Tag Archives: DAC’s

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

Adding voice to audio equipment

It’s hard to imagine cooking a fine meal without ever tasting the food, or designing a loudspeaker without listening to the final product. That sort of arms-length-design is more a crapshoot than a surefire success.

Yet, when we talk about PS Audio’s design process for electronics that spends more time on voicing than measurement, eyes roll.

I can’t think another engineered product category other than audio that makes people so nuts when it comes to design by use. We wouldn’t expect a car company to deliver a vehicle they didn’t test drive or a drug that wasn’t tried on real people. Why the guffaws and snark smiles when it comes to voicing amplifiers, CD players, and DACs?

Do we honestly believe measurements say it all? That in this one tiny piece of the universe all is known and no tasting, listening, experiencing, is necessary?

It hardly seems to make sense.

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.

I’m very picky about how my stereo system sounds, but like Paul, I don’t fret over an occasional tick, or pop, or even a not so great recording.

However, if things don’t sound great to me, for whatever reason, like relative humidity, power delivery to my system, breaking in a component or part, I just turn the system off and look forward to trying again the next day.

If I ever quit screwing with my system, it would probably sound great every day, but such is being an Asheville audiophile. Always looking for a little better and willing to try new things, although at this point, the big things are set in stone, like Rogue Audio and Aragon power amplifiers, Rogue RP-7 preamps, Well Tempered Labs turntable, PS Audio DSD DAC, etc.

Finding irregularities

We love smooth and perfect and shy away from irregularities. When I find a smooth surface, like a kitchen countertop, I feel compelled to rub my hand on its face to appreciate its perfection. Bumps and blits underhand are noticed immediately and I want to get a wet rag and scrub them clean.

It’s almost as if we expect perfection to be the norm, rather than the extraordinary, and we work at eliminating all that does not qualify. Yet, when you think about it, most of what we see, hear, taste, feel, and smell is unremarkable; normal, as in having its fair share of irregularities.

On a good day, I am a tolerant listener ignoring the occasional bloated bass peak or tick and pop heard in Music Room One. On other days it’s all I can do to not to cringe when I hear them.

I have come to a sort of peace with the matter by developing an internal switch I can mostly toggle at will. On days when all I want to do is kick back and enjoy the music, I turn off my irregularity microscope. On days where I need the laser focus required for voicing equipment, back on it goes.

Indeed, our internal measurement systems are far more variable than the machines that attempt to emulate us. Learning that my sensor’s tolerance levels are adjustable through training has been a big help to me in my quest to both build better equipment and enjoy it too.