Final Drive question

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spreadspectrum

Final Drive question
« on: 1 Oct 2013, 11:37 pm »
I have been relatively happy using a PS Audio PWD (mk2) direct to amp.  Two issues have bothered me a bit, however.  The first is an inability to use a home theater processor with my main amplifier in a convenient fashion.  The other is a little loss in dynamic range at lower volume levels (although this is admittedly rather small).  In addition, there seems to be an argument by some that the right preamplifier in the system can be an improvement over amplifier direct, for many of the same reasons that you market your Final Drive.

So, on the one hand, the Final Drive seems to be almost the perfect answer for the home theater processor, as well as the added benefit of improving the sound quality of the system.  At its price, however (and I am in no way saying that its price is not justified), I am left wondering whether aiming for a passive magnetic preamplifier (like the Music First models) might be more prudent given that it also addresses the digital volume "issue."  I will mention in advance that I seem to be able to improve the dynamic range by keeping the PWD's volume at around 85% and making further volume adjustments in JRiver via its 64 bit volume, although I am uncertain if there is not a bias there.

So I guess my questions are something like this:

How do you prioritize the Final Drive product in a system compared to a preamplifier of the quality of a Music First model?  I'd wager that BOTH might be better then one alone, but that may be cost prohibitive.

In addition, I believe there was mention somewhere in these pages of making a preamplifier using the transformer based design of the Final Drive.  Is that still in the works?

Thank your for your time.

Ryan

audioengr

Re: Final Drive question
« Reply #1 on: 2 Oct 2013, 06:08 pm »
I have been relatively happy using a PS Audio PWD (mk2) direct to amp.  Two issues have bothered me a bit, however.  The first is an inability to use a home theater processor with my main amplifier in a convenient fashion.  The other is a little loss in dynamic range at lower volume levels (although this is admittedly rather small).  In addition, there seems to be an argument by some that the right preamplifier in the system can be an improvement over amplifier direct, for many of the same reasons that you market your Final Drive.

So, on the one hand, the Final Drive seems to be almost the perfect answer for the home theater processor, as well as the added benefit of improving the sound quality of the system.  At its price, however (and I am in no way saying that its price is not justified), I am left wondering whether aiming for a passive magnetic preamplifier (like the Music First models) might be more prudent given that it also addresses the digital volume "issue."  I will mention in advance that I seem to be able to improve the dynamic range by keeping the PWD's volume at around 85% and making further volume adjustments in JRiver via its 64 bit volume, although I am uncertain if there is not a bias there.

So I guess my questions are something like this:

How do you prioritize the Final Drive product in a system compared to a preamplifier of the quality of a Music First model?  I'd wager that BOTH might be better then one alone, but that may be cost prohibitive.

If the drive from the DAC is sufficient to make you happy, then the FD will crush all preamps.  I have the silver Music First and the FD is better.  The MF is the best transformer passive out there though.  If you want to buy my all silver MF, I'll make you a deal.  Cheaper than a new copper one.

Some customers with FD are buying two or even three of them to put in other places in their systems because they work so well.

Quote
In addition, I believe there was mention somewhere in these pages of making a preamplifier using the transformer based design of the Final Drive.  Is that still in the works?

I am thinking about designing a preamp next year that will be a combo of the FD transformers (one with volume taps), in and out combined with a good active stage for drive, all in one chassis.  It will probably cost more than the MF, but it will get all of the benefits of the FD transformer combined with great drive.

Steve N.

spreadspectrum

Re: Final Drive question
« Reply #2 on: 2 Oct 2013, 08:05 pm »
No drive issues with a pair of nCore monoblocks... I suspect that the Final Drive may be the optimal product for my needs based upon your comments.

I am guessing by your remarks that you may not be overly concerned with digital volume controls and bit truncation?  Truthfully, I often wonder if I am really hearing a loss in dynamic range or expecting to hear one (ie, I may be over thinking this).   Eliminating that technical issue is my main interest in your pre-amplifier with the FD transformers - it would seem to cover all bases.

I think I'll pass on the Music First pre-amp.  You've got me too interested in the FD! 

Ryan

audioengr

Re: Final Drive question
« Reply #3 on: 2 Oct 2013, 09:00 pm »
No drive issues with a pair of nCore monoblocks... I suspect that the Final Drive may be the optimal product for my needs based upon your comments.

I am guessing by your remarks that you may not be overly concerned with digital volume controls and bit truncation?  Truthfully, I often wonder if I am really hearing a loss in dynamic range or expecting to hear one (ie, I may be over thinking this).   Eliminating that technical issue is my main interest in your pre-amplifier with the FD transformers - it would seem to cover all bases.

I think I'll pass on the Music First pre-amp.  You've got me too interested in the FD! 

Ryan

Actually, I often use digital volume, but only up to about -10dB of attenuation.  It is best to set the volume at the DAC or with a preamp with a low-level track and then wen louder tracks are played you can reduce it up to -10dB with digital.  This degradation is generally not audible.

Steve N.