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There are fundamentals in high end audio: speakers, power, sources, control, connecting cables, the room. I would like to explore a few of the more cherished ones in the next few days.

Ivor Tiefenbrum, founder of Linn product of Scotland, famously put forth the notion that the source (then a turntable) was the most important element in the fundamental chain. His reasoning was simple: if there's any loss at the beginning of the chain, nothing you do at the end will matter as much. Makes sense. But I have never agreed and believe the opposite, although his logic is perfect and no, if you miss something at the beginning of the chain, you cannot correct it later. But that's not what this post is tackling just yet.

Specifically I want to focus on power amplifiers and preamplifiers. Why? Because it's intriguing to me the rarity of their upgrade frequency. For some reason speakers are changed more than any other component in the chain. Second come sources, followed by cables, accessories, etc. Somewhere down the line, preamps and power amps. I've had it theorized that speakers, technically the farthest from accurate in the chain, are obvious choices to upgrade. They're furniture, they sound radically different from manufacturer to manufacturer, they seem to hold the promise of 'biggest bang for the buck' relative to most other components. I get it. I think.

But the same might be said about the control and power products in the chain, so vast the different topologies, amplifying devices, power ratings are. So I am still confused why these two critical components in the chain, power amps and preamps, are so rarely upgraded.

On one hand this is a shameless entry into a subject I have a great and recent commercial interest in. Our new bascom King designed power amp and preamp are scheduled for release next year and I am hopeful those that are in the market for something better will consider these two options. On the other hand, I have genuinely puzzled over this issue for years.

I hope you will explore the subject with me over the next few days.

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Paul McGowan

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