Part of knowing our HiFi Family so well is understanding what I like to think of as Audiophile Wisdom, the collective agreement of what we believe. For example, audiophiles pretty much agree that vacuum tubes sound one way, solid-state devices quite another. Or, LP’s and vinyl has its sound and digital something different.
Every interest group on Planet Earth has its share of collective wisdom. That’s certainly nothing new, but when it comes to audio I have yet to find any other passion-driven endeavor to be so rich and vocal when it comes to our beliefs.
Some might refer to the common wisdom as myths while others would consider much to be gospel. Whatever your viewpoint on the audiophile’s wisdom, it’s helpful to recognize some of the more popular tropes. Separating the things we believe from facts can be very helpful when attempting to untangle often complicated subjects.
One of the main goals of the Ask Paul video series is unraveling some of the conventional audiophile wisdom and helping people understand the origins of the stories and beliefs. Often, I have to check myself to make sure what I am saying isn’t simply a regurgitation—hard when you’ve been so immersed in the culture for such a long time.
I think it’s always helpful to share our collective wisdom with others. It’s also important to check your sources. Most audiophile wisdom is based in old history that may or may not be true anymore.
Be careful your accumulated wisdom doesn’t send you down the wrong road.
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.