Do Class D amplifiers sound a lot better than Class AB Amps?

Discussion in 'Audio/Video & Home Theater' started by Anarchist420, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Anarchist420

    Anarchist420 Diamond Member

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    How noticeable is the difference?

    Given the same speakers, is there a huge difference between the HK-3490 (it has a class AB Amp, but it's said to be high current design, although that's probably a marketing gimmick) and a Pioneer Elite receiver with Class D amp?
     
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  3. blackangst1

    blackangst1 Lifer

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    I would start with THIS thread at AVS forums about ICE amps. Ive read alot about these, and there's differing opinions (of course) but the general concensus is theyre nice, weigh less, and stay cooler than class A/B amps.

    Interesting thing about ICE amps...the patent for them is held by Bang and Olefsun (sp?) so every one of them is made by them and rebadged.
     
  4. kornphlake

    kornphlake Golden Member

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    There are a lot of comparisons out there but IMO they are all pretty useless unless you have the exact same source, same speakers, same room and same ears as the person who made the comparison. The best way to answer the question is to audition a class D amp, if you look around you can find some really inexpensive class D amps, or you might find someone who lives nearby who will let you borrow an amp to audition.
     
  5. Rifter

    Rifter Diamond Member

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    I think AB sounds better than D personally. Also the 3490 is high current dont doubt it. I have used mine to power some pro speaker towers(multiple 15" drivers and smaller mids/highs in each tower) for a block party when the DJ guys pro amp died. We blasted it for hours at loud volume and the 3490 was shedding heat like crazy, could see the heat waves coming off it. But it never quit for a second even though we were trying to power speakers ment to take 1000-1500w each. I have alot of respect for my HK 3490 after that.
     
  6. Modelworks

    Modelworks Lifer

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    noticeable difference = zero. Put a good class D and Class AB beside each other with a proper setup and you will not be able to tell the difference.

    class A you can tell the difference between other types but it still isn't much. The problem with class A is it uses a huge amount of power compared to other types so you will not see anything larger than 50-100 watt output amps. For every watt it outputs it waste that much power in heat.
     
  7. sdifox

    sdifox No Lifer

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    depends on what kind of class d.
     
  8. bobdole369

    bobdole369 Diamond Member

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    My first thought is that a class D would have less audible harmonics. In Class AB you have actual audio coming through the entire amp, where in D its converted to a PWM signal at some point. With an AB on the outputs you have audio frequencies moving around directly, where in D the thing is turning on and off thousands of times per second. No chance for an even harmonic if the output device is running at 4 times or more then the highest audible frequency right?

    Just a thought.
     
  9. Howard

    Howard Lifer

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    The best Class-AB amps are still better than the best Class-D amps, but the "better" is beyond the limits of audibility IMO.
     
  10. JackBurton

    JackBurton Lifer

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    I would choose the Pioneer Elite (SC-xx) hands down over anything HK. However, if you are looking at new Pioneer Elite receivers (SC-xx), they are no longer using ICEpower amps. They are using Class D3 amps, and from what I've read, they sound pretty dang good and are more efficient than the previous ICEpower amps they were using.
     
  11. Gibson486

    Gibson486 Lifer

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    From the perspective of person who used to work for a company that made class D amplifier chips, the difference is not that noticeable. The biggest reason to use them was because of efficiency. With class D, you could get close to 92% (at least with ours). The bad thing about them is that if designed incorrectly, you will run into EMI nightmares. All that switching in the amplifier chip creates a lot of EMI and designing around it without thinking about it will lead to a product that would not pass EMC testing.

    To make it simple, you would not be able to hear the difference unless you are a dog or something.
     
  12. CallMeJoe

    CallMeJoe Diamond Member

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    Shocked to find Anarchist falling for the bourgeois myth of Class superiority...
     
  13. alcoholbob

    alcoholbob Diamond Member

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    I've had both (1000ASP based) and various power amps and receivers.

    Never honestly heard a real difference between them, probably for a lot of people its the visual placebo effect...although switch mode power amps make annoying high frequency whine, that's why I ditched my Pioneer SCs and my ICEpower 1000ASP power amp
     
  14. Anarchist420

    Anarchist420 Diamond Member

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    Thanks for all the replies:)

    I had suspected that the difference was mainly efficiency. I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a good receiver with class AB amp and a good receiver with class D amp.

    I think I'll just keep my 2nd HK-3490 (on the way) and split the speaker wire right this time. I was too lazy to do it right the first time. However, I'm sure it sounded like shit because I didn't split the speaker wires right (I put it in the binding posts with a lot of plastic still wrapped around the copper wire so the current couldn't pass through very well). The copper wire got really dark after my first week of use so I used headphones since then. It finally blew when I tried to connect some computer speakers to it when the power supply was switched on. Fortunately, I got the sage max warranty when I bought it.

    I'd like some 3 way speakers but don't really have the money for them. If the amp weakened, then is it likely the speakers (a pair of infinity Primus P162s) weakened also? If so, then I'll have to use headphones at first until I have money for some good speakers.
     
    #13 Anarchist420, Nov 9, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
  15. Howard

    Howard Lifer

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    Could've been the power supplies.
     
  16. ericlp

    ericlp Diamond Member

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    use a T-amp and run them off battery supply... pick up a cheap one off of parts express or demo a setup from a friends house. I was amazed with the sound and that all this time it was my crappy onkyo's yeah I was really big into onkyo till I heard the T-amp...

    Tho, your ears are different than mine so that's why I suggest you take a listen to different types to find the right one for you.
     
  17. alcoholbob

    alcoholbob Diamond Member

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    The T-Amp chipset adds some even-order harmonic distortion which gives it a similar sound signature of tube amps. Whereas ICEpower's distortion characteristics are closer to solid-state amps. Anyway the T-amps aren't really meant to drive speakers to reference levels.
     
    #16 alcoholbob, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  18. ericlp

    ericlp Diamond Member

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    Oh really? What's reference levels? The 2024 chip isn't the only Tripath chip available. You can now get that "sound" in 100Watt per channel mono blocks and even get remotes, sub out and different inputs.

    Tho with bi-wired speakers, you could drive the tweeters with the T-path and mid/bass end with another t-amp or another mono block all together. There are many options.

    Tho, even at 15-20watts per channel with a Klipsch Synergy F-2

    Sensitivity 95.5dB @ 2.83 volts/1 meterIt would be PLENTY Loud .... Don't underestimate the low CLEAN watts. :whiste: Tho I'm happy with my 89dB speakers...
     
  19. sam013

    sam013 Junior Member

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    Hello , everyone I am new user , any recomendations about online store to buy Denon AVR 1911 ? having 7.1-channel AV receiver which is a must, nearby sydney,i want to buy the product in best prices .something I can add a preamp to in the future.:|
     
  20. ericlp

    ericlp Diamond Member

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    I dunno, why do new users have to act like new users? I guess I MUST buy one too! Thanks man! I got one on order!

    Furthermore I don't think the 1911 was made for a pre-amp setup.
     
  21. Anarchist420

    Anarchist420 Diamond Member

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    Anyone know how likely it is my speakers weakened (see post 13 for description of situation)? I could always try them when my new HK3490 arrives, but it would be nice to know in advance.
     
  22. Specop 007

    Specop 007 Diamond Member

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    If your amplifier is changing the sound then something is wrong. Get rid of it.

    It should amplify, not change the sound. Now you can adjust settings on amps to get amp A to sound different than amp B so in real world there will be differences in sound but in a comparison test all they should do is amplify with no changes to the audio.
     
  23. kornphlake

    kornphlake Golden Member

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    What exactly do you mean by weakened? Speakers are pretty primitive in most respects, as long as the voice coils didn't overheat and the suspension hasn't rotted from age you shouldn't be too concerned. The voice coil will only overheat if you've driven the speakers to very high volumes for a long time, if the surrounds are rotted out you should be able to visibly see the degradation by simply removing the grills and inspecting the drivers.
     
  24. alcoholbob

    alcoholbob Diamond Member

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    Bi-wiring is when you take one wire from the amp output and split it into two at the speaker inputs. Perhaps you are thinking of bi-amping? In which case you need an active equalizer and crossover management, such as getting a set of Behringer DCX and DEQ2496. That would put you back at least $500 and this is considered one of the least expensive ways to bi-amp. You're better off spending your money elsewhere.

    Not everyone has 95.5db sensitive speakers. A cursory scan of Amazon shows most speakers are closer to 89db. Take a typically seating distance of 10 feet and you have 79db @ 1W. Reference levels are 95db with 105db peaks. This would require 37W RMS and 370W for peaks.

    My living room theater's sitting distance is 19 feet from my screen and I've got a pair of NHT Classic 4s, with 86db sensitivity, giving me 71db@ 1W. This requires 134W RMS and 1340W peaks to hit reference levels. My Yamaha RX-Z11 receiver only has a 1000VA transformer so it's unlikely to pull this off.

    And even going by your example of a 95.5db sensitive speakers, you'd still need 45W to hit reference peaks at 10 feet.
     
    #23 alcoholbob, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  25. Howard

    Howard Lifer

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    ;)
     
  26. alcoholbob

    alcoholbob Diamond Member

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    :D good catch, fixed.