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|What makes an amp into a statement amplifier?
Semantics alert: An amp becomes a statement amplifier if it's load-invariant. That means no matter the load, our amp will behave exactly the same. Hence its sonics will remain unperturbed and unaltered regardless of impedance, phase angles, back EMF or power and current demands. This gets us into the land of Bryston, FM Acoustics, Gryphon, Krell and kindred spirits - amps that start out high-power into 8 ohms, then keep doubling into 1 ohm like calculators stubbornly set to 'times two'. However, does this type of statement automatically equate to reference? Sonically speaking, does it include certain statement amps if their unalterable sonics started out - ahem, in need of alteration?
|My 2-watt Yamamoto A-08S is a true reference amplifier when you consider its stellar sonics and stupendous build quality. Alas, it makes a statement of a|
|very different sort. Its siren call can only be heeded by those in possession of rare and unusual speakers. While not statement caliber in the load-invariant definition -- not even close -- the smart listener can turn certain amplifiers into true reference gear. How so? By choosing her speakers wisely. Once the requirements for load invariance are relaxed because a speaker doesn't make unreasonable demands on the amp -- which, beyond the already mentioned aspects, includes SPLs as a function of listener habit, room size and listening distance -- an amplifier which wouldn't ever be considered to rightfully belong into the statement class can morph into a reference performer regardless.
See where I'm headed? Proving Gary wrong. While he has to concern himself with load invariance/drive for the big picture of the Genesis loudspeaker family that includes some bona fide behemoths, I do not. And neither do you. If Gary has to call the M60s "good enough" knowing full well their limitations when asked to drive speakers that'll tax 'em beyond what they're willing to give, then you and I can employ these monos well inside their ultimate limitations. If the amps have it in the first place, this will transform them into true reference class material where we purely focus on sonic performance, not ultimate muscle heroics.
This isn't semantics any longer. Just like the balding fella who buys himself a Corvette to feel young and virile again but has neither the skills nor liberty to use his car as intended (as a street-legal racer), many 'philes acquire electronics or speakers whose true abilities they never tap, never mind unleash. There sits your 12-cylinder amp never getting out of 2nd gear. There tower your speakers while you sit far too close for their vertical driver spread to ever cohere into a point source. There's no end to silliness in this hobby. It's all driven by a very earnest desire to own the best coupled with misunderstanding of what that means. What's best for your room and habits is often far more modest than realized. And here's the kicker. Modest could sound far better if it were appropriate for the actual -- rather than imaginary -- demands placed upon it.
|For example, one of my readers from Seattle recently visited Taos to look at land 30 minutes north in Southern Colorado. We got together for lunch, then listened to my rig. He was flummoxed. 2 watts could do that? He adored the sound and will probably end up with Zu Tones for the 3 front channels and a Prima Luna EL-34 amp to drive the mains off his Outlaw 5.1 receiver to do both movies and music from the same system while obeying his real-world budget. All this preamble then to set the stage. Could the Genesis M60s deliver on their first reference impressions generated by design objectives and appearance if strapped to sane speakers? This would include my 88dB Gallo Reference 3s which -- in fact and in this 60-watt context -- are the far more sensible speaker to use for testing than the 101dB Definitions. "Make it so," Piccard whispered. I listened.
|Are the Genesis M60s reference amps?
Remember the two final modifications performed at the Genesis plant in Seattle? They improve damping factor by lowering output impedance and hence "frequency response variance". This occurs when high-ish output Zs (typical of tube amps but more so for SETs than push/pulls - and the M60s are push/pull and use feedback) modulate loudspeaker response (which isn't anywhere near invariant due to an often grave lack of linear impedance). So I asked Gary: "In a 14' x 20' max room, at regular rather than deaf ex-rocker levels, which models in the line would you recommend the M60 for and from what point onward would you insist the customer get something else?" His unexpected response validates my entire introduction above. "We have used the M60s with the G201 in a much larger room under show conditions and performance was entirely satisfactory. I've already got a couple of G200 and G201 owners in Asia who have replaced their much more expensive amplifiers with these. However, it's kinda ridiculous to have a $50K loudspeaker driven by a pair of $4K monoblocks." [The G201s are the big black boys above - Ed.]
As a businessman, I'd of course agree with Gary. Sell that $20,000 amplifier to go with the big speakers. But as any realsizer who applies my above recipe on how to transform non-statement amps into reference amps will second, a simply savvy consumer unconcerned over "balanced expenditures" or appearances would have to disagree with Gary. Down with fear of ridicule. Up with sanity. Clearly, those Genesis owners he mentions already have come to the same conclusion. Good on them I say. Have Gary & Co. made the M60 too good in the end then? If the entire design genesis revolved around assisting sales of expensive speakers with inexpensive amps, rather the contrary. Mission accomplished. If it gives makers of expensive amps conniption fits, why the heck should Genesis and Melody give a flying fairy? I better get off this tangent before I receive hate mail or have 200 pounds of sand-filled amp dropped on my head next time I'm at the CES.