Sorting large amps based on their micro-dynamic capability
In the comments section of one of the previous threads we came up with the following list:
Micro Dynamics low to high:
Soulution – BAT – CAT – ARC – VTL – Pass – Krell – Boulder – Vitus – Spectral – Halcro – MBL – Goldmund – Ayre – Edge (early NL series)
The most recent question was where to put the McIntosh amps on the list:
Soulution – BAT – McIntosh – CAT – ARC – VTL – Pass – Krell – Boulder – Vitus – Spectral – Halcro – MBL – Goldmund – Ayre – Edge (early NL series)
A case can be made for swapping these amps around a bit, based on the particular model (for example, the more expensive Edge amps are more expensive than any Ayre amps and also have much better micro-dynamics than any Ayre amps), and the particular speaker being driven. I also swapped Krell and Boulder – I think that better represents the intention of the brand, and maybe reality too.
Amps also seem have better micro-dynamics as you listen to their more expensive offerings (which would imply that all brands may value this aspect of music, just some value it more than others – for some it is a high-priority, and others not so much)
But it serves to give one a sense of the overall ‘company’ sound profile.
That being able to reproduce the subtle delicacies of music, the ability to tell a real guitar from a guitar synthesizer, for example, is not a priority with many amp builders. Especially big amp builders.
Big amp builders often focus only on macro-dynamics, and some on midi-dynamics. Also, as you understand, there is a continuum between micro- and midi- dynamics, as notes can exist ANYWHERE between quite delicate or as part of the melody foreground.
MIDI-Dynamics, least to most (just making a stab at it, this list will probably change as more thought is given)
VTL – BAT – CAT – ARC – McIntosh -Vitus – Edge – Pass – Ayre – MBL – Spectral – Halcro -Krell – Soulution – Boulder
MACRO-Dynamics, least to most (just making a stab at it, this list will probably change as more thought is given)
Spectral – Vitus – Edge – Ayre – Pass – CAT – Halcro – MBL – McIntosh – Krell – Soulution – ARC – Boulder – BAT – VTL
… and then we can talk about DETAILED macro-dynamics, which acknowledges the fact that micro- and midi-dynamics occur at the beginning and end of most macro-dynamic events.
And then a couple of lists to do with harmonic color (McIntosh, ARC, MBL…) and harmonic purity (more or less reverse the macro-dynamics list…!?).
We’ll leave that for the comments or another post…