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.

Looking in the wrong place

A quest for answers often has us searching in the wrong place. Like trying to figure out how identical groups of digital audio bits can sound different. No matter how close we look they will always be identical if we look no further than the data themselves.

But, we’re looking in the wrong place. It isn’t the veracity of the bits in question, but their timing or levels of noise that makes them sound different.

I am reminded that it’s easy enough to be fooled. Driving a new car I thought perhaps I had a bad tire. Every time I changed lanes on the highway the steering wheel vibrated like crazy. I pulled over and found nothing wrong with the tire. Odd. It took me several stops and inspections before I realized I was looking in the wrong place. It wasn’t the tire at all. It was a new-fangled feature called “lane assist” that activated whenever I changed lanes without using the turn signal.

As soon as we’re convinced something’s wrong, or right, or different, we should pause before making uninformed declarations as to the cause.

Because sometimes we’re looking in the wrong place.

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 listen to analog..aka…vinyl..aka LP records and love the sound from my analog rig, especially after having my Rogue Ares updated.

Still, my digital audio sounds so good, I don’t use my vinyl rig as much as I should. Enter laziness…..

Why vinyl?

If the cleanest, lowest distortion, most extended frequency range, and greatest dynamic range capabilities are the goal, why would any of us consider vinyl? We know digital has these parameters in spades.

Yet, vinyl persists—not because it’s better at any of the aforementioned, but in spite of it.

And that is because it remains one of the most musically satisfying mediums we have.

For those that have spent the time, care, and effort to set up a great vinyl playback system, the rewards are many. Sure, it’s  technically limited, but so too is a vintage sports car or a lovely Leica camera—both of which have traits not shared by more modern “technically superior” products.

It’s tempting to conflate metrics proving a specific point with the conclusion we hope to convince others of—I certainly have been guilty of this in the past—but the fact is when we measure sheer musical enjoyment vinyl has to rank right up there.

As an engineer, I like hard facts. As an audiophile, I just like great music.

Vinyl, as well as digital, can provide remarkable listening experiences. The trick, at least for me, is to focus not on technical aspects of either, but just the pure listening experience.