When we first envision a new design we start with the extreme and move to the practical. The extreme edges help define what a product or concept could be and the practical enables it to become reality.
Imagine for a moment we want to build the world’s shortest path preamplifier—that we believe the fewer the parts, the less damage to the sound.
A single amplification device like a transistor or tube is an amplifier. Add power and a handful of resistors and small input signals become big ones. If the combination of passive parts surrounding this single amplifying device are in proper proportions to each other the resulting output signal can be full range and low distortion. What more would anyone ask for?
This is a great starting point for any design. We’ve let our creative juices flow without regards to practical considerations (which almost always stymie creativity). A short path it is, and our research has shown the best device possible for the job. Now, it’s on to the practical.
For any finished product, we have to consider the environment it will be used in. For a preamplifier that means connecting inputs and outputs to the outside world—a world we cannot control. People want to be able to connect any source to the preamp’s inputs and power amplifier’s of their choice to its output. Unfortunately, our naked little circuit isn’t going to be too happy with some sources and amplifiers, so we’ll need to add more parts to compensate for this.
Next, we’ll need to give consumers what they expect in terms of controls: volume, balance and input selection might rise up to the top on this one. More parts are added and if customers demand remote controls…
You see where this is going? For every lofty dream, there needs to be a practical damper if it’s intended to appeal to more than just its designer.
Extreme ideas should never be abandoned—just modified enough to achieve a sensible balance.