PS AUDIO: Stuck in the middle

Paul McGowan writes: My friend and fellow audio designer Jeff Rowland came by to say hi the other day.  Jeff’s always a welcome guest as he and I manage to nearly always be on parallel paths when it comes to product designs.  I found Jeff and friend Tim Jerome in our listening room playing music on the new amp we’re working on developing.  I’ve written before that this new amplifier is a stunning breakthrough in audio reproduction and to date I haven’t heard anything close.

The amp technology I am referring to is, as many of you guessed, based on the new Hypex class D technology and sure to form Jeff had independently made the same decision and was on a parallel path to building his own version.

I bring this to your attention because I want to illustrate a point about where we are in the scope of things.  To both Jeff and I this new amplifier technology represents a stunning achievement – one that is immediately obvious in its benefits to the listener – one that single handedly blows away all the years of work we’ve lavished on polishing our analog amp designs.  And yet, it moves us closer to live sound in our homes not by miles but by inches.

It’s easy to get excited about incremental changes within a flawed system while simultaneously ignoring the elephant in the room.

I am excited about our latest amplifier technology and the positive impact it will have on our systems – but it is important to remember that we are only a little closer in our quest to bring live music into the home.  I think we have the middle of the chain under pretty good control it’s the outer edges we have to focus on if we’re ever to get truly closer to live music.

Separating giant leaps of fundamental improvement from giant leaps of incremental improvement is often hard.  Since I have nothing to offer in terms of improving the outer edges of the reproduction process I will continue to push the boundaries of what works in the middle of the reproduction chain.  And that’s a good thing.

One thought on “PS AUDIO: Stuck in the middle

  1. Unless you’re referring to multi-channel sound (rather than plain stereo), I would contend that the playback source side of things is at a level of perfection that no one could have believed 40 years ago. Whether microphones and recording techniques are as good as they could be, I can’t say – some of it sounds pretty good to me.

    At the other end, placing your new amplifiers in active speakers, using DSP to optimise the drivers, would give a giant leap over the antique passive systems that people still cling onto. Listening to conventional speaker designers, they sound as though they think they’re Stradivarius, but 90% of what they do is concerned with overcoming (not very well) the difficulties of matching drivers with passive crossovers. And most amplifier problems stem from driving the difficult, inefficient loads that passive speakers represent, over the full audio bandwidth. Active speakers is where the most sonic gains will be made, it seems to me.

Comments are closed.