Class D "Sound"


#1

I’m debating purchasing either the PS Audio S300 or M700’s OR another brand’s class A/B amplifier (Schiit Vidar).

What would you say some of the sonic characteristics are of class d amplification? I’ve seen Paul’s videos on Class A, A/B, and D, so I understand the basics, but I’m wanting to dive just a bit deeper into what you’re actually getting from a class D amp that is sonically beneficial over Class A/B.

I have two integrated amps at home right now (one class a/b, the other class d) - both around the $700 point - and I prefer the sound of the class a/b NAD over the class d. They are both good quality, 2-channel amps.

Any advice or insight into my consideration? Not trying to stoke the fire here on the Class D vs. Class A/B debate…just trying to be an informed buyer and buy to my audio tastes…


#2

(I’M NO EXPERT, JUST FELT LIKE TOSSING IN TWO CENTS). I can’t really help with the Class A/B as I haven’t really heard one for a few decades, I’ve been lost in Class A tube world. I do have recent experience with an excellent class D amp, the Peachtree Audio Grand integrated X-1. It has a really nice clean and fast sound. Though I can’t help it, the tube buffer doesn’t make it sound any more “tube-like” and every time I spend a lot of time with it I felt that lack of “tube-sound” and “feel.” For me that shifts the balance, but the Class D sound of that Peachtree really had nothing to fault, it had gobs of power, dynamics and detail and a nice frequency balance.


#3

I think it’s hard to state that there is a typical “sound” to an amp topology. Most of my amps are class A . It has more to do with successful design implementation. Many class D amps sound great nowadays.


#4

I have heard tube setups.
I have heard A/B, very expensive Nagra setup with my speakers (Triton 3+) at my dealer.

With the SGCD/S300/ Sonore UltraRendu setup with my Triton 3+’s I am very happy. And it’s a very small fraction of my dealers setup. Some days I am truly surprised how good my system sounds, I thought I would of had to pay more for this.


#5

Try to home audition these side by side with your own speakers! Like @watchdog507 said, it’s all about implementation. M700 have great input stage + great class D modules = success! :slight_smile:


#6

As mentioned above it probably does have a lot to do with your system and synergy. Oddly enough, my worst Class D experience was with Peachtree, but not the unit lonson has. My best experience was M700s. However also referencing above, the Jr to M700 setup (all digital/Roon based) loved Dynaudio Contour 30s and not so much C1s but delighted with the addition of a pre.
However the upgrade to the BHK 250 was noticeable. My speakers can work an amp pretty hard and the 250 = less power over all (per specs) but you can’t tell (or I have not got to where I can anyway) and the fidelity / sound has improved. Home audition can’t be beat…


#7

Thanks for all the helpful information everyone. I figured this was the case more or less, so then what is all the fuss about class D amps then? I got to tell you I’ve heard some pretty passionate and prominent people in the industry say they’re against class D amplifiers.


#8

Horses for courses as they say…
I have owned a good/great tube amp,a good/great A/AB ss amp and now a plain superb by all measures class D mono block amp.This amp works best for me and my needs in the quality of sound I expect to hear from my set-up.
Decisions don’t come easy…go and listen to different amps and speaker combos to get a good fit for your ears. You will know when you make the right decision…Your ears will thank-you. :grin:


#9

I’ll chime in one last time as I’m no expert either but I got tired of defending my M700s on a couple forums. And there are new guys on the block building D’s as well as some pretty pricey models. However even the newcomers surprised me when the tout “Class D that sound like Class A”. Well if that’s your goal, what’s the point? The technology stunk for a while however there are some pretty darn good examples of it’s success now; I think the M700s are one of best.


#10

Thanks, and yes, I totally agree about letting our ears be the final say. I’m just wondering if there are inherent sound differences - on any level whatsoever - with Class D. Perhaps someone from PS Audio could chime in on the matter?

I do want to listen to the S300 or M700’s in my home set-up if I can. I live in Colorado Springs, CO - just an hour down the road from Boulder, CO - so if they had something to lend I could do that! Though I imagine I can’t.
Though I could find a local dealer as well, or just simply order it and take advantage of PS Audio’s generous in-home, no questions asked, trial period.


#11

There was a Class D sound in the past. Initially audiophiles were obsessed with the efficiency, and the relative affordability and simplicity of the modules. Manufacturers treated them in the same way. As a result, the resulting sound typically was hard, cold, painfully uninvolving. But people still loved them because of the theory (it is amazing the degree to which what audiophiles hear is determined by their prejudices).

Now however serious, talented designers have learned how to incorporate Class D into magnificent sounding products. I do not find that they possess a specific sound characteristic. Rather, they sound as the designer intends and are as warm, cool, etc. as any other topology.


#12

dbanker…maybe this video from Paul could give you a bit more insight into class D amplification…


#13

Thanks for pointing me towards this video - it was very helpful and informative!


#14

Elk, thank you for your explanation and insight - I certainly appreciate it and it helps me be a more informed buyer.

It is indeed amazing the degree to which audiophiles hearing is determined by prejudice! I hope I do not find myself in this camp. I suppose a certain level of ignorance in this area isn’t a bad thing and I should just listen to the music and simply determine for myself:)


#15

Schiit makes incredible products but I believe they charge a restocking fee if you end up not enjoying the gear during their 2 week trial period.

@Paul has stated numerous times that PSA doesn’t hassle customers if they end up not liking a piece of gear and return it before the trial period ends.


#16

Schiit does charge a restocking fee - I believe it’s 5%. So, if I considered their Vidar and Saga that would be roughly $50 lost if I don’t like it. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Vidar too (100w x 2 into 8 ohms, 200 w x 2 into 4 ohms, 400w mono into 8 ohms). There have been multiple reports of a strange and audible hum that comes from these, so I’m a bit weary on that end. No doubt its affordable and well received, but I just don’t think - from everything I’ve read - it would hang with the likes of the S300 and GCD.


#17

Let me give you another option that I have used in my FR system for a couple of years with Spatial M3 Turbo S speakers and then M3 Triode Masters. The Nuprime ST-10 and DAC-10. The amp is their own proprietary system developed when they were the OEM for Nuforce amps. It uses transformers instead of SMPS’s like many Class D amps. The DAC-10 is a fully balanced preamp with a DAC built in. Retail for the pair is $3100.