Do you think measurements can be interpreted to reveal whether a DAC / Amp is warm?

Burr Brown chips are known to be warm. same for tube amps, they’re known to be warm also. the Zen DAC doesn’t have the best (read ‘clean’) measurements compared to others…it’s noisy. again, same thing for tube amps…their measurements are also noisy.

do you think there is a common denominator / factor in how the noise is registered that could reveal if the said DAC / Amp is going to have warm sound?

the only caveat would be whether there are solid state amps that have perfect measurements, but are warm.

You could probably make assumptions based on harmonics, sinad, and stuff, but generally there are lots of times where that won’t match up to the real experience so overall I’m going to say no


that’s interesting…because measurements can usually indicate if something is neutral / cool .

Not really either, there are plenty of exceptions there as well. For a recent example schiit modius measures pretty well, but is on the warmer smoother leaning side of things, so idk

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how warm vs a burr brown?

I mean implemented by who? I have heard pretty neutral burr brown implementations, but if you are going off like ifi or musical fidelity those would be warmer and smoother sounding than the modius. But the modius is warmer and smoother than something like a e30 or enog 2 pro for example

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dammit. I want rules!!! you keep ruining my desire of assumptions! LoL

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Yes, but for that people would have to learn how to use measurement equipment.

Yes lots

The fundamental problem is you need to define warm in terms of measurements to do that.

The problem is it’s used to represent a lot of things, and very few of them are captured in an FR curve.
The presence of dominant even harmonics, these are basically octave of the supplied input tone, so them make the note sound “bigger” rather than different, odd order harmonics make things sound harsh.
But in a lot of gear even that is so low you would consider it inaudible.
Impulse response and the combination of pre/post ringing probably also plays a part.

I’m sure with enough time you can define it and measure it, but the usual measurements that gets thrown around might not be enough.


Pretty much, I’m sure there are some combos of measurements that could potentially explain things better but we haven’t found them yet lol

Search online for the Bob Carver challenge - this is where he bet the Stereophile bigwigs that he can make any amp sound like any other amp. Spoiler - he won.

What Bob knew/knows that the rest of us don’t…I don’t know…but it’s something.

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Although now that I think about it, this doesn’t mean we can infer a sound from measurements. But, I guess the closest to that is what Bob did - knowing what is needed to make something sound like something else.

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Nelson pass has discussed this stuff as well, by copying some of the measurements he has made (I’m not sure what specific ones he mentioned), he can achieve a similar sound in a sense for different amps. Not exactly what this thread is about, but he discussed how tuning an amp for like distortion and harmonics figures/values he could achieve similar sonic characters in his amps

Yeah exactly. So there obviously ARE some measurements that give a clue as to what something sounds like. But, #1 nobody’s publishing them, #2 very few understand how they effect the end sound signature and #3, even fewer understand what the end result of the various interpolations of all those measurements is. And even for them it’s probably a bit of a black art.

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I have talked to some designers, and they sometimes operate on a black box principal, where they do whatever action and get whatever result, but can’t really explain why and it’s not something they know how to measure or shows up in measurements. So yeah basically the measurements you will see on asr for example really won’t have enough information attached to them to give anything that meaningful to predicting the real world sound quality

There are lots of well understood principles, good sounding amps have linearly decending primarily even harmonics. Nelson pass also talks about the phase of the primary harmonic.
You can get a lot out of measurements.
But even people like Pass eventually relied on people listening to his amps doing A/B tests to decide what worked.
There are trade offs in designing any significantly complex system, For example increasing feedback reduces “noise”, but it also cancels out good “distortion”, and it causes time domain issues.


If your interested this thread at SBAF is worth a read, discussing why THD is a bad metric.

And now that this is going to lean towards a discussion deeper into measurements, I’m out lol

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At least wait until it degenerates into a dumpster fire :joy: