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Emulate sound signature of McIntosh amp using a Topping PA5

clearnfc

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Yes, this is possible although nobody will do it. Sonic signatures are one of the most closely guarded trade secrets. ITs basically what defines the company and brand.

Companies spent huge amount of time/money/effort to "tune" their products to achieve the sound their engineers wanted. From circuit design to even selection of components. It can be software (firmware) but you won't be able to simply extract the data and decipher what they did.

So, if someone were to do it, yes its possible to achieve similar sonic signatures, but it won't sound the same. Of course, Mcintosh themselves could do it (maybe they already did), but they won't tell you.

Of course, software can only do within hardware limits, I don't know how well a Topping gear could emulate Mcintosh sonic signatures.
 

clearnfc

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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)!

Some do buy it for looks too. Perhaps you could say its an acquired taste when it comes to looks of Mcintosh amps. I initially hate the looks but now I feel its actually not that bad.
 

clearnfc

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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.

Hmm.... maybe something close... Say Ferrari clone. Someone managed to imitate a ferrari very closely (replica, commonly done in automotive world).
 

Pugsly

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Some do buy it for looks too. Perhaps you could say its an acquired taste when it comes to looks of Mcintosh amps. I initially hate the looks but now I feel its actually not that bad.
Ok, let me rephrase, because I will admit the 'too', but not that there are not many who believe are paying for looks and nostalgia alone. More, I suggest that most would not be at least a little cheesed if something they payed many thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars for could be replaced with something available for a mere pittance.
 

mhardy6647

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Maybe it's just me -- but sonic signature just doesn't sound like ASR-approvable nomenclature.
;)
 

Jim Taylor

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Sonic signatures are one of the most closely guarded trade secrets.
I don't know how well a Topping gear could emulate Mcintosh sonic signatures.

I think I'm lost here. To me, "sonic signature" means audible distortion profile. Some can be inherent limitations of the gear's design, and not really deliberate. The old Grommes amps come to mind. Others, however, can be deliberate, with the designers aiming at a certain segment of the "audiophile" market.

The history of McIntosh is a history of reducing sonic signatures. It is a history of designing the most neutral amplifier possible. This was first done within the limited capabilities of tube circuits, although it was done quite well. Then it was done by using solid state devices, which were capable of yielding greater degrees of refinement.
I have heard both tube and solid state McIntosh amps. My impression is that they were both quite neutral. The only possible "signature" I could pick out might have been the bass response of the tube amp. Maybe. Maybe not. It would depend on the speaker load.

With that in mind, which "sonic signatures" of the McIntosh amps are being discussed here? Jim
 

restorer-john

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Yes, this is possible although nobody will do it. Sonic signatures are one of the most closely guarded trade secrets. ITs basically what defines the company and brand.

Companies spent huge amount of time/money/effort to "tune" their products to achieve the sound their engineers wanted. From circuit design to even selection of components. It can be software (firmware) but you won't be able to simply extract the data and decipher what they did.

So, if someone were to do it, yes its possible to achieve similar sonic signatures, but it won't sound the same. Of course, Mcintosh themselves could do it (maybe they already did), but they won't tell you.

You do know this was done way back by Bob Carver? His transfer function modified amplifier range...
 
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Gorgonzola

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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
Actually it's a great idea -- a "plug-in" that allows the user to tune the harmonic distortion profile.

HD harmonics is what gives amps their character. A device the allows these to be tune would work great -- assuming the amp was inherently ultra-low noise and noise.

Much of the high-end industry is build around makers touting their particular products as having the ideal sound quality. In reality there IS no ideal sound character, (assuming you like "character"), because what's ideal is a matter of personal taste. The above "plug-in" circuitry would be a well deserved slap in the face to the high-end mystique.
 

pkane

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Actually it's a great idea -- a "plug-in" that allows the user to tune the harmonic distortion profile.

HD harmonics is what gives amps their character. A device the allows these to be tune would work great -- assuming the amp was inherently ultra-low noise and noise.

Much of the high-end industry is build around makers touting their particular products as having the ideal sound quality. In reality there IS no ideal sound character, (assuming you like "character"), because what's ideal is a matter of personal taste. The above "plug-in" circuitry would be a well deserved slap in the face to the high-end mystique.

I’m sure you can find quite a few such plugins, including some that are free ;)
 

Salida

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This has been done before, many years ago, by Bob Carver and the folks at Stereophile. It’s an interesting challenge. Bob was able to mod one of his amps to duplicate the performance of Stereophile’s ‘reference’ amplifier.

The uncontrolled subjective listening tests used by Stereophile will disquiet many here, but still worth a read.

 

MAB

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

https://distortaudio.org/pkharmonic.html
This is great! I want to test: at what level does 2nd order harmonic distortion become audible to me? and does it sound good? My guess is that 2nd order will sound bad once I can hear it. Same hypothesis for all the harmonics...
 

pkane

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This is great! I want to test: at what level does 2nd order harmonic distortion become audible to me? and does it sound good? My guess is that 2nd order will sound bad once I can hear it. Same hypothesis for all the harmonics...
Get back to us with what you find. Usually, the 2nd harmonic needs to be pretty high in level to become obviously audible. There are those here that enjoy additional harmonic content, so it may still surprise you ;)
 

Eldus

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See post #10 - I believe you can use VST plugins in Foobar2000. I suppose the missing part is an equivalent of AutoEQ that lets you pick the amp's distortion profile easily.
You can. 32bit only AFAIK. Also, I did get crashing occasionally. Equalizer APO works with 64bit VSTs you dont see visualizations of needles or meters though.
 

Waxx

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You can. 32bit only AFAIK. Also, I did get crashing occasionally. Equalizer APO works with 64bit VSTs you dont see visualizations of needles or meters though.
There are also some 64bit vst's who do that, and use a daw if foobar does not support 64bit vst (which would surprise me). I juse JRiver, and it does support 64bit vst's.

 
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