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End of an era 12

Posted 7 years ago

The era of the analog preamplifier has come and gone and in its place we have a new class of product: a digital preamplifier – a term that may be new to you. First, a bit of history. In days past when analog was king we needed a way to aggregate and control all our […]
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The era of the preamp is over 16

Posted 7 years ago

As you probably are aware TAS (the magazine) is publishing a major review on the PerfectWave system in their September issue that starts mailing out today. Since part of the core idea behind the PerfectWave system is using the DAC as a preamp connected directly to your power amplifier, I thought it might be instructive […]
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Hogwash 4

Posted 7 years ago

Have you ever noticed that if you have an opinion about something it can easilybedismissedor agreed upon as soon as you know there’s a term or explanation for it? For example I used to reject as distasteful olive oils that were so spicy they burned the back of my throat until I learned that the […]
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I was just thinking 19

Posted 7 years ago

I was thinking about some of your comments about your systems: many of you mentioned that your systems were good enough to reproduce well recorded music as if it were live. I am with you. I too have had moments with my system that I could believe the music was real enough to touch – […]
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Trumpets 14

Posted 7 years ago

After writing yesterday’s post about perfection I was looking for an example to share with you and then it hit me: Al Hirt vs. Louis Prima. When I was growing up my father, Don, and I were both trumpet players. Well, actually my father was and I sucked – or blew – whatever the case. […]
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The thing about perfect 7

Posted 7 years ago

Perfection is an interesting concept and sometimes it serves us and sometimes it doesn’t. For example when a musician spends their life perfecting their craft to be able to play the music perfectly with note-to-note accuracy it is mostly boring and without soul. But then there are those musicians who treat the perfection of their […]
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bring water to horses 4

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday I modeled what would happen if you moved a perfect reproduction of a live venue to your home. It wouldn’t sound live because of the change of venue. We are quite capable of acoustically defining the space we’re in and it’s hard to fool us. I remember once I visited an anechoic chamber and […]
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A different approach 8

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday I promised you an interesting thought challenge that has to do with getting music to sound live in your room – something we mostly all agree our industry and our equipment falls quite short of being able to do. First, imagine yourself sitting in the center row of an auditorium. There on the stage […]
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Shouldn't we be getting close to perfection? 4

Posted 7 years ago

We’ve got 60 years of experience designing vinyl reproducing equipment, 30 years for CD’s and approaching 10 for computer based audio. Wouldn’t you think with all that experience we’d be getting close to perfect by now? And the answer is no, not even close. I know it surprises people when I ask them to close […]
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Which voice do you listen to? 1

Posted 7 years ago

In a comment on my posting about voicing high end electronics the question was asked “Is there only one ideal voicing?” Great question and here’s the entire quote. “And then it also depends on the venue and seat in the venue what is the sound you are looking for. I recall Gordon Holt’s review of […]
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Albert got it right 7

Posted 7 years ago

“Everything that can be counted doesn’t necessarily count. Everything that counts cannot necessarilybe counted.” Albert Einstein must have had high-end audio and measuring in mind when he spoke those words oh so many years ago – but probably not since high-end audio didn’t exist. 🙂 However, it sure does apply today when we think about […]
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Voicing 10

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday I happened to mention how we use certain elements to “voice” a circuit and that sparked a few questions. What does voicing an amplifier mean? Actually it’s a really good question because one would think you’d want to make everything as neutral and true to the music as humanely possible. And, in fact, you […]
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Op amps and power supplies 1

Posted 7 years ago

In yesterday’s post we covered the problems with IC op amps concerning their huge amount of gain. Problem is, you simply cannot control how much gain they have and therefore are left to take what you get and simply deal with it for better and (mostly) worse. The second biggest problem IC op amps have […]
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Sounding harsh and compressed 2

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday we pointed out that the vast majority of IC op amps were not designed to be high performance audio amplification devices, but rather general purpose functional amplifier blocks with a nearly infinite amount of gain. The problem we find with these is that when we feedback all that gain to something usable the audio […]
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The good, the bad and the ugly 0

Posted 7 years ago

With apologies to Clint Eastwood and any fans of the Italian cowboy genre known as Spaghetti Westerns, let’s take a look at what’s good, bad and downright ugly about IC op amps and high end audio now that we’re all experts on their design. Remembering what we picked up in our last few posts: that […]
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Just a touch of gain 0

Posted 7 years ago

In yesterday’s post we covered a tough subject: the differential pair that serves as our input to the op amp. From here it gets a lot easier so if you’ve made it this far, you’re in for an easy ride. Remembering that the input to our op amp consists of two transistors that form our […]
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Diff pairs 3

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday’s post covered common mode rejection, how it works what it is and what benefits it has for us. This feature of op amps is courtesy of a key central design element of the op amp, the differential pair. This will be the toughest to comprehend and get through – the rest will be easy […]
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Common mode rejection 3

Posted 7 years ago

In yesterday’s post we saw how easy it is to design with an IC op amp. All you need are two resistors and two 9 volt batteries and you’ve got yourself a good sounding line stage. Add a pot (volume control) and now you’ve got an entire volume controlled preamplifier that runs on batteries. Add […]
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How to design an op amp 6

Posted 7 years ago

Let’s start today’s post by showing you how easy it is to design an amplifier circuit with an op amp. When an op amp is used in a circuit as an amplifier, all you need is two resistors, the op amp and a couple of batteries. You can have the op amp amplify as either […]
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Looking deeper 0

Posted 7 years ago

Yesterday I explained why use of the (then) new category of IC op amp was so darned attractive back in the 1970’s and still is today: easy to design with, reliable consistent performance and low cost. Good combinations! Something else was also attractive to high-end audio designers like Stan and I – they were more […]
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Op amps 5

Posted 7 years ago

I promised yesterday we’d get started understanding op amps. I know some of you already get them so I hope you can tolerate some simple explanations. This subject is actually very interesting because this class of amplification device is at the core of almost everything in audio today and while simple on the surface, there’s […]
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The man who designed everything 3

Posted 7 years ago

In yesterday’s post I mistakenly called the great David Hafler “Bob”. Oops, I think I had “Bob” on the brain. Sorry. But speaking of history, I think the stories of the people in any industry are perhaps more interesting to me than the actual products and technologies they design. I hope you’ll indulge me yet […]
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The mayor of Silicon Valley 8

Posted 7 years ago

When we first started PS Audio back in the dark ages of the early 1970’s there was no such things as email, the World Wide Web or, for that matter, personal computers either. The IBM PC was launched a decade after PS Audio was founded and the computers of the day were big cabinet sized […]
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We got no op amps in here boss 7

Posted 7 years ago

I am always amused when I read in a manufacturer’s marketing description that they don’t use op amps in their audio designs – when what they actually mean is they don’t use the IC versions of them. Customers many times make this same mistake when they ask me “do you use op amps in your […]
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Stereo 12

Posted 7 years ago

This is the final in our little series on live vs. recorded. We’ve ben discussing recordings and how it is that with some types of recordings and setup we can immediately tell live from recorded and in other types we cannot. This is a huge subject and one we can return to another day. Let […]
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