Class D + Class A

Lately I’ve been running two sets of maggies with two different amps coming out of one DAC. A Stellar S300 and a Forte 1A. Class D (with the unique input stage) and pure Class A. I inserted a passive pot before the Stellar, allowing me to adjust the mix.

Observations: The Class D is better for piano (more impact), the Class A is better for violin (more sweetness). And it’s the best of both worlds for violin sonatas and concertos. For horns and other wind instruments, both amps are equally good.

I’ve heard it said that SETs are best for very small works, a jazz trio or solo female vocals or solo guitar, but not for complex orchestration. Makes me wonder if certain systems are optimal for certain types of music or certain instruments. Not long ago I heard a Wilson demo, and the guy running the show played some small-scale work like folk music on it and it just sounded ridiculous and heavy. I thought something that I’ve seen in reviews from time to time: “This would be great for Mahler.” (Mahler isn’t my thing.)

In sum, consider the possibility of biamping with Class D and Class A.

Many choose components and set up their system to sound particularly good on one type of music. They then buy essentially only this music and keep tuning their system to produce the sound they like when playing this music. After a few such iterations, it sounds “distinctive” on their chosen music (not necessarily good) and can approach dreadful on everything else.

I continue to find that a truly good system reproduces everything equally well.

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I think the world of audio is too complex for generalizations. For instance I am using a pair of SET amps with the whopping power rating of 2.7 amps per channel. (They are built with hellacious power supplies, which may be one reason why the following is true) With fairly efficient speakers I can play small and large scale works, solo instruments and full orchestral ensembles. Matching the amp to the speaker is a large part of the battle, but with all the choices we have I think we can find examples of almost every type of design that will “do it all.” The search can be fun . . can be frustrating. . . can be expensive.

Yes, there are no limitations on how one can put together a system which will sound good on everything: Inexpensive/expensive. Simple/complex. Speakers/headphones.

Matching the amp to the speaker is definitely a big part of the answer.

But certain tools are inherently optimal for certain sounds. A tweeter is not much good representing a double bass, and a 15" woofer is not much good at representing a triangle. And a full range transducer isn’t really full range (although it sidesteps the problems with crossover). Are horn speakers better at depicting horn instruments? I adore my maggies but they can’t depict the thump of timpani like a woofer. OTOH, I’ve yet to hear a cone speaker that can match a planar for voices.

Elk suggests one system can do it all. I’m not convinced. I’ve got two systems, and I’m leaning towards a third, perhaps a SET and a fullrange, just for intimate pieces. I’ll leave the symphonies to the big system.