|1st October 2009, 10:05 PM||#11|
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: east coast
I've been putting Bruno's UCD's into HTPC's for a few years now and I have a few conculsions I'd like to share.
First off, I do build straight amps - with no digital component, so I understand the "purist" path. However, if you do the "simple" stuff with your mixed-mode audio devices (ie: a single chassis with both a digital and an analog side) you can achieve a 90% win by following some simple rules.
Pay attention to your physics, ie: match your signal and digital components based on switch-rates (get 'em as far apart as possible), float *all* your audio grounds (you *must* double insulate all your HV components to a fair-thee-well or you will get toasted), isolate and shield all your AC runs, and keep your signal paths as *short* as possible you can achieve fabulous results without trashing around with esoteric software components. Choose a high-end PCI DAC (they get better power and generally sport larger capacitors), I use the Onkyo 200PCI Wavio DAC and have never heard anything measureably better.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, most people who listen to your gear (if they are over 18 years old) can't hear a damned thing over 16 or 18 Khz, secondly, ninty percent of your listening venues will present enough noise to effectively hide any messiness in your signal chain, and finally, at the end of the day, the real "sweet-spot" is gonna encompass your users giant library of crap-bitrate sources.
If you crank your device up to maximum standard then *everything* your intended user is going to listen to will sound like *crap*. Despite what *we* believe, most folks don't have access to immaculate sources - nor are they going to change that habit anytime soon.
So, I think that if you build only for yourself then, by all means, pull out all the stops and build to your own ear (I do that for my personal equipment) but keep in mind the real-world application of your gear has to encompass the ugly reality of the state of the average music library today.
You know what? This is *exactly* where every major manufacturer of high-end audio has failed - that is, they have (for their own reasons) completely dissed the real-world users library. Most folks just want to enjoy their music, not sit there and compare real-time waterfalls of their favorite tunes....
It is a new world in audio design and that excites me a great deal. I am working hard to accomodate both my desire to recreate my Dad's fabulous tube gear and yet keep it *real* enough for the average NASCAR fan to be able to plug the iPod in and dance to Brad Paisley.
With any luck I'll see ya a Burning Amp.
Just a few random thoughts,
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