Source first? Transducer first? Amp first?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by purr1n, Sep 21, 2022.

  1. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    I tend to think most people with an SE tube amp are amp-first. I don’t think you’d get a lot of people considering giant backloaded horns unless it’s to maximize efficiency from low powered amps.

    If you’re starting out with a typical 3-way monkey coffin they are going to look for a 40w-100w class AB amplifier
     
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  2. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Yeah, but I don't think there are many of us that said to ourselves, "geee! i'd like to get in to this audiophool nonsense! I reckon I'll start with a $3k+ 2A3 SET amp that puts out 1.5WPC and go from there."

    Perhaps one way to think about the process of figuring out what you like and how to get it is similar to how I learned the process of Design (with a capital 'D') sort of works: first is your problem definition, then you seek divergent processes, then, at some point you seek convergent processes. You're divergently thinking/trying out new things until you think you "understand" how you wish to enjoy music reproduction; then you're convergently thinking in order to maximize utility and preference.
     
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  3. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Oh that’s me. Not DHT amps but I was looking at DIY spud amps like the BH SEX and Jonokuchi and wondering “what’s the deal with tubes? I should see why”

    then seeing that I needed sensitive speakers to get the most out of them and before you know it I’m way down the rabbit hole and considering wanting to build a 45 tube with Japanese transformers and converting a basement to a horn
     
  4. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Friend

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    Music first. I realized good music can be enjoyed even from my iPhone speaker. Too bad there isn’t much to listen to these days. No amount of gear is gonna make me listen to the new black pink album.
     
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  5. mitochondrium

    mitochondrium Friend

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    Course if you prefer a certain amp topology this will impact on your choice of speakers, but as an example for speaker guys:

    theoretical Frequency of my first standmount speakers:

    [​IMG]

    in room response in my rather smallish room:

    [​IMG]

    Any questions?
     
  6. sealand1

    sealand1 Facebook Friend

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    I used to be a transducer first guy and think the dac could be the least in the system according to the measurement. People from asr states all dac should sound same because distortion is too low to hear and they laugh at r2r dac. I compared weiss dac202 and topping d10b and I agree they are similar. But after I got a MSB platinum ii, it shocked me, everything is better, from high freq to low freq, everything.
    It's better than every ds dac I heard before.
    So currently I put dac first, transducer second and amp third.
     
  7. GuySmiley'sMonkey

    GuySmiley'sMonkey Almost "Made"

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    Which first? Everything all at the same time. From analogue input (performance into microphone) to analogue output, everything makes a difference. What makes the biggest difference depends on other stuff in the chain.

    Gear upgrades are spiral in nature. Improvements at one point in the chain show deficiencies in another. Depends which spot you are in the circular path of the spiral. Transport? Amp? Sound engineer? Speakers? Performer? The spiral analogy is a bit too clinical and geometrically perfect, though. Maybe a weather system would be a more appropriately chaotic comparison.

    Better watch out when a hurricane hits! You might find you're not in Kansas anymore, chuck out all your gear and start again.
     
  8. Jh4db536

    Jh4db536 Friend

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    it took me a lot of experience to find the overall 'Sound' i liked. over time I learned that i prioritize Natural sound - engagement, musicality, timbre, dynamics to name a few. That journey was difficult because every audio show was trying to cram the mainstream definition down my throat ... like crazy saturated 8K, huge flat screen ultra wide LCD, 240hz, exploded view, dissection of music, 32bits, and 3.14ghz taps. Playing with analog stuff really changed my perspective (never even owned it).

    natural sound doesn't seem to have edges or a defined beginning and end ... it just flows and ebbs unless it was artificially created in the first place.

    Today, i only think about how i can get That Sound through the whole chain DAC > Amp > Driver. I have no care if the DAC is R2R, NOS, or if the amp is a Triode, Pentode, or Germanium transistor based.

    The source is the origin of all potential and foundation of the Sound. The Amp and Driver (paired as one) must commit minimal (or desirable) sins and must not omit the source's goodness.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 15, 2022
  9. That St Kilda Guy

    That St Kilda Guy Acquaintance

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    First "You get the MONEY"
    Then "You get the POWER"
    Then "You get the WOMAN"
    Simples!
     
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  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I think there are 2 situations, but I think "transducer first" is the way no matter what your situation. And honestly I think this is pretty obvious.

    1) You are new to headphones and know nothing about them and have no future plans to get a rig of some sort, but might possibly. In this case, you should obviously get the best transducer for your preferences. Generally the changes in sound signature from headphones are overblown when using different amps and DACs. When I plug a stock HD800 into an iPod I have the same complaints as I do from something like a Wavedream -> EC Studio B. Yes the rig sounds better but the basic sound signature of the headphones and it's problems remain. It's still treble happy with a midrange dip and weak bass response for my preferences.

    2) You are getting into headphones (maybe from speakers so you know about upstream gear) and plan on getting a rig of some sort. In this case, you can put some thought into what headphone you buy based on what you want to spend on upstream gear and what you want (portable, tube/solid state, etc) and get one of the many recommended rigs posted on here, like a Schiit DAC, an SW51+ and an HD650. But you still need to like and want the sound signature of the HD650 to like even the most synergistic HD650 rigs. If you don't iike the HD650 sound there is no rig that will fix that. So the transducer is still the first thing you need to consider.

    The transducer imparts the most of it's own sound on the final signal vs amps and DAC's mostly because transducers have way way more errors of commission than amps and DAC's which are more straight forward and evolved tech and even the cheap stuff is pretty true to the source these days compared to most headphones, which introduce huge amounts of distortion, FR anomalies and resonance.

    Source or amp first just makes no sense. WTF are you going to do with a Holo Spring 3 and a Studio B and no headphones? Nothing. You can listen to any headphone out of your phone however. And even if it isn't performing it's best, you still get SOUND coming out. Then you can make it better if you want to with a rig. But it's not necessary for SOUND WAVES IN THE FORM OF MUSIC TO BE CREATED.
     
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  11. nithhoggr

    nithhoggr Author of the best selling novel Digital Jesus

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    @rhythmdevils I think what you're saying makes a lot of sense, but the issue I see is that some people seem to let the philosophy of "transducers first" take over their whole audiophile experience, and you end up with the sort of thing you see a lot in the headphones subreddit...top-shelf headphones being driven with entry-level amp & DAC. From my point of view, like you said, it's pretty obvious that transducers have to come first, but when does "first" end and the rest of your audiophile life begin?

    Honestly, I'm not sure I can even say at this point...I've been at this audiophile thing for so long that I'm not sure I can really put myself in the shoes of someone just starting out anymore.
     
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  12. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Yeah well sucks for them then. But this thread is about "first". Not second, third, fourth, fifth, ...56th...400th... etc ;)

    If you have no headphone equipment, what's the first decision you need to make? It's obviously what headphones to buy. My point was that in situation #1 in my post above, you just buy whatever headphone you think will sound the best to you. In situation #2 you buy the headphone you think will sound the best to you with some idea of a rig in mind when making the decision, but it's always transducer first no matter what.

    If you're not new, then its not really "first" anymore and isn't answering the question.
     
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  13. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Hmm, would I rather eat wagyu steak cooked over a bonfire, or would I rather have kwik-e-mart meat on a fancy Viking grill?
     
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