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Making bad audio better

Discussion in 'Audio' started by KilgoreCemetery, Jul 10, 2017.

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  1. KilgoreCemetery

    KilgoreCemetery

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    Apr 12, 2017
    One question that has been plaguing me lately is what exactly makes an amp or receiver good? How much audio quality is gained or lost based on the overall design vs the components chosen?

    To put it another way, how much can you improve a poor amplifier just by swapping out components? Would you actually have to re-engineer the design from the ground up to make it worth it?

    This is assuming that everything is working the way it should from the beginning. No bad caps, solder joints are all good, etc...

    Has anyone on here made noticeable improvements to their audio equipment by swapping out working components with better ones?
     
  2. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    There is a world of info out there on this subject that I couldn't come close to explaining properly,but if I had to put it briefly I'd put it this way:
    An amplifier may have high wattage and be capable of producing loud sounds but it may not be capable of responding quickly enough to accurately reproduce sounds. The cone in your speakers goes in and out to produce the sound. A poor amplifier will overdrive your speakers and will eventually blow them out. It also will have more noise and harmonic distortion making poor sound quality.

    A good amplifier will produce little distortion throughout the audio spectrum and have more headroom giving clean clear and fast responsiveness.

    To answer your last question; I have seen big improvements just by changing speaker wire.
     
  3. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    Sep 5, 2009

    seriously ??!! you are not one of those mis-informed OFC proponents are you ? please tell me no
     
  4. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    Lol, no oxygen free hype here, but many people will use a spool of speaker wire that is quite small (22awg) and run it 50ft or more (15m) and wonder why it sounds like crap. Change it to 14 or 16awg and the difference is astounding.
     
    davenn likes this.
  5. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    Sep 5, 2009

    ohhh thank god :):) .... and that other lot and their special is it blue capacitors .... :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

    think it was the blue they liked and the orange ones they hated hahaha
     
  6. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    Sep 5, 2009
    on a more serious note tho .....
    per the thread title ....
    not much you can do to make bad audio better
    what you can do is design/build good pre-amps, amps and speakers that will not degrade a good audio source

    obvious things like metal film resistors are much lower noise producing than carbon resistors
     
    bushtech likes this.
  7. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    Around here everyone swears that you must use Monster brand cables for good audio.
    There may be better shielding in some brands but I believe the main thing is the gauge wire or circular mils you are using.

    Advertising has scammed lots of people into buying their products.
     
  8. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    Sep 5, 2009

    ohhh for sure .... rogues out there have made zillions out of people who know no better :rolleyes:

    what's the old saying ? ...... a fool and their money is easily parted LOL
     
  9. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    Exactly. A sound system is as good as its weakest link.
    In other words, don't but a great tuner, a cheap preamp, a great amp, and great speakers because it will only sound as good as the cheap preamp. You might as well but all cheap components.
     
    davenn likes this.
  10. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

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    Jun 25, 2010
    To the OP - given a starting point amplifier of 'standard quality' it would be difficult indeed to improve its performance to a degree that a normal user would notice or in a financially worthwhile sense.

    I'm not talking about changing the 'colour' of the sound - you can make improvements by increasing the bass/treble cut/boost according to an individuals persuasions (their ability to discern 'good from bad') - but the actual measurable qualities of the system....

    You could, for example, 'improve' an amplifier by using top-end speakers - but that hasn't done anything TO the amplifier.....

    You can detect improvement using measuring equipment - bandwidth (frequency response), slew rate, THD etc- but not to any worthwhile degree that starting from scratch using a better original design wouldn't do.

    There are also various classes of audio amplification - A, AB, B, D, G and H etc - that each have their own advantages and disadvantages and, within each class, methods of circuit design that range from 'basic' to complicated - each stage offering improvements over the particular short-comings of the system used.

    But you also have to consider the system rather than just the amplifier as it is an overall combination of source, amplification and reproduction that 'make' an audio system what it is and failure to match the qualities of each part will lead to an overall loss of quality regardless of the attention paid to just the amplifier. You can polish a turd but it'll still be a turd.

    If you're a purist and given to the snake oil salesmen that swear they can detect the difference between two sets of speakers connected with cables that differ by 0.1m in length (or whatever) then you can be convinced of anything and, no doubt, parted with lots of cash in the process.

    If you want a specific standard of audio reproduction best start from the beginning - list your needs and requirements and compare the various methods and technologies used to deliver the result.
     
  11. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

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    Aug 11, 2014
    The most important part of an audio system is your ears. As you age you'll cumulatively loose your hearing starting with the higher frequencies.
    Alas I'm in my 50's now, so I might as well sell my fancy McIntosh system with Martin Logan electrostatic speakers.

    If your a young-buck, it's worth having high end equipment if you have the budget for it. But if you're becoming a geezer like me, you might as well spend the extra money on something else because your ears won't know the difference.
     
    davenn and kellys_eye like this.
  12. Audioguru

    Audioguru

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    Sep 24, 2016
    Modern hearing aids are made for old people like me who want things to sound the same as when I was young, and they have features that normal hearing cannot do. What a huge difference it is to hear "young" again!

    I got a free hearing test when I was 69 and it showed that my severe high frequency hearing loss is absolutely normal for a guy my age. My new hearing aids play the telephone in both ears. One setting cuts background noise. Another setting mutes everything. One setting is for a conversation in a noisy place (restaurant?) where the front and back mics focus on the direction of where the speech comes from. One setting has extra sensitivity so I can snoop and hear faint sounds that normal hearing cannot hear.

    An audiophile listens to music, not the equipment. An audiophool (audiofool) uses the most expensive resistors, capacitors and cables that make no difference to the sound.
     
  13. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    It can make a significant difference in the sound your wallet makes when it hits the ground.
     
    davenn likes this.
  14. Audioguru

    Audioguru

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    Sep 24, 2016
    The worst audio I have ever heard was from a speakerphone made by Goldstar of S. Korea. Goldstar was beginning to make electronic products and the soldering and circuit design were awful. The telephone system was the cheapest on the market and the company I worked for sold many of them. But the customers complained about the severe distortion caused by the class-B amplifier that had no bias current in the output transistors so the crossover distortion was very bad.

    I fixed it by adding one resistor from the output of the opamp to the output of the output transistors. This resistor powered the speaker while the output transistors were not conducting.

    Later, Goldstar changed their name to LG Electronics which means Lucky Goldstar.
     
    KilgoreCemetery likes this.
  15. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

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    Jun 25, 2010
    You've obviously never met my wife......
     
    Tha fios agaibh likes this.
  16. Tha fios agaibh

    Tha fios agaibh

    2,083
    694
    Aug 11, 2014
    Many buy their sound systems strictly by the wattage claimed by the manufacture.
    As far as I know, there's no standard for these ratings.
    Company "A" can claim 100w per channel by measuring peak current through a 8Ω resistor connected at the output. They don't care about distortion levels, nor the fact that it's measured at a frequency outside the speakers capabilities.

    Company "B" may rate their amp at only 60w per channel but do so by measuring a Rms value at 4Ω through 8Ω and between 20hz and 20khz.

    Company "B" likely had the better product, but the guy that bought the company "A" amp will be bragging till the cows come home about how much better his amp is.
     
    davenn likes this.
  17. Cannonball

    Cannonball

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    May 6, 2017
    Hello everyone. One thing I have learned as a technician is that you can't out engineer the engineers. Buy the system that sounds the way you like it. If it changes or degrades in any way then you can troubleshoot it to repair it. small caps for high frequency and large caps for low frequency. For distortion at high volume check your power supply. Check speakers for distortion as well. Maybe this will help. Good Day!
     
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