Food for thought

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One of my readers asked me an interesting question recently concerning the appropriate time to make the transition from analog to digital. Should you do it as soon as the digital audio comes from the source, as you would in a DAC? Or would it be better to keep it in its native form as close to the loudspeaker as possible; decoding it into analog in the amplifier instead?

There are good arguments for both. Converting to analog in the DAC means that everything else in the chain can also be analog, like phono and tuner, as well the preamplifier. This is the right choice if you have a mix of analog and digital sources in your chain. If, instead, you have a pure digital chain you might be better served keeping it in its original format until the very last moment.

Few power amplifiers today have digital inputs. This is for several reasons, but chief among them is limited commercial appeal. Imagine purchasing a power amplifier with only a digital input. How would you playback vinyl? There are solutions, such as the NPC, a hybrid analog/digital phono stage you can use for this very function, or to build an all digital system. Yet I think most Audiophiles are still more comfortable with analog centered systems.

It seems premature to consider an all digital system as the norm, we continue down the rabbit hole of our changing technology, the shift towards analog as a secondary medium continues to inch forward. I wouldn't be surprised to see the day when most amps have digital inputs instead of what we have now, which is the opposite.

Food for thought.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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