Tag Archives: DAC

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.

Roughcut or polish?

Whether one is cutting a gemstone or building a high-performance music system, it’s helpful to identify the order of work that brings the best results. You want to polish after the perfect cut, and not before.

How many times have I lived through an endless parade of tweaks before realizing no amount of polish can fix an audio or video  component that needs upgrading? The most expensive audio cables and isolators in the world can’t fix a mediocre component.

Whether you’re starting fresh or working with a year’s old system, it’s always best to step back from the whole and examine your precepts of the components within. That amplifier you’re so fond of. Does it really meet your expectations? Or the DAC, preamp, or speakers?

It’s easier to upgrade a cable or USB isolator than the DAC itself, yet that may not always yield the results we hope for.

Sometimes it pays to reexamine our basic premise.

You can polish a gem to a bright luster, but it’ll never be as satisfying as the perfect cut.


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.

Not my feelings at all, but I guess not all folks think alike when it comes to high end audio.


I sometimes get the craziest comments. Following the recent upgrades to DirectStream a flood of people smelling a conspiratorial cover-up have emerged.

Weird, right?

The general line goes something like this: “If you know how to improve the DAC’s performance why didn’t you just release it like that in the beginning? You’re purposefully holding back on the product so you can charge us more money.”

Of course, this is absurd. Since DirectStream’s introduction in 2014, there has been a tremendous amount of progress and learning going on. We’ve shared these improvements with the thousands of DirectStream owners for free.

But, that’s not the point of this post. I don’t feel the need to defend what we’ve done or where we’re going.

No, this post wants to riff on conspiracy theories. How the little voices in our heads can sometimes take a sharp turn towards evil plots to explain what we cannot.

I think we all can be guilty of crafting conspiracies to explain the world around us—at least at one time or another. Did you ever think your grade school teacher must have been an alien creature with eyes in the back of her head? How else to explain how she knew you were the one talking? Or how did mom know it was you that ate the cookies? Did you believe she was a mind reader?

It is natural for us to want to build explanations of how the world works. That’s how we make sense of the complexities around us.

But when your explanation starts to suspect conspiracies either on your own or buying into the imaginations of others, I would caution restraint and encourage questioning.

Conspiracies might make for good novels but they are extremely rare in real life.

The truth is, most of us are working without a master plan. We move through daily life dealing with what’s presented to us as it comes our way.

Doesn’t that describe you pretty well?

Don’t for a moment think you’re unusual in that regard.

I’ll bet we’re all pretty much the same.