Important elements

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So, if the power supply in an amplifier is THE most important element, more important sonically than that of even the amplifier circuit itself, why would it not make sense to use the best power supply money can buy? And, what is that?

There's a couple of things to consider when it comes to answering these questions: does the designer actually understand/believe the importance of power supplies and what is the best power supply for any given application? The problem in answering these questions depends greatly on who it is designing the circuitry and what their goals are.

In my experience most designers don't really buy into the importance of power supplies. At least not to the extent a few of us do. It's great to pay lip service to their importance, but I would say the majority of audio designers get their supplies as perfect as possible, then focus all efforts on the audio circuitry itself. I have certainly fallen into that same trap myself. But time and again, when the listening tests begin and the finished product needs some sonic help, it's the power supply I always turn to for results.

This is an extremely counter intuitive design parameter for circuit designers to pay enough attention to. It's like trying to convince unhealthy people to change their diet or lifestyle and fix the origins of the problem, rather than fixing it with cures after the fact. We all kind of know we may be responsible, yet it's easy to ignore. It's the same with amplification circuits and power supplies. We know their importance, yet it's a lot sexier to design the latest high speed, low distortion, low feedback circuit than spending your time lowering the secondary impedance of a power transformer.

Hopefully by now we have a greater understanding of supplies, how they work and why they are important. The subject's just been scratched. I could write for months on it. However...

Let's move on to another subject for a while. We can always return. If you're a regular reader and have little interest in supplies, this could be rather dull. I'll figure another stirring subject for tomorrow.

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Paul McGowan

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