Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?

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CJ Paul

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #20 on: 10 Mar 2006, 07:35 pm »
Quote from: Sarchi
If you go by Mardis' site (and he's played with these more than almost anyone), the Super T pretty much solves the bass issue.  The bass issue is mostly down to PS inadequacy.  And a bass shy amp will be thin-sounding.
 That's good to hear.  I'm not paying $130 for an amp that is RIGHT on the cusp of being too little power for my needs though.  I'd rather upgrade the cheapie one and see if I hear improvements.

masi76gc

Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #21 on: 15 Mar 2006, 01:54 am »
Quote from: CJ Paul
Quote from: Sarchi
If you go by Mardis' site (and he's played with these more than almost anyone), the Super T pretty much solves the bass issue.  The bass issue is mostly down to PS inadequacy.  And a bass shy amp will be thin-sounding.
 That's good to hear.  I'm not paying $130 for an amp that is RIGHT on the cusp of being too little power for my needs though.  I'd rather upgrade the cheapie one and see if I hear improvements.


I just got the SI Super T-amp (I could not resist trying it at only $130!) and just hooked it up tonight.  I am still reeling my jaw from the shock of how good it is.  My main amp is Monarchy Audio SM-70 Pro, a unit that costs more than 7 times as much!  The sound is astonishingly good for the money and I am driving 89db two-way monitors with it and it can play very loud with full bass!  The only negative I can hear is the slight nasal quality in the lower midrange which is audible only with high quality piano recordings.  Otherwise, it matches or betters the Monarchy in areas like imaging and detail.  Astonishing.

CJ Paul

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #22 on: 15 Mar 2006, 02:37 am »
Thanks for the report.  I'm wondering if others could provide some more info on their setups and rooms.  SQ was pretty much for the SI amp for me because I could send it into clipping before I got appreciable volume.  That was with 96dB sensitive speakers.  My room is 6400 cubic feet and I sit about 15-16 feet away from the speakers so I definitely need some output.

Louis O

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #23 on: 17 Mar 2006, 03:15 am »
Hi CJ Paul,

The new sig 30 Red wine is pretty powerful and amazingly refined. It should fill the room, no problem at all.

Thanks again,
Louis

gilbodavid

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #24 on: 29 Mar 2006, 10:38 am »
Nice review. I've been using an SI amp I modded with auricaps, quality resisters, Panasonic cap on the chip, good case with quality copper wiring, good conectors, a quality stepped attenuator and, after trying battery power, a quality SMPS power supply supplied by nuuk (see his reviews on TNT). I've been playing cd's from a $3,000 cd player through it into OB'd Visaton B200's run-in for 300 hours. My listening room is 12'x12'x12' (small!). I've been runnning this setup for a few weeks. Total cost of the SI with mods is $350. (the stepped attenuator took up $200 of this). I've also played the SI through my Quad ESL57's with new trable pannels and high end turntable in the same room.

Ok, so the SI sound for me is clear and dry, with good imaging and nice dynamics. Definately up there with new $1000-$2,000 amps of a certain variety. However, its failings in my system were also clear. It lacks majorly in organic depth, specially in the midrange, making it, as some have said, thin. This thinness, while less so than cheap and nasty amps we've all heard so often, is still very fatiguing in long term listening, because one is made aware one is listening to sounds, not organic instruments. ( I include synthesisers as organic instruments here, as anyone with a wonderful system will know). As a result, the feeling of having musicians in the room, with all their attendant emotion and PRAT, is not found at all by this little amp.

To give an idea of amps that do what the SI can't, I have 3 inexpensive amps that I plugged in. They were:
Quad 306 ($300 used) and Tube Technology valve pre ($400 used),
Sony 3200F and 2000F pre (1970's high end - $400 used)
SET monoblocks (homemade - $400 used) and Tube technology pre.

The best of these was the Sonys, followed by the SET, then the Quad. The defining characteristic for me was how real, close and emotional the musicians and their instruments were to me, and the drive and PRAT conveyed of their perfomances. In all respects these 3 amps had it, and the Quad was somewhat behind the SET and Sonys, which were rather close to each other.

I own a Taylor 314CE guitar ($1500 retail) and am just about to spend 2 weeks playing a Steinway concert grand piano. ($70,000 retail). The SI in my system couldn't tell the Steinway from a $1000 piano, or the Taylor from a cheap guitar. Both the SET's and the Sonys can do that, specially through the Quad Esl's, and with my turntable. In fact the fatigue I get from the SI amp with cd and Visatons is not far off that I get from playing my girlfreinds piano (worth $100) or a reallly cheap guitar.

Something that I have to admit bugs me about much of the audiophile community is the theory that there are different ways that music sounds, depending on the hifi system. Rubbish! Musically, a Steinway concert grand sounds different from a 6' Steinway grand, sounds different from a Steinway 5' grand, sounds different from a Kawai 5' concert grand, sounds different from my girlfreinds piano. Thats what musicians pay for, and all know! And then there's the swing, emotion,vibe and PRAT that the better musicians create - not the hifi!!! Thats what makes MUSIC! I spent 3 hours in a shop recently choosing a Fender Strat for a freind, and the assistant (a wonderful guitarist) and I both knew the best of 30 strats as soon as we heard it, as any musician would. It conveyed emotion and PRAT like none of the others. It was like it was alive in my hands, and wanted to rock! YES.

This is an honest review based on the actual sound and feel of beautiful instruments (as used on most recordings) played beautifully by real people.

I shall keep my SI til I've built a gainclone, which Nuuk says can do some of what the class t amps can't for not much dinero. Meanwhile I love the fact that this little box (42x32x62) produces the music it does, within its very clear limitations, though it is NOT cheap, compared to my other amps and what they can do in finding real music!

Russell Dawkins

Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #25 on: 29 Mar 2006, 07:26 pm »
Good to see a fresh perspective on this, gilbodavid.
A lot of food for thought in your post.

Sarchi

Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #26 on: 30 Mar 2006, 01:56 am »
When you put a suboptimal component into a high end system, the flaws will be pretty apparent. In the context of a budget system, the SI is a "great amp".

Sarchi

Super T fun...
« Reply #27 on: 3 Apr 2006, 02:19 am »
Bit of a no-brainer.... I had a spare AC Delco car battery in the garage, and I also have a float charger for my motorcycle battery.... so.....

I've got the Super T running on 12V now, the included extra wires makes it a snap to do. First thing I notice is that the slight buzz I had is gone..I thought it was a ground hum from my phono board (diy Bugle), but I guess it was a 60Hz buzz from the SMPS on the amp! So a quieter background, good start. I'll need to listen to a bunch of reference discs, but so far I think I'm hearing tighter, cleaner bass, and more detail. What you'd expect from a ps upgrade. Some of the nuance in Tracy's voice is there again...this is still a dry system compared to the tubes and Koetsu pickup I used to run, but it's slowly improving in the liquidness/seduction area.

Anyone with $139 and an inquiring mind should check this amp out, it's a lot of fun.  8)

my system:
Nagaoka MP-11 MM ($70)
Rega Planar 3 (stock RB300)
Bugle phono on 12V Panasonic SLA's
Super T
Omega TS-3's / Dayton MkIII 10" powered sub

KT

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #28 on: 3 Apr 2006, 03:31 am »
Gilbodavid,

I think you described precisely what I've experienced with my modded Sonic Impact amp.

Though it sounds very clear, engaging, fast, exciting, and absolutely amazing given its price, there's a certain leaness in the sound that keeps it from being my long-term solution. I'll put the SI T-amp in my system and enjoy it for a few days, but ultimately I'll crave the more natural sound of the Charlize or Gaincard.

There are instances, however, where the modded SI really shines. For example, the same unit that sounds lean in my system sounds absolutely right in my brother's system. He's using a pair of Klipsch Heresies (94 db/w/m efficiency, I believe) and an old Adcom GFP-565 preamp with it. Both he and I were blown away by how good the combination sounded. Good enough that he's set with the system and doesn't feel the need to find anything else.

So maybe there's a special synergy happening there, or maybe it suggests that the SI really needs a high-effiency speaker to shine. Still, I consider it to be a ground-breaking amp for the performance-to-price ratio that it offers. In the right system, I believe it can be every bit as good as the most positive reviews suggest.

I have to disagree, however, with your assertion that the system does not play a role in shaping how recorded music is perceived. Just as an acoustic environment (an specific instrument in specific space) can shape the live listening experience for better or worse, a playback system is an electrical/mechanical environment that does the same for recorded music. Just as the quality of the acoustic environment (the quality of the instrument and acoustic space) will contribute to the listener's experince of a musician's live performance (cheap piano in a concrete hall vs. Steinway in Carnagie Hall, for example), so will the electrical/mechanical environment of the playback chain affect the listener's experience of the recorded performance.

For example, I've experimented for 5 years with a certain preamp that I have. With certain combinations of internal components (resistors, capacitors, potentiometers), I'm able to understand the tonal relationships and qualities of the instruments in a performance better than with others. With other components, I'm able to understand the melodic relationships within the same performance that I never realized existed before. With other components, I'm able to discern the relationship of the performer within the acoustic space and appreciate how the sound form the instruments interact with the venue. Still with other components, the reproduction of the performance has no life and holds no interest for me, even though the performance is clearly dynamic and bursting with life.

So the components and topologies within a playback system have a way of highlighting certain aspects of the recording. This can make or break the way a performance is reproduced. A given system will highlight certain aspects of the recorded performance over others, and a system that's cherished by a listener is one that gives him or her the most insight into those areas of the performance that he or she values most.

You are right, though, that the musicians, their mastery of their instruments, and their understanding and insight into the music are the heart and soul of the listening experience, but the playback chain does drastically affect the reproduction of what they have laid down on tape.

Put another way, there are many qualities in live music that are lost or altered once it's recorded and played back. The recording and playback of a performance is, at best, a partial reconstruction and interpretation of that performance. Like any interpretation, the result can be varied and can deviate from the original in many different ways - that's why we end up with so many systems that play back recorded music but sound so different.

Best,
KT

Jbucla2005

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I'm surprised....
« Reply #29 on: 27 Apr 2006, 07:21 pm »
no one has mentioned using a tube pre amp with the t-amp. This totally removes any nasally thin, harsh, and fatigueing qualities from the sound, adding depth and roundness while still maintaining the clarity, crispness and speed. I didn't like the t-amp that much overall (due to brightness) until I hooked up my Luxman LX-33 as a pre-amp. I just max the volume on the t-amp and use the volume control on the Luxman.

Sarchi

Re: I'm surprised....
« Reply #30 on: 28 Apr 2006, 11:25 pm »
Quote from: Jbucla2005
no one has mentioned using a tube pre amp with the t-amp. This totally removes any nasally thin, harsh, and fatigueing qualities from the sound, adding depth and roundness while still maintaining the clarity, crispness and speed. I didn't like the t-amp that much overall (due to brightness) until I hooked up my Luxman LX-33 as a pre-amp. I just max the volume on the t-amp and use the volume control on the Luxman.


I'm assembling the parts to build an Aikido tube linestage and plan to use it as a preamp in front of my Super T.  

Btw, I had the same sort of 'conversion' you describe, when I got the subwoofer. I thought the sound was pretty good before, now I think it's very good. With still more room for improvement.

Wind Chaser

Re: I'm surprised....
« Reply #31 on: 28 Apr 2006, 11:50 pm »
Quote from: Jbucla2005
no one has mentioned using a tube pre amp with the t-amp. This totally removes any nasally thin, harsh, and fatigueing qualities from the sound, adding depth and roundness while still maintaining the clarity, crispness and speed.


That is a very good and important point!  The T-Amp is very revealing of what's up stream.  Tubes in front make a world of difference.  You can easily spend thousands and do worse - poo poo on all the nay sayers.  I mean it really has to suck when a $30 amp crushes your over priced pride and joy.

Sarchi

Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #32 on: 29 Apr 2006, 03:40 am »
Btw: I had an old Hafler DH101 preamp sitting around here..I listed it for sale and when it sold I plugged it in to make sure everything was still working on it. I ran it with the Super T pot wide open and it definitely added something nice, midbass sounded fuller...a richer sound although a bit rolled off at the top. Net, I think an active preamp & bypassing the T's pot (with a good preamp) is worth trying. It convinced me to build a tube preamp as my next upgrade/project.

CJ Paul

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #33 on: 29 Apr 2006, 03:05 pm »
Do you think tube preamps "fix" T-amp problems or just mask them by perhaps being rolled off and less detailed.  I know not ALL tubes are rolled off, but SOME are.

pekar

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Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #34 on: 9 Jun 2006, 01:56 pm »
message moved

Wind Chaser

Re: Are the Sonic Impact Amps as good as everyone says?
« Reply #35 on: 6 Apr 2007, 02:58 am »
Do you think tube preamps "fix" T-amp problems or just mask them by perhaps being rolled off and less detailed.  I know not ALL tubes are rolled off, but SOME are.

A good tube in front smoothens them out and makes them much more musical.  However with the original SI there is still the issue of early bass roll off and strident highs. 

It should be repeated that not all Tripath based amps sound the same.  The Charlize was by far my own personal favorite.  If you are looking for a big bang on a small dollar, I'd say the Trends is now the best option and way to go.