The Carver Challenge

The Carver Challenge is a challenged proposed by Bob Carver, of Carver Corporation, and reported by Stereophile magazine.

The challenge goes like this:

Is it possible to make a $700 “mainstream-audio” power amplifier sound exactly like a high-priced perfectionist amplifier?

As it turns out, yes it very much is, with some tweaking: Mr. Carver ran the same signal through both amplifiers and inverted one of them, connecting them both to a single speaker. He adjusted his amplifier until the speaker made no noise. Thanks to the inversion, he knew the outputs were identical with respect to input.

Of course, even a mainstream ampli still needs tweakings, preferably performed by a professionnal with the right equipment, in order to work as good as a high-end equipment. I does however begs the question: is the extra (thousands or tens of thousands) dollars worth it?

Moreover, it is said most people can’t even tell the difference between several amplis.

Maybe for some. A high-end amplifier is not just sound quality, it is also design, longevity, craftsmanship etc.

If the factors above are not of concern, the $600-$700 price range (see Audio System on the Cheap) seems to be a sweet spot for amplifiers.