Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Component and Speaker Matching - Legitimate Pursuit or Tweako Fallacy?

You don't have to look hard to find forum discussions and Web articles discussing the benefits of "matching" the right amplifier with the right pair of speakers. Many newbie audio enthusiasts place a higher priority on matching components and speakers than they do on simply selecting the best quality individual components. Please chime in if you've had different experiences, but I've never found one amp sounds better with a certain type or brand of speakers than another. Some people claim Tube Amps sound better with a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10, and solid state amps sound better with Magnepans. Take a look in the AudioKarma.org Speaker Forum and you'll see plenty of threads on: "Which amp for my Advent Legacy's?"

Okay, I'm not broaching this subject just as an excuse to go off on another rant - I promise. My point is this: The best amplifier for your speakers is a quality-built, electronically-sound amplifier with adequate clean power for your listening environment. Ideally, the amp should offer a flat frequency response, low distortion, low noise, and also fit your budget.* I've used an 85 wpc Sansui AU-717 with my Vandersteen 3A Signatures and it sounded every bit as good as the Aragon 8008ST I have hooked up to them now. Likewise, I've driven my large Advents with my McIntosh MC7270 as well as a 35 wpc Yamaha CR-620, and at normal listening levels, I couldn't tell the difference. Granted, crank any of these amps up to close to clipping, and the fatter amp will hold its own against distortion better, but c'mon - that's not how most people listen to music.

Finally, it's my opinion that "dynamically matching" components with speakers is another audio-tweakest fallacy, and often an attempt at a salesperson to sell you higher-priced gear than you need.

Have fun with your audio gear. Don't allow yourself to get mired in trying to match components with speakers - life is too short, and there's way too much gear out there yet to explore.

Now - I've given you my opinion - Send me yours - HiFiCollector [at] gmail.com

* I took a broad view on this subject, and of course there are exceptions. One exception I can think of is making sure your amplifier can handle the impedance rating and fluctuations that your speakers have. While most speakers are rated nominally at 8 ohms, there are plenty that are rated at 4, some even at 16. 4 ohm speakers can dip below 2 ohms on bass-heavy passages, so make sure your amplifier can handle this type of load.

1 comment:

  1. My experience has been that all audio equipment has a sound of its own, getting it all together with the right pieces that completes a system and is music to your ears is the end result.
    I will buy a piece of equipment and put it into my system for maybe a month or so, that gives me plenty of time to envaluate and come to a decision whether its a keeper or not. Plus the other side of the coin, is, its just plain fun.



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