In yesterday's post I suggested what we listen to on our stereo systems is a translation of the original source; a mirror amplification of the original but not the original. This is a major point to understand. The source, in this case a phono cartridge, is used by an amplifier only to control the amplifier's valve: turning on and off the amp's power supply. What we hear is the modulated power supply, not the phono cartridge directly. It is an interpretation of the phono cartridge output. Think of it this way. A car's forward speed, direction and progress are translations of the gas pedal and steering wheel movements. In the same way you cannot listen to the phono cartridge directly, there's little you can do with a steering wheel and gas pedal disconnected from the car. What you perceive of the car's movement is the result of its power supply, the engine, responding to the controls. What you hear from a phono cartridge is the result of the amplifier's power supply turning on and off, interpreted from the cartridge output. We do not listen to the source itself. Understanding this helps us appreciate why the quality of the power supply is more important sonically than the amplifier itself. Just as the engine of your car is ultimately setting the performance of your car, so too the amplifier's 'engine' bears the same responsibility to performance. Let's begin tomorrow to look at different power supplies.
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