Tag Archives: amp

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.

Cats and stereos

Cats have always loved our products. Not because they’re qualified listeners that appreciate the fine sounds PS Audio products produce, but because of our equipment’s heat.

Cats love nothing more than to curl atop a warm metal box and bask in the glow of a south-facing window.

My first encounter with feline audiophiles came from our 200C power amplifier of the 1980s. This 200 watt per channel stereo amp was the biggest we’d ever made: 200 watts per channel into 8Ω and double that into 4Ω. Solid copper bus bars connected power supplies directly to the output transistors for unimpeded flow. It was a technical tour de force of the state of the art in 1980 and broke with the tradition of external heat sinks by internalizing them instead.

Not many amps had internal heat sinks in those days but we liked the svelt look the simple box offered. To get rid of the heat we copied what worked for tube power amplifiers, a perforated metal top and bottom to promote air flow. While this worked well for cooling the power amp there were unintended consequences from our feline friends. They liked to vomit hairballs into the amplifier’s innards.

This tendency of cats relieving their digestive tracts into warm metallic boxes was unknown to me from my days of cats and tube amplifiers. My guess as to why the 200C was preferred is because the vacuum tube amps were probably a little too hot for tabby to get a decent snooze. Those glass envelope fire bottles are pinpoint hot if you’re right over them. The 200C, on the other hand, had even heat distributed in a democratic fashion across the entire 19″ surface.

Most of us know of the dangers of cat claws and grille cloths, but I’ll bet few among us have spent much time contemplating the joys of taking a 200C amplifier to the local car wash to hose out cat vomit. I can tell you from experience it’s something very special.

Yes, we have an entire subset of furred audiophile admirers still in our camp, but we’ve since moved on to solid metal top covers.

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.

The ladder of excellence

I remember the very first time I heard a high-end audio system: a pair of JBL corner horns, an Audio Research preamp and power amp, and a Thorens turntable. It was a stunning revelation compared to my Kenwood integrated amplifier, AR turntable, and Phase Array speakers.

Today that same high-end system that first took my breath away would elicit only a polite smile and a soft chuckle of reminiscence.

We’re first taken by the magnitude of contrasting levels: Kenwood to Audio Research; Wonder Bread to a French baguette. Once we adjust to a new level of performance standard, we need ever greater contrasts to make the same size impression of improvement.

I remember well going to a Hong Kong reviewer’s house and listening to his collection of vintage equipment. My only reaction was to wonder how I ever thought any of those ancient treasures sounded good.

Each time we reach new levels of performance our standards change. What might have impressed us once no longer holds sway.

It’s called climbing the Ladder of Excellence.

Each higher rung advances our understanding of what’s good and what’s merely acceptable.