Uncovering gems

August 6, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

“There’s buried treasure in them thar speakers! I feels it in me bones.”

Sometimes I do feel like a pirate in search of buried treasure when I go to listen.

Working on new technologies, new firmware, new components is really exciting—not just for the discovery of underlying new sonic delights, but because it is a chance to push the envelope further, to find out what might be possible as we march down the progress highway.

I don’t suppose there’s anything more stimulating to us than a chance to uncover new gems that have seemingly been lying dormant in our hardware—hiding, actually. Most DirectStream owners, for example, have been enjoying their same hardware for years now and the chance to extract better is really enticing—which is the beauty of a new mountaintop whenever something like that might arrive.

What magic is lurking in your equipment?

Now, where’s that bottle of rum?

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19 comments on “Uncovering gems”

  1. Ex-sound engineer speaking – it is, as the text accompanying the video says, usually at the request of the customer that over compression is used 😉

    I have no time for lazy sound engineers though, and in the case of “re-mastering”, especially of older recordings, that laziness can very easily creep in 🙁

  2. My audio system has a lot of spare processing capacity, but so far the manufacturer has failed to come up with anything new and exciting to use it. Some owners consider themselves short-changed, but I bought based on existing sound quality and remain content.

    The manufacturer may (or may not) continually strive for more, but the consumer lives in the present. Some of us are happy with what we have, even if we know there is better out there or in theory our product could be improved.

    P.s. the Kraftwerk remasters are wonderful. I bought a couple in Berlin last year.

    1. I procured most of the Steven Wilson remasters of the Jethro Tull catalog and enjoy them immensely as well. Not sure what others think of them but I was quite pleased. Wilson seems to be in quite high demand right now given the high number of releases I see his name attached to.

      PS: did I miss an announcement of some kind? When did the “time to edit a post” go from five to 10 minutes?

      1. I have some of his releases, all on vinyl, including the Passion Play remaster, most of Porcupine Tree and some of his solo work, including Raven and Hand Cannot Erase. He has been extremely highly regarded for many years, keeps a very low profile and keeps coming up with the goods.

  3. Mr. Paul McGowan : do you think that Ps Audio DirectStream DAC it`s a benefit to switch on a McIntosh cd player MCD 350 to red my cds collection . This one , i think , has a very good inside DAC – 32 bits.
    Thank you for your opinion .

    1. Luis-not sure why you are asking Paul this when you can hook both up and hear for yourself.
      I have a newer McIntosh preamp with a dac installed that has probably the same specs as your CD player and I use my PSA DS instead. Not only does it sound better but I use the network bridge card that allows the DS to be a Roon endpoint

    2. The DAC within MCD 350 is great, but you will get better sound using the Mac as a transport and feeding the DSD. Ted’s clever design of up-sampling everything the DAC receives to DSD allows him to do some clever math alleviating the need for a gang load of filters on the output. Feeding Ted’s DSD a redbook signal is simply breathtaking. Given it’s a good transport which you have, and it’s a good mastering. Something like our 30 day trial would be perfect for you. If you’d like to give it a shot and do a head to head against the DAC inside the MDC 350 and the DSD, send me an email at [email protected]

  4. The only magic in my best system is that I figured out why I didn’t like anything I could buy, figured out why, figured out what I could do about it, engineered and built it, and it works to sound the way I want to hear recordings, not someone else’s idea.

    If there’s any other magic it’s that I figured out how to improve convention sound systems I already had or could put together to sound more like the way I want to hear them.

    I wasn’t particularly interested in what other people thought however I tested my best idea on people who had no interest or experience in music or recordings to try to find out if I had just created a tweak or something really different. The response made me happy.

  5. When one goes to a live performance one never criticizes it has having less highs or having a sucked out mid-range or an exaggerated bass. The performance is accepted as is and found to be quite satisfactory or even exceptional. The nit- picking starts when reproduced music is listened to. One because one knows that it is not a live performance and therefore less than perfect and two because criticizing a live performance will not get one anywhere something one can do to one’s heart content at home, further complicated by feelings of insecurity. Here steps in a really satisfactory system. Knowing very well that it is far from perfect it is still so good that being critical of it just does not cross the mind. One just sits there and revels in the beauty of it all. Now that is a good system and if one is fortunate enough to have one then there is little else one could wish for. And it need no be very expensive either. Until then labour on. Regards.

    1. Actually in the last 10 years I have often criticized live shows that I went to.
      Too loud for the venue is my main complaint. Although when I saw Elvis Costello, his vocals were distorting most of the time. Only when he sang a quiet passage did it sound ok.
      I agree with you about frequency response, not being a complaint at live shows. I go to shows for the overall experience. A chance to see a band work together, some for the stage show, but most just to watch, see them play. Immerse myself in the whole experience.

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