Class A power amps and electricity crisis..

PYP

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Today there are a number of class D amps out there that are worthy of attention by any audiophile whether you prefer SETs, class A amplifiers, or whatever. They have gotten that good. Take it from someone that has been about as dedicated to class A and tubes as it gets
How important do you think power conditioning is for class D (as opposed to other topologies)? I assume part of the answer is that it depends upon the power grid that feeds your home.

My amps sounded fine powered directly by the outlet, but power conditioning makes them really sing, however the kind of conditioning that worked for my previous A/B amps did not work well with the class D.

Regarding solar power: paying $24/month is fine with me (the monthly cost of a grid-tied meter).
 

Ron Resnick

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jep123

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Wow! I find this to be a shocking prediction coming from you!:(
Indeed it is. But I guess he could be right. Since 2 months I have been using my new Class D poweramp ( The Primare 35.2) and it sounds superb with my Magnepans. Sweet, natural, no noise, no warmth to speak of, no warm up period etc etc. I have used tubes, Class A, Class AB over the last 40 years with very good components and I could not be happier.

All Class D amps are of course not equal, but done right they sound superb imo.

JP
 
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andromedaaudio

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After having visited quite a few big shows and dealershows over the past year and after having purchased / traded in new Tube gear myself , i m convinced of quite the opposite .
For the real Human touch to sound reproduction top tube designs are unparalleled .
The Gryphon apex and R Koda are probably the only ones that come close .
Digital ...... i dont even wanna talk about it.

Ps I havent heard the latest atmasphere amps , although i might have in munich not sure
 
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Ron Resnick

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All Class D amps are of course not equal, but done right they sound superb imo.

I, personally, don’t care if they sound superb. I care only if they sound better to my/your/our ears than Class A solid-state and SET tubes.
 

microstrip

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I, personally, don’t care if they sound superb. I care only if they sound better to my/your/our ears than Class A solid-state and SET tubes.

Don't you own push pull tubes?

BTW, some of the best current solid state amplifiers are not class A. In fact, the trend towards low impedance loudspeakers killed the main arguments for defending class A.
 

Ron Resnick

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Don't you own push pull tubes?

BTW, some of the best current solid state amplifiers are not class A. In fact, the trend towards low impedance loudspeakers killed the main arguments for defending class A.
Thank you for your post, but what does this have to do with my question to Ralph or to Jep123 about whether Class D will sound actually better than Class A solid-state or SET?
 

microstrip

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Thank you for your post, but what does this have to do with my question to Ralph or to Jep123 about whether Class D will sound actually better than Class A solid-state or SET?

Well, just looking from my perspective - my best amplifier is the Siegfried II , I would only be interested in Ralph class D if I considered that it could be better these VTL's. I do not care if they sound better than the Lamm ML3 or the original class A Electrocompaniet ...
 

Manos_Bits

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The power consumption of our class A triode OTLs has always bothered me. About 6 years ago I heard a class D amplifier that convinced me that we had better figure the technology out. We've been researching it ever since.

Last year we started selling our class D amp. It uses our own module of our own design- everything about this amp was designed and built in-house. I felt it was sending the wrong message to use someone else's module since we had the expertise in-house.

Our triode class A OTLs have gotten many rave reviews and also awards in the high end audio press. Of course we've compared our class D to our OTLs, as have our customers, local audiophiles and the like. They all say the same thing: it has the same smooth involving quality of our OTLs in the mids and highs but a bit easier ('more focused') to tell what's happening in the rear of the soundstage (this likely owing to lower distortion which obscures detail).

I'm of the opinion that tube power amps are on borrowed time and that any high end audio amplifier company that does not have a class D project in the works will get left behind.

Its a Bad Idea to write off an entire technology simply because the examples you ran into weren't up to snuff. I didn't take class D seriously 20 years ago because all the examples I ran into seemed like a joke. But I have kept an eye on the technology and its been steadily improving. Its no longer 'instant coffee'- its the real thing starting with hand-picked beans roasted to perfection, ground properly and steeped for that Ahhh! moment.

Today there are a number of class D amps out there that are worthy of attention by any audiophile whether you prefer SETs, class A amplifiers, or whatever. They have gotten that good. Take it from someone that has been about as dedicated to class A and tubes as it gets, walking that talk for nearly 50 years: if you know what you are doing as a designer, you can make a class D amp that is every bit as good (if not better) as the best of tubes and/or the best of class A amplifiers. To really do that, you have to also understand what is important to the ear and so which measurements are important to get right.
why only 100W classD modules?? give some more.. at least double them!!
 

Tuckers

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I'm coming up to 300 hours on the Atma-Spheres now. I won't fully comment on them until I have about 1,000 under my belt. I've also had some small changes to power cables etc. What I can say right now about them is that they had excellent transparency, and more detail than what I had before. For only two days near the beginning of burn in would I call them a bit glassy sounding (they have exhibited little of the burn in nastiness that new gear tends to have for me). Now they sound completely grainless, they don't have that 'grey' and grainy flat sound that so many older Class Ds have. They sound sweet, deep and wide, and exceptionally balanced. I don't think anyone would be able to pick them out as Class D in my system now. I'll post more when I have the full measure of them, but I am definitely already happy with my purchase.
 
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TooCool4

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Not just only the fact that most systems sound better when left on, the other part of it for me is the fact that the equipment is under most stress at switch-on due to the surge current. So more likely to break at switch-on, using a light bulb as an example if you notice they are more likely to fail at switch-on due to the stress.

Even though I don’t have Class A, I have Class A/B my equipment has been on for over 3 years straight. I have no intension in switching off, even though the energy bills are up. Like someone said earlier, for most of us here if we can afford the kit we can afford the little bit extra energy bill.

I get plenty of people saying am not being green, I reply, I walk / cycle / use public transport / recycle and very rarely use the car. So, I do plenty to be green.

P.S. I have tried Class D and I don’t see myself going back there anytime soon, just no comparison in sound quality. The Class D I had was the NuForce Ref 9SE V2, I know a bit old now and Class D have gotten better.
 
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DasguteOhr

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When you need power ,Technics se-r1 class d is back in the worldclass.
With LAPC (Load Adaptive Phase Calibration): enables the phase and impedance characteristics of the connected speakers to be measured and optimized at the push of a button. 010517-Technics SE-R1-600.jpg Technics_SE-R1-4.jpg
Sounds great 110lbs pure magic arround 12k€
 
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jep123

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I, personally, don’t care if they sound superb. I care only if they sound better to my/your/our ears than Class A solid-state and SET tubes.
I cannot imagine that the current best Class D amps sounds better that expensive high end Class A and tube amps. I do not think so. But they have gotten really good and many manufacturers find good solutions on how to build the latest gen of Class D.

I am hearing very good things from my own now, but compared to my prevous Rowlands and Absolare? Possibly not even close. It all depends what one is after and I have downsized my system quite a lot so for me and my Magnepan 1,7i it works just fine. I am done listening with «Batears» and have in fact started to play CD`s again.
JP
 

PYP

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I cannot imagine that the current best Class D amps sounds better that expensive high end Class A and tube amps. I do not think so. But they have gotten really good and many manufacturers find good solutions on how to build the latest gen of Class D.
I haven't read any user/owner comments that Class D sounds better than other topologies (although some manufacturers seem to say they can sound equivalent). Class D is one option among many and there are often comments that users/owners are enjoying music and don't miss what they had previously.

In addition to musical enjoyment, choosing Class D may be related to a desire for small form factor, efficiency, lower cost or not fully embracing tubes, for example.

I'm always puzzled by the question about "best" in audio terms since the criteria would seem to be completely personal and subjective. One might as well ask what is the best toothpaste or cereal (although I haven't seen any sites devoted to these ;). I have respectfully requested that the name of this site be changed to "What's Best for You Forum" but have not heard back. But it is enjoyable to read about all the paths to personal audio nirvana and to learn about vintage gear as well as cutting edge digital stuff and everything in-between.
 

Solypsa

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Energy and resource consumption is a huge topic, obviously. I happen to think that life cycle longevity is interesting. How would a 1940s tube amp still in service today ( with minor repairs and recaps ) rate against a pallet full of technology used and dumped over the years? I don't know the answer but I have my suspicions.
 

Kingrex

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I couldn't quite move from tubes to SS and go right to Class D. I though hard about the Atma-sphere. I had personally heard the Dartzeel and felt it worked for me. And it has. But now that I want to biamp, I wish I had a less expensive amp.
 
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Whbgarrett

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Yes, I agree, but what about tube amps? They are just as power hungry.

In view of these inexcusable inefficient and power-wasting designs, perhaps the sale of new ones should simply stop. There's no reason for either to exist as much more efficient alternatives are available that sound just as good.

In the EU, legislation was introduced in 2017 that limited the power required to operate a domestic vacuum cleaner to 900 watts (a reduction from the 1600 watts post-2014) and there was a maximum noise level stipulated too. What did this do for home cleaning? Nothing, as makers re-designed their units to work more efficiently, so a new 900 watt cleaner worked as well as a 1600 watt older one, or even a 2200 one from pre-2014. Performance has not been compromised.

The same could / should happen in the audio industry. We listen to far more hours of music than we spend pushing vacuum cleaners around our homes, so a potentially much bigger environmental saving. And anyone leaving power-hungry Class A or valve kit on 24/7 should asked themselves some serious questions, even if they are wealthy enough that their electricity bill is of no consequence! That'll raise a few hackles on this forum! ;)
Putting aside the debate on that level of granularity in government regulation, it seems pertinent that just about every house has a vacuum cleaner, while I would guess the percentage of households with class a amplifiers must be well less than 0.0001%.
 

Atmasphere

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I don't know how class D amps are made. Is there a hybrid where the front end is tube and the power end is Class D.
If you wanted to, yes, but I can't think of a reason to do that.
I’ve not seen any evidence that tube amps are on borrowed time. What have you seen to make you say that?
You have to consider that we've been making class A triode zero feedback OTLs for nearly 50 years. We've had lots of opportunity to compare them to other tube amps- PP KT88, SET, PP triode, you name it. I own a variety of amplifiers as you might expect. As long as our OTLs and the other amp in the comparison are happy with the speaker load (and this is usually to accommodate the OTLs, which don't like low impedances unless very large), I've yet to hear another amp that actually sounded better. Not saying our amps are the best, clearly I've not heard everything on the planet!! But if we can hear a solid state amp that sounds better in nearly every way (depth, width, detail, lacking brightness, similar smooth midrange, good bass extension and impact) then that suggests to me that tubes insofar as hifi tube power amps are concerned are indeed on borrowed time. The only downside we've heard is that the class D overloads like a conventional solid state amp while the tubes are very graceful about it. So as long as you don't overdrive the class D it seems to be no worries.

So that's the sonic upside. Add to that no degradation over time as tubes age, hardly any heat, instant warmup to sound right, maybe about 5 Watts at idle and seriously, why would you bother with tubes unless you simply are going for the visual aspect? I get that part, but when you know that you can do better when its actually running? The bottom line still has to be the sound, doesn't it?
why only 100W classD modules?? give some more.. at least double them!!
If they measure and sound right then we will.

How important do you think power conditioning is for class D (as opposed to other topologies)? I assume part of the answer is that it depends upon the power grid that feeds your home.
That will depend on the amp. Self-oscillating amps will be more immune (due to increased noise rejection properties) to the power line vagarities; zero feedback class D amps will benefit more. The PS Audio power re-generators can regulate line voltage and that's good if you have issues with power line voltage.
Wow! I find this to be a shocking prediction coming from you!:(
Nothing to be sad about! Apparently a lot of people are surprised by my attitude in this regard- and quite a few also that that we even had a class D project. Apparently there is this story out there that if you make tube amps you're somehow inherently unable to do design work or something, and maybe even have a bias. From a personal perspective, I find that being pragmatic has helped me more than hindering me in my own personal quests.
For the real Human touch to sound reproduction top tube designs are unparalleled .
:) I used to think that too- I call it 'emotional involvement'. When the music is processed in the limbic centers of the brain rather than the cerebral cortex (the latter which happens when things don't sound right to the unconscious mind) then you get increased emotional awareness in the music- toe tapping, tears, that sort of thing.

The truth of the matter is when the music is right, not due to a particular form of amplification!

I cannot imagine that the current best Class D amps sounds better that expensive high end Class A and tube amps.
I haven't read any user/owner comments that Class D sounds better than other topologies
The thing to understand here is that class D amps vary in sound more widely than any other amplifier class. From the worst cheapest tube amp to the best you can think of, that variation is not as wide as class D! So a blanket statement about the technology's 'sound' is going to be inherently false (other than this one :)).

How would a 1940s tube amp still in service today ( with minor repairs and recaps ) rate against a pallet full of technology used and dumped over the years?
If we are being honest about keeping a 1940s amp in service, the 'minor' repairs are not that minor! Just to put an ST70 back in service after sitting somewhere unused for 30 years costs more than the amp cost when new. A 1940s amp might have exotic tubes that are no longer made or are very expensive (since a 1940s amp may not even have octal tubes in it depending on when it was built). Its likely to need more work than an ST70, since a good number of resistors and those dreadful paper and wax capacitors inside will also have to be replaced along with switches and wiring. A lot of those older parts are far more toxic than newer parts- remember PCBs?

But I get the part about keeping stuff out of the waste stream! That is part of why we've had our update-with-warranty-reactivation program for all our products for the last 40 years. But that doesn't keep stuff out of the waste stream- at worst it means a chassis and transformers aren't thrown out along with everything else.

Now days even solid state gear can be so old it needs renovation! I've had to renovate all the synths I play in my band along with some of the effects pedals. Eventually newer class D amps will be so old they will need new filter caps too. If the module fails, depending on who made it it will be repairable, if not, a new module could be installed.
 

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