Funny how life throws you curve balls. I just got a curve ball, a left hook and a knockout punch delivered to me in one swell foop. I can’t believe I am writing this.
As some of you may know, after three attempts at designing a power amplifier to beat all other power amplifiers made, I threw in the towel and hired my dear friend Bascom King to see what he could do. Bascom is one of the best designers on the planet. Bascom agreed, the work’s begun.
The original idea was an all MOSFET design, using the zero feedback, high voltage input stage I designed, the outputs configured anew by the good Dr. King (as he’s known). All that changed with my last visit to Arnie Nudell’s home.
While working on the final voicing for DirectStream with Arnie (which, by the way is finally finished), we got to talking about the new amp over lunch. Describing the circuitry to Arnie, he said something to me that has changed the course of this design, PS Audio and me personally forever.
“Why don’t you man up and put a vacuum tube in the front end?” Oh lord. I love the sound of vacuum tubes, always have, but never had the courage to step up and put one in a PS Audio product. We’ve been hardcore solid state for over 40 years.
“If you really want to build a power amplifier that is the best in the world, one that truly matches DirectStream, you’ll do what you know is right.” Arnie’s like that. He makes sense.
And so it is. I still can’t believe I am writing this. When we approached Bascom with the decision he nearly fell over. ”That was easy, I was afraid to even suggest it. It’s the right thing to do if you want to make an amp to beat all others.”
And so it is.
Cleaning with snake oil.
PS Audio’s YouTube channel has an entirely different audience than this post series. Almost 300,000 people have viewed our little videos, most just curious what all this crazy hi-fi stuff is about. While we’re not as interesting as cats juggling balls, apparently we still attract some sort of interest. And then there’s the comments section. Lots of comments and dialog, most of it just people being amazed that big speakers exist. But some are incredulous at what we do and lash out.
One such comment cried “foul!” and asked me how I slept at night feeding the masses such utter bullsh*t about products. In particular the poster was upset about the Noise Harvester. Ahh, that product does spark people’s snake oil alert buttons. Like Oxiclean commercials. Only, the thing is, the Harvesters work and Oxiclean does too. I think it’s in the way they are presented that raises people’s BS alerts.
Let’s examine this case. As an engineer we would look at the Harvester like this. A simple product designed to reduce power line noise above 10kHz. On its input there is a capacitor and a choke (inductor or magnetic device) placed across the power line, forming a simple bandpass filter. At the junction of these two elements energy is singled out at a specific frequency range. We then siphon off the noise energy and use it to fill up a capacitor. When the capacitor gets enough of the energy stored, it triggers an SCR which sends that energy to an LED and the light blinks; thus converting the noise energy to light. Bingo, the noise is removed from the line. Simple and effective removing about 10dB.
We could have made this product even simpler. Instead of all the fancy capacitor and LED arrangement, we could have just converted the noise energy into heat and it would be just as gone. But then, it makes it harder for people to see the results. Every time the Harvester’s light blinks you know noise is being removed. Positive feedback. Plus, it also helps find the best spot to place the Harvester by finding the point where the blinking is greatest. But in the end, we went with the light to help sell Harvesters knowing full well they would have been just as effective without the light.
It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and cry fowl when you smell too much marketing going on.
And just as easy to amazed when the stain in your shirt just vanishes like the commercial said it would.