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.

Is the day of the source over?

I will avoid getting mired in the audio source vs. audio output argument of which is better. Long time readers of my posts already know I believe the output end of things matters more than their beginnings (though both are important).

The question I have been pondering as of late concerns our move towards streaming music. Yes, I understand vinyl is a critical and wonderful medium—and so too are our silver disc collections—but over the next decade, I believe streaming will continue its inevitable forward march. The lure of a multi-million piece library is just too much to resist.

And if we follow this thread to its logical conclusion, what’s the chance that sources will even matter in the future?

We know, from our work on the upcoming Octave server and Memory Player, that it’s now possible to gather digital bits together in such a way as to render them identical to each other. That their source will increasingly become irrelevant if we handle them properly.

What that would appear to mean is the eventual elimination of the source as an equipment category. Our source might just be the pipe that connects us to the internet.

What might just emerge is a whole new crop of amazing output devices to enrich our lives.

That sounds pretty enticing to me.

You?

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.

Looking in the wrong direction

When we read that others have found major benefits to one technology or the other, we often assume their reasoning is correct.

I remember being told the sonic differences in two audio power cords I was auditioning came from the quality of copper inside. One had OFC while the other just dirty old copper. That made sense, sort of, but the differences I was hearing were huge. One was restricted and muffled sounding while the other open and airy. Of course, the one I liked had the better copper. Yet, that still didn’t satisfy me.

It turned out that the cable I liked also had a completely different construction: same gauge wire, but the shielding and dielectrics were miles different.

Redoing the experiment with similar geometries reduced the variables to reasonable and now the differences were subtle. There, but subtle.

It’s really easy to get fooled into believing one thing or another about technology. The problem with wrong information is we make so many decisions based on what knowledge we have in our heads. If it’s incorrect, well, the results are pretty obvious.

A healthy dose of skepticism can be beneficial at times, yet too much and we never open ourselves to new ideas.

It’s a tough balancing act.