Voicing

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Yesterday I happened to mention how we use certain elements to “voice” a circuit and that sparked a few questions. What does voicing an amplifier mean?

Actually it’s a really good question because one would think you’d want to make everything as neutral and true to the music as humanely possible. And, in fact, you would – but then reality gets in the way.

Let’s make a couple of broad generalizations first: most digital sources are relatively thin and bright while most turntable sources are slow and fat. I know these are gross generalizations but when it comes to music, I don’t really have any other terms – and when you’re starting to design a digital circuit relative to a phono stage, you have to think differently about each. Perhaps for this post accept the terms as at least relevant to the discussion.

Also accept that different devices have different sonic characteristics as do different circuit topologies. Tubes and FET’s are generally warmer, softer and slightly big sounding, while most bipolar devices and topologies based on them are somewhat the opposite.

So imagine all these elements as having different flavors and different textures and you as a master chef. You want to cook a world class meal and that involves combining all the various tastes and elements together to compliment each other and produce something remarkable.

This is what voicing is all about. It’s probably a mistake when designing a circuit to pair a thin and bright sounding CD player front end with a similar sounding bipolar backend circuit – you’d be better off pairing it up with a warmer and softer sounding FET circuit, for example.

I know this isn’t very scientific but then, neither is music and the art of reproducing it in a way that reaches down to your core and resonates with your soul.

That takes a master chef.