Tag Archives: cd

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.

Source specific

Every component in our audio system was chosen based on our source preference: digital or vinyl. If we’re assembling a vinyl system then everything that follows is judged on how good music tracked with a needle sounds. Or, if digital, how a CD sounds.

We’ve covered this ground before but it is ground worth revisiting.

When building a system my advice is to choose your loudspeakers first and to invest the greatest amount of money in them. Everything else follows from there. But that isn’t quite the same as my opening statement of tuning to the source. Or is it? When you evaluate those new speakers it will likely be based on the source you’re most comfortable with.

We don’t always think about our selection process in terms of source material. Few think of the process as building a vinyl-based system, or a digital one. Instead, we tell ourselves we’re building a music system and we just prefer one source to another. The reality is that the source mediums are so different they wind up dictating just about every decision in the chain: speakers, amplifiers, preamps, wires, room conditioning, positioning, voicing. All tuned to our source material.

Which is why you can’t judge source technology by simply plopping it into a system pre-tuned for the opposite. Dropping the finest digital source equipment into a vinyl-based setup won’t work. You will always prefer the original.

It may not be possible to have a system that’s optimized for both so let’s not make sweeping proclamations about which is better, digital or analog.

All we can legitimately say is what we prefer in our optimized system.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Brevard, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Riding the wave

Technology can be thought of as a wave and its users like surfers riding atop its crest.

Once you’ve jumped onboard the wave everything looks to be normal and the way it is, though that’s merely a viewpoint. Those people left behind in the trough have a very different view. A good example might be early CD adopters back in the 80s and 90s. Those riding the wave were early adopters moving with what seemed like a natural evolution of audio reproduction. Those left behind with their tried and true vinyl systems were paddling through what had always been and felt like it might never change.

Today’s comparison of surfers vs. paddlers might be between the few who have adopted streaming and abandoned physical media. In the world of television viewing, it’s almost universal: the surfers have moved on. In audio playback, streaming is the anomaly. Is one better than the other?

Our opinions on technology are shaped by our position on the technology wave. Those atop the wave have a different set of results to compare against those that haven’t yet made the leap.

Both views are valid. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. In the case of streaming vs. physical media, each can boast the plus and minus benefits of their respective choices: the ease of managing your library at the touch of a finger vs. the better performance of the best transport mechanisms.

Over time, the new merges with the old and becomes the norm. The early adopting surfers move on to the next wave, the rest of us paddle through the changes as if they were always there.

Are you surfing or paddling?