (them) at the $30K level are concerned with the look the build and the sound.

Blindfolded you may not hear the difference , however the right room and lighting will make all the difference in the world . Remember if it wasn't for them those beautiful looking DAC's and Amp's might not be available