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John Curl (Parasound, Ampex, et al): how audio amplifiers sound in the real world

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  • John Curl (Parasound, Ampex, et al): how audio amplifiers sound in the real world

    Short caveat for a great video: for loudspeakers that are anything but properly conceived minimalist designs (and executions), such as Arx, the differences between audio amplifiers will often be masked. Just as speakers that tend to mask details in music, they'll mask these even finer differences as well. John is somewhat of a living legend and what he says carries more weight than most others...including people who use a $299 WorstBuy Yamaha AVR and try to convince others that it's identical to an A-21. You know who you are. ;)

    It's long, but worth every minute. John starts at about 20 minutes in.

    John Curl says it several times, as have Jon Lane and I, that just because something measures perfectly DOES NOT mean it will make music.

  • #2
    Good stuff - anyone citing the Radiotron Designer's Handbook and the nature of harmonic distortion gets my respect.

    Everything on earth has a sound. The question is not if but can you. In other words, is your system, space, and especially, is your acuity such that you find things in the sound you can eventually relate back to a certain phenomenon in a certain place in the chain. All such proclivities differ from person to person.

    That said, the ability for folks to hear common tendencies and phenomenon in uncorrelated ways over distance and time can be rather uncanny in audio, and is for me one of the confirmations of a number of established, preferred, and proven audio techniques and philosophies.

    As for blind testing, the fatigue of having to hear a difference is utterly different than happening on a particular artifact of the sound through musical enjoyment; that quality of discernment where you only realize what you're hearing and why after time spent not trying to hear anything at all. That too is a very valid hearing technique - maybe the only way to listen for many of us - that also bears an uncannily reliable set of outcomes. I hear as much stuff tending dinner on the stove a room away on a weekend than I ever do rooted to the chair between the speakers between nine and five and Monday and Friday.

    In all cases, there's a huge sum of experience and science that doesn't get due regard by the strict "objectivist" that's been cataloged and tied back to technology already for decades. Much of it was even written as theory during the mid century, back in audio's golden age. My Radiotron 4th Ed. is dated '52; my MIT Vacuum Tube Amplifiers is dated '64; my Olson's Acoustical Engineering is from '40, and my Audio Cyclopedia is dated '59.

    Funny how that material has held up over all these years, as Curl alludes...


    • #3
      I thoroughly enjoyed watching this.
      Hopefully soon I will be able to afford some Parasound gear!

      Thanks for posting!