Tag Archives: integrated amplifiers

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.

Devils and details

Part of the challenge in audio engineering is to know when to use certain processes or devices and when to use others. For example, a tube in the input stage works well, but not so much in the output. Or, a capacitor used as a DC blocker might sound better than the complexity of a servo, or, vice versa.

Analog integrated circuits, like op amps, can typically be bettered by their discrete counterparts in some cases, but not all. For example, if component matching is a critical aspect to your design then there’s likely no better process than integrating everything on a single piece of silicone. Each component tracks the temperature variations of the other for near-perfect matching.

Yet, in the same way separates can outperform integrated amplifiers, there are disadvantages to IC solutions too. The limitations of single silicone, including low power requirements and a lack of isolation between components, can hinder performance levels in highly resolving systems like the kind you and I might want at home.

It’s always a good idea to keep sweeping proclamations of better and worse at a minimum.

Like just about everything else in life, it’s the details that flush out the devil.

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.

Complex trade-offs

Life and audio engineering are quite the same when it comes to trade-offs. We make our best choices from among the imperfect and execute to the extent of our abilities.

Take for example separates vs. integrated amplifiers. The list of positive attributes for separate audio components is impressive: individual power supplies, isolated chassis, high current output drives, gobs of attention lavished upon one function.

Different yet no less impressive accolades apply to integrateds: no connecting cables, subsystem performance optimized for known components, the same designer’s skills applied across the board.

We could even go so far as to suggest a scrum of separates integrated together might be the best of both worlds. But even this would be a series of trade-offs including big and clunky.

Everything encompasses some form of compromise. Our job as music lovers is to identify which are the least objectionable and bring the greatest degree of pleasure.

Perfection’s not possible. Ecstasy is.