Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Good fences

The poet Robert Frost wrote, “good fences make good neighbors”. If you’d never read his poem, Mending Wall, you might think he liked fences. You would be wrong. The poem is actually about the opposite.

One of the dichotomies of product design is about fences. It’s a problem faced by companies as big as Microsoft and Apple (Apple likes fences, Microsoft not so much), and as small as PS Audio (we’re on the fence about it to make a pun).

Interface fences are needed. Boundaries and standards are set to ensure the proper interface of equipment with the outside world. As in any neighborhood, we all have to agree on some level or sources would not interface with preamps and amps.

One of my readers cried out when I suggested an end-to-end system approach to building our new loudspeakers. “But I like to mix and match equipment. It’s part of the fun of our hobby.” Indeed, our customers run the gamut from tear-the-walls-down tweakers to folks who like their fences.

There’s no way to keep everyone happy. This we know. I think the secret to great products lies in the notion of maintaining outside accessibility of equipment while, at the same time, offering a PS-specific connection scheme. It’s an idea that’s been bubbling in me for some time. Not fully formed yet, but slowly creeping in.

Good fences make good neighbors as long as they aren’t impenetrable walls.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

By plug and play, Paul is referring to an audio component that replaces computers in our music systems. One that can rip music, store music, stream music and give us a way to control it. Maybe add a DAC and even an amplifier, like the UK stalwart, Naim Audio is doing now. Maybe incorporate a turntable  and speakers!!

Plug and play

What a great idea someone came up with when they first coined the term plug-and-play. Easy peezy, right? Plug the device in and it just works.

If you own a Mac you already know what this feels like. Windows 10 owners finally get a taste, but most people on the planet never really get to experience this miracle of technology.

Wouldn’t it be something if someone managed to figure out a small stereo system that would fit that bill? Plug it in, it auto corrects for the room, knows your musical preference, begins to play music you already have approved.

As Buck Rogers as this sounds, I predict within the next decade this will happen. How you ask? Through the miracle of complexity: building blocks stacked over time.

Our meager minds can only understand small snippets of complex structures. We can visualize how a computer system does math and we understand the language it uses, but more than that and we’re lost. Try visualizing the path required for you to read these words on a screen from a device in your pocket. I am sitting in my basement office in Boulder, Colorado, typing. Tomorrow my thoughts spread around the globe. To us, it’s magic because no one person understands how it all works.

Imagine other complex systems. You are a perfect example. We can figure out down to a molecular level how small systems within us work but not the whole.

Once a system exceeds a certain level of complexity it becomes unknowable by any one person. This means that with each layer of added complexity we can only build with ever-increasing complex blocks—never knowing the whole. Block-upon-block until it all seems like magic. A miracle.

Which is why I predict the miracle of a plug-and-play system is within our horizon. How exciting is that?