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Carver Raven 350 Review (Tube Amp)

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 260 82.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 29 9.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 15 4.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 10 3.2%

  • Total voters
    314

Killingbeans

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why you didn't make listening test?
 

milosz

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I think part of the confusion here arises from how badly the human ear can tell the difference between transparent electronics and amplifiers, DACs, etc that are imperfect and compromising the signal.

I think that many music listeners wouldn't be able to tell the difference between listening to a DAC with a SINAD of 75 dB and one with a SINAD of 110 dB, or a DAC with only 12 bits of linearity vs one with accuracy down to 22 bits, or an amplifier with a SINAD of 50 dB vs one with a SINAD of 85 dB or better. So they can't understand why the gear that measures so poorly actually sounds OK to them... it takes training and practice to be able to hear these things, and using pure tones to listen can often tell you more about the transparency of a gain stage or DAC process than listening to music can. All the signals and their harmonics in music can mask an awful lot of nonlinearity.

The value of making measurements is to find which gear actually adds the least to the music, the minimum amount of artifact. One may not be able to hear the difference - but at least if you are using electronics which have been shown to be changing the audio signal as little as possible, you can have some assurance that what you are listening to is actually in the recording, and not added ( or subtracted ) by your playback chain.

I provided some of the Audio-GD DACs and headphone amps to Amirm for testing that was reported here. And, frankly, when I listened to them on music I didn't hear the horrors that the testing showed. I got rid of the Audio-GD DACs and got a Topping E-50 and a Schiit Modius DAC for my various playback setups. I can't say that I heard any difference - note that I did not A/B these newer DACs against the Audio-GD units - but at any rate I now feel some confidence that my DACs are neutral and transparent.

I've done a lot of casual A/B blind testing of various DACs and amplifiers, I've done A/B between Red Book 44.1 / 16 vs "HD" 96 / 24 tracks and I found that I just could not tell any difference, either using my Stealth 'phones or my Quad ESL 57 speakers.

In the end, if you want to listen to equipment that measures poorly but you believe sounds great - that's your choice. You are responding to your BELIEF about the sound, not to the sound itself. Hearing is subjective, ears are not microphones and the brain doesn't know how to be objective. Chances are few -if any - of us can ACTUALLY hear much difference between a lot of these different amps and DACs. Some folks, with training, can hear differences which would not be apparent to most of us. And it's been shown that, in general, those that have the training and experience prefer the equipment that measures well over the stuff that doesn't make the numbers.

The other reason to measure equipment has nothing to do with how it sounds playing music, but is a measure of the HONESTY of the manufacturer. If the manufacturer says an amplifier can put out 150 watts into 8 ohms with distortion products down 80 dB ( that is THD below 0.01% ) and we measure that amplifier and it hits 1% distortion at 75 watts and gets worse from there on up - well, now we have found that the manufacturer is not being truthful with us. Should we reward manufacturers who lie to the public by spending our hard-earned dollars on their products? I would say, no we should not.
 

fpitas

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If someone was looking for a special tube sound, you might just hear the garbage erm, I mean euphonic high-end sound of this amp.

On a serious note. Those power tubes seem awfully close together. If I had to own this thing I'd get some airflow through there.
 

sergeauckland

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The other reason to measure equipment has nothing to do with how it sounds playing music, but is a measure of the HONESTY of the manufacturer. If the manufacturer says an amplifier can put out 150 watts into 8 ohms with distortion products down 80 dB ( that is THD below 0.01% ) and we measure that amplifier and it hits 1% distortion at 75 watts and gets worse from there on up - well, now we have found that the manufacturer is not being truthful with us. Should we reward manufacturers who lie to the public by spending our hard-earned dollars on their products? I would say, no we should not.

In general, I agree with you, specs should be honest, indeed conservative. However, it seems to me that the reality of today's mainly on-line sales is that stuff has got cheaper and cheaper (except the 'High End') and specs have become worthy of the Booker Prize for Fiction. Whoever offers the most power for the least money gets the sale.

Consequently, my approach is to buy on a combination of discounted specs and price, then make my own measurements. If the numbers I get are adequate for the job I need doing, then the item stays, if not, it goes back. I've sent back a few ADC/DAC combinations that distorted heavily above -6dBFS, I've kept some cheap amplifiers that claimed silly amounts of power, but gave a perfectly clean 20 watts into 8 ohms, which is all I needed, for very little money.

I accept that not everyone buying amps etc on-line has the ability to make their own measurements, or even understand what the specs mean, but as long as sales are done at the lowest price, on-line, with no independent advice but with cheap and easy returns, I can't see the situation changing, as much as I would like it to.

S.
 

fpitas

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In general, I agree with you, specs should be honest, indeed conservative. However, it seems to me that the reality of today's mainly on-line sales is that stuff has got cheaper and cheaper (except the 'High End') and specs have become worthy of the Booker Prize for Fiction. Whoever offers the most power for the least money gets the sale.

Consequently, my approach is to buy on a combination of discounted specs and price, then make my own measurements. If the numbers I get are adequate for the job I need doing, then the item stays, if not, it goes back. I've sent back a few ADC/DAC combinations that distorted heavily above -6dBFS, I've kept some cheap amplifiers that claimed silly amounts of power, but gave a perfectly clean 20 watts into 8 ohms, which is all I needed, for very little money.

I accept that not everyone buying amps etc on-line has the ability to make their own measurements, or even understand what the specs mean, but as long as sales are done at the lowest price, on-line, with no independent advice but with cheap and easy returns, I can't see the situation changing, as much as I would like it to.

S.
Caveat emptor. Amplifier manufacturers have been lying as long as I remember. At one point some listed a "Peak Power" that could only be (briefly) achieved if you shorted the power supply. They aren't alone; car sub specs are usually complete fabrications, too.
 

EJ3

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Caveat emptor. Amplifier manufacturers have been lying as long as I remember. At one point some listed a "Peak Power" that could only be (briefly) achieved if you shorted the power supply. They aren't alone; car sub specs are usually complete fabrications, too.
Yes, CARS: When I worked for the Porsche factory in the1980's (as a quality inspector (various jobs over the years [paint inspector, operating a chassis dyno [making sure that every function worked as intended {AC down to a certain temperature, heat up to a certain temperature, etc]}) one of the things that was made clear by management was that we were to make sure that the vehicle exceeded the specifications that were claimed. A given example was that: "if one of our vehicles is supposed to be able to go 173 MPH: if it was proven to only go 172 MPH, the purchaser will be a very unhappy customer (as would Porsche), putting a ding in the confidence of the brand. But, if the vehicle was proven to go 175 MPH, then the customer would be happy, possibly (probably) spreading the word that the vehicle does better than expected and help build the brand via word of mouth.
 

Dmitri

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I think part of the confusion here arises from how badly the human ear can tell the difference between transparent electronics and amplifiers, DACs, etc that are imperfect and compromising the signal.

I think that many music listeners wouldn't be able to tell the difference between listening to a DAC with a SINAD of 75 dB and one with a SINAD of 110 dB, or a DAC with only 12 bits of linearity vs one with accuracy down to 22 bits, or an amplifier with a SINAD of 50 dB vs one with a SINAD of 85 dB or better. So they can't understand why the gear that measures so poorly actually sounds OK to them... it takes training and practice to be able to hear these things, and using pure tones to listen can often tell you more about the transparency of a gain stage or DAC process than listening to music can. All the signals and their harmonics in music can mask an awful lot of nonlinearity.

The value of making measurements is to find which gear actually adds the least to the music, the minimum amount of artifact. One may not be able to hear the difference - but at least if you are using electronics which have been shown to be changing the audio signal as little as possible, you can have some assurance that what you are listening to is actually in the recording, and not added ( or subtracted ) by your playback chain.

I provided some of the Audio-GD DACs and headphone amps to Amirm for testing that was reported here. And, frankly, when I listened to them on music I didn't hear the horrors that the testing showed. I got rid of the Audio-GD DACs and got a Topping E-50 and a Schiit Modius DAC for my various playback setups. I can't say that I heard any difference - note that I did not A/B these newer DACs against the Audio-GD units - but at any rate I now feel some confidence that my DACs are neutral and transparent.

I've done a lot of casual A/B blind testing of various DACs and amplifiers, I've done A/B between Red Book 44.1 / 16 vs "HD" 96 / 24 tracks and I found that I just could not tell any difference, either using my Stealth 'phones or my Quad ESL 57 speakers.

In the end, if you want to listen to equipment that measures poorly but you believe sounds great - that's your choice. You are responding to your BELIEF about the sound, not to the sound itself. Hearing is subjective, ears are not microphones and the brain doesn't know how to be objective. Chances are few -if any - of us can ACTUALLY hear much difference between a lot of these different amps and DACs. Some folks, with training, can hear differences which would not be apparent to most of us. And it's been shown that, in general, those that have the training and experience prefer the equipment that measures well over the stuff that doesn't make the numbers.

The other reason to measure equipment has nothing to do with how it sounds playing music, but is a measure of the HONESTY of the manufacturer. If the manufacturer says an amplifier can put out 150 watts into 8 ohms with distortion products down 80 dB ( that is THD below 0.01% ) and we measure that amplifier and it hits 1% distortion at 75 watts and gets worse from there on up - well, now we have found that the manufacturer is not being truthful with us. Should we reward manufacturers who lie to the public by spending our hard-earned dollars on their products? I would say, no we should not.
Well said. For most of us, from an audible perspective, the measurements aren’t at issue. A manufacturer’s integrity and commitment to quality engineering is everything. We’re all gearheads here in some form or another. We take pride in knowing that our equipment has been designed to be the best it can possibly be at the price point we can afford. When able, I will always pay more for quality, even when it’s not readily apparent in use.
Sadly, it appears that a number of “high end“ companies have learned to abuse that notion...pretty boxes that hide mediocrity in design, unjustifiable prices that are in themselves selling points because if the masses can afford it, it can’t be quality. It’s not even a matter of diminishing returns anymore. More has often become less, marketing and manufacture reduced to shiny baubles that attract the eye, false subjective claims and specifications made meaningless by lack of parameters and ludicrously smoothed graphs.

Go get ‘em ASR.
 

frki16

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Well said. For most of us, from an audible perspective, the measurements aren’t at issue. A manufacturer’s integrity and commitment to quality engineering is everything. We’re all gearheads here in some form or another. We take pride in knowing that our equipment has been designed to be the best it can possibly be at the price point we can afford. When able, I will always pay more for quality, even when it’s not readily apparent in use.
Sadly, it appears that a number of “high end“ companies have learned to abuse that notion...pretty boxes that hide mediocrity in design, unjustifiable prices that are in themselves selling points because if the masses can afford it, it can’t be quality. It’s not even a matter of diminishing returns anymore. More has often become less, marketing and manufacture reduced to shiny baubles that attract the eye, false subjective claims and specifications made meaningless by lack of parameters and ludicrously smoothed graphs.

Go get ‘em ASR.
so, again...why he didn't make listening test? if it sound exceptional I don't see problem here...think Amir is hiding something :)
 

staticV3

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where in measurements I can read amplifier will be on bright or warm side?
here:
Carver Raven Monoblock 350 watts Amplifier Frequency Response Measurements.png
 

solderdude

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where in measurements I can read amplifier will be on bright or warm side?

You can't really say anything about this t.b.h. because there are not enough measurements done.

All we can say is that in low feedback mode, with 4 ohm resistive load (does not exist IRL) and on 4 ohm tap it sounds a tiny bit more 'detailed'/'sharper' than on higher feedback mode. The plot ONLY says something about this aspect in this particular load.

StaticV3's post saved me the trouble of posting the FR plot.

The frequency response (so 'tone') is setting (low feedback or not) and speaker impedance dependent.
The (probably and also not determined) output resistance also has an influence on the sound depending on the speaker.
 

Killingbeans

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so, again...why he didn't make listening test? if it sound exceptional I don't see problem here...think Amir is hiding something :)

You just choose to ignore the link I gave you above?

If you don't continue this discussion in the other thread, the moderators are going to move the posts over there anyway. You'd might as well do the jump on your own.

Amir isn't hiding anything. Other than when it's clipping or having difficulties with an atypical load, an amp is very unlikely to distinguish itself from any other amp. And if it does so, it's clearly indicated in the measurements. Amir is focused on making a smorgasbord of objective data available, only spending time on subjective impressions in the cases where the differences are substantial enough to make cognitive bias a minor concern, and/or where the correlation between measurements and impressions are most impactful. Speakers and headphones for the most part.

where in measurements I can read amplifier will be on bright or warm side?

Frequency response.

Some say that it's also indicated by the distortion measurements, others say it's a myth.

And of course perceptual bias can give it all kinds of intensities and temperatures.
 
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Jimi Floyd

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so, again...why he didn't make listening test? if it sound exceptional I don't see problem here...think Amir is hiding something :)
Because no listening test is a test. Reporting listening impressions is a useless exercise, depending on countless variables such as the music, the room, other equipment involved, mood and state of mind, who is listening, expectations about the gear on test, economical interests involved such as ads by the manufacturer published on the newspaper where the review is published etc. etc. etc.

If you rely on "listening impressions" on YouTube, Stereophile, other web sites, other magazines, web forums (full with ghost accounts...) you probably would trust white van free tacos
 
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