The taste of decaf coffee isn’t the same as caffeinated, in the same way that Diet Coke, vegetarian bacon, or high-end MP3 players aren’t the same as what they started out as.
It’s good we call out differences between the original products and their derivatives, but at times it can seem a bit odd. As vegetarians, we enjoy a meat-like substance that resembles strips of bacon, but bacon it is not. Were it actually animal flesh we would not eat it.
The fact it isn’t what it purports to be is the reason we engage with it.
Take for example a product said to have a tube-like sound. We ignore the fact it is 100% solid-state because that description might not connect with our image of good sound any more than a package of Vital Wheat Gluten, Canola Oil, Adzuki Beans, and Buckwheat Groats seems appetizing.
It’s bold indeed to produce products that stand on their own merit and challenge stereotypes: AC regenerators, separate phono preamplifiers, CD transports, vibration control feet, active grounding systems.
I love the taste of a great cup of coffee, caffeine, and all.
Coffee. I never drink it black. A practice some baristas frown upon. Like putting ketchup on a steak.
“What, you don’t like the taste of coffee?” scolded a local coffee aficionado.
Here’s the thing. I do like the taste of coffee but only when sweetened.
How’s that related to stereo? Simple. I love music and enjoy listening to it on a great system when it sounds sweet.
To suggest I don’t like music when its reproduction grates on my nerves misses the point.
We like what we like in the way it suits our personal tastes. If yours leans towards over-etched and detailed while mine borders on softer and sweeter, it doesn’t necessarily mean we like our tunes artificially anything.
Instead, I would suggest it means we’re both comfortable enough in our own shoes to know what we like and go for it.
There’s a big difference between the two.
This morning I awoke in Las Vegas at 6 AM and, after going downstairs for a cup of coffee, returned to my room to find I cannot use WIFI to connect to the internet; too slow. Okay, clever me, my phone has a hotspot feature so I turn that on. I can’t connect my laptop to the phone’s WIFI and it is three inches from the laptop. I have to resort to a tethered connection to make this work and even write this post. Now, you might ask, what’s going on? It’s called airborne pollution. There’s perhaps only several times a year this form of pollution hits Las Vegas: when CES comes to town and the other big technology centric conventions. The pollution is caused from too much WIFI, the radio bands get saturated.
This brings up the subject of noise pollution inside our equipment. Noise pollution caused by the power supply in our amplifiers and DACs; the same power supply that is the lifeblood of our amp’s operation. Remember yesterday’s post when I explained how we convert AC to DC? We pass the AC through a small and inexpensive component known as a diode. This innocent little gem is about 1/4″ long and retails for perhaps ten cents. It’s responsible for a lot of noise. Here’s a picture of the little devil.
The one I’ve shown is an industry standard known as a 1N4004. You use four of these to make your full wave rectifier, or you can purchase four of them packaged in a single container known simply as a ‘diode bridge’. Every time the AC passes through this one-way gate it sends out a small burst of noise. The intensity of that noise is dependent on the amount of power we’re asking of the power supply: more power, more noise.
This noise can be dealt with but many designers pay little attention to it. In our equipment, for example, we take the time to place small ‘snubbers’ near these devices to squash the noise. Why would we do that? Because adding noise that gets into your amplification circuitry is audible. It makes for a grunge to the music that’s not pretty.
Tomorrow let’s move forward to answer a number of questions about turning our rippled example of yesterday into a straight line.