Death of the Album?

Dave Paananen, our director of engineering, asked “Isn’t it obvious the need for an album or CD is rapidly becoming unnecessary?”

At first I dismissed the thought, so ingrained is the notion of an artist creating a package around a body of work, but then I realized he is right.  The medium itself has always dictated the package musicians use to wrap around their work.

There’s the famous story of Sony founder Akio Morita’s dictate to set the length of the CD to 74 minutes in order to play the entire Beethoven 9th, which probably isn’t true but a great story anyway, to 45 rpm 2-sided discs for hit releases, the LP or Long Playing record, the 78 rpm, etc.  All content packaged as an album, or set of tracks, has been dictated by the capabilities of the medium.

The concept of the album came about because of the restrictions of the physical medium it was stored on.

Another good example is multi-disc sets of CD’s or vinyl.  From the perspective of a connected library, it makes little sense to separately display all 14 discs with identical cover art of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, instead I simply compile them all together in one “album” with many tracks.

Now that we’re entering the age of the physical medium having essentially no limits, why should an artist feel restricted to produce a musical package of a specific number of tracks and time?

I think Dave’s correct in his observation: we are witnessing the death of the album/CD as a package.

More freedom for musicians, more music freedom for us.

From Paul’s Posts….Paul McGowan from PS Audio.


PS Audio talks about Software Jitter

Just when we thought we had it all figured out along comes a new form of distortion to tackle: software jitter.  The culprit here is, unfortunately, a very necessary component in the chain of digital audio – the CPU (central processing unit) itself.

We first noticed this problem when we started releasing different versions of software and firmware – every release of our music management program eLyric sounds different and every release of the Bridge firmware sounds different.  This might seem obvious to you but not to our designers since the changes we were making had “nothing” to do with the data stream or the audio itself.  Sometimes a change in the front panel display code would cause a major upset in sound quality.

Turns out the core of this issue is our old “pal” the power supply – the problem we started working on in 1975 when we introduced external high-current power supply options and again in 1997 with the Power Plant.  Differences in code change how the CPU chugs along or gets wild with activity – which in turn modulates the power supply causing tiny voltage shifts.  These voltage shifts affect the transition area between a 1 and a 0 causing a temporal shift in the data called jitter.

Of course it should be obvious the way to fix this isn’t in the code that causes the changing flurry of CPU activity but in the hardware itself – a much bigger challenge.  You can see some of this work reflected in our new MKII upgrade of the PWD where we went from a couple of localized regulators to 11 – all in an effort to minimize the effects of software jitter.

PS Audio International

4826 Sterling Drive

Boulder, Colorado 80301