I have officially thrown the towel in on the Class D output stage for the promised new reference amp.
In all honesty, it still sounds terrific and most people would absolutely love what it does and sounds like (I still do). Why give up on Class D? I just can't get over the bandwidth restrictions inherent in the design, not after hearing what amps that go beyond 80kHz sound like. Not after realizing how much more is actually on our discs through DirectStream. I know it makes no sense. CDs are inherently bandwidth limited to 20kHz, just like class D amps. But play a CD on DirectStream through an amp with no bandwidth restrictions and you'll never consider going back. I certainly won't.
The reference amp that we want to build has to be of the same caliber as the DirectStream DAC. And that means it's as close to the best in the world as we can achieve and stand alongside the few great amps of today without any regrets.
This will mark the third course correction so far, on this sea of change for the amp project, but with a speaker system as resolving as the IRS, a DAC as open and definitive as DirectStream, there can be no choice if perfection is the goal. And perfection IS the goal.
Maybe it's just my age, but I don't want to waste any more time on something that doesn't offer the same level of musical discovery as DirectStream does. Not for the Reference design. Not for the main amp in Music Room One. Not for the amp in my home. Not for the amp I want to hang our hats on and suggest you do the same.
I am currently listening to a prototype of just such an amp. It is a remarkable design from an old friend, someone I respect greatly and someone who has far better design chops than I. Bascom King.
Yes it sets things back yet again. But I am not going to be apologetic. I've beaten myself up enough over this already. Our controller and GM have waved enough fingers in my face about the cost of changing directions so many times and now, to hire another outside designer ...... start over ..... abandon most of what we've done.
Welcome to my world of being a perfectionist on a mission.