• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Emulate sound signature of McIntosh amp using a Topping PA5

Martinvb

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
50
Likes
54
Location
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Just wondering… Today we have these amazing class D amplifiers, with high efficiency, great SINAD etc. As a thought experiment (I am not a tech expert), I was figuring out what it would take to develop a software tool that could emulate the sound signature of let’s say a multi-K€ McIntosh amplifier reproduced on a ‘neutral’ amp like the Topping PA5. Not trivial, I suppose, but many examples of such plugins are present in professional audio tools, e.g. plugins for music production software that emulates analogue (tube-like) distortion. What would be different if you could define a brand’s sound signature, saved it as a plugin, and use it to add device specific sound coloration on top of the ‘neutral’ sound processing of a good class D amplifier? I can imagine that if such tools would become available, this may help us understand why people prefer coloured sound produced by their system instead of the uncoloured version straight from the source. Perhaps this might be much more complicated than I think, but wouldn’t it be fun to have an app that would enable live switching between the sound signatures of all high-end brands?

McIntosh_PA5.jpg

 

kongwee

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 22, 2022
Messages
580
Likes
141
slew rate of tube, sure you cannot emulate that by just eq.
 

polmuaddib

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2020
Messages
322
Likes
458
Why do you think that Mcintosh amplifiers are not neutral? Do you have any objective evidence of that? Few Mcintosh amps measured (Stereophile comes to mind, but there are others) show very good measurements and therefore lack of any voicing.
So, I am pretty sure that when you listen Topping or other neutral amp, they sound the same as Mcinotsh amps except for power difference and load stability.
 
OP
Martinvb

Martinvb

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
50
Likes
54
Location
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Why do you think that Mcintosh amplifiers are not neutral? Do you have any objective evidence of that? Few Mcintosh amps measured (Stereophile comes to mind, but there are others) show very good measurements and therefore lack of any voicing.
So, I am pretty sure that when you listen Topping or other neutral amp, they sound the same as Mcinotsh amps except for power difference and load stability.
Good point, I might have better used another example, which is supported with ASR data. What I mean is: any measurable parameter that has an impact on how sound is experienced by the listener and which separates listeners in discrete preference categories, purely based on the sound itself (so not context, e.g. things like esthetics, brand status etc.) could be used to identify sound signature. Here at ASR it has been convincingly shown that from an objective viewpoint much hifi gear measures 'suboptimally', notwithstanding the fan base of such equipment that appreciates it for its sound quality. If sound signature would be objectively reproducible, it would perhaps help to disconnect the topic of sound quality from other contextual variables in all these endless audiophile discussions ;)
 

Inner Space

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
1,059
Likes
2,262
My fave bass guitar gigging amp (and pre-DI stage) is the Mesa WD-800 and it basically follows that principle - a straightforward 800 watt class D amp, with gain overload control, passive three-band tone control plus separate three-band PEQ, and variable output impedance ... I can make it sound like pretty much anything, and I love it.
 

pkane

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
3,254
Likes
5,744
Location
North-East
[comments added]

Yeah. Easy-peasy.
Size, weight, cosmetics... and price.

:cool:

EDIT: OK, cosmetics may be hard to quantify, but not so hard to differentiate qualitatively. ;)

How do you adjust size, cosmetics and weight with DSP??? I want that plug-in! Especially if it can EQ the price.
 

tifune

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
725
Likes
457
Just wondering… Today we have these amazing class D amplifiers, with high efficiency, great SINAD etc. As a thought experiment (I am not a tech expert), I was figuring out what it would take to develop a software tool that could emulate the sound signature of let’s say a multi-K€ McIntosh amplifier reproduced on a ‘neutral’ amp like the Topping PA5. Not trivial, I suppose, but many examples of such plugins are present in professional audio tools, e.g. plugins for music production software that emulates analogue (tube-like) distortion. What would be different if you could define a brand’s sound signature, saved it as a plugin, and use it to add device specific sound coloration on top of the ‘neutral’ sound processing of a good class D amplifier? I can imagine that if such tools would become available, this may help us understand why people prefer coloured sound produced by their system instead of the uncoloured version straight from the source. Perhaps this might be much more complicated than I think, but wouldn’t it be fun to have an app that would enable live switching between the sound signatures of all high-end brands?

View attachment 193881

I actually do think this would be interesting, because coupled with a voluem-matched 'random' button it would easily demonstrate to a broader audience that the majority of equipment actually sounds exactly the same.

In terms of your stated goal, E1DA has an offering that inserts a little "tube distortion" at the pre-stage. It's certainly a cost effective experiment given the quality of their designs. If it does nothing for you, youre still left with a great DAC to use elsewhere.
 

pkane

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
3,254
Likes
5,744
Location
North-East
Just wondering… Today we have these amazing class D amplifiers, with high efficiency, great SINAD etc. As a thought experiment (I am not a tech expert), I was figuring out what it would take to develop a software tool that could emulate the sound signature of let’s say a multi-K€ McIntosh amplifier reproduced on a ‘neutral’ amp like the Topping PA5. Not trivial, I suppose, but many examples of such plugins are present in professional audio tools, e.g. plugins for music production software that emulates analogue (tube-like) distortion. What would be different if you could define a brand’s sound signature, saved it as a plugin, and use it to add device specific sound coloration on top of the ‘neutral’ sound processing of a good class D amplifier? I can imagine that if such tools would become available, this may help us understand why people prefer coloured sound produced by their system instead of the uncoloured version straight from the source. Perhaps this might be much more complicated than I think, but wouldn’t it be fun to have an app that would enable live switching between the sound signatures of all high-end brands?

View attachment 193881

To recreate harmonic distortion similar to another known/measured device, you can try my PKHarmonic VST plugin:

https://distortaudio.org/pkharmonic.html
 

Katji

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
2,720
Likes
1,924
Location
Mzansi
How do you adjust size, cosmetics and weight with DSP??? I want that plug-in! Especially if it can EQ the price.
Audiophile magic ---> Augmented Reality.../Bionics DSP. ...Maybe not the prices.
 

Capitol C

Member
Joined
May 21, 2021
Messages
73
Likes
80
Location
Washington, DC
I wonder if it could be done with either software or a hardware add-on via the technique Carver used to clone the transfer characteristics of a couple of tube amps? For the younger folk who are not familiar with this, the Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Carver, describes the technique briefly and has links. It was also possible to adjust some Hafler amps to maximize linearity (as opposed to imitating another amp), see https://www.gammaelectronics.xyz/audio_02-1989_hafler.html.
 

H-713

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
364
Likes
607
I'm not sure I see the point. McIntosh amps sound good, but they aren't the best out there. Even in the tube days there were better amps.

You can go through a huge amount of effort to replicate the characteristics of a McIntosh with your Topping, but it still won't achieve the best part of a McIntosh amp, which is the look and the history.
 

Jim Taylor

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Oct 22, 2020
Messages
904
Likes
1,863
What I mean is: any measurable parameter that has an impact on how sound is experienced by the listener and which separates listeners in discrete preference categories, purely based on the sound itself .....

If there are people who separate themselves (or are separated by others) into discrete preference categories, it would be wise to subject those people to blind tests or double-blind tests. Sometimes people don't really hear what they think they hear. Jim
 

Talisman

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
128
Likes
249
If you drove a car with the exact same performance in every sector as the Ferrari f40, but in a Toyota Prius, would you have the feeling of being in a Ferrari?
What McIntosh represents are not only solid performance, but also and above all a status in the audio world recognized by all an iconic shape, a granite structure.
Is it worth the purchase money? It is not me who has to say it, everyone will evaluate him, but owning a McIntosh does not mean just listening to an alleged sound timbre.

Ps
It is for this reason that you see a McIntosh sticker on a Topping, but you will never see a Topping sticker on a McIntosh.
 

Katji

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
2,720
Likes
1,924
Location
Mzansi
Yes I know. :-|

I've never seen a McIntosh sticker on a Topping, but I did suggest that they put the PRC flag on it.


and above all a status in the audio world recognized by all an iconic shape, a granite structure.
That reminds me of that famous record "NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS".
Social Psychology. That's where the [missing measurement] is.
 

Katji

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
2,720
Likes
1,924
Location
Mzansi
Granite?
hmm, yes, i've noticed, some people prefer the sound of polished granite slabs, others the sound of expensive wood like kitchen cutting boards.
 

Talisman

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
128
Likes
249
Granite?
hmm, yes, i've noticed, some people prefer the sound of polished granite slabs, others the sound of expensive wood like kitchen cutting boards.
I know, it's funny, it's illogical, it's irrational.
But when you turn the big volume knob, solid, with just the right resistance, with those big blue vu meters looking at you ... Well it's not the same as turning up the volume in the Topping.
We are beings strongly subject to perceptual distortions, being rational also means admitting it.
 

w00b3r

New Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2022
Messages
1
Likes
2
Just wondering… Today we have these amazing class D amplifiers, with high efficiency, great SINAD etc. As a thought experiment (I am not a tech expert), I was figuring out what it would take to develop a software tool that could emulate the sound signature of let’s say a multi-K€ McIntosh amplifier reproduced on a ‘neutral’ amp like the Topping PA5. Not trivial, I suppose, but many examples of such plugins are present in professional audio tools, e.g. plugins for music production software that emulates analogue (tube-like) distortion. What would be different if you could define a brand’s sound signature, saved it as a plugin, and use it to add device specific sound coloration on top of the ‘neutral’ sound processing of a good class D amplifier? I can imagine that if such tools would become available, this may help us understand why people prefer coloured sound produced by their system instead of the uncoloured version straight from the source. Perhaps this might be much more complicated than I think, but wouldn’t it be fun to have an app that would enable live switching between the sound signatures of all high-end brands?

View attachment 193881

I currently use something like you describe for listening to 2-channel music.

In pro-audio, they use VST plugins to introduce harmonics into certain aspects of a song, to give it more character. This is essentially what a tube does. I use voicemeeter banana to route my audio into Reaper, which is running FabFilter Saturn 2 which has many different harmonic "saturation" features, including multiband and dynamic modulation of parameters.

So essentially, i have the ability to generate my own type of "tube sound" that is specific to my tastes, something i probably couldnt achieve with store-bought tubes.

voicemeeter banana will bypass the windows audio mixer (it becomes it). from there, you route audio into reaper and run the plugins, then route it back to voicemeeter and(or) to your output device.
 

Pugsly

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2021
Messages
98
Likes
115
I'm not sure I see the point. McIntosh amps sound good, but they aren't the best out there. Even in the tube days there were better amps.

You can go through a huge amount of effort to replicate the characteristics of a McIntosh with your Topping, but it still won't achieve the best part of a McIntosh amp, which is the look and the history.
Sure, but I'm willing to guess that most people who buy this kind of gear – gear whose purpose, at the end of the day, is to create sound– don't think that they are buying looks and nostalgia. If this stuff was only sold as jewelry or as the equivalent of high-priced boutique purses, I wouldn't have a problem. No one is claiming that the Chanel purse can inherently hold more stuff than a Walmart purse. Now, go and tell someone on most forums outside ASR that their MacIntosh is indistinguishable from a Topping, or that the difference is merely added distortion and this could be recreated with a plugin. See how long it takes for you to be attacked and insulted as deaf, ignorant, etc. I guarantee that no one will respond that you are wrong because their VU meters and nostalgia factor are worth it, which should tell you volumes (pardon the pun)!
 
Top Bottom