- Feb 23, 2016
Where does the idea come from that the application of crude, bent transfer functions to a composite recorded signal should, in any way, create new meaning in it, or add musical content to it, or change the performance, or change the recording venue? It is like claiming that an algorithm consisting of two lines of code has been developed that can automatically process poetry to make it better.
People who are seduced by this fantasy are clearly starting from systems that are deficient, and casting around for a magic bullet to do something, anything, to jazz up a lacklustre sound. The recent reviews of the Kii Three (just as an example), express the opposite view: that when the system is straight and lacking distortion, all such ideas evaporate.
I told you above, by listening to one of those euphonic systems. That is where the idea bent transfer functions can be euphonic.
I've told of this here before, but will do so again. I had a nice triode amplifier fed by a Meridian 563 (I think, I may have had the Wadia 25 by then) directly into the amp which fed Quad ESL63 speakers. You can decide if that is a system lacking and having lacklustre sound that needs jazzing up. The triode amps sounded very nice at least a couple of my friends thought it the best amp they had ever heard and a few more at least thought highly of it. It put up a very 3D sound, with lots of aliveness and dynamics, and seemed to be see thru transparent as if you were hearing the recording much more directly vs most other amps. Very pleasing and transparent which is an excellent combination.
So I decided to load the output with resistors similar to the load of the speakers, tap it with a resistor divider network to get unity gain vs input so I could feed it to another amplifier. My belief was the triode amp let more of the music through than most amps. But how much? Was it letting 50% thru, or 90% or 10%? And how much of the good quality of the recording did other amps lose? I hoped to get an idea of how much musicality was lost by this other amp as I knew the sound of the triode amp. My plans were then to reverse positions and try to gauge a little bit if the triode amp had much room for improvement or was nearly best possible already.
Big surprise however. I found that this triode amp feeding a Spectral DMA-50 was reproduced with all the qualities intact. The Spectral seemed to diminish it none whatsoever. That also told me the Spectral was fully capable of throwing up the 3D, spacious, dynamic, detailed, transparent sound that I had assumed was beyond its abilities.
Reversing positions, you couldn't tell if the Spectral was in the loop or not. It didn't diminish or change the sound of the triode amp following it. If you pulled it out and had only interconnects between source and triode there was no change in sound. It was actually the transparent high fidelity amp. While the Spectral sounded quite good on its own, it didn't have some of those other nice characteristics the triode did. But rather than being better in transmitting musical signals the triode was in fact adding its own delicious colorations. Those characteristics weren't in the source to start with. It sure was euphonic however.
So in that one experiment I found the Spectral had a transfer function that was straight, and the bent one sounded better. So the question is what sort of transfer function gives this sound? Some of it can be discerned because similar designs with similarly bent transfer functions sound similarly.