Tag Archives: digital audio

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.

Filling a vacuum

When we think up new products sometimes it’s because we have a novel idea like the Digital Lens. That’s a product/technology that solved a problem most people didn’t even know they had.

Then there are the obvious ones like stereo amps and audio preamps to fill out a system.

But sometimes products come into being to fill a vacuum. And surprising that’s why we’re committed to building a new category of loudspeaker.

To fill a vacuum.

When our customers ask for loudspeaker recommendations to match their musical tastes we’re at a loss of where to send them, which is weird because there are more speaker manufacturers than any other category in our industry. You’d imagine with all that choice there’d be a slam dunk for people who want true full range, high resolution, easy setup, adjustable depth, extended dynamic range, musically breathtaking, visually appealing, small footprint, affordable loudspeakers.

But there’s nothing we know of that fits that bill (though admittedly that’s quite a laundry list of requirements).

So, as we’ve done in the past with AC power and digital audio—and even as far back as our early standalone phono stage—we need to step up to the plate and do it ourselves.

To some, this post will sound like over the top marketing fluff or just plain boastful. Probably is. But to those who have genuinely sought out the aforementioned laundry list in earnest and found themselves settling on the next best choice, this is all too real and a problem worth solving by someone.

Anyone.

I wish we could do it sooner.

 

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.

Air gaps

The long-awaited PS Audio music server, Octave, is inching closer to making its debut in late 2019. Since I’ve not written much about it recently, I thought you’d enjoy an update about one of its innovations, a new invention called the Air Gap Audio Interface or AGAI.

The AGAI solves a big problem in digital audio servers, contamination by noise and electrical detritus.

Inside a server, you have a noisy computer. As it chugs away at its tasks it jitters and pollutes the output signal feeding the DAC. This is why, we believe, FLAC sounds differently than WAV even though the bits are identical. A FLAC file (for example) requires far more bit crunching to extract the original bits than does a WAV file. Those crunched bits contaminate the final output signal through mutually shared power, ground and physical signal traces.

How can we fix that?

Imagine that the noisy computer inside the server was not in the server box and was instead far away (as we are doing in the upcoming Ted Smith Signature DAC). Its noise and ground contamination would not be a problem as long as we took its distant output and regenerated it in a Digital Lens.

Since our goal is to build a one-box server, the next best thing is to physically isolate the two systems within a single chassis. To do that we need separate power supplies, ground planes, physical boards, and at the end of the proverbial day, a physically isolated connection between the internal computer and the output Digital Lens. That’s where the AGAI comes into play. By bridging the gap between the internal noisy computer and Digital Lens by nothing more than light traveling through air, we get excellent isolation.

(In the upcoming TSS DAC the problem is solved with two chassis: a digital and analog separated too by light using a fiber optic cable between the two.)

We’re all familiar with digital data transmitted through lightwaves using a TOSLINK cable but that won’t work for either of our applications because of TOSLINK’s bandwidth limitations. But that isn’t a show stopper. It just means we have to step up our use of technology. Some of the highest speed data in the world travel on beams of light.

Whichever method is used, AGAI or high-speed fiber, transmission of digital data over lightwaves offers the possibility of getting noise and jitter out of the signal and gets us that much closer to musical perfection.