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.

Back to basics

I am reminded how complex our quest for perfection can be. Even the simple act of playing a record album can seem like an impossible mountain to climb once we factor in the particulars like VTA, phono stages, capacitive loading, proper weight, cartridge types, cables etc. And digital’s even more frightening.

There’s a post worth reading on the Roon forums that delves deep into this very subject. Anders Vinberg pleads with our crowd to go easy when first advising newcomers into computer based audio. And he’s right. How tempting to add in the kitchen sink of advice and recommendations when someone asks us what they’ll need to play music stored on a hard drive. The list is endless. What they really need to know is pretty simple and is detailed in our How To that can be found here. But even this simple setup guide, I am saddened to say, can be daunting.

Truthfully, there’s not much needed to play music other than a computer, DAC, USB cable, and a program like JRiver, Roon, or iTunes. There’s no reason a newbie shouldn’t be up and running within an hour’s time, and yet somehow we manage to make it hard.

I agree with the author of the post that we should always be vigilant figuring out first the level of skill the newbie possesses before dishing out too big a plate of recommendations.

Sometimes it’s the simplest path that gets us through the door. We can always add desert later.

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.

By plug and play, Paul is referring to an audio component that replaces computers in our music systems. One that can rip music, store music, stream music and give us a way to control it. Maybe add a DAC and even an amplifier, like the UK stalwart, Naim Audio is doing now. Maybe incorporate a turntable  and speakers!!

Plug and play

What a great idea someone came up with when they first coined the term plug-and-play. Easy peezy, right? Plug the device in and it just works.

If you own a Mac you already know what this feels like. Windows 10 owners finally get a taste, but most people on the planet never really get to experience this miracle of technology.

Wouldn’t it be something if someone managed to figure out a small stereo system that would fit that bill? Plug it in, it auto corrects for the room, knows your musical preference, begins to play music you already have approved.

As Buck Rogers as this sounds, I predict within the next decade this will happen. How you ask? Through the miracle of complexity: building blocks stacked over time.

Our meager minds can only understand small snippets of complex structures. We can visualize how a computer system does math and we understand the language it uses, but more than that and we’re lost. Try visualizing the path required for you to read these words on a screen from a device in your pocket. I am sitting in my basement office in Boulder, Colorado, typing. Tomorrow my thoughts spread around the globe. To us, it’s magic because no one person understands how it all works.

Imagine other complex systems. You are a perfect example. We can figure out down to a molecular level how small systems within us work but not the whole.

Once a system exceeds a certain level of complexity it becomes unknowable by any one person. This means that with each layer of added complexity we can only build with ever-increasing complex blocks—never knowing the whole. Block-upon-block until it all seems like magic. A miracle.

Which is why I predict the miracle of a plug-and-play system is within our horizon. How exciting is that?