October 2013 PS Audio Newsletter

  • RMAF show in Colorado
  • NPC’s ship
  • Hi Fi News P10 review
  • BSO high resolution downloads
  • The death of the stereo system
  • Is free music a curse or a blessing?

Every year in October the Colorado Audio Society puts on one of the biggest consumer high-end shows in the country, the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) and we were there meeting our friends and making new ones. You can see a picture of the room we were in.

We played through a new pair of Von Schweikert VR-35’s on a PS system powered by a P10 Power Plant and the new PerfectWave Power Amplifier prototype.

We were pretty thankful for the P10’s perfect power as the hotel’s was amazingly bad, dropping down from a standard of 120 volts to below 114 with 5% distortion. On the last day of the show, right at 4pm, the power in the hotel jumped back up to 120 volts with only 1% distortion after all the exhibitors turned off their systems. I doubt the hotel was ever designed to have big high-end audio systems in the rooms.

Most of what we played was vinyl through the new NPC and it was great fun to have people come into the room, see the turntable and tell us “wow, this is great. All analog and it really sounds terrific.” It was only after they listened a while we let them in on the secret most of you know: we were playing the system through our PerfectWave DAC, fed by the NPC at 96kHz/24. It sounds identical to analog.

My son Scott brought much of his collection of great LP’s and we heard music from groups I had never even heard of: Vampire Weekend, Ray LaMontagne, Kings of Convenience, The Roots, Daft Punk and Phantogram. Nice to have music that wasn’t the just the old standards we Audiophiles listen to so often at the shows. Of course I played my “old stuff” and classical as well. Just had to.

NPC’s ship

Our NuWave Phono Converter(A/D Converter) has been steadily shipping out to customers as promised. The first groups were all hand tested and listened to by myself and our Director of Engineering Dave Paananen. What an experience! I played a few of the same tracks on each of the units, listened both in analog and digital (through a preamp) and was able to go back and forth to compare the two on every unit.

This is a really cool product and the more I tested and auditioned the better I got to know the instrument and really got a feel for it. The few who have gotten them as of this writing have been pretty darned enthused. Here’s a few of the comments we’ve received.

“Wow. Initial impressions of the NPC are extremely good. I’m pumping 100 hours of pink noise through the unit before really sitting down with it, but this is shaping up to be a fantastic kit.”

“Just got the new NuWave Phono Converter hooked up to my rig. Wow! Listening to my treasured Kind of Blue is a joy. Not that my ***** preamp was a slouch, but this really gets to the core of the recording. Can’t wait to convert my treasures to digital so I can enjoy anywhere I go. Thanks for the wonderful sound!”

Unit #16 in beautiful black arrived yesterday. Setup was incredibly easy and intuitive and it sounds great. It was fun to see that the level of gain that sounded right also matched my cartridge output. I really like the green display and the logical layout of the controls. It’s nice that the unit weighs as much as it does as the AC-12 power cable doesn’t drag it off the shelf like it did with my Whest PS.20. I don’t have the I2S or USB connections hooked up yet and I haven’t had time to do any head to head comparisons of anything yet, but so far I’m very happy with this purchase.”

If you have a chance to grab an audition of this analog phono preamplifier and state of the art A/D converter, all in one package, I think you’ll enjoy what you hear.

HiFi News P10 Review

 

The British Audio Magazine HiFi News has honored PS Audio and our flagship P10 Power Plant AC Regenerator as the only featured power product in their annual yearbook edition. And along with this honor a full page article/review which you are welcome to download and read by clicking here.

BSO high resolution downloads

 

For classical music lovers (like me) you’re no doubt familiar with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A fine orchestra we’re all proud of. One of our Community Forums Membersalerted us with the news that you can purchase high resolution stereo and multi-channel albums directly from the BSO.

These recordings are actually quite good and are available in AIFF, FLAC and MP3. The higher resolution versions are 88kHz 24 bit and available in stereo or 5-channel surround.

They can be purchased individually or, for only $50, you can purchase and download every darn one of them. Now that’s a deal! Go here on the BSO website to purchase a $50 membership or buy any individual album you wish. Have fun.

The death of the home stereo system

A number of my readers sent me a note about an upsetting article by Todd Leopold, published on CNN Tech, called the Death of the home stereo system.

“What’s happened in the marketplace, the midmarket for audio has completely been obliterated,” he says. “You have this high-end market that’s getting smaller all the time, and then you’ve got the convenience market, which has taken over — the MP3s, the Bluetooth devices, playing on laptops.”

He wishes more people knew what they were missing. At its best, he says, audio reproduction has “a religious aspect.”

Now let me say something about this article which, I believe, is sadly misinformed. We all realize that the midmarket stereo system has given way to things like the Sonos wireless system, iPod docks and the likes. That’s old news. But what this article absolutely misses is what’s happening with the 30+ crowd. Vinyl.

Indeed, a fast growing market segment in the home stereo field is a leap from MP3’s straight to LP’s and the resurgence of vinyl in young people’s homes is nothing short of amazing. In fact, much of the growth of vinyl LP’s as well as turntables and systems to drive them has been fueled by the over 30’s crowd. It’s now hip to play LP’s.

Most big bands are releasing their music on LP and that trend isn’t getting smaller, it’s getting bigger. A trend we whole heartedly support.

Over on the Paul’s Post series of daily articles we’ve been covering this rise in turntable interest as well as sensitive topic which is next.

Is free music a curse or a blessing?

On the Paul’s Post series, we stirred up a bit of controversy based on an article that recently ran in the UK’s The Guardian penned by Talking Heads Founder David Byrnewho recently started pulling his music from the likes of Spotify and other online music services. Why did he pull his music? Hefears that download services are taking all the profits and leaving musicians none.

This certainly is true for artists expecting to make a living on the pittance these streaming services offer. In his article, which you can read here, he would like all this free music to stop being free. He’s right, of course, and if musicians don’t get paid there simply won’t be any music. But I think that doesn’t cover the whole story.

Successful bands today are figuring out how to take advantage of the free music plays to publicize their music and then monetizing it through the sale of LP’s, concerts and all sorts of clever new ideas that are working. One example I cite is the French duo Daft Punk. They are one of the biggest free download artists on the internet and, at the same time, selling more albums than anyone in recent history.

It isn’t all bad and, in many cases, can be quite good. If you’d like to read my op ed pieceand the comments that go along with it, click the link. If you’d like to receive my daily posts on music and high end audio, click here. Easy to subscribe, even easier to unsubscribe.

Till November

Next month we start thinking about winter creeping in and nestling down in front of a great stereo system to take the chill off the long winter months.

We’ll have more interesting articles and products to talk about in November.

Paul McGowan

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