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  #61  
Old 04-11-2017, 02:31 PM
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So if there isn't much difference among amps, should I be getting one of those nicer Denon receivers? Or do you think I'll get better processing in the Outlaw preamp?
I'd have to research on processing, I imagine they are fairly comparable. The Outlaw will have more power. So when you crank it, the Outlaw will do a bit better. And the separate amp and processor gives you flexibility. If formats change, you can upgrade the processor and keep the amp. But the Denon is cheaper. Outlaw seems to have great customer service though!!!

Either would likely be very satisfying. My vote would be to get that Outlaw gear, and think about upgrading speakers. The DCM are great, but technology has come a ways since they were built. We can chat about that in a bit!
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  #62  
Old 04-11-2017, 02:47 PM
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My vote would be to get that Outlaw gear, and think about upgrading speakers. The DCM are great, but technology has come a ways since they were built. We can chat about that in a bit!
Yeah, I'll want to upgrade my speakers down the road. That "Audiophile on a Budget" article talked about the Energy RC-70 towers a lot. Apparently Fry's had them on sale ridiculously cheap (like $200 each) quite a few times before they were discontinued. There are articles out there saying that these were the best deal under $5k a pair! Of course, speaker preference is highly subjective, but I was very much intrigued.

I think the addition of the big ported subwoofer to my DCMs is going to make me a happy man for a good while. I do think I want to upgrade the amp first, and give myself the ability to listen to more than 2 speakers at once.
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  #63  
Old 04-11-2017, 03:02 PM
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Sigh. I understand tube amps have a different distortion profile, and some are current sources rather than voltage sources, whereas solid state amps are all voltage sources - AFAIK at least. So I get it, on paper they are different. That said, I don't generally believe that tube amps sound different, outside of the fact that some of them don't have the flattest freq response. I believe that any amp, properly equalized to a flat response, and not driven to the point that distortion is meaningful (perhaps 0.5% or so), will sound the same. I'll hand in my audiophile card now.

I do have one theory on the value of tube amps, but I've no data to back it up. Solid state amps suffer from 'crossover distortion,' which is what happens when the amp tries to go from + voltage to -, and vice versa. Crossing the 0v threshold induces some noise, and as the signal level drops it stays constant. So, for very low-voltage situations, I postulate it could be a problem. So I suspect with very efficient speakers, a tube amp may be justified. With high-efficiency speakers, you need very little voltage to get to a decent SPL. I have recently procured a Dynaco ST70 tube amp to test this theory. I'm currently using Klipsch CF-4 speakers, which will do 101dB with one watt, tremendously efficient.
Standard caveat that this is all coming from a guitarist's / guitar amplification perspective:

I want to make a distinction between solid state and digital modeling. Solid state technically means any electronic device that relies entirely on semiconductors, but through the years it has taken on a colloquial meaning (in guitar amp circles at least) of sound produced entirely by transistors. In that sense, I associate "solid state" with transistor amps and "digital modeling" with computer boxes that use software algorithms to replicate sound (which technically still relies 100% on semiconductors and is technically still solid state).

That clarification out of the way, I'd agree with you entirely that digital modeling has caught up with tube sound and the vast majority of people would not be able to tell the difference between the two. I would even take it a step farther and say that digital modeling can accurately replicate the entire gamut of distorted tube sounds with incredible accuracy as well. At the same time, what I've narrowly defined as 'solid state' above isn't anywhere close to tube amp sounds, and it's taken digital modeling decades to make up the deficit.

That all being said, all I meant with my previous comment was - again, in guitar amplifier circles - a 50W tube amp is on par with a 100W or even 200W solid state amp, perceived volume wise. Now technically, 100W tube = 100W solid state. The perceived difference there is the break up patterns; when tubes break up they sound rich, full, and loud, while when the solid state breaks up it tends to thin out the louder it gets. Technically, if you were to measure the dB for both, they should come out about equal. But in practice, if you were playing both in the same room, the tube amp volume profile is so much more saturated and dense that you'd never even be able to tell there was a solid state amp in the room: you'd need a solid state amp of about 2-4x the wattage to compete with the the tube amp.
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Last edited by vividox; 04-11-2017 at 03:06 PM..
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  #64  
Old 04-11-2017, 04:03 PM
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Yeah, I'll want to upgrade my speakers down the road. That "Audiophile on a Budget" article talked about the Energy RC-70 towers a lot. Apparently Fry's had them on sale ridiculously cheap (like $200 each) quite a few times before they were discontinued. There are articles out there saying that these were the best deal under $5k a pair! Of course, speaker preference is highly subjective, but I was very much intrigued.

I think the addition of the big ported subwoofer to my DCMs is going to make me a happy man for a good while. I do think I want to upgrade the amp first, and give myself the ability to listen to more than 2 speakers at once.
I've not heard those Energy speakers, so I can't comment there. If you live where I think you live (?), I have a couple of stores I can recommend to audition some stuff.

Craigslist is definitely your friend for speakers. Brands I think are worth checking out: Magnepan, Monitor Audio, Klipsch Reference speakers are good though a bit bright, Zu, KEF, ProAc if you can find them, Martin Logan, maybe PSB... ok, I like a lot of brands!
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  #65  
Old 04-11-2017, 05:04 PM
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Standard caveat that this is all coming from a guitarist's / guitar amplification perspective:

I want to make a distinction between solid state and digital modeling. Solid state technically means any electronic device that relies entirely on semiconductors, but through the years it has taken on a colloquial meaning (in guitar amp circles at least) of sound produced entirely by transistors. In that sense, I associate "solid state" with transistor amps and "digital modeling" with computer boxes that use software algorithms to replicate sound (which technically still relies 100% on semiconductors and is technically still solid state).

That clarification out of the way, I'd agree with you entirely that digital modeling has caught up with tube sound and the vast majority of people would not be able to tell the difference between the two. I would even take it a step farther and say that digital modeling can accurately replicate the entire gamut of distorted tube sounds with incredible accuracy as well. At the same time, what I've narrowly defined as 'solid state' above isn't anywhere close to tube amp sounds, and it's taken digital modeling decades to make up the deficit.

That all being said, all I meant with my previous comment was - again, in guitar amplifier circles - a 50W tube amp is on par with a 100W or even 200W solid state amp, perceived volume wise. Now technically, 100W tube = 100W solid state. The perceived difference there is the break up patterns; when tubes break up they sound rich, full, and loud, while when the solid state breaks up it tends to thin out the louder it gets. Technically, if you were to measure the dB for both, they should come out about equal. But in practice, if you were playing both in the same room, the tube amp volume profile is so much more saturated and dense that you'd never even be able to tell there was a solid state amp in the room: you'd need a solid state amp of about 2-4x the wattage to compete with the the tube amp.
Ah. I'm on the music reproduction side, not the music producing side.

I'm not sure how things differ as you approach peak output. I think most solid state amps just clip at peak voltage. Good way to kill a driver.
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  #66  
Old 04-12-2017, 10:41 AM
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I've not heard those Energy speakers, so I can't comment there. If you live where I think you live (?), I have a couple of stores I can recommend to audition some stuff.

Craigslist is definitely your friend for speakers. Brands I think are worth checking out: Magnepan, Monitor Audio, Klipsch Reference speakers are good though a bit bright, Zu, KEF, ProAc if you can find them, Martin Logan, maybe PSB... ok, I like a lot of brands!
i heard a pair of bozak symphony speakers a few weeks ago. if i didn't know any better i would have sworn stevie ray vaughan was still alive.
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  #67  
Old 04-12-2017, 11:08 AM
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Ah. I'm on the music reproduction side, not the music producing side.
Yeah, and I honestly don't know much about the difference between reproducing and producing sounds. At least in theory, both are just taking a source signal and amplifying it so it can be sent through a speaker to ultimately hit our ear holes. I think the only difference is with the guitar amp you are intentionally trying to color the signal and with the speaker amp you are intentionally trying to keep the signal as uncolored as possible, but I have no idea how much the analogy holds or where it starts to fall apart.
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  #68  
Old 04-12-2017, 12:02 PM
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Yeah, and I honestly don't know much about the difference between reproducing and producing sounds. At least in theory, both are just taking a source signal and amplifying it so it can be sent through a speaker to ultimately hit our ear holes. I think the only difference is with the guitar amp you are intentionally trying to color the signal and with the speaker amp you are intentionally trying to keep the signal as uncolored as possible, but I have no idea how much the analogy holds or where it starts to fall apart.
Yep, that's how I understand it. Distortion is often desirable for guitar amps. And distortion is always undesirable for stereo gear. That way, when I'm listening to rock music, the distortion in the music is just right!
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  #69  
Old 04-12-2017, 12:04 PM
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Okay, so things are moving quickly!

I may have the go-ahead to get all the speakers I need for a 5.1 setup. I've got the Outlaw Ultra-X12 coming Monday, so I'll be in good shape on the subwoofer. But my wife can't stand the look of my huge DCM TF600 towers. In fact, she has made it clear she doesn't want any tower speakers in the room where she's willing to let me set up the 5.1.

So, what are my best options?

I have a couple of tiny black surround speakers that she doesn't mind. But they're pitiful cheap plastic things that came with a Vizio home-theater-in-a-box system. So I definitely want to upgrade those.

What about front speakers? I could probably get away with bookshelf speakers, though she might want me to tuck them out of the way when I'm not using them. I know there's a tradeoff between sound quality and going small with the size, so I'm trying to figure out something that sounds surprisingly good compared to its size.

I also am ridiculously picky when it comes to center channel speakers. I got one a few years ago that everybody raved about, but I thought it sounded awful. Plastic speakers sound "plasticky" to me. My TV stand has an excellent place for a center speaker, so I can go with a pretty big one there without it bothering my wife (as long as it's black, so it won't really stand out.)

Thoughts?
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  #70  
Old 04-12-2017, 12:11 PM
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Also, is a 7.1 really worth it compared to a 5.1? I've mentioned the Outlaw 5000 amp, which would give me 5.1 sound for $600. I would need to pay another $500 for their next amp up to do 7.1 sound. That extra $500 also gets you 20 more watts per channel, but I'm not sure I need that. Reviews online say that the combination of the pre-amp I have on the way along with the 5.1 Outlaw 5000 amp gives an impressive sense of 3D. Plus, moving up to 7.1 requires that I fit in two more speakers, which would probably send my wife from "receptive" to "anti."
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