Tag Archives: T+A Amp 8

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.

PS Audio has 3 different boxes for its digital components. Their PerfectWave DAC,  a transport and now a Streamer.

I’ve been downsizing my audio racks and in fact, I am down to one rack for my electronics, although I have my T+A Amp 8 on its own platform. My digital components are two in number. My Melco server, which is where some 2500 CD’s are stored in WAV files and the other box, the T+A MP2500R, which does the rendering, controlling, CD/SACD playing and contains a truly great DAC.

Different strokes….


The last puzzle piece

In our little mini-series on streaming audio, we’ve covered the overview, the server, the controller, and today let’s finish up with the final puzzle piece, the renderer.

The renderer is sometimes a separate box or card (like PS Audio’s Bridge or AirLens), or part of a more complete grouping of the major components needed to stream music. Its job is to connect with the server, accept the digital bits being streamed to it, convert those bits to a form acceptable to your DAC, and pass them along.

  • Connect with the server
  • Recognize and organize incoming data
  • Convert incoming data to what a DAC wants (S/PDIF or I2S)
  • Deliver that data to the DAC

The renderer is the player*(though this can be confusing because typically, a player produces something we can hear—like the output of a CD player. Renderers are digital in and digital out.)

In some parlances, the renderer is also known as the endpoint.

From a sonic standpoint, the renderer has the most important job of all. For it is here, in the final puzzle piece, where the proverbial rubber meets the road.

If we think back to our streaming system’s architecture, we remember that the server is a big network-connected hard drive. Our controller (like Roon) talks to both the server and the renderer and connects the two together when you select a track of music.

What’s important to understand is that big hard drive in the sky is sending its digital bits over the internet through a crazy combination of switches, wires, satellites, fiber, coax, etc. There are no clocks to get messed up. It’s just millions of little packets of data swarming around like bees converging in the hive. They all know where they need to go but how they get there and in what order doesn’t matter.

Our renderer organizes the swarm of bits into a uniform, orderly stream, processes the data into a form the DAC wants, then adds that all-important clock to run everything.

That final clock is where all the magic happens. Get that jitter and noise free and we have perfection.

Skimp on this last step and….

The renderer is the single most important sonic piece of the puzzle.

Make sure it’s up to your standards.

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.

RCA terminated audio interconnects aren’t going anywhere, at least not for a long time.  Too many applications where they are good enough and often these cables are unshielded, so the negative conductor is not used as a shield.

Whereas I use XLR cables between my T+A DAC 8 DSD and my T+A Amp 8, as well as between the DAC 8 DSD and my Luxman Integrated amp, as well as between the DAC 8 DSD and my Rogue Audio RP-7 preamp, I do use RCA cables for my phono stage and for the plate amps for my two Daedalus BOW subwoofers. I’d prefer to use XLR cables, except I don’t have that option, as neither have balanced inputs and my Rogue Ares phono stage is definitely high end audio!

The RCA connector

I cannot imagine any reader of this blog that hasn’t heard of the RCA connector.

Designed in the 1940s by the Radio Corporation of America, its first use was to connect the internal components of console and tabletop radios manufactured by RCA. Back then consumers had never seen an RCA cable unless they dug deep into the radio’s internals. In the 1950s, as radio morphed into consumer audio equipment, RCA cables began to replace the quarter-inch jack, the standard for external interconnection of audio products. Before you knew it, the RCA cable was everywhere.

RCA cables can work in our high-end stereo systems. They are by far the most used connection scheme today. But just because something’s used a lot doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. RCAs have a number of shortcomings. When inserting the connector into its female counterpart, its extended hot tip makes contact before the ground and we hear a “blaaat” if we change cables with a live amp.  And, shielding? It’s not good on an RCA as one of the two conductors is attempting to also act as a shield. I could go on.

In “pro” applications we use the XLR balanced connector which not only solves the RCA’s shortcomings but adds another layer of improvement in its balanced configuration. And in high-end audio, an increasing number of people are moving to the superior XLR cable too. Bravo.

Some technologies have run their course and need to be replaced. The RCA cable has enjoyed an 80 year-long run. It’s probably time to join the other retirees in the setting sun.