How to pick the right amplifier for your speakers? If you believe in a cut-and-dry technical take based on specs – any amplifier that provides 1.5 or 2x the continuous power rating of your speaker will do. Audiophiles deeply involved in high fidelity retrieval know a completely different story however. The answer is much more nuanced than anything a simple specification written down on a manufacturers website will ever reveal. So how do you go about choosing the right amplifier for speakers?
Choosing The Right Amplifier For Speakers
The Occasional Podcast tackles the subject on many fronts. This audio-oriented podcast flushes out the big talking points in a seres of episodes on the subject throughout its 90+ show run. It all starts with a look at parts, straight from amplifier designer Jason Stoddard of Schiit Audio. In this episode, Jason walks the listener through the anatomy of an amplifier, starting from the early connections to the speaker, and everything in-between.
What about tube amplifiers?
The subject of tube amplifiers is deep, complex and a source of fun and obsession for many audiophiles. It is a topic for a very specific piece of gear known for unique characteristics based around individual tubes, total power and topologies. The first introduction to the subject starts with a basic look in this Guide To Tube Amplifiers expertly narrated by Gary Drews of Border Patrol Audio Electronics. Gary is really able to dig in to the information with his long experience designing amplifiers, letting us know his pairings with different tube technologies and some great tips and things to look out for when considering a new purchase.
What is a 300b?
Things get even further down the rabbit hole when discussing tube specifics, especially some of the audiophile favorites like the 300b. Gary returns to the show to talk all things 300b, why they are so beloved, and what their possible shortcomings might be for your applications.
Is there a tube shortage?
Now that you have your tube selection made, can you even buy one? The pandemic and war economics shifted the market greatly in the past few years. With some tubes driving up to crazy never-seen-before prices. The good news is some suppliers have stepped in, and even some original players in the field have reemerged to introduce new amplifiers and tubes. But the question on a lot of owner’s minds is still weather or not a tube amplifier will be able to operate properly 10 years down the line. This episode explores the whole sticky situation that arose last year, what is still available and what might be finding an early end in the market.
What is class D?
Ok, maybe you are not into the additional maintenance that comes with a tube amplifier. But what is the deal with “class d”? Typically class A or class AB are utilized in high end amplifiers, but class D options have existed in household electronics for years. Is this the year that class D finally breaks some new ground into the hearts of high fidelity? Season 7, Episode 8 was joined by Jonathan Derda of MoFi Electronics who has a ton of experience with class D implementations, both old and new.
Explorations in British HiFi
Another sub genre of a sub genre for audiophiles is a distinct love for British hifi (or Brit-Fi). Classic brands like Cambridge, Naim and even legendary speakers like the LS3/5a fused with the BBC make up a huge category of collector’s audio that is still produced today. Steve Sells, Technical Director, Electronics at Naim Audio joins to the show to chat about the history and impact of British hifi from an amplifier perspective.
Integrateds vs Separates
Part of the British appeal is smaller components which fit better in smaller rooms. This also addresses a common question that arises, should someone buy separates (pre amplifier and power amplifier) or an integrated system? PartTimeAudiophile editor Marc Phillips joined the show to tell all about his infatuation with Brit-Fi, including his proclivity for UK integrated amplifiers and two way loudspeakers.
Legendary amplifier designers
The last two podcasts on our list contain in-depth interviews with two of hifi’s most prolific designers, Dan D’Agostino (founder of Krell and now Dan D’Agostino Audio) and Nelson Pass (of Pass Labs and First Watt). The 3 episode series contains the stuff of legendary hifi. The two men talk about their impact on the amplifier landscape, how many watts is enough, and how they come up with their lasting designs.