Asheville’s Home Theater and Audio specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Open minds
One of the hardest tasks for me, on a personal level, is keeping an open mind. On the one hand I jump at the news of new technology, am completely open to it, lust after its news. On the other hand, the things I “know” to be true are hard to refute and often stop me from learning.
I am guessing this is a very human trait. We find what works for us, set up a rule set that keeps us safe and moving forward and deviate little from this behavior. It serves our best interest. But it also stymies our forward movement to learn and adapt.
For example, there are many among us that know vinyl is better than CD. There are many among us that know CD is better than vinyl. And there are those among us that know measurements tell the entire story. None of these are true. None of these are false. They are all circumstance driven truths, subject to change with the moving landscape of progress and new ideas.
The challenge I take on each day is to try and do battle with that little voice in my head telling me “no, no, no, that is fundamentally incorrect”. It’s a tough battle. That little voice is not my friend. It does not have my best interest at heart. It is rather a selfish voice.
If you are one of the more extraordinary people that can constantly challenge and compare your rule set against the ever changing landscape of technological progress, then you benefit more than someone like myself who constantly has to fight that battle.
I doubt I’ll ever win, but once in a while a small skirmish is won. That makes me feel good.

Asheville’s Home Theater and Audio specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

The preamp debate
Now that DirectStream’s are entering people’s systems the setup questions begin: chief among them is direct to the amp or through a preamp? This is not an easy question because it is so system and user dependent.
When I travel to show our products I never carry a preamp. Lugging a DirectStream with me is challenging enough, but the added trouble of hauling my preamp just isn’t worth it. And it isn’t worth it because there’s really little sonic advantage to doing so.
In Music Room One I have a preamp: a tube preamp to be exact. And I vacillate between the euphonics of keeping the preamp in the system and the accuracy and revealing qualities of going directly into the amplifier. Both have their advantages.
On the one hand a preamp, at least in this main system, seems to bring body and a sort of realism to instruments and voices, yet also seems to subtly mask some of what’s in the music. Going direct doesn’t make me feel like there’s any less body, it sounds natural all right, but there’s also a certain directness that is bewitching in its hold on the music.
I understand most of us want a simple answer: yes or no to going with or without a preamp. But I can’t help with this. Which preamp are we discussing? I have not heard them all. What speakers? What are your tastes?
No, I fear there’s no simple answer. But I can tell you this, either way you go you’ll enjoy the music immensely.
And that’s what matters.