Feature Set: New Preamp


#1

I tried. I had lots of bruises on my head from my wife to please reduce the number of remotes on the couch. My stereo needs a checklist to get the proper audio to play. Half of my digital inputs are selected by the DS DAC, the other is routed through my DLIII and selected by the preamp. The reason I still have the DLIII is because I have two sources with SPDIF outputs, my Oppo blue-ray player and the TV set. One can go through the DS, the other is orphaned, but luckily I still had the DLIII. But one has to know where the music is coming from and must set up the DS and preamp (using the aforementioned checklist) to get things to play. Gets painful when one is bonked on the head all the time . . .

So I thought: “why not combine digital source selection with the analog source selection in the new preamp?” This way only one remote is needed to pick the desired channel, either digital or analog. Then that remote can also control all the volume. It would be simple. Sprout simple.

But digital sources are changing and adding standards all the time. It wouldn’t make sense to have a fixed feature set for the digital inputs. So why not have slide-in boards that could be adapted to any new technology when it came along? Much like the Bridge slot in the DS, the preamp could have multiple slots for bridge, 4 SPCIF coax, APTx bluetooth streaming, and be versatile for any new technology that came along.

OK, so all we’re talking about is a new digital switching chassis, one that could be the extension of the new preamp. It has 4 slots in it, the size of the Bridge. No touchscreen is needed. The digital control signals from the touchscreen of the preamp could be connected to the new extension chassis to control the desired digital source. It just needs a serial data wire from the new preamp down to the digital expansion chassis.

The preamp touchscreen could be programmed and named by the user to define which digital or analog inputs are selected. When an analog input is selected, the proper analog channel is vectored from the analog input, through the preamp volume control, and to the amp. When a digital input is selected, the preamp tells the new expansion chassis to select the desired digital signal, route it to an I2S or SPDIF coax output connector that goes to the DS or other master DAC, then automatically switch the analog side of the preamp to the dedicated analog input associated with the output from the master DAC, through the same volume control, and on to the amp.

So one box does all switching and volume control for both analog and digital. The box is adaptable for future yet-to-be-developed digital technologies, unlike Sprout that has a locked-in feature set. It’s cheap(er) in that there is no separate touchscreen or remote needed.

Heck, I think this could do for audiophiles what the Apple IIe and IBM PC did for home computers. Opens up new territory, new markets. What Paul calls “Blue ocean” territory. No one else comes close to doing this. When set up properly it makes the entire stereo as simple as Sprout to use. Makes the spousal-approval argument that much easier.

I couldn’t convince Paul, though. Sigh. But it’s his company, his name on the door. Who knows, maybe I was nuts to suggest such a thing.

I just wish I could take off my helmet when I watch TV with my wife . . . .

–SSW


#2

Nice idea, similar to some home theater amps which allow one to buy as many channels of amplification desired and to just plug in the board.

There, however, the boards/channels are identical. My guess is controlling the quality of a preamp in a mix-or-match fashion gets tricky EMI, impactined grounding planes, etc. would all be different depending on the configuration chosen by the user.


#3

Possibly, but if one keeps all the digital selection in one separate chassis from the analog section then the only place where digital and analog grounds meet is in the touchscreen, and even that can be minimized using relays to switch the analog circuits. Remember all the digital section has to do is pick the proper digital channel and send it to the DAC, which returns the analog signal back to the preamp. So they can be separate.

In theory, at least.

–SSW


#4

I’d prefer that the PS Audio preamp be all analog. I wouldn’t mind it having a slot to accommodate a phono preamp, although hopefully PS Audio will come out with a reference phono stage in the same case as the PerfectWave DAC and transport.

Here are some features I’d like to see:

fully balanced design

reference quality headphone amplifier with both single ended and balanced headphone jacks

mono switch

phase invert switch

adjustable cross feed for headphone amplifier


#5

It appears you are more interested in having PS Audio make another headphone amp, than a preamp.

Nothing wrong with this. :)


#6
dolstein said I'd prefer that the PS Audio preamp be all analog. I wouldn't mind it having a slot to accommodate a phono preamp, although hopefully PS Audio will come out with a reference phono stage in the same case as the PerfectWave DAC and transport.

Here are some features I’d like to see:

fully balanced design

reference quality headphone amplifier with both single ended and balanced headphone jacks

mono switch

phase invert switch

adjustable cross feed for headphone amplifier


What’s an adjustable cross feed?

#7

There are a number of competing systems that mix in a bit of the left channel into the right, and vice versa, in an effort to make headphone listening more like listening to speakers. They often include delays, frequency compensation, etc. to improve the naturalness of the effect.

Grace has long included an excellent version on its headphone amps/monitor controllers.


#8

The #1 reason I don’t listen to headphones is because they are nothing like speakers. I’m a little put off by the tiny musicians in my head - and my speakers give me almost as much detail as $1600 headphones on an OTL amp.

The couple of crossfeed headphone amps I’ve tried, while clumsy in their speaker like sound, really allow me to give headphones a chance.


#9

A cross feed circuit adds some of the left channel audio to the right channel and vice versa, to replicate more closely the experience of listening through speakers. Adjustable cross feed allows you to control the width of the stereo image by adjusting how much of the each channel is fed into the other. Phonitor headphone amps allow you to adjust the cross feed.


#10
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Not really, but I think it would be a waste for PS Audio to manufacture a reference quality preamplifier without some accommodation for headphone listening.

#11

What other “reference quality preamps” include:

  a "reference quality headphone amplifier with both single ended and balanced headphone jacks, and

 "adjustable cross feed for headphone amplifier?"

These are highly specialized headphone enthusiast desires, better satisfied by dedicated headphone amps. I have four headphone amps, two SS and two tube including a Woo Audio WA5 300B. I do not expect a high end two channel amp to also fill this role. I have even less interest in paying for these added goodies in a two channel enthusiast preamp.

If such dual capability is of interest to you, I suggest looking into a pro audio monitor controller, such as the Grace M903. It is an excellent DAC, headphone amp, includes crossfeed and can easily serve as a preamp (single analog input, multiple digital). I have one of these in my studio. Its sound is excellent both through headphones and through monitors.

The Grace: click


#12

Ok, thanks. I kind of figured that. The more you do that the smaller the stage will become. Our intent right now will be to have a high quality headphone amp built into the new preamp but to also produce a totally separate headphone amp as well.


#13

Excellent. :)


#14

PAUL, I had asked this in the DSD forum, is there a time frame with production on your new preamp. I am thinking about buying a preamp,tube

style, I know you had also said that yours would be tubed, SO should I WAIT, I have been reading reviews on some well know preamps, but have not as yet decided which way to go and in your opinion dose a " tube " preamp really add DEPTH to the soundstage and mellow the sound??? will the production be in the next 6 months if so I will just wait, to hear and read the reviews on it and then decided which way to go!!!


#15

Indeed, a properly designed tube (many aren’t) adds (or brings out) depth, musicality, tonal richness and space. Yes, our new preamp will be a tube, tach the power amplifier, be in the PerfectWave chassis and launch perhaps in May of next year. The official launch date of the power amp is March.


#16
Paul McGowan said . . . our new preamp will . . . tach the power amplifier . . .
What does this mean?

#17

I have no idea … I suppose I should …


#18

laugh


#19

Match?

J.P.


#20

Will the pre be a Bascom design?