Listening to your meters

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We spend lots of money on measurement equipment. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fact. These instruments help us ensure the products you get measure correctly and perform as they were designed. And these same measurement tools aid our engineers in developing new products, quantifying changes made in their design. Yet there is much we hear but cannot yet measure.

If you ever wanted proof of this, you'd get it on our forums. We've recently launched a beta test of the new DirectStream firmware called Torreys (named after one of Colorado's many 14,000 foot peaks). The praise for its improvement to sound has been near universal. Raves in fact. But we did discover some bugs.

The bugs were not hard to fix, required no changes to the basic architecture designer Smith had built, and we released a fixed version to a handful of users with a simple caveat. "Pay no attention to the sound quality, just let us know if the bugs are fixed."

They did, and the bugs were fixed. But they could not restrain themselves from commenting on the sound, which they were told to ignore, but hated none the less. Not one of them could listen for long and they all had the same comments: dull, flat, lifeless, etc. None of the testers know each other, they are scattered throughout the world, their equipment as varied as strangers in a crowd.

Whenever changes–even small ones–are made to the firmware we have to voice the DAC anew. Voicing does not involve changes to the firmware itself, we compile multiple versions and go through a day-long process of choosing the right sound.

Try and measure differences between versions and the meters just cough and die. There are no measurable differences. Yet the ears hear them easily.

Of course this means we're better measuring devices than our meters. It doesn't mean meters can never measure something.

This post isn't about meter bashing.

It's about levels of acuity.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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