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09-23-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,515
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 5385
Reply to: 5385
Devid Berning amplifiers: the anti-trnsformers frenzy?

This thread is a deviation from the following thread:

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/Forums/ShowPost.aspx?postID=5344

I read the Devid Berning patent and I do not really get it. Yes, it does not use output transformer but it is not look like it is direct coupled amp.  (BTW, I do not say that a direct coupling is good at all as I feel that direct coupling screws up LF)

It looks like Berning approach uses is a pulse generators that cares the signal form plate. Is it the more elegant way then to have the simple transformer code between? How about filtering of the HF noise that usually generated by the switching amps?

http://www.davidberning.com/

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5612646-fulltext.html

I never heard the Berning amps. In our time there are many people who say that the D-class amps are great. I do not take those people seriously. Are the Devid Berning approach is basically the same and uses  D-class amps for impedance conversion?

Rgs, Romy


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 2
Post ID: 5391
Reply to: 5385
One obvious benefit
Well, this certainly shrinks chassis size, if nothing else.  I've never looked at the circuit, but there has to be some sort of transformer function at each end, up and down, and the easiest way to do this would be with transformers ;>Wink.  If the speaker load straps to a step-down device that has its output modulated by the signal...

As I said in a response to Merlin, I seem to remember the wild and crazy Bob Carver also came up with some sort of switching PS that he used to claim all sorts of amazing things for.  This was decades ago.  That amp truly sucked.

I does look like the Berning is some sort of "D" variant, at least in terms of the "switched" PS, although there must be something "novel" there to get the patent.

The patent refers to "push-pull", which I would take to mean PNP SS in the PS in this case, given the SET signal path.

To my ears the thing sounds PP, however.  Good, but PP.  I could live with it.

With respect to the previous thread, the idea of "one size fits all" still applies here, I think, along with the usual ramifications that implies.

Best regards,
Paul S
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 496
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 3
Post ID: 5392
Reply to: 5385
Transformers vs Berning
Well,

Berning is a genius to be sure.  Here he fixed his sights on the "evil" output transformer.  Every part of the circuit alters the sound somehow, of course, and the goal is to find the least damaging topology.  The question is asked here: what will happen to the sound if we can match output impedence in a different way to OTL or output-transformer designs?

I am not an expert in circuit design.  But my recollection is that the D-class analogy is an apt one.  I like to think of toplogical change in terms of an organic visualization of the electricity. 

traditional valve-OPT: A guitar where the vibration of the string transmits through the air to the guitar which responds with vibration, only the OPT is imprefect, so the guitar may be poorly made, or filled with jelly.

OPT: A team of thirty midget firemen with 30 miniature firehoses trying to put out a blazing building.

ZOTL: Taking block of wood, cutting into paper-thin slices, using Xerox machine to make magnified images and putting the giant copies all back together into a big stack.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 4
Post ID: 5394
Reply to: 5391
Do some reading
Guys,

I really don't have the time to take you through the concept. Try to do some reading on the Berning Web site. Take a look at Dr Gizmo's thoughts on the product and his opinion as to the veracity of the claims.

You are looking at a patent and trying to work out what something sounds like from that. A patent which only partially refers to the amplifier in question.

Read Hanson's explanation of the workings of ZOTL in PP mode to gain an understanding of exactly where the technology differs from the generalisations you are applying.

If I see something of interest posted here after that, I will be back.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 5
Post ID: 5396
Reply to: 5392
Visualization
 drdna wrote:
one.  I like to think of toplogical change in terms of an organic visualization of the electricity. 

traditional valve-OPT: A guitar where the vibration of the string transmits through the air to the guitar which responds with vibration, only the OPT is imprefect, so the guitar may be poorly made, or filled with jelly.

OPT: A team of thirty midget firemen with 30 miniature firehoses trying to put out a blazing building.

ZOTL: Taking block of wood, cutting into paper-thin slices, using Xerox machine to make magnified images and putting the giant copies all back together into a big stack.
Interesting visualization. If I may offer my own OPT : 100 fully grown men in a line running at a gap in the wall 75 men wide. OTL : 75 dwarfs running like hell to keep up without running out of breadth. ZOTL : 100 full grown men in a line using a high tech crane to clear the wall.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,515
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 6
Post ID: 5397
Reply to: 5394
OK, let look deeper....

Merlin,

as the person who read my site you might know that one of the few dominating idea of my site and my personal audio interest is the recognition of the following rule as an absolutely desirable aim:

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/Forums/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=432

When you introduced in the previous thread Berning amplifiers you said that amplifiers that were based upon Dave Berning topology did for your something that other did not. You said:

“I have heard plenty of traditional SET's from Lamm to Wavac, AN, Kondo and many others. I know I could not live with their failings.”

In response to which I asked you:

http://www.GoodSoundClub.com/TreeItem.aspx?PostID=5382

Reprinting:

 Romy the Cat wrote:

Merlin wrote: I have heard plenty of traditional SET's from Lamm to Wavac, AN, Kondo and many others. I know I could not live with their failings.

Merlin, in the context of this thread, might I ask you something... When you heard Lamm SET (presumable it was 2.0) then what speakers it drove and what specific problems you found that made you to feel that you can’t live with that sound? I think it would give me some impression what you are talking about and would set certain equalization point for comparing notes…

You decided do not reply, which is fine but be advised that without knowing your specific dissatisfactions with Lamm, Wavac and Condo is it difficult to view your comments from a rational perspective (since you are the only one who heard the Berning amps). I very much do not knock Berning amp with this post I just would like to separate the people who use good tools for own reasons from mumbling of Audio Groupies:

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/GetPost.aspx?PostID=4683

I and I’m sure others will/did read of what David Berning proposes (it is the whole idea). However, would propose do not refer to the Dr. Gizmo’s or others people thoughts  as some kind “credentials gaining”. I was contacted this morning by the specialist much higher caliber then Dr. Gizmo’s was and they have informed me that the David Berning’s idea “seems to be a little idiotic”. You do not see me bringing it as an argument, do you?

In a contrary, YOUR criticism of Lamm, Wavac or Condo SETs (which I and others know) would be much more indicative about your objective and your “operational points”

Rgs, Romy the caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 7
Post ID: 5398
Reply to: 5397
Higher caliber?
Do share the words of wisdom from the audio god you talked to this morning.

In what way is David idiotic? I would be delighted to be enlightened by this higher being.

With regards to all other SET's I have used, I have myself been unable to accept the lack of transparency, extension and grip I have perceived at the frequency extremes with beat driven modern work - bear in mind this is not with reference to the musical genres that you specialise in. Indeed for classical work I often find a slightly under damped bass response to be emotionally evocative and of benefit to the illusion of the acoustic. I put this lack of timing and absolute grip down to the OPT and it's limitations at the frequency extremes, as clearly do you by your experiments with the complex "DSET" proposition.

My advice was simple. To read what many luminaries have said with regards to the circuit and it' subjective results. After all I could give you the same information yet you would understandably claim I had less credibility than the sources I linked you to. With regards to other SET manufacturers opinions on the circuit, Harvey was spot on when he said they saw this as an almighty threat and will obviously be dismissive given that the technology is patented by someone else. One listen would usually convince that their opinion should be taken with a tablespoon of salt.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 8
Post ID: 5399
Reply to: 5394
Pipe smoker (you seem bemused...)?
Merlin, won't you at least put your amp in some sort of meaningful context, because it is a waste to continue this thread if you just treat it like a pissing contest.

What speakers do you use?  What sources, etc?  What do you listen to/for?

Patent or no patent, Berning's IDEA seems to have merit.

I am also going to post something about transformers and sound, but not here.

Best regards,
Paul S

09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,515
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 9
Post ID: 5400
Reply to: 5392
The "evil" output transformers.

 drdna wrote:
Berning is a genius to be sure.  Here he fixed his sights on the "evil" output transformer.  Every part of the circuit alters the sound somehow, of course, and the goal is to find the least damaging topology.  The question is asked here: what will happen to the sound if we can match output impedence in a different way to OTL or output-transformer designs?

A tube improperly loaded express a large amount of distortions, because of multiple reasons. You can easily mimic the distortion context by changing the load with taps. Multiply it by zillion times as it happens when plate loaded against near-equal impedance….

What however is made me to reply is the notion of "evil" output transformers. I do not share it and I see no problem if an audio unit has one sound transformer. I do not think that Mr. Berning is correct by demonising OPT – there is nothing wrong with them sound-vise. Transformers are WAY less complex mechanism of Reality exchange then what David Berning offers and if the hate of transformers is the only that drivers David Berning then I do not think that was a noble cause and that David in a right crusade.

Rgs, Romy the caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
mats
Chicago
Posts 76
Joined on 09-18-2005

Post #: 10
Post ID: 5401
Reply to: 5400
Easy now....DBA!
I don't know why the Berning topic gets everyone so worked up.  No need for another ZOTL screaming contest.  Is this not a hobby where we explore many solutions?  It is a difficult subject technically. I for sure can not speak about the theoretical advantages of various solutions.  I have however used a Siegfried for about 10 years with a few different speakers.  Oris front horns with fullrange Supravox's ( alnico and field coil) , as well as OB filtered and unfiltered drivers, and my current front horn work in progress, where Siegfried drives a Supravox 215-2000 EXC from 300 to 900Hz, and a Micro ZOTL drives a JBL 2435 in a no name 500Hz front horn from 900Hz, both with PLLXO.  So I guess I have Dedicated Berning Amplification.  Is that the ultimate then, the DBA system?  I don't think so.  I will say however that the amplifiers have never appeared to be my problem.  Mostly I have wrestled with congestion of complex and content rich music, but as my speakers and other electronics (D-transport) have improved, the amplifiers continue to figure as transparent windows for other changes.    The tone of my systems have mostly been very  neutral,  non electronic sounding.   Right now I am playing Gavrilov's Prokofiev 2 using the newly arrived Belkin Synapse cable, and I feel it is a piece of cake for this system.  Fun and very engaging, difficult to concentrate on writing, and no problem for the Bernings.  Still, I have often thought that the Berning amps do not do an amplifier version of what FM does to a signal.  Perhaps some of the best big iron amps have an effect on the sound analagous to what FM does.  Although the FM effect is heard clearly thru the Bernings.  Note that I have not had many xformer amps here in my system.  The best was an Air Tight several years ago.

Mats
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 11
Post ID: 5402
Reply to: 5399
Context
 Paul S wrote:
Merlin, won't you at least put your amp in some sort of meaningful context, because it is a waste to continue this thread if you just treat it like a pissing contest.

What speakers do you use?  What sources, etc?  What do you listen to/for?

Patent or no patent, Berning's IDEA seems to have merit.

I am also going to post something about transformers and sound, but not here.

Best regards,
Paul S


Paul, I use the Siegfried to power a TAD 4003/ET703 combination. I use a ZH270 to power a JBL 1500AL in a 4cu ft vented cab below this - actively biamping. As Mats says, I have not found the Berning amplification to be a limiting factor in any way, seemingly transparent and highly revealing of improvements elsewhere whilst sounding strikingly non electronic in nature. I find it interesting that Western Electric have licenced the technology in order to release a 300b based amplifier later in the year. All components in all circuits contribute to the final result as you say. My experience leads me to beleive that in the vast majority of SET's I am listening to the OPT, with the ZOTL circuit, I am listening more to the output tube itself. Subjectively that might not be what some listeners are looking for.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 12
Post ID: 5403
Reply to: 5402
Transformers and me
Thanks for the tech info, Merlin; it helps a lot, especially combined with the preferred music revelation, up the thread.

I agree that the OPT figures in to the sound, all right, for better or for worse, and there is no mistaking the OTL "clarity" by contrast.  However I also find the OTL to be harmonically challenged and lacking a certain motive force compared to a nice SET with a nice tranny, not to mention the OTLs lack of image density.  While I do not like the "lack of grip" with the typical SET, neither do I like the way the OTL lets go.  I admit that the Berning grips with amazing authority, but I also found it lacked finesse in just the way that PP does, ie, it makes the music happen as oposed to letting it happen, and harmonics are not a strong suit, IMO.  Also, I found it basically lackes the "OTL clarity", anyway.  Ironically, the ML2 more or less treads a middle ground here, but it also offers a number of other sonic advantages that AFAIK are unobtainable elsewhere.  But if you listen mostly to techno with TADs, then I guess you could with that combination get a pretty fair "club sound" experience.  I heard the Siegfried with pop, jazz and classical blockbusters and, as I said, I would not hate to own one, although I liked it better with the smaller speakers, as you must as well, given you outsource your LF.

I am thinking now of the LO MC cartridge, and how different people choose to provide gain for it.  I am a trasnsformer-all-the-way guy, because to me the step-up transformer is where the sound gets its "life".  Perhaps it is simiar with the OPT?  I know I am on thin ice here, but I also think at this point that a good transformer "reconstitutes" the sound in a very beneficial way by putting music ahead of noise, "restoring" timbral color and subtly "re-organizing" the sound.  I do very much "like" the OTL clarity, but it just does not sound correct to me for accoustic music, and this is the hi-fi hinge for me, that a note will be as fully developed as possible, with its correct pitch and also as much of its harmonic "signature" as possible, along with occupying its correct time/space.  This is why I chose the ML2 over everythig else, because it does this very well, and I will suffer its faults to get the things it does well.  If I keep my present speakers I will eventually get another pair of ML2s to slave the bass/save the upper registers, because, as we all know by now, dedication rules.  I do love the OTL way with the small part of "dynamics" it does well; but, come on, I have to say the same thing about a 45.

With respect to sonic "detail", this is the original sonic horn of dilemma, I think.  I love detail as much as anyone, and other factors being equal, the more within "natural" the better.  But detail is certainly not a measue-for-measure index of sound quality, as we all know.  Rather, it is how those details are presented that matters, and I think so far the well-transformered SET is the champ at natural, convincing accoustic music, at least on that score.

BTW, I am pleased that you use a separate bass amp, but this does deflate your original claims somewhat, ironically leading right back to the viability of the DSET idea.

I hope everyone understands that I am not "standing up for transformers".  Most of them suck, anyway, but beyond that if I really thought there was a viable way to get around them, then I would gladly do without.

Best regards,
Paul S
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 13
Post ID: 5404
Reply to: 5403
What?
Sorry Paul but your post makes no sense.

Firstly one minute you were clearly unfamiliar with the circuit and amplifier in question, and now you are suddenly really au fait with it's sonic characteristics. Forgive me if that takes something of a quantum leap of faith on my part.

Secondly what on earth has techno and club sound got to do with a SET driving TAD's? I use a seperate bass amplifier simply because my bass cabs are 94db/w efficiency and the amplifier in question only provides 7wpc into 8 ohms. I therefore choose to power the bottom end with something more powerful to provide greater levels - it has nothing to do with control in the right system. Indeed the linearity of the Berning in comparison with the Lamm is quite remarkable, and indeed could be disconcerting to an inexperienced listener brought up on large increases on 2nd harmonic at the bottom end.

It seems you are one of these people who likes to hear the system rather than the music, the mystique rather than the composition. This would explain why you appear to find good qualities in transformers. I'm sure you would agree that there is no way that an OPT can actually improve on the signal going into it. Ah no possibly you do think that - my apologies. I'm afraid I am not a fan of amplification that provides added bloom - it is sadly a colouration that grates over time - even if it is initially highly persuasive.

I guess we can always go back to Doctor Gizmo's comments relating to the pure naked harmonic richness of the Berning design in comparison with all the competition hindered by the saturation of their OPT's. Harvey for all his faults , knew his subject matter.

I listen almost exclusively to acoustic instruments- you seem to have assumed otherwise. The true to life tone I experience does suggest to me that possibly you have never heard a Siegfried at home, nor are you at all familiar with the loudspeaker in question. Assumption can be a dangerous this in audio in my experience.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,515
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 14
Post ID: 5405
Reply to: 5402
Gizmo, 2nd harmonic, animal frequency and meta-JBL

 Merlin wrote:
Indeed the linearity of the Berning in comparison with the Lamm is quite remarkable, and indeed could be disconcerting to an inexperienced listener brought up on large increases on 2nd harmonic at the bottom end.

“The large increases on 2nd harmonic at the bottom end”. That would be interesting to discuss.  ML2, within the limits of own power and within a context of reverberation time restricted by it size of the room it can serve (very loaded statement) has overly dominating 2nd harmonic and to play properly it, from my point of view the out time should be slightly more idled then Lamm use by default. You say that in contrary the large increases on 2nd harmonic compare to Lamm would be beneficial… Interesting…

 Merlin wrote:
I guess we can always go back to Doctor Gizmo's comments relating to the pure naked harmonic richness of the Berning design in comparison with all the competition hindered by the saturation of their OPT's. Harvey for all his faults , knew his subject matter.

Come on, Merlin, who care what Doctor Gizmo was tramping!? The BS about the “hindered competitors with saturated core” was something that Gizmo “injected” into you or you invented is right now?

 Merlin wrote:
With regards to all other SET's I have used, I have myself been unable to accept the lack of transparency, extension and grip I have perceived at the frequency extremes with beat driven modern work - bear in mind this is not with reference to the musical genres that you specialise in.

It does sound that you heard good SETs and any good amplifier should do deliver that “animal frequency extremes” of the “modern beat”

 Merlin wrote:
Indeed for classical work I often find a slightly under damped bass response to be emotionally evocative and of benefit to the illusion of the acoustic.

Hm, I would say yes and no… “Yes” because I know what you are wiling to say and “no” because to accomplish what you trying to do by making “under damped bass” is a wrong solution.

 Merlin wrote:
I use the Siegfried to power a TAD 4003/ET703 combination. I use a ZH270 to power a JBL 1500AL in a 4cu ft vented cab below this - actively biamping.

Hm, the JBL 1500AL are wonderful driver but it has own JBL’s bass idiosyncrasy – it can’t breathe or care extremes. It has the typical JBL sound –very precise but it can’t walk on water – it is “not here and not there”.  Driven by a low power SET it becomes a very sad driver, particularly port-loaded. I wonder is your dissatisfaction with SET bass come from the fact the you do not have a LF section to care LF. Also, I have some perspective about your comments regarding ““large increases on 2nd harmonic at the bottom end”. There is nothing in your 1500AL/4003/ET703 configuration that can care upperbass and lower midrange. You indeed should have a tendency to prefer over-dumped tubes  and it is most likely where is your “under damped bass” preference comes from...

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 496
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 15
Post ID: 5406
Reply to: 5403
The Berning Sound
Wow!  Paul, I have to say you really hit the nail on the head this time; whereas usually you strike me a bit more obliquely:

 Paul S wrote:
...the Berning ... makes the music happen as oposed to letting it happen...


This is exactly what I was saying.  I felt I was listening to the clearest, most neutral, most transparent STEREO ever.  But I never once relaxed and believed it was real.  I never thought "What was Coltrane thinking on that take?" or waited for the musicians to take five.  The ability to convey the essence of Sound was missing.  Perfect but unbearable, like staring into the sun.

I have to say that Merlin's post's continue to have a rather defensive tone.  Why do people come here expecting to be attacked?  I'll be the first to admit that my system is FAR from perfect and I don't know much, but I enjoy this website a lot more than any other because it keeps you honest.

But back to what Merlin said about the ZOTL allowing one to hear the output tubes.  I must disagree.  I would say you are simply hearing the different circuit topology as a whole.
09-24-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 16
Post ID: 5407
Reply to: 5404
Au fait

Well, Merlin, it looks like I will have to take my lumps if I hope to get relevant information from you.  Am I the first person you've encountered who feels you enjoy the idea that you always have something up your sleeve?  I'm not a freaking mind reader.

As for being "au fait" with the Siegfried, no I never had one in my own system, but that was for the reasons I gave you, along with the obvious power limitations (not that the Lamm has "solved" those...).  And, no, I never took it upon myself to gain specific knowledge of the circuit because, frankly, I only care about that stuff in terms of the sound, and I only care about the sound as it serves the music, contrary to your own assumption.  In other words, the more I hear the system, per se, the less I like it.  But are you saying the Siegfried makes the rest of your system truly disappear?  Of course you are right that the Lamm distorts and compresses when it gets stressed.  How, again, does that contrast with the Siegfried?

I like to hear the composition, all right, and I also like to hear the playing, the direction, the instrumental and/or vocal pitch, timber and dynamics, interplay, and a whole lot more in addition to the composition.  I agree that the Siegfried is pitched rather well, and this is very important to me.  But I find there's more to tone than pitch, at least as it relates to music, and now you are getting into the area that is the ML2's special province.

RIP, Harvey R.; he was quite the character, all right.  I remember back when he had lynch mobs after him over those self-destructing amps he hawked out of Brooklyn.  I also heard the Futterman, BTW, for about 1/2 hour; then it blew up.  I don't know much about it, either.  However, I do know that Harvey couldn't care less about "accuracy"; all he cared about was emotion.  Add, subtract or divide "the signal", in his own words he just wanted to feel the music.  Yes, he had definite ideas about how to handle a signal to arrive at his ends, but he was also a non-stop pitch man, with a phrase for every occasion.  Bob Fulton and Bob Carver come immediately to mind as birds of a feather.

You are of course correct that I am not a TAD expert, either.  But I am pretty sure that you, yourself, don't pursue something unless you have reason to believe it would work for you.

Although I do take a pretty much hair shirt approach to hi-fi I do not share your apparent certainty that the untouched signal is what I'm after; nor am I convinced that the Siegfired is the least approach, in any event, and so far you have not exactly bolstered that case with your rhetoric.

Best regards,
Paul S

09-25-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 17
Post ID: 5409
Reply to: 5406
Confusing
 drdna wrote:
I felt I was listening to the clearest, most neutral, most transparent STEREO ever. But I never once relaxed and believed it was real I never thought "What was Coltrane thinking on that take?" or waited for the musicians to take five.  The ability to convey the essence of Sound was missing. Perfect but unbearable, like staring into the sun.



Interesting perspective considering in the previous thread you posted


"Anyway I actually bought a Berning (not the Sigfried, which I have NOT heard and so I cannot comment on it, and it may be different) early on"


We are discussing the Siegfried in this thread or at least that was my impression.

With regards to hearing the sound of the tubes, the science would seem to back that up. Even a cursory look at the tests carried out by David showing the transfer characteristics at the output would suggest the lack of transformer in the audible frequency range is producing a more faithful representation of the characteristics of the tube. If you have anything that suggests otherwise it would be interesting.

I am constantly surprised by the tangibility of the sound I get in my system, but as I said earlier, the presentations of the ZH270 which you heard (push pull) and the Siegfried (SET) are very different as you would imagine. So I'd recommend you get a listen to it then give us your thoughts. It's quite interesting that the two posters who have owned/experienced the Siegfried are absolutely delighted with the results and see no reason to look elsewhere for their amplification. The rest of the thread is from people who have neither lived with nor heard the amplifier in question, yet feel it's a good idea to question the veracity of it's perceived sonic qualities and debate the wisdom of David's innovations. I rarely find these exchanges to be of benefit so I will pull out now and leave you guys to discuss DSET's in comfort.

As an aside Romy, I find the software you use on your site really frustrating and restricting with regards to quotes and general post layout.
09-25-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,515
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 18
Post ID: 5410
Reply to: 5385
Design Philosophy by David Berning

 An Audio Amplifier Design Philosophy

By David Berning

 ( Courtesy Meta-Gizmo.com )

I became interested in audio at a very young age because I liked music, but was too uncoordinated to be able to play a musical instrument. My first teen-age attempt at building a piece of audio equipment was a rather difficult project: an open-reel tape player. It was a rather comical device, being made mostly of wood and including an old washing machine motor, but it worked. While the tape head (a salvaged used device that I did not make, and the only part on this machine that was actually made for the purpose) could drive the mic input of my sister’s guitar amplifier, it did not sound right and this launched me into the amplifier-building career.

I began my amplifier life with tubes because I could get them free, along with tube-related parts, from old discarded TV sets. I can clearly remember sitting in high-school English class drawing 6SN7 circuits when I was supposed to be reading Shakespeare.

Over the next couple of years I built several amplifiers. The first was a single-ended 6V6 stereo unit that was similar to the audio-output designs used in the TV sets that I had cannibalized. I enjoyed listening to this for a while, but then sold it to a friend and used the money to buy some push-pull output transformers for the next amplifier: a push-pull 6V6 design. As I learned how to make amplifiers technically better, and could afford to spend money on parts, I began to make transistor amplifiers. I built a very elaborate transistor preamp that included stepped tone controls and a cathode-ray tube display, and thought that I had the best preamp that could be made.

A Time to Listen

Then one day my ego was shaken. I had just fixed an old Fisher preamp that had a faulty filter capacitor, and I hooked it up to my system in place of my transistor preamp to see if I had fixed the hum problem. At the time, I was listening to a recording of the seashore, one of a series of sound environment recordings on the Atlantic label. The roar of the pounding surf dominates this recording, but the sound of foghorns from ships can be occasionally and faintly heard. I had listened to this recording many times while studying for my university classes, and I was aware of one relatively loud and two very soft foghorns during the 30-minute recording. As I listened to the Fisher, I started hearing more foghorns than I had ever heard before. I started the record over and counted 26 foghorns! With the transistor preamp placed back into the system again, only the original three foghorns were clearly resolved. What could possibly be wrong with the transistor preamp, it measures perfectly?

This incident was instrumental in turning my amplifier designs back to tubes, and the first of two incidents that shook my reliance on measured parameters as being all that matters in the design of amplifiers. The second incident began when a friend built an amplifier from a schematic that I had given him. This friend really liked the sound of his completed amplifier, and wanted to show it off at a Macintosh Amplifier Clinic. My friend came back from the clinic very disappointed because the measured harmonic distortion was high. I told him that I could fix that by adding negative feedback, and he brought the amp over for the modification. He happily took his amp home, but when he listened to the amplifier it no longer sounded good. Both of us listened and compared the amp with and without feedback, and I agreed that the sound was better without the feedback, even though the amplifier measured better with it.

While I still believe that measurements are useful and should always be made during the design of an amplifier, these incidents taught me that that there is a good deal of art that needs to go along with the science.

A Time to Invent

My first radical departure from conventional amplifier design came with my Screen-Drive amplifiers that I developed as a result of the energy shortage around 1973. By that time I knew that I liked my tubes, but they just were too wasteful in terms of energy. I found that I could get the same tube linearity at one tenth the idle current normally used if I drove the tube from the screen as opposed to the grid. I further found that this only works well on TV sweep-type tubes and not very well on audio tubes, and it requires a much more powerful driver stage. I patented the screen-drive circuit (US patent 3995226, Nov ’76), which was initially based on a transistor drive for the output tubes. With this circuit I could get high power outputs with relatively little heat. Aside from the heat, the reliability of the output tubes increased dramatically because most audio output tube failures are caused by grid to cathode shorts brought on by the relatively close spacing of these elements, and this new design has these externally shorted. An unexpected additional advantage of the low idle current is that it is much easier to keep the output transformer out of saturation.

Sonically, the sound is much cleaner and more transparent at low listening levels when the transformer is not in saturation. The higher the idle current (more Class A) used, the harder it is to keep the absolute dc flux balance within the one to two milliamps range where saturation occurs in most push-pull output transformers. At loud listening levels, the advantages of the low idle currents go away, as the transformer is going in and out of saturation all the time due to both the non-symmetric nature of music signals and gain differences between the push and pull sections of the amplifier. At loud levels, more Class A is an advantage because the low-idle current Class B operation produces more high-order harmonics due to crossover distortion.

From a design philosophy standpoint, I prefer having the best performance out of an amplifier at lower listening levels because the amplifier spends most of its time at low levels, and I don’t like to listen to music at loud levels on an extended basis. Furthermore, the low heat and low idle current provides for extremely long tube life, whereas the conventional bias currents cause rapid deterioration of the tubes and sound with time. Hence, my design philosophy also includes making amplifiers that are very stable with time, sonically. For these reasons my current ZH270 model amplifier uses the screen drive, even though it does not use output transformers.

A Time to Dream

I spent a long time building amplifiers with output transformers, over 25 years. I hated their performance limits. I hated the development and prototype phase of transformers for new products. I hated their weight. I had already freed myself from the hum-inducing problems of line-frequency power transformers with the inclusion of my first switching power supply used in my TF-10 preamp introduced in 1979. I had freed myself of the weight of the line-frequency power transformer in the EA-2100 amplifier, introduced in 1983. My new switcher in that amplifier improved low-frequency stiffness of the power supply by a factor of better than ten over the best large transformer design. Furthermore, the regulation meant that the bias adjustments would remain stable.

I was certainly aware of the output-transformerless amps, particularly the Futterman design produced by NYAL, and some copies of the original Futterman circuit that I had investigated. I did not want to make anything like that because I knew that such a large number of hot tubes would have reliability concerns. I also did not like the lack of symmetry between the push and pull sections in these designs. I had previously made some custom OTL direct-drive electrostatic speaker amplifiers and was fully aware of the magic that could be had by OTL when it could be properly matched to the speaker in impedance. But conventional tube OTL simply cannot properly impedance match to 8-ohm speaker loads unless it is designed for ten kilowatts (reasonably efficient power transfer) or higher. So I continued with my output transformers until 1995, and then ceased all amplifier production so that I could have time to dream.

My first dream was a resonant switching amplifier with all-transistor switching in the power sections, but tube in the analog voltage to frequency conversion part. The great thing about this concept was that it could emulate a Class A amplifier in that a characteristic of the resonant switching power circuit is that it contains the full load circulating current at all times, but without much power loss. I do not know of anyone who has attempted to build such an amplifier before or since. I did not pursue the more conventional pulse-width modulation because I had concerns about crossover notch distortion that these circuits are subject to. A prototype of this resonant amplifier worked, but had certain audible distortions that I could not eliminate.

The Solution

First and foremost an output transformer, or any transformer for that matter, is an impedance-matching device. Impedance matching is used to transfer a source of power to a load so that both the power source and the load are operating under optimum conditions for maximum efficiency. What other kinds of impedance matching devices are there? Some such mechanical devices include an automobile transmission, bicycle gears, and a simple lever. Besides the transformer, a dc-to-dc power converter is an electrical type of impedance matching device. The dc-to-dc converter can convert a high voltage at low current into a low voltage at high current, or vice versa. Dc-to-dc converters form the basis of the switching power supply, but usually contain added complexity for regulated power supply applications. In its simplest form, the output voltage or current of the dc-to-dc converter is always related to its input by a proportionality constant which is just like the turns ratio in a transformer. Like the transformer, impedance matching goes as the square of this constant.

All current Berning amplifiers use the dc-to-dc converter to form the basis for impedance matching between the tubes and the speaker. The patent for this technology is US patent 5612646 (March ’97), and is reprinted on the Berning web site at http://www.davidberning.com This patent describes the many advantages of this amplifier over the transformer-coupled amplifier, so this will not be repeated here. Unless the reader is well versed in switching power supply design, it is unlikely that he or she will understand exactly how it works, and it is too complicated to try to explain it here. Perhaps the best explanation to read is the one given by Chuck Hansen in his technical review of the ZH270 that appeared in Glass Audio, vol. 12, issues 1&2, 2000. This is also reprinted on the Berning web site. In his review, Mr. Hansen reaffirms the success that this new technology has with preserving the tube’s transfer characteristics at the speaker.

But What Does It Sound Like?

Various people have different philosophies on how an amplifier should sound. This is part of what makes audio fun. Transistor guys hold up their spec sheets and say that tubes are too colored and the true reference is their zero-measured distortion amplifier. Tube guys say that the transistors are unmusical and unnatural sounding. Let’s face it: real live sound is lost as soon as it is converted to electrical signals at the microphone. The electrical signals are further distorted in the mixing, recording, storage, and playback processes.

I can say that audio transformers do influence the sound of amplifiers by acting as frequency-dependent filters, and iron has rather severe hysteresis-induced nonlinearities that show up mainly at low frequencies where flux swings are large. As bad as this seems to look from a technical standpoint, when these distortions are added to those already present on the recording, the net result may not be bad because subjectively some of these effects can partially cancel. This does not mean that you are recovering any of the original musical information; you are at best making one mess more palatable. It may, however, still be easier to hear certain musical information if high-frequency hash is filtered.

I feel that certain triodes are the most linear voltage amplification devices available. This view is supported by measurements of amplifier circuits using various amplifying devices taken by Eric Barbour in "The Cool Sound of Tubes" IEEE Spectrum, pp. 24-35, August 1998. While transistor amplifiers in whole generally have lower distortion figures than tube amps, this is because there is a much heavier reliance on negative feedback in those units than is used in tube amps. I have already described my own findings in regards to how high feedback can degrade the subjective sound of an amplifier.

So how does the Berning Zero-Hysteresis Output-Transformerless (ZOTL) circuit sound? To me, the dominant characteristic is that it is fast and clean. If you want to hear the true sound of power tubes properly impedance matched to low-impedance speakers, this technology is the best technology available at this time to do it. Note that this is an enabling technology, and the particular implementation will affect the sound. For this reason, I am producing several different amplifier models, including both single-ended and push-pull units. If the 70 watt per channel ZH270 at $4500 was perfect for all applications at 70 watts and below, I would not be making a Siegfried 300B, rated at only 6 watts for $6950, with higher measured distortion.

Finally, I offer some comparisons between the measured performance of audio output transformers and my dc-to-dc impedance converter. The following figures are taken from white papers that are on my web site, and additional figures and discussion are presented there.

This pair of photos shows the looping due to magnetizing current and hysteresis distortion in an output transformer (top) vs. the lack of these artifacts in the Berning impedance converter (bottom) for a push-pull pair of 6L6s connected in the triode mode. A curve tracer is used in the ac mode for the measurement as the transformer can not handle a dc measurement that would be needed it only one tube was used, even though the Berning impedance converter can handle the dc of one tube.

This pair of photos compares the Berning impedance converter applied to an actual special wide-bandwidth amplifier circuit to an output transformer in the same circuit using a 10kHz square wave. Notice that the rise time is significantly slower with the transformer. Tube to speaker impedance matching is 5000 ohms plate-to-plate to 8 ohms in both cases.FONT>

Berning1.gif

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"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
09-25-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 496
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 19
Post ID: 5411
Reply to: 5409
The Beatification of Berning
 Merlin wrote:
Interesting perspective... [but] we are discussing the Siegfried in this thread or at least that was my impression.
Umm, the name of the thread is: DAVID BERNING AMPLIFIERS, dude, not Siegfried.

 Merlin wrote:
With regards to hearing the sound of the tubes, ...even a cursory look at the tests carried out by David showing the transfer characteristics at the output would suggest the lack of transformer in the audible frequency range is producing a more faithful representation of the characteristics of the tube. If you have anything that suggests otherwise it would be interesting.
Well, I have my ears, which I think is what counts, rather than reams of graphs.  Don't forget the tests were devised based on observation and theory.  I'll also bring up again the idea that these topology changes may improve certain measured characteristics but destroy other characteristics of sound as well.

 Merlin wrote:
It's quite interesting that the two posters who have owned/experienced the Siegfried are absolutely delighted with the results and see no reason to look elsewhere for their amplification. The rest of the thread is from people who have neither lived with nor heard the amplifier in question, yet feel it's a good idea to question the veracity of it's perceived sonic qualities and debate the wisdom of David's innovations. I rarely find these exchanges to be of benefit so I will pull out now and leave you guys to discuss DSET's in comfort.
Well, I think Paul has some experience with the Siegfried, actually.  I thought that somehow having owned two Berning amplifiers in the past might allow me to contribute something to the column as well; nor do I appreciate the snide comments.

The bottom line is that, while it's easy to react to this sort of pre-calculated invictive invective, we are all simply trying to learn something, not get into a pissing contest.
09-25-2007 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Merlin
Cheam, United Kingdom
Posts 50
Joined on 03-03-2007

Post #: 20
Post ID: 5412
Reply to: 5411
Questions
Firstly are your observations regarding the ZH270 relating to comparisons with other push pull designs or SET's?

Secondly could you explain which characteristics of the recording are destroyed, and what mechanism David Berning uses to acheive this?

Finally, could Paul enlighten us on his experience of the Siegfried? Forgive me but he seemed totally unfamiliar with the technology earlier in the thread - so I find it baffling that he would have had relevant experience . Again I wasn't aware you had owned two Bernings - just the one. Which models did you own? The ZH270?

For what it's worth, I don't think it's worth while discussing the ZH270 here - it is far too lean sounding for most readers of this site and too noisy on lower feedback settings to be used with high efficiency loudspeakers - it is designed for speakers 92db/w and below. The Siegfried on the other hand was what I introduced to the forum as being something that might well be of interest to typical Goodsoundclubbers.
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