Tag Archives: amplifier

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.

Soft underbelly

Life and stereo systems are compromises—a fact that causes us to make less than perfect choices. It’s helpful to understand the consequences of each choice.

Take for example amplifier power. In a perfect world, we’d have unlimited power and the best sound quality imaginable. In the real world of limited budgets, we’re likely to have to make some tough decisions: Power vs. ultimate sound quality.

If you find yourself on an economic leash that narrows your choice between high power and the sound quality benefits of small high-bias amplifiers, the first thing you want to do is determine where your soft underbelly is most vulnerable—dynamics or see-through transparency.

If your listening habits are mostly small ensemble with the occasional burst of dynamics you’re likely better off focusing your amplifier choices to those you believe offer the sweetest presentation of detail and nuance at reasonable listening levels.

If instead, you’re anticipating dynamic and spectacular, then high power trumps inner detail. There’s nothing more jarring than being jerked out of sonic bliss by the strain of struggling dynamics.

Of course, as manufacturers, we try and offer the best of both worlds as best we can but getting there isn’t always easy nor inexpensive.

When compromise strikes, do your best to figure out what’s important so you can let go of what you can’t have.

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.

It doesn’t have to make sense

We love things to make sense and fit into neat little boxes so we can manage our view of the world. When they don’t we can take a number of different paths: ignore, anguish, change the story, disbelief, start researching.

We understand that at the heart of 2-channel high-end audio is the goal of doing no harm: the purer the signal, the better the sound. It’s why we make sure there’s perfect power, low distortion, unfettered transient response. We also understand that less is more—the fewer stages a signal has to pass through the better its chance of arriving unscathed.

Which is why it is so maddening that a good preamp placed between the DAC and amplifier sounds better than going direct.

When this statement of fact is presented to people you can almost always categorize their response: agreement from those that have a proper preamp, disbelief from those that don’t, or sometimes anguish and denial because it rubs against the grain of all they know.

The idea that audiophiles often make decisions based on what they hear as opposed to what they “know” is what drives the Objectivists bonkers.

It doesn’t have to make sense.

It just has to sound good.