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The problem with myths 29

Posted 3 weeks ago

In Copper Magazine, Issue 26, Ethan Winer writes about audio myths. It’s an article worth reading because Ethan is a bright guy, an excellent engineer, and contributes to the state of our art. I openly welcome his input. I disagree with some of what he believes to be truth. The basis of my disagreement is […]
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When we didn’t care 25

Posted 3 weeks ago

In the late seventies and early eighties, we didn’t care about cables. There were none to care about. And, we had great systems. Jaw droppers that opened new vistas for those upgrading from the ordinary to something extraordinary. We managed just fine without expensive cables. Yet, when they were first introduced, our great systems got […]
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What happens to brands? 33

Posted 3 weeks ago

Brands come and go, just like people. And, like people, they have personalities reflecting their raison d’être. Most brands are formed by entrepreneurs passionate enough about something to take a chance and put everything on the line for it. But, at some point, brands can become commodities, bought and sold like a head of lettuce. When that happens […]
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Clean ’em out 21

Posted 3 weeks ago

This post might be a bit early. I typically make this suggestion when spring comes but the entire country seems to have had quite a warm winter. Perhaps it’s time. One of the best improvements you can make to your high-end audio system is free, though it will require you to set aside about four […]
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Moving the needle 21

Posted 4 weeks ago

The first really cool turntable and arm setup I had ever seen was made by Rabco. The local high-end aficionado, Norm, had a Rabco turntable and attached to it was a strange contraption, a Rabco SL-8 tangential linear tracking tonearm. Crazy looking thing. I remember when it first was placed into the record’s groove, it […]
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Love that turntable 37

Posted 4 weeks ago

The opening statement is delivered with the romance of a French accent: “I wondered. Why is the record always spinning, while the stylus stays put?” When you watch this well-produced video featured on a Kickstarter campaign, you’re at first intrigued. It’s a clever idea. A linear tracking tone arm that pivots on the spindle while the vinyl […]
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Is selfish bad? 39

Posted 1 month ago

Of course it is. Sometimes. If withholding something you could otherwise freely give injures another, that’s hardly an act of generosity. But if you build something that pleases only you, that’s a selfish act in a good way. The first example is a dead end street, the second can become a generous sharing act. If you […]
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What a wonderful time 30

Posted 1 month ago

We live in an amazing period in human evolution. Just think of the advances and changes you’ve witnessed within your lifetime. In my short 68 years I’ve witnessed unimagined changes. I am typing this on one of them. You’re reading this on another. I still remember sitting in my father’s 1940s automobile fascinated by the […]
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Hacking 9

Posted 1 month ago

Hacking is a term we hear much of today. Years ago, we referred to it differently. Reverse engineering. And we did plenty of it. It began at PS when we developed the world’s first aftermarket high-end DAC. The year escapes me, but it wasn’t long after 1980 when Sony and Philips first released the CD […]
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Emotional connections 20

Posted 1 month ago

There’s rarely a moment we’re not emotionally connecting with something. Food, weather, smells, conversation, music. For most of us, that’s a good thing. We like being emotionally connected to external stimuli. I have noticed, as of late, that elements in our technological society seem to be insular rather than connecting. Cell phones, television, fast food, Twitter. […]
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Direct examples 14

Posted 1 month ago

It’s easy to compare the sound of two amplifiers and choose which sounds closer to the real thing. It’s a lot more difficult to do that with only one. The reason is simple. In the first case, you’re comparing two real-time events. In the second, it’s a real-time event vs. your memory. We all want […]
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Sad story, happy ending 21

Posted 1 month ago

The Audeze iSine20 headphones I reported on are perfect for indoor use tethered to a wire, but not what I need outdoors. Gotta be wireless. About six weeks ago I added my name to the waitlist for the Apple Airpods. These Bluetooth wireless wonders slip easily into the ear without entering the actual ear canal—just what […]
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Worst sound yet 36

Posted 1 month ago

The 2017 Grammys was by far the worst sound quality yet, and not just by a little. I record the Grammys each year so we can watch them later, skipping the commercials. It wasn’t until last night we cranked up the system in the home theater and settled in for an evening of “live performances”. I […]
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Mission improbable 24

Posted 1 month ago

Yesterday I mentioned the reason all loudspeakers are colored and veiled. They have mass to move. We don’t know how to move mass without affect—no matter how thin or light it is. There have been several attempts at building massless speakers, like the Hill Plamatronics, though it included a conventional, heavy mass woofer. One of […]
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Sonic fog 22

Posted 1 month ago

I had mentioned “sonic fog” in yesterday’s post, referring to the colorations exhibited with high-mass drivers relative to low-mass panels such as an electrostat. What did I mean by that? Speakers color sound. All of them. And headphones too. They are the single most imperfect medium within your stereo system. The small irregularities found in […]
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Quad ESL 45

Posted 1 month ago

The first time I experienced remarkable clarity of sound was through an electrostat, the Quad ESL. That experience was a revelation to me. Before hearing the Quad loudspeaker pair, I had only listened to music through the fog of high-mass drivers. Music played through the low-mass of the electrostatic panel was so clear it was as […]
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Does size matter? 21

Posted 1 month ago

There are a couple of jokes at the ready but we’re not going there this morning. In microelectronics, smaller is better. In hard drive and video size, bigger is better. What of audio files? Red Book CD tracks are about 50mB. Their higher resolution counterparts as much as a magnitude bigger. Do they always sound better? […]
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The feel of things 21

Posted 1 month ago

We absorb much of our physical world through two of our five senses: eyes and ears. And while adequate for most of life’s activities I sometimes feel a disconnect.  Walking through the woods can seem like a distant movie, so I often caress a tree’s bark to feel more connected. And the funny thing is, that […]
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Snap judgments 13

Posted 1 month ago

It’s tempting to throw a new product into your system and pass judgment. Tempting, but dangerous. Systems are all about synergy, where the whole is the sum of all parts. Change any one part and all you’ve managed to determine is how well that part fits into the system—not how good that one part is. I […]
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Mixing and matching 16

Posted 1 month ago

Our favorite Italian restaurant just happens to have the best olive oil I have yet tasted—its healthy oleocanthal burn at the back of my throat is exquisite. Funny thing is, the olive oil in question is not in keeping with the restaurant’s Italian theme. It is from Spain—a perfect hybrid of cultures in service of great […]
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Interesting divide 23

Posted 1 month ago

I’ve been noticing an interesting split in product direction. User interface vs. hardware. In the first, UI, we focus on the experience of interacting with the music through a graphical interface like an iPad, phone, or computer. The hardware that makes all this happen tends to fade into the background. In the second, kit, it […]
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Climbing the ladder 19

Posted 1 month ago

Are we making progress? Does today’s average piece of high-end kit sound better than its older counterpart? I believe the answer to be yes. From my perspective, we’re climbing the ladder of improvement and when we look back, we can hear we’ve made progress. We have a very generous trade in program at PS. A […]
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Communicating 13

Posted 1 month ago

Communicating with words is complicated. You have to know words to understand other words. Just look at a dictionary to note that one word is defined by the use of many others. A French dictionary is of no use to an English speaker. This paradox reminds me of a cookbook I once purchased, the Epicurean, […]
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I never thought… 8

Posted 1 month ago

…I would say this, but I found a pair of in-ear headphones that are not only comfortable, they’re wonderful sounding. Best I’ve ever heard. The Audeze iSine20 are a planar design that comfortably fit in your ear and sound like nothing I’ve yet experienced from a headphone. Amazing. They’re not cheap. $600. You also look […]
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Keeping your distance 30

Posted 1 month ago

One of the great mysteries of our art has started to unravel. Why identical bits sound different. Of course, we understand bits are bits—just as numbers are numbers. 2+2=4. But that’s where it gets interesting. Timing, jitter, noise, all impact sound quality—just as they impact computational speed. The answer to an addition problem should always be […]
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