Fact is every component in a high end system is important and integral!
A high end system’s task is to take very small signals from the source and to amplify them at sufficient levels that our brains and ears think it is realistic or equivalent to the live performance.
Loudspeakers are the last device in the intricate high end audio chain so perhaps it is understandable that many equate the quality of the performance to be the perceived quality of the loudspeaker.
Interestingly, I recently attended a high end show with a respected designer & manufacturer of high end turntables who shared a thought:
“When I am in a room that presents what I consider to be one of the best of the show, I often hear people say what great speakers they are listening to. Conversely, when people don’t like a room they ask, what is wrong with the source?”
Loudspeakers generally receive all the glory and not much of the blame! The truth is that loudspeakers have more distortion than all other high end components combined ... so does this mean that the loudspeaker is the weakest link in the entire audio chain?
For many decades now there has been an understood hierarchy of order - one that is contrary to the popular view of the controversial loudspeaker. This hierarchy states that the most important component is the source (analogue or digital) as this is where the information retrieval chain all begins! The signal is then amplified through the preamplifier, where its is switched and volume controlled followed by the power amplifier, where massive amounts of power are generated to drive the loudspeaker to a realistic level of performance. All of this is accomplished with distortions measured in mere fractions of a percentage! At the end of this low distortion electronic component chain however is the loudspeaker which easily adds more than 10 - 100 times the distortion!
Jim Fairhead, President of Tenor, provides a great analogy:
“Think of this audio chain as the flow of water through a hose. A water tap is the source; the hose is the preamplifier & amplifier where the water picks up flow and finally the nozzle (i.e. the loudspeaker) at the hose end changes the flow to spray.
Clearly the nozzle is an import part of the chain, but its performance is primarily determined by the flow in the hose. I like this analogy as the spray of the nozzle is quite similar to what a loudspeaker does and allows one to imagine why the distortion is so high. I think you will agree that the quality of the spray at the nozzle is a direct function of the tap source and hose quality - and not just the nozzle! This holds true for audio systems as well.”
What happened when I listened to my first Tenor Audio amplifier?
Tenor Audio changed the game for me when I discovered their Harmonic Structural Integrity (HSI) technology. Tenor has created an analogue circuit that maps the distortion of an amplifier so the ear-brain interface can process dynamics without any perceivable distortion. Not only does this technology render benign the low level distortion in any amplifier but allows the natural harmonics of each and every instrument to be rendered with all of the accuracy of the original performance in the recording studio! The net benefit is full natural harmonics and ZERO listening fatigue! I substituted a Tenor Audio 175s in place of existing amplifiers on many systems with the impact always the same - no listening fatigue! Full rich natural harmonics, tremendous detail, expansive sound stage … all of the accolades of a great system with none of the listening artifacts!
Hence the new paradigm of the hierarchy of order!
A Tenor Audio 175S amplifier accomplishes two things. Distortions generated further upstream from the source and preamplifier are rendered benign and the superb linear damping of the Tenor amplifier forces the loudspeaker to do exactly its bidding - resulting in the most profound improvement an audio system can experience!
This may appear to be too simple of a solution ... because it is!
Upon hearing this metamorphosis on every system I tried, I quickly realized the course of my life was about to change. After 40 years in the high end audio industry and having never experienced music so enjoyable, I decided then and there that I needed to be part of this Tenor movement so I joined the Company! I cannot stress enough the importance of having a Tenor Audio 175s …
Every new 175S client I speak with confirms this experience. This is my most recent comment from Scandinavia:
"The amp (175s) sounds more than wonderful, well beyond my expectations. I keep asking myself over and over, is it possible? Looks like I have a “new” record collection by changing the power-amp to the Tenor Audio. Now I get very curious what will happen if/when I buy the Line1 / Power 1. It probably will change my whole listening experience.”
Of course, as one would expect, having a Tenor Line 1/Power 1 preamplifier and Phono 1 phono stage only accentuates the experience further at a number of important levels - but I leave that for another day. The journey needs to begin somewhere so it does not become too daunting. So my best advice is to begin with the Tenor Audio 175S as it will change the way you listen to music forever!
My closing thoughts are so many people fixate on the loudspeaker when they want to “scratch the itch” of change in their audio system. I can only recommend that you resist changing up the loudspeakers until you have the 175S as the base of your system, as it makes every loudspeaker sound their very best. The immense change in how you listen to music will make you wonder why you waited this long!
ps further reading on loudspeaker distortion can be found in the Journal of Boston Audio Society published on line at enjoythemusic.com at the following link: