In search of miracles
I am constantly on the hunt for miracles. I don’t want just improvements or brighter polish when it comes to my audio system. No, in fact, it’s miracles I am after though they do seem rather far and few between.
The most recent miracle to cross my path is the new Stellar Phono preamp. After nearly 30 years of focusing on digital audio, this miracle piece of gear has transformed the way I think of vinyl. Now, I have to reevaluate every decision I have made over the past three decades.
The beauty of this particular miracle is that it is additive to the main music system. Instead of transforming the way I think of digital audio, it has added an entirely new dimension of music’s enjoyment that I had long ago abandoned as dead.
Now, that’s a miracle.
Where we set our audio system-level can make a tremendous amount of difference.
One of the problems I often see in digital audio is people hell-bent on setting the volume level in the app they are streaming from. In almost every case, this is exactly the wrong thing to do. Changing the playback level at the source is a really bad way to reproduce high-performance audio. For example, if you’re using Audirvana, iTunes, or Bit Perfect, the last place you want to adjust the playback level is in those programs. The moment you do that any chance of bit-perfect performance flies right out the window.
The exceptions to this are when you’re using a program like Roon, or our upcoming program Octave. There, the levels can be adjusted right in the music management program because the source remains bit perfect. What you’re actually doing, in that case, is controlling the DAC itself through the interface. Thus, it looks like it’s happening right in the app when actually you’re doing it just right.
It’s a common mistake to make and one we see all the time. Your preamp or DAC is where you should be adjusting the level.
Keeping digital audio at its bit-perfect best is always going to sound best.