Author Topic: SENERGY What really is It ??  (Read 2490 times)

Offline rollo

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SENERGY What really is It ??
« on: August 13, 2017, 10:15:01 AM »
   Character of components ? Electrical characteristics of components ? All of the above ? They like each other? :duh :rofl: My ears tell me so ? :roll:


charles


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Offline doug s.

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2017, 03:02:25 PM »
it's the misspelling of the word "synergy"   :rofl:

doug s.

Offline steve

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2017, 05:50:43 PM »
   Character of components ? Electrical characteristics of components ? All of the above ? They like each other? :duh :rofl: My ears tell me so ? :roll:

charles

Here is my explanation in this string, as in the phase splitter string.

All synergy is, is an attempt to combine separate elements to obtain maximum sonic quality. Synergy is variable as it depends upon how the combination sonic quality compares to perfect entities that are combined. (Let's leave out the room and speakers for now.)
The main culprits are lack of correct designing, and lack of understanding how sensitive the "ear" is.

Virtually every part is critical to the sonic properties of a component. That includes parts in the power supply (and number of stages), parts quality in the rest of the circuit, harmonic distortion properties, frequency response etc.

The "ear" is incredibly sensitive to tonal abnormalities etc based upon Olson, Rane, Fletcher, Jensen, RCA Radiotron Designers Handbook etc, and I have confirmed before and after reading these sources over the years. 

If we are dealing with a preamplifier to amplifier combination, we look for enough signal voltage to drive the amplifier. This is usually not any problem. What could be a problem though, is output signal current capability of the preamplifier. Is that signal current enough to drive the output capacitance, IC capacitance, and amplifier input capacitance?

With not enough signal current, as the frequency rises, the HD distortion rises. I have seen sine waves become triangular waves as the frequency rises. But one does not need a buffer stage. A 12au7/6sn7/6dj8 type tubes generally provide plenty without any buffer. If a buffer is needed, there is one more stage to degrade the music.

As a very simple example of synergy; if a preamplifier is full sounding, we tend to find an amplifier that is thin sounding to compensate. Unfortunately, there is usually more than one flaw in a component, unless we are dealing with superb pieces of equipment. 
And some flaws one cannot cancel out. For instance, how does one cancel smearing caused by a component? If a component is so full it loses detail, how can that inner detail be recreated? Some of the biggest problems I see in components are;

1. Insufficient power supply filtering stages
2. Insufficient size and quality of coupling capacitors in tube components

My philosophy is to perform listening tests over months for each part, if possible, and each component for accuracy in absolute terms. With proper design, there will be less signal degradation, thus higher synergy can be achieved. Then I would design the speaker.

A couple of reasons why speaker sound so different are:

1. Different frequency responses and price range.
2. Different venue testing the speaker
3. Different quality components in the speaker.
4. Different quality active components in the test system. If a designer is using components that lack sufficient high frequency response, then the speaker will probably be bright sounding.
Etc.

Based upon these reasons, I would provide variable adjustments so the customer can create the best synergy possible. I have three adjustments on my speakers alone.

One could go on and on, but I hope this is not too complicated nor simplistic.

Cheers
Steve
« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 05:52:42 PM by steve »
Steve Sammet (retired, but manufacturing "V" ics again)

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Offline Nick B

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2017, 07:22:49 PM »
Steve,
Not too simple nor too complicated... it's just right imo. I have mixed feelings about synergy. I would not want "synergy" to be the solution for equipment that has design flaws. I'd rather just get components to produce the sound that I enjoy, whether colored to some extent or not. That's why I'm a fan of cable looms...wires that show a consistency in design and execution. I'm sure many of you have much more experience in this area and have tried many more products, but that's my .02 c
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Offline tmazz

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2017, 08:22:50 PM »
Steve, I have mentioned this before, but I am not sure if you were part of that thread. I understand and appreciate all of the points made in your post, but I do have one problem with what you wrote and that is your references to design "flaws." I am just not comfortable with you referring to some of the things you describe as flaws, a word which carries a very negative connotation when taking about a design. I prefer to call them design limitations. Using the word flaw implies that the piece of equipment sounds the way it does because of some error made by the engineer. Most times this is not the case at all.  In a perfect world amn engineer would have an unlimited budget and not restrictions in terms of size, weight. heat dissipation etc and a customer base that would be willing to pay whatever it took to make a perfect sounding amp. But this is rarely, if ever the case. I am sure there is not an audio designer out there that wouldn't love to put together an amp made with all top of the line Dueland caps, but the reality is that in most case, the cost of those caps could exceed the entire parts budget for the amp.
Engineers do not undersize power suppliers or coupling caps because they don't know any better, they do so because they have to make compromises to make the amp work within the restrictions that they are given to work with and quite often produce a very good amp given those restrictions. To refer to a $1k amp as flawed because it does not sound as good as one that sells for $25k IMO is doing a great disservice to the company that sells it and the engineer who designed it.

That said, given that an amp at any given price point will have to have some kind of design limitations and that the improvement of any of the sonic characteristics will have a price tag associated with it, it is up to the engineer, guided by his personal taste and perhaps the "house sound" of the company that is producing the amp, the engineer has to which parameters he wants to improve so that he can stay within his budget and produce an amp with a sonic signature that will make it successful in the market place. (Sorry if this sound like a rant, but as a degreed engineer I get very defensive when I get told that something is flawed because because it doesn't performs as well as something that costs significantly more. I have had numerous arguments with marketing types that come in and say wee need you to build us a box that we can sell for $1k and then they see then prototype complain I am proposing a poor design because that our competitors model XYZ has 15 more feature than ours. To which I told them that they competitors box also sells for $7k. Duh! Give me $7k to work with and I can deliver all of those features as well.)

I do agree with the points you are trying to get across, but as a fellow EE I think you can understand why the choice of vocabulary gets under my skin.

Anyway, back to synergy. In my mind synergy is simply the selection of various pieces of equipment whose sonic signature complement each other and add up to a better sound when used together as oppose to pieces whose sonic signature class and sound worse as a pair.
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Offline rollo

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2017, 07:02:46 AM »
it's the misspelling of the word "synergy"   :rofl:

doug s.

   Got me there Doug. What an idiot I am.


charles
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Offline rollo

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2017, 07:15:24 AM »
Tom in essence the design is flawed. I could see using a less expensive part however you alluded to a poor design choice of ntimproper values due to cost/direction.
If one amp sounds better than another the lesser is "not" flawed unless it has been compromised in design. A good EE should be able to get a good circuit design and sound using less than exotic parts. That is their job.
I leave it to the engineers to design a good sounding component. Then as a consumer I insert component in my system. If it sounds better to me than removed component it stays. if not NEXT.
I would say synergy is inherent to one's system. If it all comes together after a component change its SYNERGY !


charles
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Offline steve

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2017, 08:11:37 AM »
I have to respectfully disagree with some of your post. This is not about bashing you Tmazz, but about the culture marketing has created.

Quote
Steve, I have mentioned this before, but I am not sure if you were part of that thread. I understand and appreciate all of the points made in your post, but I do have one problem with what you wrote and that is your references to design "flaws." I am just not comfortable with you referring to some of the things you describe as flaws, a word which carries a very negative connotation when taking about a design. I prefer to call them design limitations. Using the word flaw implies that the piece of equipment sounds the way it does because of some error made by the engineer. Most times this is not the case at all.

Actually, in many cases it is errors that engineers do make in designing. Insufficient power supply (even in expensive components),  number of filter sections used. Checking parts quality throughout, many are not necessarily associated with price at all. More as I follow through in response.

Quote
In a perfect world amn engineer would have an unlimited budget and not restrictions in terms of size, weight. heat dissipation etc and a customer base that would be willing to pay whatever it took to make a perfect sounding amp. But this is rarely, if ever the case.


Size, weight, heat dissipation are terms for power output, maybe the power or output transformer in an amplifier. Those terms do not define what it takes to make a perfect sounding amp or preamplifier. Who needs an unlimited budget, except for high power out? I designed a perfect sounding preamplifier which marketed for only $3,000. This is certainly not the 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand nonsense. Sure if one wishes huge amounts of output, the cost would be more, but we are discussing quality, not quantity.

By the way, I think we both agree that designing is more than solving a few equations. Please correct me if you feel differently.
 
Quote
I am sure there is not an audio designer out there that wouldn't love to put together an amp made with all top of the line Dueland caps, but the reality is that in most case, the cost of those caps could exceed the entire parts budget for the amp.

And how would one know how good/accurate a Dueland capacitor is (not just picking on Dueland)? By some string in some forum “comparing” capacitors? By the cost? DIYers? Those hardly qualify as defining how good/accurate a capacitor is. In fact, different physical shapes, sizes, voltage ratings from the same manufacturer can affect accuracy.
 
Secondly, by using the wrong values in coupling, the accurate capacitors are deemed poorer in quality, relegating the good capacitors to actual extinction. How many times has one seen schematics/diyers/capacitor comparisons that use .1, .22, .47, .82uf coupling capacitors in their designs.

Guess what, those smallish accurate capacitors will sound thin/sterile, while the fuller, less accurate capacitors will actually sound better. More will choose smooth over sterile. Unless the capacitors are properly tested, with the correct value ufd, the wrong brands will be claimed as superior. By the way, I found some much much less expensive that tested accurate, that I used in my preamplifiers and amplifiers, but they have become extinct due to the marketers and unqualified “testers”. I guess one wishes to pay more for the same sonic quality product, be my guest. That assumes the more expensive product is actually accurate.

Quote
Engineers do not undersize power suppliers or coupling caps because they don't know any better, they do so because they have to make compromises to make the amp work within the restrictions that they are given to work with and quite often produce a very good amp given those restrictions. To refer to a $1k amp as flawed because it does not sound as good as one that sells for $25k IMO is doing a great disservice to the company that sells it and the engineer who designed it.

Three comments. First engineers do undersize power supplies all the time. I can’t remember the last time I saw a power supply that was designed properly; for example with the proper number of filtering stages. This included both inexpensive and very expensive components.

Secondly, with respect to price, you are correct in that there are price points, so $1k would necessitate a lesser quality. However, $25k is nonsense, unless one is dealing with super high power output, thus special ordered parts, and in appearance.

Quote
I do agree with the points you are trying to get across, but as a fellow EE I think you can understand why the choice of vocabulary gets under my skin.

There is a difference, as I am an electronics engineer, you an electrical engineer. Back in my day we concentrated on linear electronics, while your curriculum is much more generalized. I think we both understand that classes/books only give us the tools for further investigating. Frankly, I have found very few engineers who fully understand designing audio, even the very expensive components.

As one simple example, on another forum I know of one with a Masters Degree in EE from MIT who did not understand how an inductor worked in an electronic circuit. He stated twice he would flunk me for breakfast. Turned out he could only quote a narrow book definition; he understood nothing more. I proved otherwise by actual experiment/photo of results. He voluntarily left the forum never to return.

Quote
Anyway, back to synergy. In my mind synergy is simply the selection of various pieces of equipment whose sonic signature complement each other and add up to a better sound when used together as oppose to pieces whose sonic signature class and sound worse as a pair.

I agree. I would add that when designing, I dig deeper, thoroughly testing individual parts and dividing components into sections.

In conclusion, as I believe we both agree, that classes and books only provide a foundation for further investigation. This is not unique, as this also occurs in mechanical engineering and other disciplines.

Cheers
Steve
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 08:21:35 AM by steve »
Steve Sammet (retired, but manufacturing "V" ics again)

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Offline doug s.

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2017, 09:33:49 AM »
hi charles,

no, you're not an idiot; i am just having fun at your expense!   :rofl:

in all seriousness, i look at it this way.  in setting up a system, there are really (imo) only three true "synergy" issues that need to be addressed.

- the first synergy issue is the speaker-to-room interface.  there's a plethora of speaker designs and styles on the market - line array, single-driver, monitor, horn, full range, planar, omni-directional, etc.  all can be valid choices, and many will work in different size/shape rooms.  but one needs to match the room size/shape carefully w/a particular speaker.  as an example, i have a pair of tiny proac response 8 reference signatures  fabulous speakers - imo of course.  but best in a small room.  in even a medium sized room, they will overload if driven to loud volumes.  if, that is, they're run full range.  (this is another synergy issue.)  in my large listening room - 26x38x8.5 - i could run them as loud as you could tolerate, when crossed over to subs at 70-80hz.  this, imo, is also part of the speaker-to-room synergy interface: are you going to use subs?  and, along these lines, you can complicate things, (some would say "simplify" things"?), by using a fully active speaker system w/outboard amps and crossovers; or powered speakers, or some combination.  bottom line - whatever speaker style you like, you need a speaker set-up that will work w/your room.  and, whether or not room treatment i needed is also a part of the room equation.

- the second synergy issue is the amp-to-speaker interface.  while there are many different amplifier topologies, and more than one type will work with any given speaker, some amps don't work with some speakers, some work better than others, and some will bring out different strengths.  this is where the synergy is important.  bottom line - whatever amp style you like, you need an amp that will work w/your speakers.  (and powered speakers are another choice - where the speaker designer has chosen what they feel is a great synergistic match.)

- now, the preamp itself - to me, this is the one area where personal taste comes into play the most, and it's the most important component that will give you the tonal balance you like.  i.e.: the one component that will get you closest to the illusion of "real" music, rather than recorded music.  after, of course, you have chosen the type speakers you favor, w/the amps to drive them, given your room interface.  and your budget!   :mrgreen:  in other words, the preamp is the component that will address the synergy issue between the system and the user. (the only possible issue; usually not a problem, is to confirm your chosen preamp has the proper output impedance to drive the amp - or active x-over - given its input impedance.)

all the rest?  cables?  source equipment?  imo, these should be chosen on the basis of getting the most information possible out of the signal and/or the software involved, while injecting the least extraneous information.  i am not really concerned w/trying to find "synergy" here.  if these components are extremely revealing w/o adding anything, the synergy of the room/speaker, and the speaker/amp, and the choice of your preferred preamp should give you a great listening experience.

imo, of course - ymmv!

doug s.
it's the misspelling of the word "synergy"   :rofl:

doug s.

   Got me there Doug. What an idiot I am.


charles
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 09:36:32 AM by doug s. »

Offline tmazz

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2017, 11:40:41 AM »
First off Steve, your post didn't even come close to bashing, no explanation needed and no offense was taken. I think one of the things we pride ourselves on here at AN is the ability to have these kind of discussions on an intellectual and civil basis, as opposed to other places that shall remain nameless where things like this quickly lead to name calling, hurt feelings and people getting voted off the island. I for one welcome your opinions and input, even if they don't agree with mine. I am 36 years out of engineering school and still learning new things every day.

That aside I think we do agree more than disagree on when point I was trying to get across. The disagreements you had were really just with the examples I used rather than the point I was trying to get to. My use of Dueland caps was just to throw out the concept that in general you can solve many engineering problems by throwing money at it, although I do agree that this is not always the best way to improve something,and sometimes it does not even work at all (Large $ do not always lead to better performance. Likewise, the dollar figures I tossed out were just off the top of my head to make a point. But using your examples you said you could built a perfect sounding preamp for $3k and that if you had to build one for $1k it would be of lesser quality. The point that I was trying to get across was that it would be a disservice to you to say that the $1k model was "flawed", it would be simply the best you could do for $1k, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I am surprised at how much sub par design work is out there, but I will have to take your word for it as you have eyes on a lot more equipment than I do.  But do agree with you that many, and probably most EEs just do not "get" audio. The problem is that it is not all to tough to design an audio circuit from a large signal viewpoint. it is fairly easy to get something that sounds fairly good and will satisfy most consumers. However when you get down to the small and micro signal views where the details that we as audiophile crave can be found things can get very strange. I had a professor in engineering scholl that told us audio circuits, while often viewed as very simplistic are some of the toughest to get right. His reasoning was that circuit non-linearities are usually expressed in terms of change per octave. The audio band although it is only 2khz wide spans 10 octaves. . Compare that to the FM broadcast band which spans less than 1/4 of an octave and within that 1/4 there are 100 separate channels. So the the bandwidth of an FM carrier signal spans in the area of .0025 octaves maiking it infinitely easier to design a linear circuit for it as compared to a 10 octave wide audio signal. (granted there are other problems that occur in high frequency circuits, but let's put them aside for now.) So yes I do agree that while there are many many talented EEs out there, very few of them thoroughly understand audio circuits, especially high end ones.

 Well, time to get down off my soapbox. but again feel free to challenge my ideas any time. I don't take it personally and rather enjoy the mental stimulation.

Tom






Remember, it's all about the music........

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Offline tmazz

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2017, 12:01:57 PM »
Tom in essence the design is flawed. I could see using a less expensive part however you alluded to a poor design choice of ntimproper values due to cost/direction.

I think you are missing my point here. I never said that they were making poor design choices  due to cost, what I was saying was that given cost constraints they are forced to make design decisions that could result in a lower quality sound. And that this is not a flaw per se, but just the nature of , but rather the nature of then design process. Remember When Andrew Jones came to our meeting last year and he was saying that he was excited about the prospect of designing a $2500 speaker for ELAC, because the parts budget he would have for a $2500 speaker would allow him to do things that he could not do with the limited budget he had for the Uni-Fi series.  And the fact that the new $2500 speaker is significantly better does not make the Uni-Fi a flawed design, it is still a great $500 that is just more limited because of it's price point. the same line of thinking applies to electronics.


If one amp sounds better than another the lesser is "not" flawed unless it has been compromised in design. A good EE should be able to get a good circuit design and sound using less than exotic parts. That is their job.


Correct, but even a good EE is limited by the amount of money he can put into the build. Of course the better ones find ways to squeeze more performance out of a limited budget and those pieces end up being the better products on the market. But lets keep in mind that we are talking high end audio here, so good sound it a base requirement to play in the game to start. It is been a long time since I have heard a high end product that actually sounded bad. I have heard plenty that I did not feel sounded as good as the should of given their asking price, but nothing that I would consider bad.

Besides, putting in exotic parts is our job after we buy them.  :lol:
Remember, it's all about the music........

• Nola Boxers
• Sunfire True SW Super Jr (2)
• Quicksilver Mid Monos
• ARC SP-9
• VPI HW-19 Mk IV/SDS/SME IV/Sumiko Blue Pt. Special
• EE Minmax DAC/Bluesound Node/Denon 2910
• TWL Power Cords/MIT Cables

Offline steve

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2017, 02:29:48 PM »
Thanks for the kind words Tom. I appreciate the civility of this forum vs some others.

Just in the past month, on another major forum, I saw a computer scientist with an "audio backround", argue for 20 literal pages, claiming  the other "B" misunderstood concepts. Turned out the "expert" did not understand basic ohms law, I = E/R. This, even after the other poster "B" gave an example right out of an EE textbook. I have had my fill of computer scientists hyping themselves as experts.

First off Steve, your post didn't even come close to bashing, no explanation needed and no offense was taken. I think one of the things we pride ourselves on here at AN is the ability to have these kind of discussions on an intellectual and civil basis, as opposed to other places that shall remain nameless where things like this quickly lead to name calling, hurt feelings and people getting voted off the island. I for one welcome your opinions and input, even if they don't agree with mine. I am 36 years out of engineering school and still learning new things every day.

I agree with you. I started when I was 7 or 8, got back into audio design around 1979, and for the past several years have discovered just how sensitive our "ears" are, especially when it comes to frequency response/tonal balance. More than I ever thought. +/- 0,1db means virtually nothing in my book.

Quote
That aside I think we do agree more than disagree on when point I was trying to get across. The disagreements you had were really just with the examples I used rather than the point I was trying to get to. My use of Dueland caps was just to throw out the concept that in general you can solve many engineering problems by throwing money at it, although I do agree that this is not always the best way to improve something,and sometimes it does not even work at all (Large $ do not always lead to better performance. Likewise, the dollar figures I tossed out were just off the top of my head to make a point. But using your examples you said you could built a perfect sounding preamp for $3k and that if you had to build one for $1k it would be of lesser quality. The point that I was trying to get across was that it would be a disservice to you to say that the $1k model was "flawed", it would be simply the best you could do for $1k, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I figured you were using examples. I was attempting to make a more generalized statement, similar to yours, that money does not necessarily mean better. The other points are that most diyers, designers, and strings on comparing capacitors, do not test capacitors properly, and at least some designers believe all parts "sound" the same. I have to test a part properly before I use it.

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I am surprised at how much sub par design work is out there, but I will have to take your word for it as you have eyes on a lot more equipment than I do.

I have viewed hundreds of schematics if not more, and as just one example, am continually surprised how the designers can use 0.47uf or smaller coupling capacitors and claiming high fidelity. No global feedback used. I mean in just one component the frequency response (FR) might be -3db at 20hz, and I have seen -7db at 20hz (not counting OPTs, input filters etc) and calling the component high quality sound, no subs/filters used. Really amazes me. (By the way, -3db at 20hz might be -0,6db at 80hz, -0,25db at 160hz and even -0,1db at 320hz. No wonder some like low order high distortion figure components, to give some flesh to the music.

Quote
But do agree with you that many, and probably most EEs just do not "get" audio. The problem is that it is not all to tough to design an audio circuit from a large signal viewpoint. it is fairly easy to get something that sounds fairly good and will satisfy most consumers. However when you get down to the small and micro signal views where the details that we as audiophile crave can be found things can get very strange.

I agree. +1. I look at audio having different issues. Instead of reading a meter, digital etc, we use "ears". Auditory vs sight.
Our "ears" have different and multiple issues than sight, smell, feel. How does one measure smearing, depth, width with measurements?

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I had a professor in engineering scholl that told us audio circuits, while often viewed as very simplistic are some of the toughest to get right.

I agree. Check out Walter Jung/Richard Marsh on "picking capacitors" and check out how poor electrolytic capacitors are VS frequency.
Compare typical wirewound power resistors to Mills non inductive resistors. Amazes me.

Quote
His reasoning was that circuit non-linearities are usually expressed in terms of change per octave. The audio band although it is only 2khz wide spans 10 octaves.

I am assuming you meant 20khz. I am going to guess that the professor had studied Olson, Rane etc, as they demonstrated the importance of  bandwidth, and harmonics and bandwidth etc.

Quote
Compare that to the FM broadcast band which spans less than 1/4 of an octave and within that 1/4 there are 100 separate channels. So the the bandwidth of an FM carrier signal spans in the area of .0025 octaves maiking it infinitely easier to design a linear circuit for it as compared to a 10 octave wide audio signal. (granted there are other problems that occur in high frequency circuits, but let's put them aside for now.) So yes I do agree that while there are many many talented EEs out there, very few of them thoroughly understand audio circuits, especially high end ones.

I agree Tom.

Quote
Well, time to get down off my soapbox. but again feel free to challenge my ideas any time. I don't take it personally and rather enjoy the mental stimulation.

Tom

Don't worry about it Tom. I have been on mine a couple of times as well.

Cheers
Steve
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 02:44:48 PM by steve »
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Offline P.I.

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SQ be damned.
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2017, 02:47:14 PM »
I have to respectfully disagree with some of your post. This is not about bashing you Tmazz, but about the culture marketing has created.

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Steve, I have mentioned this before, but I am not sure if you were part of that thread. I understand and appreciate all of the points made in your post, but I do have one problem with what you wrote and that is your references to design "flaws." I am just not comfortable with you referring to some of the things you describe as flaws, a word which carries a very negative connotation when taking about a design. I prefer to call them design limitations. Using the word flaw implies that the piece of equipment sounds the way it does because of some error made by the engineer. Most times this is not the case at all.

Actually, in many cases it is errors that engineers do make in designing. Insufficient power supply (even in expensive components),  number of filter sections used. Checking parts quality throughout, many are not necessarily associated with price at all. More as I follow through in response.

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In a perfect world amn engineer would have an unlimited budget and not restrictions in terms of size, weight. heat dissipation etc and a customer base that would be willing to pay whatever it took to make a perfect sounding amp. But this is rarely, if ever the case.


Size, weight, heat dissipation are terms for power output, maybe the power or output transformer in an amplifier. Those terms do not define what it takes to make a perfect sounding amp or preamplifier. Who needs an unlimited budget, except for high power out? I designed a perfect sounding preamplifier which marketed for only $3,000. This is certainly not the 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand nonsense. Sure if one wishes huge amounts of output, the cost would be more, but we are discussing quality, not quantity.

By the way, I think we both agree that designing is more than solving a few equations. Please correct me if you feel differently.
 
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I am sure there is not an audio designer out there that wouldn't love to put together an amp made with all top of the line Dueland caps, but the reality is that in most case, the cost of those caps could exceed the entire parts budget for the amp.

And how would one know how good/accurate a Dueland capacitor is (not just picking on Dueland)? By some string in some forum “comparing” capacitors? By the cost? DIYers? Those hardly qualify as defining how good/accurate a capacitor is. In fact, different physical shapes, sizes, voltage ratings from the same manufacturer can affect accuracy.
 
Secondly, by using the wrong values in coupling, the accurate capacitors are deemed poorer in quality, relegating the good capacitors to actual extinction. How many times has one seen schematics/diyers/capacitor comparisons that use .1, .22, .47, .82uf coupling capacitors in their designs.

Guess what, those smallish accurate capacitors will sound thin/sterile, while the fuller, less accurate capacitors will actually sound better. More will choose smooth over sterile. Unless the capacitors are properly tested, with the correct value ufd, the wrong brands will be claimed as superior. By the way, I found some much much less expensive that tested accurate, that I used in my preamplifiers and amplifiers, but they have become extinct due to the marketers and unqualified “testers”. I guess one wishes to pay more for the same sonic quality product, be my guest. That assumes the more expensive product is actually accurate.

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Engineers do not undersize power suppliers or coupling caps because they don't know any better, they do so because they have to make compromises to make the amp work within the restrictions that they are given to work with and quite often produce a very good amp given those restrictions. To refer to a $1k amp as flawed because it does not sound as good as one that sells for $25k IMO is doing a great disservice to the company that sells it and the engineer who designed it.

Three comments. First engineers do undersize power supplies all the time. I can’t remember the last time I saw a power supply that was designed properly; for example with the proper number of filtering stages. This included both inexpensive and very expensive components.

Secondly, with respect to price, you are correct in that there are price points, so $1k would necessitate a lesser quality. However, $25k is nonsense, unless one is dealing with super high power output, thus special ordered parts, and in appearance.

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I do agree with the points you are trying to get across, but as a fellow EE I think you can understand why the choice of vocabulary gets under my skin.

There is a difference, as I am an electronics engineer, you an electrical engineer. Back in my day we concentrated on linear electronics, while your curriculum is much more generalized. I think we both understand that classes/books only give us the tools for further investigating. Frankly, I have found very few engineers who fully understand designing audio, even the very expensive components.

As one simple example, on another forum I know of one with a Masters Degree in EE from MIT who did not understand how an inductor worked in an electronic circuit. He stated twice he would flunk me for breakfast. Turned out he could only quote a narrow book definition; he understood nothing more. I proved otherwise by actual experiment/photo of results. He voluntarily left the forum never to return.

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Anyway, back to synergy. In my mind synergy is simply the selection of various pieces of equipment whose sonic signature complement each other and add up to a better sound when used together as oppose to pieces whose sonic signature class and sound worse as a pair.

I agree. I would add that when designing, I dig deeper, thoroughly testing individual parts and dividing components into sections.

In conclusion, as I believe we both agree, that classes and books only provide a foundation for further investigation. This is not unique, as this also occurs in mechanical engineering and other disciplines.

Cheers
Steve
Steve, great post.  Since I am a power guy I am in total agreement with what you have to say especially when it comes to power supplies and capacitors in general.  I have seldom seen what I considered to be a well designed power supply, as you stated.  I know for a fact that often the PS is compromised, not in the design phase, but when it hits the bean counters in the accounting office.  They generaly demand the minimum in performance to get the job done, SQ be damned.  I have seen many PS that the topology was great, but the implementation in component quality and sizing was just stupid.  That is why guys like us have made a living at out craft.  Fixing other's junk for better SQ.

Capacitors suck. All of them.  That being said, many caps sound better than DC servo circuits implemented to "fix"  offset at the input or output.  Gate delay, crappy parts, more tiny little bugs to pass the signal... all of these are culprits.  With that is consideration a cap, carefully chosen for SQ for that particular application is the least of many evils that are inherent in component design.  Since I am a tube guy I am a minimalist by nature.  The proper capacitors and resistors for the application may take a while to find, but absolutely essential for stellar SQ with tubes.  Also, the proper tube fed the proper way with signal and, more importantly, silent power is what it takes to get "there".

Low noise incoming power is obviously a consideration.  That is why I do what I do.  Can't feed the heart of the system poison and expect pristine audio quality.

In the end for me, a music lover first and gear lover second... on a budget, I have to choose ancillary pieces of gear that overcome the shortcomings of the SQ before the gear I am choosing.  Bright > darkish is better than bright > neutral in that equation.  I hate having to do that, but sometimes it must be done.  Typically I use pieces of gear that are essentially as neutral as I can afford and then choose cabling as the spice necessary to get "there"  There is that "there" again.  It takes years of experience to make these judgements or an experience mentor to lead us through the quagmire that is great audio SQ.

Buying the "best gear" (often deemed as most expensive) is an absolute road to lousy sound.  Expensive does not = good.  There were several BIG NAMES that offered $20K each amps that used the same ICE module that I could buy for $150.00 all day long, but in a gorgeous case.  In the power treatment end of the business I have been inside of $5K-$6K conditioners that frankly sounded and measured bad, but sold because of marketing and industry whores that printed a bunch of drivel about those pieces.

There is a reason why cottage audio is booming and the Big Boys are struggling along with the storefronts that sell their wares.  I can and have built systems that sell for less (sometimes much less) than 10% of the Big Boys that sound infinitely better.

One case in point: several years ago Gayle and I were invited to a showcase of gear in a local doctors home that retailed for almost $200K.  After it was all over I asked her what she thought.  Her reply was: "Let's go home and listen to MUSIC not excessive marketing".  I love that woman (for almost 50 years)!

Just sayin...
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 02:50:28 PM by P.I. »
"A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument." - Hilmar von Campe

Offline djdube525

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2017, 03:16:35 PM »
Steve, I have mentioned this before, but I am not sure if you were part of that thread. I understand and appreciate all of the points made in your post, but I do have one problem with what you wrote and that is your references to design "flaws." I am just not comfortable with you referring to some of the things you describe as flaws, a word which carries a very negative connotation when taking about a design. I prefer to call them design limitations.

Not to put words in your mouth... but can I offer an alternative? How about design "compromises".

What do they say about design... you can have Fast, Cheap, or Good... pick two. :)


Offline tmazz

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Re: SENERGY What really is It ??
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2017, 05:56:13 PM »
Steve, I have mentioned this before, but I am not sure if you were part of that thread. I understand and appreciate all of the points made in your post, but I do have one problem with what you wrote and that is your references to design "flaws." I am just not comfortable with you referring to some of the things you describe as flaws, a word which carries a very negative connotation when taking about a design. I prefer to call them design limitations.

Not to put words in your mouth... but can I offer an alternative? How about design "compromises".

What do they say about design... you can have Fast, Cheap, or Good... pick two. :)

 :thumb:
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