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Getting straight in 6

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday I promised we’d jump into Class D amps and how they work – but before going there I wanted to take a short detour – one that a few of you have been on my case to get out in the open for a while: direct coupling. I really hesitate to write “back in […]
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Getting in the way 2

Posted 7 years ago

We’ve been focusing on amps and their design philosophies as a precursor to the release of our new power amplifier this summer. I thought it instructive to write about the various types of amps, their good and bad points and the power requirements for loudspeakers of all kinds. The one thing we did not touch […]
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Compromises 5

Posted 7 years ago

Designing any product for consumer electronics is a series of design choices – better known in some circles as compromises – giving one thing up for the benefit of another. Design choices are not unique to consumer electronics as compromise is just a part of the process of everything you can imagine: cars, food, clothing, […]
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How old dogs code 6

Posted 7 years ago

When we start a new product at PS Audio it almost always involves code to make it work – even simple things like turning the power light on or off – all get coded by one of our engineers. Years ago when none of our products had code, because there were no such things as […]
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McIntosh transformers 8

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday’s post covered output transformers on tube power amplifiers and why they were needed. It also covered the fact that IMHO transformers are the last thing I would add to the output stage of a solid state power amplifier because output transformers like this contribute so much to the sound quality of an amp – […]
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Transformers 7

Posted 7 years ago

If I had to think of the worst thing I might add to a power amplifier, an output transformer would be right up there – yet the vast majority of tube power amplifiers sport them. Tube amps interface their output stage with your loudspeakers through a matching transformer, not because it sounds better but because […]
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Headroom 3

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday we covered one of the advantages of the higher power supply voltages afforded by tube circuits: linearity. Today we’ll jump into the second advantage of increased voltage, headroom in power amplifiers. Headroom is a funny thing. If you take a SET amplifier of perhaps 18 watts and try and get 20 watts out of […]
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High voltage 6

Posted 7 years ago

Most tube power amps have an advantage over most solid state amps: high voltage. If we look at a typical tube vs. solid state design, that tube design might have up to ten times more voltage than the solid state design – at least in a preamplifier. The tubes need the high voltage to operate […]
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Odd or even? 1

Posted 7 years ago

We started on Single Ended Triode amplifiers yesterday, better known as SET amplifiers. I mentioned that one of the three major benefits of a SET is its tendency to produce even order harmonics – rather than odd order – which tend to sound more musical or pleasing to the ear. But why does this type […]
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SET down for this one 2

Posted 7 years ago

One of the quirkier and exotic types of power amplifiers are a tube based product known as a Single Ended Triode or SET for short. A SET is a class A power amp using one output tube, typically a triode, to drive your loudspeaker. They are generally low power devices with poor efficiency – as […]
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What you put in doesn't always come out 7

Posted 7 years ago

Thank you for all the replies to yesterday’s question about loud levels and compressed sounding peaks. I would say that the response was about 50/50 that you experienced what I was writing about and my guess about those differences would be the type of music you listen to, the room size, the type of speakers, […]
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Compression 10

Posted 7 years ago

In our quest to figure out why we might need a big power amplifier vs. a smaller power amplifier I’ve mentioned a lot of numbers: some scary big. Many of you have written to me that the huge wattage numbers I’ve been mentioning don’t really stack up with your real world experience – where a […]
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Watts ain't watts 3

Posted 7 years ago

Before we get started on different amplifiers and why some seem to sound more dynamic than others, I wanted to clear up a couple of points about yesterday’s post showing how many watts it takes to get appropriate dynamic range. All the measurements we described were anechoic chamber measurements: meaning there was no room involved. […]
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Tambourines 18

Posted 7 years ago

Reviewer Keith Howard sent me an interesting note a few days ago that really was an eye opener for me when it comes to understanding how loud music actually gets. I am going to reprint it here. I would like to preface this note by pointing out that a lot depends on the type of […]
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Music math 5

Posted 7 years ago

Thanks to reader John McRee for suggesting the title of today’s post. Yesterday we learned we need 8 times more power to reproduce speech than we do sine waves – which may then surprise people that loudspeaker manufacturers continue to use sine waves as a basis for their efficiency measurements. It certainly surprises me since […]
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Riding the crest 3

Posted 7 years ago

I promised yesterday we’d start to learn what Crest Factor is and how it applies to headroom in an amplifier. While understanding this concept isn’t all that important to making your amplifier power decision, getting a basic understanding of how it all works and why is probably useful for most of us who have been […]
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Measuring the standard 3

Posted 7 years ago

We’re moving into a series on power amplifier headroom for a couple of reasons: first I think most people really don’t understand just how much power is enough and secondly, we’re introducing a new power amplifier this summer that’s of a power level high enough to raise some eyebrows. I want to make sure we […]
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Headroom 15

Posted 7 years ago

I suppose the term “headroom” must have come about in response to tall people trying to make sure there’s enough room for their heads to go through a doorway or fit into a carriage. Makes sense anyway. In audio, headroom means that there’s enough space to amplify music without running into the limits of an […]
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The ultimate point source 9

Posted 7 years ago

Several of you asked me why I was so interested in a 20+ year old pair of loudspeakers that I would sell everything in the listening room to get it and what makes this speaker so special? This giant loudspeaker has a number of charms but perhaps the biggest for me is that it’s the […]
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The short life argument 14

Posted 7 years ago

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to mentally take a leap? It’s as if there are two of me inside my head: the cautious Paul and the crazy adventurous “go for it” Paul and there’s this nutso argument process I go through to see which of me wins. My friend and mentor Seth […]
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My consumer hat 13

Posted 7 years ago

In Stereophile Magazine’s March issue John Atkinson opines about the goals and challenges of reviewing audio equipment: a challenging task to do it as well and as thoroughly as does John. I have always admired his measurements plus listening approach to high-end audio as being really down to earth and informative. At one point in […]
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Fanning the flames 9

Posted 7 years ago

My suggestion that it probably doesn’t make sense to hold loudspeaker designers to a flat spec certainly generated a few comments and one poster asked me not to fuel the fires of this “movement” because there’s already enough chaos in sound reproduction as it is – let’s not add more in the wrong direction. While […]
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The loudness button 11

Posted 7 years ago

How many of you remember back when every receiver, preamp and integrated had a loudness button? I remember with great fondness my first Kenwood integrated amplifier in the early 1970’s and right on the front panel was a magical button labeled loudness. Funny thing was whenever I pushed it on nothing got louder. There seemed […]
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Why flat? 12

Posted 7 years ago

When we look at the specs for a piece of audio equipment we want to make sure it doesn’t emphasize or reduce one frequency area over another. We routinely see flatness specs that are within 1/10th of a dB from below where we can hear to way above where we hear. These specs make us […]
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The soul of a machine 8

Posted 7 years ago

Do machines have souls? Forgive me for using the term “soul” because I don’t mean it in a disrespectful or religious manner – but for lack of a better term – I mean a life of its own. I think we all agree machines have personalities and they invoke feelings and emotions in us and […]
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