It only looks simple

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Ted Smith, the designer of DirectStream, made a comment on our forums that struck a chord with me.
I've noticed many people seem to feel that any job they haven't done themselves is simple but conversely the jobs they do take a lot of skill :) Why is the job of amplification, speakers, a preamp or a turn table any more complex than the job of a DAC (or vice versa)? IMO most DACs sound similar because most of them use the same component DAC chips and the big differences are the designer's analog abilities re, the power supply the output stage, etc. Not to short shrift those items, they certainly are very important, but there's a lot of performance left on the floor when jitter isn't taken seriously and when off the shelf DAC chips are used assuming that they have a simple job to do...
Ted was talking about the difficulties of designing a particular product but it is his first line I am most intrigued with because I believe Ted has hit upon a fundamental truth. We tend to think of how easy it must be to do something we haven't any experience with. It's only when we get into the nuts and bolts the level of true complexity hits home. Case in point, our upcoming music project. When we were first introduced by mastering maven Gus Skinas to the engineers at Immersive Recording, here in Boulder, we discovered one of the world's great unknown jewels: a beautiful high-end recording studio with the only 32 track Sonoma pure DSD recorder in the world. Who knew? And the recordings they were making blew my socks off. I've rarely heard anything so consistently good. Why wasn't their work known to us in the high-end community? How is it these masters of the audio art weren't sharing the fruits of their labors with those among us who would appreciate it? Then the answers became clear, there was not easy path for them. And that is where we came in and said, "looks simple enough. Let's fund a CD and release it to our community. How hard could that be?" Good grief! It's hard, and it is a lot of unexpected work: preparing the booklet, auditioning master after master to make sure it is 'just right', testing tracks on multiple systems, getting licensing agreements, cover art, liner notes, stories, deciding on delivery methods. Every project looks simple until you tackle it and discover the details. Then it's a matter of not letting them defeat you.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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