Is THX (precisely: is AAA) a bad thing?

Edit: This is all about that.

So, short answer: No. Pick your ice cream flavor and enjoy. :slight_smile:

Original post:

People don’t understand THX is “achromatic” and it can be a bad thing. This is new tech. Until like 2018 absolutely everyone used amps to record, mix, master, hear, absolutely everything. By buying a THX amp you’re essentially removing one variable from the chain… “colorful amps”. So what? Well, I originally thought “if your music sounds boring with THX, this means the original was boring”. But no… everything was heard using a “chromatic” amp. You get a THX, you’re making absolutely everything already recorded sound less colorful and more sterile than intended by everyone in the music industry.

Maybe this is a new paradigm. Like, (speaker and headphone) tube amps used to be everywhere, and when solid state arrived, surely audiophiles complained everything sounded “robotic and lifeless”. Now most people don’t have tube headphone amps and/or tube speaker amps, most people definitely don’t use that for recording, mixing, mastering, etc. And… I believe most agree, tubes are fun, but definitely not the best way to hear “exactly” what the artists (and people mixing, mastering, etc.) intended.

So, what now? IMO, if this is really a new paradigm, “chromatic” amps, like “chromatic” DACs (I mean, cheap DACs with distortion and not even measuring flat), will essentially disappear from studios. And then, if your goal is to hear “exactly” what the artists (and people mixing, mastering, etc.) intended, you’d get a THX amp for… I don’t know, CDs with the THX logo on it? And everyone will be closer to “hi-fi”, as in “high fidelity”, as in, the “wire with gain” thing.

But right now? For “high fidelity” ? Well, maybe you’re better off with a 100$ JDS Atom or Schiit Heresy (etc). i.e.: If everyone in studios were still using tubes, we’d still advise tubes for “high fidelity” audio reproduction.

P.S.: I know this is audiophile nitpicking. I know “amps” all have their different “color” and not only “one”. I own a JDS Labs Atom. I still want to try THX stuff.

TL,DR: This is an audiophile nitpicking theory against THX removing “color” from all the music ever recorded without THX AAA equipment.

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I mean this happens in audio quite often where changes shift and sway, I mean I won’t put a date on it but in the recent past a fair amount of new speakers were aimed for “HiFi” sound and were typically brighter and more analytical, where now the trend towards more “musical” speakers is in favor again, these things will come and go

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I mean a ton of people still use tubes in studios lol

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Yeah but, if we’re talking about “removing one variable from the chain”, I think it’s way more than this. Some people complain their THX amp makes their system sound “too clinical”.

In real life, nothing can sound “clinical”… that’s the problem.

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Gotcha, I’m not going to share my thoughts on thx since they are well documented in the forums already lol, I get what you are putting down

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By the way, Currawong reviewed the SP200 and compared it to the Asgard 3, and said the differences were “minute” even with a few of his 3000$+ headphones.

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Very interesting, I’m surprised it isn’t a fairly clear difference (at least it is for me personally)

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It is true that the human brain gets very used to a thing and associates the characteristics of that thing as the way it’s “supposed” to be. Then, removing that thing - in this case amp color - then is perceived as wrong or off. I have to cop out here and agree with both @LeDechaine and @M0N. I think @LeDechaine is right that saying THX is “bad” (or any other term for “wrong”) is probably linked to that phenomenon. But I also have to agree with @M0N’s position from other posts on the THX subject. To my ears warmer amps like the Liquid Spark, and now increasingly tubes, sound more natural. To me “natural” means “truer to the actual sound.” Saying something is “truer to the natural sound” really only works with vocals and acoustic instruments, though, since those actually have a “natural” or “true” or “inherent” sound. The warmer amps, again to my ear, reproduce pianos and voices and trumpets and strings and drums and so forth in a way that is closer to life than the THX or other feed-forward designs.

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Honestly this is still desirable to me… currawong may be bias towards the a3 lol he loves that thing… for me the a3 is a happy medium between a heresy and a liquid spark in terms of analytical vs musical

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The a3 is a pretty balanced amp, really great and an easy pick over the thx imo

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To me it’s not the perceived coloration of an amp that gives it natural sound, it’s true to life timbre, spatial recreation, and presentation imo

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Yes. I agree. To my ears the “warmer” amps do those better than THX. But it may also be true that if studios typically use warmer amps then their mixes are tuned to that. If they used THX/feed-forward instead then we might all be “singing a different tune”, so to speak.

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Well, I guess most amps sound warmer than thx because of how overly bright and sharpened they are in the treble, and the presentation further compounds this effect

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Is THX AAA not really “achromatic”, or that’s the new paradigm thing, and current amps are mostly “warm”. :thinking:

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THX is actually a color of sound when you think about it…and it adds more variety to the options that exist to enjoy sound. :slight_smile:

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To directly answer this thread’s question, I’m going to say ‘no’. It appears that THX and similar tech really disrupted the about $500 and under head amp market for the better. Their combination of power, cleanliness, and price forced other market players to up their game. Now we have huge piles of products using THX tech, trying to directly compete with THX tech for less $ (Atom, Heresy), or provide PROBABLY-HIGHER-QUALITY-THAN-THEY-WOULD-HAVE-BEEN-WITHOUT-THX-existing alternative topologies (Asgaard 3, Rebelamp, etc).

Sorry for all caps. My phone did that and I don’t want to retype it all. I’m not yelling.

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Personally I prefer a warmer sounding Dac/Amp matched to more forward sounding iem’s or headphones…but I guess it can work the other way?

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yes, you mix and match. that’s why my dream setup is to have 6 devices (well, 7 if you include the Schiit Loki EQ) that let me mix and match.

neutral DAC & amp, warm DAC & amp, cool (read detailed / analytical) DAC & amp. that would give me 9 pairing options to test out headphones on to find what pleased me or worked best for the headphones. :slight_smile:

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Yes that’s true, it’s a different sound, and if you prefer it, great, but most people tend not to once they realize what’s out there, and that there are cheaper amps that can do the same thing but sometimes even better at that specific goal

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Yep I’ve tried EQ’s but I spent too much time tweaking stuff than actually listening to the music lol.

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