DAC outs

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DAC outs

I have been pretty vocal about the importance of the DAC's output stage. In fact, I have not been shy suggesting it is the most important sonic element in a DAC, next to the power supply. 

Take our DirectStream DAC as an example. While designer Ted Smith weaves his magic in the FPGA's digital domain, at the end of the proverbial day, the sonic essence of DirectStream is greatly shaped by its output stage where those DSD bits are directly converted to the analog we hear as music. One look inside DirectStream and you'll notice its lower analog board is easily twice as big as its digital cousin and where much of the expense lies.

This observation that the DAC's analog output stage plays the major role in determining how music sounds has been true since the very first days of digital audio.

In the mid 1980s, PS Audio was among a tiny handful of innovative companies that launched some of the first higher-performance CD players, followed soon after with the very first outboard DACs. In the example of early CD players, we used off-the-shelf digital guts to feed our own discrete high-performance analog output stage and the sonic differences between a stock machine and ours was dramatic.

But, it's not just DACs where the analog output is critical. The same idea applies to phono stages. Take any phono cartridge and listen to the difference between phono stages. They are dramatically different.

The final output stage of nearly all devices, whether a DAC, a power amplifier, a phono preamplifier, or a preamplifier, play a major role in sound quality.

It's good to focus on input technology, but never at the expense of that all important output stage.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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