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Distortion Figures, Thought about Clarity Over Distortion?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
We know that transitor and tube amplifiers have very low distrion figures,
Less than 1% and I see allot of articles online sayting 0.0XX % distortion.

Howeve, we can take three diffrent amplifiers.
A one that uses tubes and one that is a expesnive transtior amp. Both sound great.

However compared to a cheaper transitor/ tube amplifier. Bothing having same distortion or very simular distrotion levels.
We can hear that the expensive ones sound better.

Clarity Over Distorion? We can have excat same hz output for the speakers.
But clarity of the sound may suffer.
post #2 of 14
Distortion figures in the hundredths of a percent are meaningless as to sound quality. A typical table radio or car radio can have 10% distortion and sound perfectly fine.

Low harmonic and intermodulation distortion figures are the manufactures attempt to win the specification wars, though they can be an indication of the quality of the components used in an amp.

There's a whole lot more that just controlling distortion that goes into great sound quality.

And I believe that tube amps have orders of magnitude more harmonic distortion than SS amps. That's what makes their sound "warm".
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm talking about like, distortion is already low, like so low that going lower would be usless.

However, given that output siginal is 99.9% the same as input signal.
We cannot measure the clarity of the signal, clarity may differ and the ones that have good clarity would be the ones that sound the best
post #4 of 14
A little discussion:

The signals an amplifier has to reproduce are very, very complex. Take, for instance, two single, pure tones traveling through the air. Since air can have only one pressure at a time, and each of the two sounds is producing it's own air pressure, what actually travels through the sir is a mathematical sum of the pressures of the two waves.

Here's some graphs that shows what happens.



At any one instant the high frequency pressure is "superimposed" onto the lower frequency pressure resulting in a new, combined instantaneous pressure..

But music does not consist of pure tomes. Middle C played on a violin sounds completely different than middle C played on a piano. That's because the strings in each adds it's own harmonics and other tones are generated by the body of the violin or the sound board of the piano. There may be hundreds of tones, all combined together, to create that particular Middle C note. And when those two notes are played together those hundreds of tones are all combined into one instantaneous pressure.

Now if you consider a symphony orchestra, with perhaps a hundred instruments all playing different tones all at the same time that instantaneous pressure may be the result of 10s of thousands of tones. The waveform of all those combined tones is extremely complex, like, in the graphs above, but combining 10,000 tones instead of just 2.

What does this have to do with amplifiers? They have to be able to reproduce and amplify those extremely complex waves - air pressures that change 10s of thousands of times per second. Measuring "distortion" - how the input matches the output is pretty much impossible at that resolution. As an aside, what the amplifier manufactures do is to measure a single pure tone in and out - an indication of amplifier distortion, but in no way an indication of how the amplifier will actually play the complex waveforms present in music.

I hope that helps.......
Edited by billbartuska - 2/16/16 at 7:27pm
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post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm saying that, you can produce the same output signal as input signial.
But you cannot measure the clarity of the sound output. Clarity will not be same as input sound source
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iwamotto Tetsuz View Post

I'm saying that, you can produce the same output signal as input signial.
But you cannot measure the clarity of the sound output. Clarity will not be same as input sound source
Your assumption that there is an amplifier that can produce equal output when compared to the input is false. I'm saying that when comparing the input and output you can't measure the subtle differences that cause differences in "clarity".
Edited by billbartuska - 2/16/16 at 11:47pm
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post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Because they say distortion of a amplifier is less than 0.0X % we can asume out put is same as input signal
Quote:
Originally Posted by billbartuska View Post

Your assumption that there is an amplifier that can produce equal output when compared to the input is false
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iwamotto Tetsuz View Post

Because they say distortion of a amplifier is less than 0.0X % we can asume out put is same as input signal
You can assume that, I don't. At the amplifier testing equipment resolution of 0.0x% you aren't seeing the subtle differences that make (high end) amplifiers with the same spec sound different. You'd have to be looking at resolutions of 0.000000% to see the differences that effect why they sound different.

 
 
Edited by billbartuska - 2/17/16 at 11:25pm
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post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
So your saying, even having 0.000XX % lesser distortion will improve sound? thumb.gif
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iwamotto Tetsuz View Post

So your saying, even having 0.000XX % lesser distortion will improve sound? thumb.gif
Well, no. I'm saying that the less distortion there is the better the amp will sound,

You originally asked why two amps, with the exact same distortion specs, will sound different. I tried to explain that the testing dome to determine those specs (distortion) isn't sophisticated enough to "see" the details of the waveform that effect the "sound" of am amplifier.

Look at it this way:
Standard red book CDs are 16 bits with a. 44.1 MHz sample rate. (That's pretty much the agreed to sampling rate and bit depth where most people can't hear a difference.) That's one 16 bit number every 44,100 thousandths of a second. While amplifiers don't actually "play" at a "sampling rate" they do have to (or should be able to) resolve that sampling rate when it's converted to analogue. There are very few testing labs (that I've seen) that can look at a lengths of music that's 1 44100 thousandths of a second long, much less compare them., and even those that can can only look at and compare pure tones, not the extremely complex wave forms present in actual "music". Then there's the ability to separate out the different kinds of distortion, for example harmonic and inter-modulation. So, generating some kind of "number" that describes why amps sound different is pretty much impossible. We just can't "see" the differences that we can hear since, after all, aren't out ears and brains much more sophisticated that any testing equipment?

We're talking very subtle differences here though. Like the sound a drum makes when it vibrates the air and in addition being able to hear the sound of the drum stick contacting the skin. Or, when listening to a symphony or female vocalist, does the "sound stage" remain rock solid and immovable at all frequencies. While we can hear those things (it the amp can actually reproduce them) it's very very hard to analyze why one amp does it better than another.

Another consideration is that amplifier manufacturers (and manufacturers of pretty much any other audio or video product) really don't want us to know these things. If "distortion" could be measured accurately enough to point out the differences in amplifier "sound" then whom ever made that amp with the best "curves" would capture the entire market, but the manufacturers know that they can never make am amp where input exactly matches output and their amps will always have a "sound" so they market based on that sound - and publish specs that are misleading or useless at best. ti's the only way that they can do it - if there was a "number" that could show it they'd surely be using it!

I hope that helps............
Edited by billbartuska - 2/18/16 at 4:23am
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