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Distortions in Audio Op-Amps and Their Effect on Listener Perception of Character and Quality

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Different operational amplifier topologies are frequently thought to play a significant role in the sonic character of analog audio equipment. This paper explores whether common audio operational amplifiers are capable of producing distortion characteristics within their normal operational range that can be detected by listeners and alter listener perception of character and quality. Differences in frequency response and noise are carefully controlled while the distortion characteristics of the op-amps are amplified. Listening tests are performed in order to determine what differences listeners perceive. Listening tests also examine listener preference for different op-amps for the purpose of exploring what physical measurements best predict differences in perceived audio character and quality.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society