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How to tell if a SS amp is "clean"?
Old 11th February 2009
  #1
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🎧 15 years
How to tell if a SS amp is "clean"?

Without using any sort of scientific tools, using your ears only; would you say that if you have a solid state amp that doesn't make any noise in your speakers when you drive your monitor gain waaaaay up, that you've got a clean amp?

A better question would be, would a solid state amp that isn't considered clean also be capable of introducing artifacts only when signal is going through it?

Sorry for the lame questions but I've got a VERY limited understanding on how electronics in audio work.
Old 11th February 2009
  #2
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco ➑️
Without using any sort of scientific tools, using your ears only; would you say that if you have a solid state amp that doesn't make any noise in your speakers when you drive your monitor gain waaaaay up, that you've got a clean amp?

A better question would be, would a solid state amp that isn't considered clean also be capable of introducing artifacts only when signal is going through it?

Sorry for the lame questions but I've got a VERY limited understanding on how electronics in audio work.

You're asking about an Amp as in a power amplifier? It should be very quiet when cranked at the pre. Clean is relative. Gain stages are only part of the story with something like an EQ. Color can always be there if the unit is not a true bypass design, like say a Pultec EQ with no bypass and transformers in the path, or an API 550A with a non-relay bypass even when in bypass.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Yes, I'm asking about a solid state amplifier. I've done the best I could to get it to sound clean (meaning no noise when I crank the Avocet's attenuator).

There's no EQ involved, the Avocet is connected directly to this amp (using the pads included with the Avocet), the connectors on the amp are RCAs and I understand the Avocet is unbalanced. I've made all the cables myself (using Tara Labs for speakers, Mogami for the cables to/from the Avocet, Neutrik connectors and Quad Eutectic solder) and with the Avocet at "12" I can barely hear anything on my B&W's tweeters.

This amp is supposed to be temporary while I save up for something better, but honestly, if I'm barely hearing anything I wonder if I should just stick with what I have (it's a Kenwood KM-106, I've seen one on eBay for $100). I know some amps cost waaaaaay more, but I'm wondering if there's more to it than just not hearing noise from the speakers, what other factors are there to getting clean amplification?
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 10 years
Nope, the amp can have low/inaudible noise when idling but still color the music/signal audibly.

If you want to find out the real qualities of an amp I recommend the test in the link below:

Amplifier Test Method


/Peter
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 15 years
Thanks for the link! I suspected there is an additional factor that affects the signal as it's working through the amp (noticed in my particular case that at a certain level, the amp is "true" but cranked at higher levels, it starts to sound different).

I think at this point, I've already ruled out any connection/cabling issues that could be affecting my sound.

Last edited by Franco; 12th February 2009 at 07:37 PM.. Reason: cabling
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Mastering
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop ➑️
Nope, the amp can have low/inaudible noise when idling but still color the music/signal audibly.

If you want to find out the real qualities of an amp I recommend the test in the link below:

Amplifier Test Method


/Peter
Dear Peter: An interesting test. How closely has the results of this test correlated to actual in use listening once the amplifier is put into real use in your room?

BK
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Mastering
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco ➑️
Yes, I'm asking about a solid state amplifier. I've done the best I could to get it to sound clean (meaning no noise when I crank the Avocet's attenuator).

There's no EQ involved, the Avocet is connected directly to this amp (using the pads included with the Avocet), the connectors on the amp are RCAs and I understand the Avocet is unbalanced.
Actually the Avocet is active balanced out, but its design is excellent so it doesn't care if you ground one side and the distortion doesn't go up. Though the headroom goes down, it's already got such overkill headroom that it's not a problem either.

BK
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