‘How does it sound?’ is probably the most frequently asked question in the audio scene,one which I get asked a lot and one I find the most difficult to answer. During my many years in the audio scene and having listened to a lot of systems together with other people I learned that every individual perceives sound in a different way. There is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to sound. It is a very subjective perception. Just reading about sound from someone with whom you have no common reference is not really telling you how you will like something.
Nevertheless I understand that you would like to have an idea about the sound of my amplifiers and preamplifiers. So let me share my goals in sound with you.
I want to achieve a reproduction with emotional impact and richness in tone colors. At the same time I want high resolution and neutrality. These are aspects which are difficult to combine and often equipment falls either on the ‘musical’ side but lacks neutrality and detail or has high resolution and neutrality but at the expense of a sterile and boring sound.
Being a synaesthete, one of the most important aspects for me is tone color. Since I was a child tones and numbers always had colors for me. Whenever I hear a sound I see some colors in my mind. And I want my equipment to reproduce colors in all their richness. I often read somewhere that a system has pitch black and dry bass reproduction. This is not my goal. Bass never is black but always has some color from all tones of brown through shades of grey and midnight blue to almost (but never really reaching) black. Also for me bass is not supposed to be dry, I want my bass juicy and wet. Dry is boring. Also the background should never be pitch black. Good recordings can capture the ambience of the venue at which the performance took place and a good system can reproduce that. It gives a feeling of the air and space between the sounds.
Of course all that with very low noise floor and absence of hum is a given. Even with the most sensitive speakers my amps do not hum and my preamps are regarded among the lowest noise ones on the market.
Over the years sound stage lost importance for me. I don’t even have to sit in the sweet spot to enjoy a system. Nevertheless I get excellent feedback for my amps and preamps for their ability to throw a spacious and realistic sound stage.
Even my lowest price, entry level models have all these qualities. Each higher price point provides more of everything, richer colors, more resolution. When it comes to power amplifiers, the output power also plays a role. To get the best possible sound quality at a given price point select an amp with just enough power as is needed, not more. Doubling the power and keeping the sound quality in many cases almost doubles the cost. It is a misconception that the more the better. The first Watt counts the most and if the first Watt is not good, all the others do not bring any advantage in terms of sound quality.